Venom

Vampire Owl: This creature is known to me from a long time ago.

Vampire Bat: Which one exactly are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The one with the twisted tongue and bad teeth, coloured black or really dark grey.

Vampire Bat: That was a creature summoned by the Northern Witches. This is an alien we have here.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that the creatures among these are less alien.

Vampire Bat: The portal to other dimensions is closed now, and so I don’t think that there is the need to discuss this matter.

Vampire Owl: Well, I had this vision. The portal is no more in ruins.

Vampire Bat: You have no gift of dream vision!

Vampire Owl: Well, there is one that goes with the nightmare visions.

Vampire Bat: You will need to prove it after watching this movie.

[Gets three cups of cardamom tea with Tiger Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A bio-engineering corporation known as Life Foundation has been sending probes into space, as it would stop at nothing to find the unknown. There is something sinister about the organization and its CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who is known to be a man of mysteries with many allegations related to human rights violation made about him. He is still one of the richest and the most powerful men in the nation though, who tries to keep a clean image in more than one way. It is during those times that one of the corporation’s probe finds something which it cannot control. With four symbiotic life forms, it crashes in the remote area of Malaysia, and one of the symbiotes known as Riot escapes to the wilderness, possessing different people at different times, as it made its way towards the Head Quarters of the Life Foundation, leaving a trail of dead bodies.

So, what happens next? :: The three remaining symbiotes are transported to San Francisco, where the Head Quarters and the main research facility of the corporation are located. There, Carlton goes on to remake the human body with a combination of the two, as the creatures can’t live without human support and he believes that it could make humanity better. But he finds out that it resists and kills the human host on most occasion, and this process known as symbiosis is really difficult to achieve. Meanwhile, investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) reads about these human trials in a classified document which is with his lover and fiancee, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) who is a lawyer. He confronts Carlton regarding the same, and he is fired from his job. At the same time, Anne is also terminated from her job for leaking classified information, and there, the relationship between the two ends.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Wandering in the streets without doing anything substantial, Eddie is approached by a Life Foundation scientist Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) who reveals the the horrors that have been happening in the research facility of the corporation, and asks him to do something about it. He is initialliy reluctant as he is no longer a journalist, and feels that he doesn’t have enough resources to expose him. He asks her to contact the police or someone with high influence, but she is not someone who would give up that easily. Finally, he decides to break into the facility with her help, and find clues to how the illegal activities are going on there. There he tries to help Maria (Melora Walters), a homeless woman who is one of the subjects, and has a symbiote inside her. The result is that the symbiote which identifies as Venom gets into him, and everything begins to change.

The defence of Venom :: Venom is the anti-hero that rises to the occasion yet again – without the silliness of Deadpool, this one opposite to Spider-Man is certainly the better anti-hero compared to Wolverine’s opponent in his origins story. Our hero of Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy is no stranger to the chaos which can be seen on the big screen. The Dark Knight Rises had him bringing chaos as Bane, and here we have the internal chaos at work. Michelle Williams is a fine addition too, and she even gets to become the Lady Venom herself – that was one of the best moments in the movie. There is also the big symbiotic fight by the end of the movie, and by that time, we already had some big fights in between with Venom taking over and fighting through the mortals of Planet Earth with ease. Riz Ahmed makes a fine villain, a controlled one at the same time too.

The claws of flaw :: It is to be noted that Venom doesn’t maintain the same pace throughout the movie, even though it could have easily done that with Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams around. The symbiotes are worth more than this, as more experiments could have made the whole setup darker even while keeping the lighter side there. The beginning of the movie could have been better too. You see how well the other Marvel characters have turned out to be with their solo movies – Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Thor – all have had their appreciation, and Venom had to stand out to reach that level, considering the fact that it came later. We would have always wanted more of Lady Venom, which is special in its own way. Maybe, a sequel could do the trick by adding more of this creature, and could focus further in a world unknown too.

How it finishes :: Venom doesn’t just manage to be better than the other anti-hero Deadpool, but it also proves to be better than its own nemesis Spider-Man in Spider-Man Homecoming. Compared to a matured Venom, those two are not of much significance. The team of the host and the parasite makes a lot of fun in store, as this one should defeat the new Spider-Man at some point, and bring another reboot with our older Spider-Man movies. It is the next level of hope that we all have. Until then, enjoy Venom as the two personalities in one, half-alien, half-earthling, and with Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams who power the same. Marvel continues its winning run, and whatever they make, seems to be of more significance than those made by anyone else. At the same time, one can keep wondering about the possibility of having Venom with the Avengers – can’t they let this alien save the world in a big way too?

Release date: 5th October 2018
Running time: 112 minutes
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Chris O’Hara, Sam Medina, Sope Aluko, Scott Deckert, Marcella Bragio, Michelle Lee, Mac Brandt, Christian Convery, Ron Cephas Jones

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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.