Snake Eyes

Vampire Owl: I remember a time when all vampires played with GI Joe toys.

Vampire Bat: Well, that was a very short period of time.

Vampire Owl: Yet, those were some wonderful days.

Vampire Bat: If I remember correctly, those were nights. When we were awake.

Vampire Owl: Both days and nights belonged to games.

Vampire Bat: You mean to include computer games too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that would make this a very long list.

Vampire Bat: I would start with Age of Empires and Age of Wonders for that.

Vampire Owl: Yet, there was no game like Unreal Tournament 99.

Vampire Bat: Only to be permanently addicted to Mass Effect later.

[Gets a milk peda and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy witnesses his father being murdered by a group of armed people, after their leader determines his fate by rolling a dice. Many years later, he has grown up to a skilled martial arts fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). As he keeps winning all the fights and changing cities, a rich Yakuza boss named Kenta Takamura (Takehiro Hira) disovers him in a fighting arena in Los Angeles. Even though he doesn’t like the offer in the beginning, the idea of being able to find the people who killed his father makes him interested. But when he is asked to murder Tommy (Andrew Koji), who despite being Kenta’s cousin, had broken trust, he refuses, and even helps him to escape. Both Tommy and Kenta were next line to become leader of their clan, and the latter tried to have the former killed. Kenta’s plan was discovered before it could materialize, and Tommy had him banished. As Snake Eyes cannot go back to Los Angeles as he would be hunted by the Yakuza, he is taken to Tokyo instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Tommy who feels that he owes a blood debt to Snake Eyes, takes him to his ninja world. Sen (Eri Ishida), Tommy’s grandmother who leads the ninja clan agrees to let him join the group under some conditions, even though the head of secutiy, Akiko (Haruka Abe) is not fond of anyone from outside joining them, as it would be an unusual practice. He is supposed to go through three challenges, first two challenges to cleanse him of ego, anger and fear, and get him ready for the third one. Tommy also lets him know that failure means death. He will only has a few days to train for the same. With no recorded history about him and being known only by a strange alias, Akiko continues to doubt him. But she is still confident that Snake Eyes will fail the first test itself, as at least eighty percent of them fail every time. Tommy feels confident that Snake Eyes will be among the passing twenty percent, but there is certainly more than one twist to it.

The defence of Snake Eyes :: There is a lot of fighting going on in this tale inspired from a toy line, and the reboot has started off pretty well with hope for something big to be seen in a sequel with so many characters to come. Four of the most interesting characters, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Baroness have been introduced, and we can keep hoping for more. The sword fights show a certain amount of quality here, and it is not all that we see here, as we have something more in an year which provided us with Mortal Kombat. The final battle is a big one, and it has everyone going after one another. The location of the ninjas is nicely chosen too. Well, one always feel happy about watching Japan on the screen – Tokyo is nothing less than a dream city. When you look at origin stories, starting with the tale of the two ninjas seem to be the right choice, especially as the earlier movies didn’t focus enough on the two. From this beginning, the movie seems to assert that it won’t go the Transformers way, bringing more confusion as the film franchise progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Even with its twists, there is a certain amount of predictability associated with it. The hero here is the one whom we wish to have on the side of the Cobra though, as Storm Shadow is hundred percent a better person of quality than Snake Eyes by any means – it is how things are shown here. We would have wished for Snake Eyes to stay in the Cobra even as the toy storyline states otherwise. Well, just one person is responsible for all these, and he seems to be the good guy in the end. A better introduction for the characters of GI Joe and Cobra would have been better – just having Scarlett and Baroness is not good enough, and the two ninja brothers have only started. Cobra could have actually had a better job to do here too. The idea of vengeance could have been portrayed better, and instead this one seems to go here and there, not sticking to a particular plan, just like the main character himself who seems to be the most clueless one. Maybe, he intends to set things right with a sequel if there is one.

The performers of the soul :: The two leading actors, Henry Golding and Andred Koji seems to be perfectly suited for the roles, and they seem to go on with the action sequences with relative ease, especially the latter who seems to blend in from the beginning itself. Rachel Nichols who played Scarlett has been replaced by Samara Weaving, and it does seem to be a nice change – there is still only a little to be done for her here, even though she gets some of the action. Sienna Miller has been replaced by Ursula Corbero, and let us hope that this time the story won’t have the dumn romance angle, and what was ridiculous about the character played by Sienna won’t be repeated here – Ursula does make a fine entry here, and there is some nice action for her too. Haruka Abe nicely blends into her role of the security in charge of the ninjas, while Takehiro Hira has his interesting moments as the antagonist. The two masters played by Iko Uwais and Peter Mensah remains interesting too. Along with the same, Eri Ishida as the grandmother comes as a surprise package in the action scenes too.

How it finishes :: It seems that this movie will serve as a new beginning, with the origins stories coming one’s way. The earlier movies of GI Joe were entertaining for sure, but it never really used the strengths to the best advantage, and there was even some strange romantic sides to them. This movie could serve as a better beginning for a franchise reminding us of all the toys that we had during our childhood – I still have them in the showcase of the house. Well, there are not many movies which can bring such a nostalgia from figures – actually, there is no other which I can remember. In that case, this film would serve nicely to bring more into the series. Let us hope that this new coming won’t be confused as the earlier journey with the toys. But as this is based on toys, we can only hope for the best, not for it to haunt us. Until then, let us be prepared by watching this movie on Amazon Prime Video in advance. You always have space for movies like these, at least as the big entertainers full of action and style.

Release date: 22nd July 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Allegiant

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Vampire Owl :: We haven’t really managed to build our own dystopia yet.

Vampire Bat :: But why are you looking for a dystopia when it could be an utopia?

Vampire Owl :: Dystopia is the more stylish thing. Utopia is not something that much interesting for our kind.

Vampire Bat :: It is more due to your choice of movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have been choosing the right movies. You know, dystopia is the dream of every known vampire.

Vampire Bat :: That only proves that you know just a few vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I know more than you think I know. It is why I am the one true Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Can you not think about the dystopia and watch this movie?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, just like I did for The Hunger Games. But a part of my mind is fixed on dystopia.

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of tea].

What is it about in the first movie? :: The first part of this tale is set in the future, at the city of Chicago with the world being safely restricted inside walls. The society is divided into five factions, each standing for a quality, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were called the Divergents, and had to live a life without hope. Beatrice Prior a.k.a. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of them, but after managing to hide that information, she chooses the faction of Dauntless. During her time at the faction, she slows makes her way to the top after seeming like an underdog, and a good number of secrets are revealed in the process. There she destroys the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) looking forward to take over.

How does the story go in the second movie? :: Jeanine Matthews, despite being stopped by Tris, doesn’t back away from her plans as an artifact box with the symbols of all factions is found. She feels the need to open the box, as it is believed to have the messages from the creators of the city. But opening of this particular box can only be done by a very strong Divergent who is able to go through the challenges of all four factions. As expected, Tris is the one to open the box after passing all the tests, and the message calls the Divergents the result of a successful experiment and calls them to return to the humanity that waits outside the walls. Jeanine is murdered, and lots of speculations go on about what awaits them outside the walls, as nobody has an idea about how it all got to the present situation.

So, what is this third movie about? :: The curiosity about what awaits outside the walls catches the interest of many people, but the soldiers under Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts) blocks all the paths that lead outside. The trials for their enemies is conducted by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), but most of them become just executions. Tris and Four (Theo James) are not that interested in the happenings there, and escapes from inside the walls with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to find out what is actually outside. There they find out just wastelands coloured red, and even the rain drops feel like drops of blood. But soon, they discover a group of people, who are technologically advanced. Lead by David (Jeff Daniels), they tell a story, but there is that question about how truthful these newfound allies are.

The defence of Allegiant :: One can safely say that this movie is an improvement from its predecessor, Insurgent, even though surely not as good as the first movie, Divergent. Based on the first half of the last book from the Divergent series from Veronica Roth, there is a fine setting for the interesting final movie which is to come. The visuals are pretty much interesting, and the world surely looks good. The action sequences get better here, and story is also an improvement from its predecessor which had spent too much time around a box. This one also has a rather positive progress of things, and comes to a happy finish even though that would have surely seen near impossible at some point. The lead actors are solid, and the romance between the leads is also something that works. The message is also on the positive side, and there should be something to take home for many.

Claws of flaw :: There is trouble in the acting department here and there, and not all special effects are that interesting to the eye. There are parts of this world which could have looked better in another way, and a number of dialogues could have also been better constructed in a more serious manner. This is also nothing like The Hunger Games which has actually proven to be the better dystopian flick with almost every book and movie. There are times when we feel that this one shouldn’t have been split into two movies, as there was better scope to be further rich in content here. There was surely the chance to be real “divergent” for this movie, but that is not really utilized, with situations going predictable on many occasions, and the tension being built not that much used to the advantage – a well-known path is followed more than any other in this case.

How it finishes :: This one does manages to keep one interested with its world, and the incidents that keep happening. The three people who make the biggest impact here though, are Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Naomi Watts. With the idea already there, and with this dystopian setting so well used in other movie, this one could have done even better; but with what all it possesses, it does make a pretty good watch. This is the kind of world which has the ability to get interested in it again and again, even though you have said no to the same thing earlier. We can only wait and see how well this one has finished to set path for the final movie in the series, as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is to be released on June 9, 2017. With lesser box-office collections for this movie, lets see how things turn out for the final one.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Nadia Hilker, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Bill Skarsgård, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley, Jonny Weston, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anna Stevenson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

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A Flashback to Divergent :: I have noticed a number of people in the theatre being clueless about this, and therefore, lets take a flashback ride to the first movie. You can choose to skip this paragraph if you needn’t. In Divergent, within a future post-apocalyptic world of dysopian nature, the known human society is divided into five different factions according to the qualities of each person: they are Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). There are tests done for the same and those who don’t fit into the factions or the Divergents are left with no part in the society. But one young lady called Beatrice Prior will join Dauntless despite being a Divergent, and will go on to stop the faction Erudite and its leader Jeanine Matthews’ attempt to take over as the leader of them all.

What is it about? :: Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) continues her hunt for power, as she finds an artifact box with the symbols of all factions. She needs to open it as the box is believed to have a message from the founders of the city, and she hopes that it can solve the problems of the Divergents restoring the remaining factions with her as the leader. But only a strong Divergent can open it as the procedure involves going through the simulation which includes the challenges of all the factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are on the run, but Jeanine’s team reaches them – they separate as Tris and Four leave for Candor after going through the Factionless which is lead by Four’s mother Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts). But things surely seem to be heading for a war.

The defence of The Divergent Series: Insurgent :: The idea has already been set, and so Insurgent has it easy to work with. The detail of the environment is very good, and it is good to watch he dystopian world in 3D. The special effects never cease to catch our attention in this movie. The action sequences remain interesting, and the audience only end up asking for more of the same. The idea of being Divergent is taken to another level, and there is twist at the ending which leaves us hoping for more in the sequel – hope the next movie delivers a lot more. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 will get released next year and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2 in 2017, and lets hope that this works very well as there seems to be something big coming, as the impression has been made.

The Claws of Flaw :: Insurgent is a step backward from Divergent, and it is not divergent in its treatment of the subject. It doesn’t go on to establish itself as a special dystopian movie as we had expected with the ending of the first movie. The first one had established the world, but this one actually has almost nothing related to a dystopia which is provided directly and we are left to pick up a few things here and there. The message is not that powerful here with the divergence and the society. Instead, this movie tries to hold on to predictability and last minute escapes. The movie should have dared to go outside what it has established and could have brought more here. Instead, the movie manages to go on and on with the idea that we already have. There is no real attempt to change the society in a big way other than trying to bring the dictator down. Divergents are also just declared special!

Performers of the soul :: It can be safely said that it is Shailene Woodley who saves this movie from going further down its level. She has given her best here, carrying this movie forward as the Divergent protagonist. She has only made things better here, and she is the one who provides this movie with any opportunity to match up-to its predecessor even though Insurgent doesn’t end up doing so. Among the new additions to the movie, Naomi Watts stays ahead of the others, as is very much convincing and interesting. Theo James just manages to be okay playing the support. Ansel Elgort has a forgettable outing there as the strange brother character. Kate Winslet manages to be just an okay villain while Miles Teller is very good here.

Soul exploration :: Just like its predecessor, this movie also focuses on what it takes to be different or divergent, and focuses on the journey that occurs due to not agreeing to the norms of the society. In a world where moving away from the accepted norms of the society is a crime, one heroine continues to rise. This divergence leads to revolution and a change of order. Identities change here, and being smart comes with the extreme desire to rule over the others, which the intelligent faction in the movie displays. They are the masters of science and cannot stand someone else who is better than them, just like the Divergents who are good in more than one skill, and from their jealousy, the movie moves forward to the next level.

How it finishes :: The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is the second book in the much talked about Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth, even though the fans here seems to be lesser in number. The first one was an interesting movie itself, and the second one nicely follows the path which was set up by its prequel without doing anything special, which makes Divergent the better movie without doubt. This actually became the first Hollywood movie I watched this month, and may be the only one of its kind which I managed to review. Yes, my movie watching adventures have been decreasing, thanks to the censor board banning movies, and some of them not even making all the way here. There are also personal reasons, but I am going to find time for the same here and there as long as the bans and the selections of movies by the theatres make more sense.

Release date: 20th March 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale, Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Janet McTeer, Jonny Weston

insurgent

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.