Captain Marvel

What is the movie about? :: A few galaxies, away, on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala, Vers (Brie Larson), a member of Starforce has a regular dose of nightmares every night, and it seems to be related to her memories, most of which she doesn’t have any more except in the form of quick shots. She is trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who hopes that she can keep her emotions under control, and use her special powers only when needed. The same is asserted by Supreme Intelligence, an Artificial Intelligence which had command over the empire. At the same time, a war is going on, between the technologically advanced Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls, happening on different planets. This war which has been going on for centuries, had Kree at the advantage, calling the Skrulls terrorists who are trying to take over different planets by force and leaving a trail of mass destruction and brutal murders.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: During one of those missions assigned to the Starforce, Vers ends up being captured by them. A memory probe is conducted on her, and the Skrulls find many of the lost memories, but don’t exactly find what they were looking. As Vers manages to escape, she lands on the planet called Sector 53, Earth. Her presence in Los Angeles attracts the attention of SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). The Skrulls lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) continues to chase her, and she discovers that she was an airforce pilot, and was working on developing an experimental engine with the famous scientist, Dr Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) before she was presumed dead in the failure of the effort and resulting explosion. But it is not the only secret that she would be bringing to light.

The defence of Captain Marvel :: There is some nice world detail in Captain Marvel, and the action immediately catches our attention. The journey through different planets, as well as the trip through the United States in the 1990s remain a joy to watch. There is also the presence of a lot of humour in this one, and that involves more of the unexpected. There is also a lot to expect with the new movie in the Avengers series, Endgame, with this new character being introduced into the scene. With this type of a strong superhero added to the roster like a Superman without Kryptonite, there are wonders waiting to happen. There are also some interesting questions being asked in the movie, about war and the need to end it. This movie could also go a long way with its main idea, and the journeys through different planets with more species to be there.

The claws of flaw :: Captain Marvel is no match for Wonder Woman, and that is indeed strange, considering the fact that even Black Widow and Scarlet Witch showed signs of doing that early – the female characters of Marvel had a certain amount of charm, but this new superhero who gets the first Marvel movie with a female hero lead, trails. She is also very late to arrive here, as a movie set in the 1990s. Captain Marvel should have been there before Avengers: Infinity War, and along with Ant-Man and the Wasp, these movies are not helping the upcoming big one that much as one would have expected. Regarding the introduction of such a powerful superhero late is not helping, and too much strength is also not bringing any advantage. This one needed a Kryptonite to keep the titular hero in control, as we no longer live in the age of invincible heroes, as we need the flawed ones more; it is not Superman that can do the job these days, but Batman and Aquaman.

The performers of the soul :: Brie Larson is indeed the person to look out for, and she handles this too strong a superhero with such skill that we feel closer to the character – the distance becomes less. You remember her playing a kidnapping victim in Room, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. The 2017 movie Kong: Skull Island was the one movie for which she has been known the most among the common audience around here. She doesn’t have the more close to life superhero like Gal Gadot had with Wonder Woman – that one had her closer to us with the role, and it is the presence of too much superpower that keeps this one away. Also having a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe, this one comes as no challenge to her, and it is her who makes sure that the superhero gets to the masses, and we can only be glad about the same creating a huge effect in the next Avengers movie.

Further performers of the soul :: Jude Law as Yon-Rogg here reminds one of Patrick Wilson’s character in Aquaman, as he goes on doing more and more in the name of the empire. He makes one strong villain here, even though the villainy is let down by having too strong a superhero at one end. From what he has displayed, we can be sure that there was more to be done if the villain was given some powers to match the glowing superhero. Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury is too good once again, and we have him handling the humour with a great amount of skill. Ben Mendelsohn as Talos on the other side of the war also has some fine moments to go with. Gemma Chan and Djimon Hounsou are notable as other members of the Starforce who tries to make things happen for Kree, but doesn’t have the power – once again the problem of too powerful a superhero and the absence of good enough supervillains comes up.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that Captain Marvel remains an entertainer throughout its run, with great visuals all around, and it even has a cat to steal the show along with those common humans. But with the overpowered superhero, there is a limit to how entertaining this one can be, and we all know how this will end, right from the beginning itself. A super powerful hero to use against Thanos is not that great an idea because that leaves whatever in Earthly, and whatever is human, out – we don’t want something like what happened with the final moments of Justice League, which had everyone other than Superman to be a waste. But we hope that Marvel can fix that well enough making this less repetitive next time, and until then, this one is a very entertaining movie set on different planets and between different species. The good 3D also helps the same, even though the world is no match for that of Aquaman and Thor: Ragnarok.

Release date: 8th March 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Robin Hood

What is the movie about? :: Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) has been in love with Marian (Eve Hewson) since he first met her at a stable. He is the lord of a manor, and she is a petty thief, but they have no doubt that they are in love. Still, things change, as he is called to fight in the Crusades in Northern Africa. He fights with great courage there, and defeats as well as kills many, until he makes the decision to stand up against his leaders’ attitude and treatment towards the prisoners of war. He almost gets killed by his own people, but manages to get back to his lands and get back to his feet, thanks to a former Moorish commander known by the name John (Jamie Foxx) who becomes his new mentor. This training that he receives, with the skill that he already has, Robin needs to go against the most powerful man in the county, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With his return, he finds out from his good friend Friar Tuck (Tim Minchin) that Marian is now with another man named Will Tillman (Jamie Dornan). He also finds out that his family property has been confiscated by the Sheriff, who never stops tormenting people in the name of war. Sheriff has his own army to make sure that people pay for the war with all that they have. Robin and Sheriff decide that this has to stop now or people will be left with nothing. There is no hope for the common man, and Robin decides to become that hope, something which would include more than one robbery and fight. But with the knights of the Sheriff being among the strongest, can he find a way through all these to save the common man from losing everything?

The defence of Robin Hood :: There is no shortage of style in Robin Hood, and the action scenes are all nicely done. They might feel to be a little overdose and edited in such a way that it might be a little difficult to follow for the eyes. But they do work, and has our attention more than any other. The setting also feels strange at times, but it is nicely done. We can see that the divergence that this movie has is rather too high, but even in that case, the attempt is to be appreciated for bringing a different version. The archery scenes are among the best, and the visuals with the lighting brings a special effect. The messages revolution and equality runs right through the movie, and a few parts of the movie are funny, even though we feel that it is rather unintentional. The ending also sets the path nicely for a possible sequel even though that seems not coming as we consider the situation here.

The claws of flaw :: The way in which the tale in this movie is changed becomes rather strange. It is too much of a diversion, and it is not easy to digest many of those changes. Some of them feel unnecessary even for any standards. The case of John might be the strangest of them all. The movie could have also used some better editing, especially with its fight scenes. Everything keeps moving from one side to somewhere else without warning. The movie itself is clueless at times about the idea as well as the story, even though it keeps us entertained for most part. Most of the time, the movie also doesn’t look like its from the medieval age. It goes on trying to become like King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a movie which does the same thing to the King Arthur legend as this one does to the Robin Hood legend. Well, only some movies could change for the best.

The performers of the soul :: Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett are not here to leave that big mark, but the performances are okay. Taron Egerton had those miserable overrated Kingsman movies, and this one is surely above them, and he also has some nice dialogues to go with the same. The Irish actress Eve Hewson surely brings some charm to the movie, even though her role here is limited. Jamie Foxx doesn’t have the impact to create in this character who is the trainer – it has to be noted that Mohanlal in the Malayalam movie with the similar thief Kayamkulam Kochunni had so many times bigger impact as the trainer, and that movie itself was way ahead of this one with its thief who stole from the rich and helped the poor. Ben Mendelsohn’s Sheriff of Nottingham is not that much of a villain that we expected. Tim Minchin’s version of Friar Tuck is mostly irritating, and Paul Anderson’s Guy of Gisborne doesn’t have that big impact. Jamie Dornan’s Will Tillman can have the great strength only in a sequel if it ever happens.

Soul exploration :: There are different ways in which this particular movie can work, and one of them is similar to the American War on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, with different moments pointing to the same in one way or the other. There are people supporting both sides in a war, as we notice. We also feel that this might be a Batman movie which is not good enough, and something which could have been a different kind of Dark Knight, but isn’t. The hero does spend some time with a mentor, is rich and decides to save his town in a mask, that much is clear. But the fact that Robin Hood is not Batman, and he is not supposed to be like Green Arrow who goes through almost the same things and has the hood and arrow dressed in green. Was he called into the DC Universe to be the Green Arrow? One has to wonder about the similarities visible here.

How it finishes :: Even with all the style, it is strange that Robin Hood makers could think that this would be enough, if they did have that idea. Robin Hood is not our usual hero whom we can change and get away with it. He is not Batman, Superman, Spider-Man or any other superhero to have different version. The same was proved by the earlier adaptation of the Arthur legend. Even with a cast which included Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, the 2010 version which felt closer to history couldn’t go on make it big as expected – these people had to be careful about it when making a movie like this, but the problem here is that there seems to be no such concern. Maybe this would work a little better with the 3D which was not there when we watched it – but about the movie, it is just random action entertainment which isn’t bothered about making things better.

Release date: 23rd November 2018 (India); 21st November 2018 (USA)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Otto Bathurst
Starring: Taron Egerton, Eve Hewson, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Tim Minchin, Jamie Dornan, Murray Abraham, Paul Anderson, Josh Herdman, Bjorn Bengtsson

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rogue One

Vampire Owl: The title of this movie has already made me think about Rogue Two.

Vampire Bat: It is the problem due to thinking too much about sequels. I don’t think that there will be another Rogue, as this is supposed to be a spin-off standing alone.

Vampire Owl: Some movies have too many sequels anyway. I can’t even remember when I first heard about Star Wars. Maybe we should see the rings and live only for seven days, so that the memory works better.

Vampire Bat: It is something that goes beyond centuries for humans, so I have heard.

Vampire Owl: But it hasn’t been that much known throughout the world, I wonder why.

Vampire Bat: Well, even Star Trek became popular only in the last few years – before that they had copied the same to make Captain Vyom.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I remember that it had such an uncomfortable timing that I ended up missing the food provided for many wedding, betrothal and house warming functions for watching it.

Vampire Bat: But, during those times, we never knew the original.

Vampire Owl: Star Wars was more popular than Star Trek during those days.

Vampire Bat: Now, there is the twist – everyone we love around here loves Star Trek more.

[Gets three cups of breakfast tea with a piece of orange cake].

What is the movie about? :: Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), an expert in weapons research is hiding on a planet, away from the dictatorship called Empire and its sinister motives which include but are not limited to enslavement of people. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who is in charge of the weapons research for the Imperial Military Force finds him and forces him to build a superweapon called the Death Star, which is capable of destroying planets from a long distance away, thus giving supreme power to the Empire. While his daughter is saved by the wanted rebel and an extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), his wife is killed by the Empire in the conflict. Galen is left with no other way, and is forced to go with Orson to provide his expertise, while Saw and his forces continue to resist the Empire which only grows stronger and stronger with time, while the rebels focused on newer methods to take down the Empire.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Years later, a cargo pilot of the Empire, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) turns to the side of the rebels, as he brings a message from Galen to Saw, and he is captured by the extremist rebels. Meanwhile, Jyn Esro (Felicity Jones) who is a prisoner of the Empire, gets rescued by a rebel officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who takes her to the rest of the rebels, and there, they convince her to find more about her father and the Death Star so that they can make good use of the information; their true intention is to kill him though. They will be joined by a re-programmed droid from the Empire, a blind but skilled warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his fighter friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) who would have more than what they could handle on a normal day. Can they figure out Galen’s message, find him and stop the Death Star before it begins destroying the rebel bases, or even the planets on which they stand? Is there hope against the Empire which stands so strong?

The defence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story :: Despite it not becoming that much of a popular thing here, this movie continues in the path set by its predecessors in the franchise, and does the same thing again, and provides the entertainment beyond the known world. Well, Star Wars is something that doesn’t age, and can go on to make more and more sequels, and shall continue to become success for many years to come. The message about rebellion continues, as the dictatorship also continues to do what it has been doing. The nostalgic feeling should work for those who had grown up watching Star Wars – those VCR and VCP days had more than one cassette of this franchise, with the first Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; these used to be the special movies which looked too good, but not many people had watched them. The visuals and the special effects are too good, and you are going to love the final battle scene for sure, with all the splendour. Well, a stand-alone spin-off Star Wars movie is good to keep you strong while waiting for the next flick.

The claws of flaw :: The lack of popularity of Star Wars around here has hurt the possibilities with a lot of people no aware of how this series is progressing; about where it all began, where everything is going, and who all are these people, you wonder – well, not many people who have watched those earlier Star Wars movies are there to watch the newer flicks in the theatres, you know, and a stand-alone spin-off will only confuse them. Well, if people are confused about this, you can’t blame them, and they can only enjoy parts of this one in that case. Also, the one point to note is that there is not much of a change or variety in proceedings in this movie, as this becomes more Star Wars, rather than bringing a new special element. Star Wars: Force Awakens was certainly a better movie than this, and it seemed to try to be something by itself unlike this one which goes on and on with its usual stuff. Also, its attempt to work on the nostalgia that we have for this movie works not that much with the audience here. The emotional side is rather weak.

Soul exploration :: Well, Star Wars has always been about the rebellion against the dictatorship, as we had felt a long time ago. But during those times, the need was not this strong, and with a lot of things forced on us for no meaningful reason, one has to wonder if we are all the rebels against that part of the society which steals our individuality from us, for which new rules are made; when rules are not really made for people, and it is just for a certain group of people, we wonder if this situation in Star Wars is not so different from what we have now. There is so much hate in the world that hope seems too far away, as far as the stars are. Star Wars also has the message of hope, and battling against all odds. But how strong is everyman against the troops which are controlled by fascism which threatens to destroy not just worlds, but also the idea from the minds of the people? Star Wars movies keep bringing that hope in one way or the other, against the mighty Empire which would call for fake patriotism and not rebellion, but revolution happens in one way or the other.

How it finishes :: As it is clear for many people, people in India are not really much of fans for the Star Wars franchise, even though I remember having watched the series, and becoming interested in the same – I was among a few people who did, for Star Wars surely had no takers in the schools, tuition classes or even among the cousins. The presence of some of the Star Wars games was what helped me further to keep the interest alive, and while those earlier games had the Jedi Knight hero, there was also Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds which provided the feeling of playing Age of Empires II: Age of Kings again. Even though it keeps making so much money in the United States, and maybe also in Europe as well as other English-speaking nations, it would have to try hard to make it work better in India for better collections – but you never get bored of watching a Star Wars movie as far as I am concerned, and I have enjoyed watching this one too. We await the real sequel of Star Wars: Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi releases with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega after this one from the director of Godzilla. So, may the force be with you.

Release date: 16th December 2016
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O’Reilly, Anthony Daniels

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Mexican Aparatha

orumexicanaparatha-1

What is the movie about? :: Paul (Tovino Thomas) is a happy going first year student in a famous arts college in the city who doesn’t think that much about many things, and is in love with Anu (Gayathri Suresh) who also seems to be in love with him until she reveals one day that she isn’t. Paul is highly disappointed about it, but finds solace in something else, which is mostly about going against the ruling paty of the college which is lead by their super senior and the angry young man, Roopesh (Roopesh Peethambaran). There is no shortage of violence whenever this man is concerned, as he would go to any extent to sieze victory. With the leader of the left party in the campus, Subhash (Neeraj Madhav), Paul decides to contest against the man who had lead his party to victory last year and looks forward to do the same again in one way or the other.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The campus itself has a violent flashback, with a student leader Kochaniyan (also Tovino Thomas) being murdered during the time of emergency. Even though Paul begins the battle for chairman post out of frustration, more comes out of it eventually, including a revolution and the desire to bring a positive change for the next generation. Bringing the revolution seems to be too difficult though, as the opposition party seems to have be ready to even finish off Paul and Subhash. They get beaten regularly, but they don’t back off. With Paul contesting for the post of president and Subhash contesting to become the general secretary, Roopesh decides to contest for the president post himself so that this threat can be dealt with directly. With sparks flying all around, blood is certain to flow.

The defence of Oru Mexican Aparatha :: The debutante director has chosen a subject that would work for a lot of people who have witnessed the politics in the campus in one way or the other – whether it is the good side or the bad side. He has brought the same to the big screen nicely too. There is no more of the usual kind of campus movies, as this one focuses on one side which is not that beautiful, and this is one campus which gets lot of life with this movie. The film also have some elements of comedy, and in the end, you will know that there is only one purpose for student politics, even as it is not so these days – to stand for what is right, and to gain the freedom that has been denied. Well, with so many parties into the fray, one can’t be sure if it can be achieved together by all these parties, but we all understand that there will always be the need. The stylist shots help a lot here, and so does the extremely talented cast.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been shorter though, and it could have surely cut those early moments in the hostel, which serve nothing much. The songs are not that interesting except for the “Kalippu” song which serves as the one thing that brings more to the whole setup. It is the first half which could have used some checking, especially with a rather forced romance angle that disappears. The basic idea could have also been shown without the shades of political parties – for all these elements have been there before the campus politics and the college education itself; the parties could have existed but not on the front like they are now. This could have been a perfect political movie if the focus was more on the idea than politics, and the story more than style – it works as of now, but the immense scope is somehow restricted here. The flashback could have also been shown in a better way, even though the looks never cease to amaze us. We can have more comedy and less insignificant moments in a movie like this.

Performers of the soul :: Oru Mexican Aparatha actually continues the rise of the star in Tovino Thomas who had already shown what he is capable of in the main role in Guppy as well as that memorable supporting role in Ennu Ninte Moideen, and add one horror movie, Ezra to to the list of memories. He also does get to do a flashback role, but it is all about the present for most of the movie. There are moments from him that will give keep the audience on the toes – keep looking out for him with the red flag which he will raise with or without the stains of blood. The rise of the new stars like him, who has no family background in cinema, is something that we can all be glad about, for cinema is not the private property of families; it belongs to people, and each person as a separate individual who makes the same better with their ideas and opinions. He owns one moment in the end, that is sure to give you goosebumps, despite which political party you support. We all want him in bigger thrillers and we keep asking for the same, don’t we?

Further performers of the soul :: The one who stands tall against the protagonist, is the man who brings the fire as the antagonist – the man who hails from Perumbavoor, Roopesh Peethambaran. He has the intensity which is matched only by Tovino, and we have him to display the best of campus villainy that has been seen in a long time. Coming back from the 1995 movie Spadikam which had him as a child actor, he burns the coal for further intensifying the energy here, after directing Theevram and You Too Brutus. Neeraj Madhav comes up with a realistic character here, and he is the one with the principles and discipline here – he also gets some of the best dialogues for a college campus – these three are more than just actors, they are right there as the energy sources for this movie. Gayathri Suresh gets the scope limited though, and with the romantic angle sent to the abyss by a radical change of the favourite colour from violet to red, she has nothing left to do with a character which is not fully developed – she looks good in that role for sure though. Well, not all characters are significant in this one.

How it finishes :: Oru Mexican Aparatha is the kind of movie that works on many levels, and will do nicely to bring a better understanding to the people on the bloody side of campus politics, and also the need to bring a revolution when freedom is denied – this brings the two sides which even those who haven’t studied in an arts and science college needs to witness, and know. Even when it has its protagonist on a certain party, it doesn’t support the same cent percent. If you wonder what Mexico is about in this movie, there is one locked up room in which the hero from the flashback was murdered by the police during the emergency. There is evolution and revolution that follows, and change arrives and waits at the door. You see the entertainment and you feel the excitement – a must for all who have studied in an aided arts and science colleges of Kerala, and also appealing to the rest at different levels; it is what Oru Mexican Aparatha is about.

Release date: 3rd March 2017
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Tom Emmatty
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Roopesh Peethambaran, Neeraj Madhav, Gayathri Suresh, Kalabhavan Shajon, Jino John, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sukhada, Sudhy Koppa, Hareesh Peradi, Jaffer Idukki, Anjali P Nair, Megha Mathew, Vishnu Govindan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madagascar III

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The Madagascar glory :: It all started in 2005 as the tale of New York’s four zoo animals, Alex the Lion a.k.a the King of New York, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo begins with them landing on the island of Madagascar by accident after leading a happy and satisfied life in their own little worlds. It is my favourite movie of the series, and is one of the best beginnings to any series. Despite scoring better in the box-office, I would say that Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath is the weak link among the movies so far, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a definite improvement on the same. The series would become the twenty first highest grossing movie franchise of all time. I would not expect it to go any higher in the list though, as the animated movie series will have only limited scope from the way the movie has ended in the third, but the flick is still not without its options of coming up with more sequels and scoring nice at the box-office. Thus remains the power of what was created by the three movies of the series so far.

What is it about? :: The team of four still needs to get to New York City, as they decide to go to Monte Carlo to get the help of penguins and the chimps. But as they are noticed and it creates chaos in the land, Captain Chantel DuBois is called to deal with the situation as she begins a never ending chase of the animals with her minions, hoping to keep the lion’s head on her wall in the process. They find shelter in a cricus train, as they disguise themself as American circus animals, much to the delight of Stefano the sea lion and Gia the jaguar who takes them in, despite the suspicions of Vitaly the tiger. It is later found out that the circus indeed a failure, even as they are trying to get a contract to perform in the United States of America. The penguins help by buying the circus and getting rid of the humans, while Alex tries to get the circus back working with new ideas and the help of his friends. The friends find it the best option to get back to New York, and they tries their best to make the show better, even getting a depressed Vitaly back in action in the process, and at the same time, Alex and Gia gets closer to each other. So what comes next?

The defence of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted :: This movie is a fun ride, and not many people can disagree to the same. It portrays a wonderful brotherhood of animals which puts the divided humans into shame, and the evil side comes from humans who mercilessly hunt the poor creatures for sport. There lies a twin message against hunting for sport as well as in support of universal brotherhood. As long as people are lead by their narrow-minded selfishness which calls for money only, there will be no brotherhood – but that is not the case of the animal kingdom of Madagascar. It shows a group of talking animals who are divided by species, but still stands together, may be because they don’t have politicians to bring a wall between them or reservations which make sure that they won’t have food or water from a specific area. I would consider this movie a battle against hunting for fun, inequality and filthy reservations while supporting brotherhood and freedom, about which there might be a lot to say, but much less can be directly implied. Just think about us humans having to learn from animals during this age.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has great 3D effects and it feels great to see it on the big screen. Its use of colours and style is beyond the limits of the usual 3D movie. It is still good to watch the final scenes of it on an LED screen with all the lights switched off. There is the great animation and the wonderful details of the cities which our heroes visit. It makes us feel for the animals and keeps us on their side, in a much better way than what Avatar creates in us for the weird blue aliens. Madagascar 3 undoubtedly knows where its going, and how to keep the things straight on the way. Yes, it chooses a dream-like world instead of realism, as its characters chooses to fall and get up rather than not to fall, dance instead of walk, and learn to understand rather than directly understand. It is still a world where greatness can be achieved by trying and being good, rather than using the world’s method of “lie, cheat, steal” which has been going on with most of the so called respectable people who are holding big positions, and undoubtedly making a lot of money. Madagascar gives a hope that one day people will be judged for being good rather than belonging to a community or being more or less social.

The Fantastic Four :: We have four animal heroes in the series, with a lion, a zebra, a giraffe and a hippopotamus on an adventure of the life-time. They lived a life of incredible joy in a zoo in New York until they end up outside, travelling to Madagascar, an incident which changes their lives forever, as they discovers themselves, and what they are meant to be. From Madagascar, they go African continent where they find more of themselves, and then also goes through Europe which forms the major part of this third movie. Talking about fantastic four or fabulous four always have the tendency to bring four cricketers who all retired in the last few years, but as we are talking about an adventure bigger than any money-making sport which goes on to become more corrupt to the core every year, we realize that the animals always had more to teach us compared to any materialistic celebrity of this age who are worshiped for absolutely no reason. Yes, these animals are worth being fans of, and they don’t even come up with nonsense, and they are inspirational and more humane than any of the people who are considered as role-models by the new generation.

Soul exploration :: From Trapeze Americano to Balloons for Children, the animals show that tremendous power of equality, liberty and fraternity which was lost from the French Revolution, or rather was never there. “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” has gone to the animals for sure, as we haven’t gone past the narrow boundaries of religion and caste yet, and so proved by caste and religion based politics and the reservations which shall continue to divide people in a more efficient manner for vote-bank politics. The world has been divided by imagined communities, and within nations, people remain divided, but not these animals. We can see that they don’t belong to the same species, and most of them are actually supposed to kill and eat each other. May be we don’t deserve to be united, and we should support all the barriers that Rabindranath Tagore mentioned as narrow domestic walls. Madagascar 3 might have talking animals with no logic, but somehow they make more sense than humans do, and it is evident from the way the humans behave in the movie itself.

How it finishes :: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is longer than Ice Age 4: Continental Drift by just five minutes, and there is not much to separate the two despite the fact that this is indeed better and more critically appreciated. Ice Age scored in the total box-office collection better though, and it was expected that it would go on to become the highest grossing movie of 2012 as it did, and considering the hype surrounding both movie here, I would have been surprised if Madagascar 3 had actually made anything close enough to Ice Age 4. But I am glad that it did come close, and being released before its rival might have helped it to come close enough. In an year in which even The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 comes in the top ten, being there is more of a disgrace, but when that tells the story of the movie-watchers, being there is also something of luck too. But leaving the statistics behind, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a very good watch, not only for the fans of animated movies, but also for anyone who is looking for a movie which is a visual delight in one way while being something of incredible substance in another way. Thank you HBO for bringing this back on television at the right moment.

Release date: 8th June 2012
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath
Starring (voice): Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Frances McDormand

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games II

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On the predecessor :: The first movie in the franchise was released last year, and I have to say that I was impressed by the same. I shouldn’t feel that there are many people who doesn’t know the story, but I do know a few people who haven’t heard about it. So, it is a story set in the future, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where the world is divided into a rich Capitol which controls things and twelve poor districts. The boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen (One boy and one girl from each district) are forced to take part in the Hunger Games conducted by the Capitol, an annual reality event telecast all around world. The selected youth known as “the tributes” are required to fight till death until there will be only one person remaining alive. Our protagonist is a young lady joined by the male tribute from her same district to be declared winners as they both threaten to commit suicide thus making the games invalid with everyone else dead – the first time when more than one winner is selected. The Capitol as well as the President remains unhappy about it, but covers the action as an act of true love and not a rebellion so that there won’t be the chance of a revolution against the Capitol from the suffering districts.

What is it about? :: Time has passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took the place of her little sister who was chosen by lottery to participate in the games and won it with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) creating a new record and bringing about a certain difference which was not entertained by the authorities. But they have returned home as the unexpected winners. President Coriolanus Snow visits the lady and tells her to prove that her action was based on love rather than defiance, as there are lots of rebellions taking place in districts, thanks to them defying the order to kill each other. But it doesn’t really work well as the winners’ visit to District 11 lets the emotions run high and sparks riots. Snow decides to get this problem finished as he declares the third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Hunger Games held in every twenty five years in which the participants are to be selected from recent winners. Even as Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is selected by lottery with Katniss to participate, Peeta takes his place and both are once again in the game, this time against better opponents.

The defence of The Hunger Games :: The best thing about the movie is that it tells us how ridiculous these reality shows are, and we should rather be ashamed of them for making it “reality” when those who conduct the shows decide who should win. I was shocked at the number of reality shows in India, especially in Malayalam television channels, and they were getting more and more pathetic, except for may be the comedy shows. The word “reality” is the one thing that doesn’t suit them as many unnecessary outside forces work through it. The movie’s take on the other things such as inequality, oppression and the evil of a dystopia is highly effective and moving – its rather direct, I would say with people always told what to do and obey in a world filled with false hope. All of its themes have been portrayed beautifully, bringing our feelings alive for the characters – the oppressed ones. The twist in the end is also pretty nice, and there is found to be nothing missing about it. This movie has also improved in its graphics and there are some better special effects and action in store compared to its predecessor.

Claws of flaw :: The Hunger Games II is too long, and nobody can really defend against that. The movie was also very slow in getting into the action, as the tournament starts only some time after the second half starts. There are occasions when one might thing why this chooses to drag when not needed. The emotional side remains something of lesser power compared to the first despite the characters going through more, and we might not remember this one as we remember the first. The climax is surely inferior to what was there in the predecessor with an end which is too quick, and there is too much of a projection of the leading character which gets repetitive and one is forced to wonder what is there for that. A better game was also expected by the viewers, that is for sure judging from how the people were responding in the theatre. The movie is too much like the first movie, and there is also the absence of that much fun as well as seriousness. But this one remains a force to reckon with, and it can lose only to that force which will come as another sequel, The Hobbit II, and if I am asked more about it, I expect that one to keep this one restricted to one of those corners as shows are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: I had watched Silver Linings Playbook recently, and I was sure about who was going to steal the show once again, yes that is our leading lady, the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. With the intensity of her character and the severe shortage of any good feeling, the life of Katniss is powerfully portrayed, and there are not many characters in a science fiction movie that affects the audience like this, and there are not many actresses who might have done the role so well, so charming in her disturbed state of mind and so strong even in the weakest state, Katniss is a lot more than the ordinary sci-fi hero or heroine, and it is evident that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed awakened Katniss again. Josh Hutcherson isn’t lost in that either, as Peeta deserves a lot, and he makes sure that the characters get what is deserved. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Philip Hoffman and Donald Sutherland are there with valuable support in a combination of fine performances. Another character I liked was Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone, there was something about that one.

Soul exploration :: The Hunger Games continues as the indirect satire on reality television, and how its winners are determined by those who are at the top. I liked the same in The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso, but on the entertainment side. The evil of dictatorship is also there, and the thing about inequality is even stronger in this second movie of the franchise. The revolution side is also stronger in this one as it starts powerfully right from the beginning of the movie. In a world which is moving more and more towards modernity and its horrible side effects, what we see in the movie gets more and more relevant. There is always pain, suffering, helplessness and oppression – everyone fights more than one battle for survival, and everyone with a mind is a revolutionary, hopefully of the peaceful nature. The power of media and government control becomes more shocking than ever in this movie. As Katniss sacrifices her life to save her sister in the first movie, the sacrifice is done by Peeta this time.

How it finishes :: The newer fiction doesn’t really work well for me when made into movies, the most significant ones being Twilight, The Host and Mortal Instruments – the novels won’t work for me either, but that would spawn another story another day. I am glad that this is another movie which worked, and it is going to make more in the box-office here as the movie of the weekend. The month starts well and hope the year ends well! There are not many more movies to come. It is not really necessary to watch the first movie before Catching Fire, but it might be nice if you do. There are lots of things that is carried over to this movie, but this sequel can still work out alone as the story is concerned – but one will only be happy about having watched the first movie. Lets hope that it will only get better with the next movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as well as its sequel. Let the hunger stay alive, for freedom and equality.

Release date: 6th December 2013 (India); 22nd November 2013 (US)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Total Recall

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What is Total Recall? :: There is always a powerful tendency for remakes in Hollywood, and 2012 had some of the big remakes or reboots in the form of Dredd, The Amazing Spider-Man, John Carter and this one. This year we have Evil Dead, Carrie and Oldboy, while next year has Robocop and The Crow. There are many others which I have missed and more which I might miss. But one of the movie which I didn’t want to miss last year was Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer movie of the same name, one of my all-time favourites indeed. Then about this 1966 short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick on which the movie is based, I don’t know much. What I know is that the 1990 version of movie was far superior to most of the movies of the age, and great innovative science fiction stuff. The Terminator and Predator are the two famous Schwarzenegger movies and two of the most popular science fiction stories, but Total Recall is in many ways one of its kind. With this remake, where does it’s popularity stand?

The Setting :: The story goes to the end of the century when the Earth is mostly destroyed after a series of battles involving chemical and biological warfare and a possible nuclear attack on each other. What is left fit for supporting life is divided into the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia) connected by a gravity elevator which travels through the Earth forming the only connection between the two as the rest of the world remains not fit for traffic and this is one of the fastest means. Many residents of the Colony who are poor, travels to UFB for jobs, as their status as well as wealth depends on the same. The people of the Colony are forced into submission by the UFB as they are inferior in technology and lacks in money as well as an army. There is a consistent assertion of such control claiming that the Colony is home to terrorists. The colony inhabitants live in bad conditions compared to the superior world of UFB.

What is it about? :: Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a colony worker married to a beautiful young lady Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but he occasionally dreams about another woman, who would later identified in the movie as Melina (Jessica Biel). But the problem is that he doesn’t know that girl and doesn’t even remember seeing her once. But he is plagued by the dreams which seems to be part of an adventure. One day, he and his best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) visits a facility called Rekall which is a virtual entertainment firm which implants artificial memories in the head of willing people for a price. One can choose to be a secret agent, ruler of an area, lover of many sexiest women alive, a super spy, the richest man on the planet, husband to the most beautiful woman ever known, the strongest man in the whole universe and so on. He asks the salesman, Bob McClane (John Cho) for memories of a secret agent, but it is identified that he already has artificial memories – then police comes in and starts hunting him identifying him as a rebel who is enslaved with false memories, and even his wife joins the hunt.

The defence of Total Recall :: Even as most of the people would not like it as there is no justice done to the original, this movie is still a very good watch. This will not be a classic, but it has great action sequences and very good design and CGI. The world is well detailed and when Kate Beckinsale is around one can rarely feel that there will be a shortage of action sequences. This is from the director the Underworld series – the husband of Kate Beckinsale; when they join forces, the husband-wife team comes up with some of the best action movies, even as there might not be good critical opinion. Doesn’t it remind one of Mila Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson with the Resident Evil series and The Three Musketeers? There are new additions to this movie, and some of them do keep us interested. The gravity elevator and the action around it are brilliant, and there are some good, and the stylish new gadgets and a wonderful creation of two worlds on Earth, along with its quick pace that makes it never boring makes this one worthy for defense.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t make the originial sci-fi classic feel any better. There are no memorable dialogues and has less funny side to it. The movie is also often predictable, and the change of location from Mars to the Colony might not impress a few. Its characters also doesn’t create more of a human effect, as they often move on like robots given a mission. The question would arise if this movie was needed, and one can say that if a movie is remade and can’t match the original or falls behind by quite a distance, there is no need to go for a remake. If this was something new, or they had tried a new science fiction story with a similar theme, it would have worked better. But for now, the fans of the original can only like this in a limited manner, even when there is not that many things which are wrong with this one. There have been talks about a possible sequel, and it can do this movie a lot of good if done properly.

Performers of the Soul :: Colin Farrell does a very good role as the protagonist without memory, with memory, with hidden memory and with an extra dose of memory. Does that make him Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not at all, and there comes tragic fall, but we can’t really blame him for that when he has done his part well – blame the comparisons instead. Kate Beckinsale is simply awesome – from being the lovely wife to the killing machine; she might seem to have the Underworld syndrome, but she is beyond comparison in such roles. Even as Mila Jovovich and Sienna Guillory from Resident Evil got enough sequences to object, there is nobody like Kate in an action role. Once again she makes her entrance in a black costume, a bit less tight compared to what Selene had in the Underworld series, and chases our hero and his girl as if her life depended on it – an out of control psychotic beauty indeed! Her desperation is powerful as well as funny at times, and her dialogues and action keeps the pace high. Jessica Biel pales in comparison, but her beautiful and pretty much cute presence is of pure joy, and her emotional sequences score rather than the fights.

How it finishes :: The biggest change in the storyline should be about the divisions being of UFB and Colony rather than of Earth and Mars. But what might have affected this movie more than anything else would be the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just like Terminator: Salvation struggled, for it was not a bad movie either. We can do without Mars, but not without the legendary action hero, most of them would say. Even as Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel does better than the characters who did the roles in the original, and Colin Farrell’s performance is strong enough, there is no matching the powerful screen presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But who can step into the shoes of the man? The remake of Conan the Barbarian seemed to give the impression that there is none. I would not consider the flaws mentioned by the critics as big negatives though, and this movie, even as it is not that much of a great remake of the original like Dredd, this has enough inside which could have made people run to the theatres – I know the box-office collection might not seem enough for a movie like this, but the same happened with John Carter and it is just fate.

Release date: 3rd August 2012
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Steve Byers

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Cloud Atlas

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If Cloud Atlas could be termed an anthology movie, it should be my all-time favourite in that genre, but it follows that path which moves the film back and forth through centuries and through different stories of this world. At one moment, you identify with one person, and the next moment, you see another world, one might be of the early nineteenth century, and the next one of a post-apocalyptic future which goes further beyond this century. I would prefer this method more than the typical anthology method which has even made an impact in Malayalam movies with Kerala Cafe and 5 Sundarikal, as this is more intellectually effective, as we moves through the minds and souls of all these characters at the same moment, and they are with us until the end of the whole movie-watching experience. All characters and locations stay with us together, like a mixture which resembles the real life. It is adapted from a 2004 novel by David Mitchell of the same name. The movie features multiple stories set across six different ages when the mankind has to face entirely different things, and faces them individually, and still most of them resemble each other with each action which was done in one century has indirectly affected the other, even as there is no direct relation between all these.

✠ Segment I: @South Pacific Ocean, in the year of Our Lord, 1849: This tells the story of Adam Ewing, a man with a powerful conscience who witnesses the whipping of a slave, Autua with digust. The slave later sneaks aboard Ewing’s ship in an attempt to escape from the world of pain and torture and attain freedom. Ewing helps him out, but not without doubts in his mind. Meanwhile, Doctor Henry Goose, his physician, slowly poisons Ewing, claiming that he is treating the man for a parasitic worm ever since he had collapsed seeing the whipping of the slave. He aims to steal Ewing’s valuables one by one. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** But when the doctor is about to finish the man with a fatal dose of poison, Autua intervens at the exact moment and saves Ewing. Returning to the United States as a changed man and with a clear idea in his mind, Ewing with the support of his wife Tilda, denounce her father’s involvement in slavery and leave San Francisco to join the movement against slavery. It is quite touching as a story, but the effect is limited – still works fine as a story which will inspire what is to follow. I wouldn’t go on to rate these stories considering them as part of an anthology though, and therefore you shall see none here. Still, this movie has the most clear message of them all, with no piece of ambiguity added at any point.

✠ Segment II: @Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 1936: Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English musician, finds some work with composer Vyvyan Ayrsand after leading a life of high immorality and the worst possible scandals if discovered during the Victorian Age in Britain. He helps him to compose his own masterpiece, which is refered to as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet”. He is also attracted to the composer’s wife, a feeling which is mutual and has a relationship with her too. But Ayrs wishes to take credit for the work as his own, and threatens to expose Robert’s scandalous and immoral background if he tries to stop him. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** Robert who has read a partial copy of Ewing’s journal, shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he finishes the musical work. He then shoots himself and commits suicide just before his lover arrives. This is a story of lesser, or may be the least effectiveness, and I would consider this the weakest of them all. This one doesn’t even have a worthy character who could make an impact, and thus works as the story which prevents this movie from becoming the masterpiece, still holding itself together to prevent falling into that abyss.

✠ Segment III: @San Francisco, California, in the year of Our Lord, 1973: Here, a journalist Luisa Rey meets an old man, Rufus Sixsmith who was the lover of Robert Frobisher in the earlier segment of 1936. He is now a nuclear physicist who tells Rey about a hidden conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by a powerful man named Lloyd Hooks. He is assassinated by a hitman Bill Smoke before he can give her a report that could prove the same. But she is helped by another scientist at the power plant. But she is chased by the assassins and involves herself in a life or death situation. There would be no spoiler spoiled in this paragraph, and what connects this story to the first one is that common factor of lineage which goes back to the slavery and its abolishment, as well as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” which makes its entry here too. This story is more of a continuation and the carrier of the earlier legacy of the two segments even as most of these things remain indirect and not easily noticeable. This is also Halle Berry’s best performance throughout the movie as she appears in entirely different roles in the segments.

✠ Segment IV: @England/Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 2012: Timothy Cavendish has his own problems when Dermot Hoggins, a gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to prison, and the gangster’s brothers threaten him regularly to get his share of the profits. Cavendish turns to his brother Denholme for help even as they don’t like each other that much and were not on good terms, but the brother tricks him into hiding in a nursing home, and it turns into a kind of prison for him, as he is held against his will, but he escapes with a number of inmates who shared his vision of freedom. The connection is established when Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life. This is a touching, as well as funny story, which starts off slowly, but by the end, it leaves a profound influence on the viewers. This can be considered as the only story which has that lighter side in the serious world which tries to tickle the intellect throughout. The terms cute and sweet can also be linked to this one by the end of the segment.

✠ Segment V: @Neo Seoul, Korea, in the year of Our Lord, 2144: Sonmi-451 is a genetically-engineered clone server at a restaurant who is interviewed just before her execution. She tells the story of her release from her life of servitude and modernized slavery by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a leading member of a rebel movement known as Union. While they are hiding from the troops, she watches a film based on Cavendish’s adventure thus making a connection to the previous segment. It is revealed to her that the clones like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future clones who becomes the server in the restaurants later without themselves knowing anything about it. Just like the people of 1849, she also decides that the system of such a dystopian society based on slavery and exploitation of other living beings is evil and not to be tolerated, and how she changes the world or at least make it aware of what is happening under the mask of a righteous and perfect world forms this story of revolution, an element which has existed throughout the segments. She is a representative of all ages, and she is that vision of the past that future has upheld with pride.

✠ Segment VI: @The Big Island, in the year of Our Lord, 2321: Zachry is just another random person who lives with his sister and niece Catkin in a primitive society after most of the humanity has died in an apocalyptic event which is not mentioned, but a possible nuclear warfare and related massive destruction can be guessed. Sonmi-451 of the previous segment is worshiped as a goddess and her broadcast is part of their sacred texts. Zachry is plagued by strange visions of a figure who creates fear in him, and leads to him running away from problems all the time, something which haunts him throughout his life, as he couldn’t save his own people from death due to his fear and hallucinations. They are also attacked by a fierce cannibalistic group regularly. One day, his village is visited by a more modern individual, part of the society which had more access to the technology during te apocalypse, and this changes his life forever. There is also an epilogue in which more of who tells these stories and from where – all these are revealed to the viewers. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are there for all the segments, and have done a great job in fitting in. The same can be said about Hugo Weaving, and Doona Bae is highly impressive in Segment V. The movie is not for everybody, but it is a wonderfully crafted work of art made from a work which was near impossible to adapt on screen, as something which inspires one continuously as long as he or she is able to stay with it, and there are good intentions related to this one, and the viewers can’t simply deny that.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 172 minutes
Directed by: The Wachowskis – Laurence Wachowski and Andrew Paul Wachowski [segments 1849, 2144, 2321], Tom Tykwer [segments 1936, 1973, 2012]
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Carter

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The story goes an year back, when I felt the horrible lack of respect to one movie which was better than another movie which was released in 2009. This better movie was John Carter and the inferior movie was Avatar. Even as the box office results and the critics say the other way around, the truth is not to be hidden. John Carter is superior to Avatar in each and every aspect, and unfortunately, the brainwashed audience go for movies reading the biased reviews of the so called critics. Well, how many times do someone have to tell these movie fans who read the fake paid reviews and look forward to to the hype, to listen to themselves and the less-hyped movies? For the same reason, I shall give this movie a little more in its ratings, for what it lost in its box office collection and the critical reviews. Seriously, why Avatar? What has it done other than building on the Pocahontas story and even becoming incredibly similar in theme to the Malayalam movie Vietnam Colony? Didn’t Avatar also get enough from this movie’s original story, A Princess of Mars, the science fantasy novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Still, it is hailed as the epic and became the highest-grossing film of all time, as well as of the United States and Canada; it is such a shame that there are two ways of treating the same material, the inferior one getting all the applause.

John Carter is more original than Avatar, being the right adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1917 novel, A Princess of Mars. It works as a perfect interplanetary adventure rather than a predictable world where one of the attackers get a candle lit in their brains and decide to get on the side of the helpless defenders. It has a dry and rather dark environment compared to Avatar which works very positively. Even the story is set in a more admirable world, with teleportation being the method rather than those giant space ships which repeats themselves in each and every movie, as the number of science fiction movies featuring space ships and the end of the Earth has reached a new record, as if they are too much interested in ending the Earth with that Voluntary Retirement Scheme which features the world’s most interesting voids which keeps creating more of themselves and call it science fiction, when they are actually confused what kind of creation they have actually given to the viewers. One has to wonder how much satisfaction they get by creating the same thing again and again.

After the sudden and unexpected death of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), attends the funeral. As per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can be unlocked only from the inside, and Burroughs is left with his journal to read and know more about what has happened. It tells his epic story when he is accidently transported to what seems to be a dying planet, Barsoom, a name which is used by inhabitants for what is known to Earthlings as Mars – with a harsh desert environment deprived of vegetation and even water on most of the areas. Because of his variable bone density and the planet’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump very high. But he is captured by a group of Green Martian creatures, called the Tharks and their leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Meanwhile, the princess of the city of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) escapes from a possible marriage to Sab Than (Dominic West), the leader of the city of Zodanga who is armed with a special weapon obtained from the Therns, the creatures who take the role of the gods of Mars and control the world through manipulation.

After Carter and Dejah unite in the Thark camp, they escape with the leader’s daughter, Sola (Samantha Morton) after being sentenced to death for entering their sacred temple. They decide to get to the end of a river sacred to the Martians in an attempt to find a way for Carter to get back to Earth. Instead they obtain information about the ninth ray, a source of poweful, infinite energy which only the Therns can use to their advantage in a variety of ways, the same thing which they used to strengthen Sab Than, so that Helium would be taken over and may be even destroyed, as Dejah herself was so close to unlocking its secrets; something which would have threatened their own existence as gods, knowing, controlling and manipulating everything on Mars. But before they realize anything else, But they are attacked by the Tharks who are manipulated by the Therns. After Helium troops arrive for help, Dejah agrees to marry Sab Than. So, it is upto the Earthling to save the day, but he is captured by the Thern who tells him how he has manipulated civilizations around the world for centuries in what he calls restoring balance in the world is theirs to control. This leaves Carter with more to deal with other than just a cruel, mindless ruler.

He was very good as Remy LeBeau a.k.a Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this one is undoubtedly his best role ever. It is with amazing skill that he has changed from the former soldier to the defender of Mars; from John Carter of Earth to John Carter of Mars, from John Carter of Virginia to John Carter of Helium, from just a cavalryman on Earth to the saviour, redeemeer, hero and the prince on Mars. Adding Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs seemed like another brilliant idea which helped the movie to become a complete whole, both as a film and a literary adaptation. Lynn Collins looks incredible, outdoing the Kayla Silverfox of X-Men Origins: Wolverine; the two has united for good in this movie, it seems. If there is any doubt if she isn’t a princess of Mars, that would be a clear case of blasphemy in its purest form as long as all the concepts of a princess are concerned. She looked so immersed in that character, and if someone says there is no Helium nor Barsoom, she would be surprised. Strong in will and strong in combat, and surely not trailing in beauty to any other soul around her. It is good to see James Purefoy after watching two of his great movies, Solomon Kane and Ironclad, even as it is in a minor role.

John Carter has the advantage over Avatar in its pacing and characterization, and its environment, even if not too bright and heavy with so much unwanted elements of nature, gives a good effect on the screen – it looks real, unlike the all-time box office topper. Just like a university topper, college topper or class topper is not the best or not even near the best, Avatar can bow down to this movie in that alternate reality which would never come to existence in this world. Well, people are slowly coming to know about this one and how awesome it is, and thus John Carter will be hailed much later at least by a few sensible people. The lack of mechanized warfare, and the absence of blue people can be added as that advantage, but still there are the green ones who live a similar subaltern life as the human-like creatures fight each other and cause collateral damage. If we look closely, it is the species looking closer to humans that are always causing trouble – not really a thing to be proud about, I guess.

John Carter is actually a movie of a revolutionary in many ways – and that man is Carter himself who fights for the people to whom he doesn’t belong, the land to which he is not part of, and brings justice and equality not only to the human-like Martians, but also the oppressed subaltern in the form Tharks. The enslavement by the Therns will be also almost over with his success. He is that Earthling who changes a world for good, thus becoming a man of the cause. If there is any story that can inspire one, this is it. With that ending which the movie has got, there is no reason why one wouldn’t watch it on Star Movies, every time it makes an entrance. On a parallel Earth, this would have been a grand success, but in this world of prejudice and the love for nonsense movies, one has to ask an impaled dead body for truth and the right facts about a movie; for there is not much that one can gain by reading the reviews – never to believe what is written out there, as they misguide you and lead you to the wrong movie, which is why every movie missed is a grand tragedy!

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Willem Dafoe, Daryl Sabara, James Purefoy, Thomas Haden Church

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.