Anna

Vampire Owl: There is nothing more interesting than a spy thriller.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember The Man from UNCLE?

Vampire Owl: Yes, that was one of my favourite movies of that time.

Vampire Bat: This one is a very serious movie in comparison though.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this is partially Russian, French and American.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.

Vampire Owl: Can Anna be a John Wick or Hitman with the gunfights?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to know that with clarity, soon.

Vampire Owl: Still, my favourite Anna names have been Anna Kournikova and Ana Ivanovic without the extra N.

Vampire Bat: This Anna should make an impact too, even for the vampires.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: During the time period between 1985 and 1990, the tension is high between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, as CIA and KGB try to prove the quality of their work in the final few years of the Cold War. At the same time, Anna (Sasha Luss), is a young Russian girl whp has been the victim of domestic abuse, being abused both physically and sexually by her husband, Piotr (Alexander Petrov). The man is a criminal and a drug addict, forcing his wife to become part of his illegal actions while wasting no time in making her feel as his property – she would do anything to get out of her situation. One day, after a failed attempt to take money from an ATM using an American tourist’s card and shooting at police, he attempts to leave the city with her, only to be stopped by Alexander Tchenkov (Luke Evans) who murders Piotr and offers Anna a job at the agency for five years, as he was impressed by her earlier profile and background before she became enslaved at her present situation with her husband.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Her father was earlier in the military force, and she had also tried to enlist into the navy. With the problems created by her husband looming over her, she agrees to Alexander’s offer and serve the country in a different way in comparison to her father, and joins the training. Later, we see that she becomes an undercover agent, after selling dolls in a marked in Russia, and later being taken to France, becoming one of the top models in Paris. As a part of her cover, she also pretends to be in a relationship with the lesbian model who worked with her, Maude (Lera Abova). She does manage to assassinate her target Oleg (Andrew Howard) who had revealed to her something which KGB wanted to hear, the revelation ending up as the reason for his death. Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy), a CIA agent does get some clue of her involvement in the murder, but he lets him go at that time. But there is something else happening in the background – what could that be?

The defence of Anna :: There is no doubt about the ability of this movie to thrill, as it has a large number of twists in store – you rarely see what is coming, as at one moment you see something and think about it, but the very next moment, you are up for a surprise. The action sequences are really good, reminding you of movies like John Wick and Hitman among the others, and you love how well the leading lady has handled everything around here. The tale does have something to keep us interested at almost every point, meaning that there is no dull moment at all. There are also some beautiful visuals set for us here, and we watch the wonderful action take place in different nations in the middle of all that magnificence. There is one final action sequence which is so long, and the protagonist going on shooting people – it is impressive, and so are many other sequences which catch our attention, while staying with us, especially the fans of genre.

The claws of flaw :: Anna has a little more flashbacks than one should want it to have. They also come up at a time when you are not expecting them, and are not needed, making it not that easy to follow the movie in the way it should be followed. The problem it creates affects the timeline more than anything else, and we are confused about what happened before which incident – we just cannot keep track of everything which has happened in the timeline, because there are so many of separate incidents, and when you squeeze something from another point of time into the world when something interesting is going on, there is a certain loss of control. The movie should have done very well with everything going in a straight line, with one or two flashback sequences. It could have also used a little bit of humour which was there to be taken on a number of occasions, but the movie avoids it to go back to its usual pace.

Performers of the soul :: Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova does a fantastic job as the femme fatale, assassin and the spy who works as a model when she is undercover. As she is really a Russian fashion model in life, it seems to work well for her, and as the assassin, she is perfect too, without feelings as she shows almost no regret after the murders. The one person who seems to match her in such action is Olga Kurylenko, the Ukraine-born model who moved from Russia to France just like the main character here. Luke Evans who had slain the dragon in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, brought the villainy in Fast and Furious 6, embraced vampirism in Dracula Untold and went on an unstoppable killing spree in No One Lives, gets to be strong one here too, as he plays the KGB agent who recruits the protagonist. Cillian Murphy on the other side plays the CIA agent with ease. Helen Mirren’s role is the usual, and plays with no difficulty in regular style.

How it finishes :: Anna is one of the best thrilling action adventures which you might have seen in a long time, and it reminds one of movies like The Man from UNCLE. Luc Besson, the director has already given us some wonderful films in the recent past including the fantastic interstellar adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the strong action thriller Lucy, along with those older classic movies like Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. This one is just another wonderful addition to the list, as you go through the twists and thrills without taking your eyes off what is going on. The Brian De Palma movie starring Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Femme Fatale is one another movie which comes to the mind with this flick, but nothing matches Anna in its twists along with the action, as there is one coming after the other, and in the end, you know that nothing was happening the way you felt earlier, or later.

Release date: 10th July 2019
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Lera Abova, Anna Krippa, Nastya Sten, Alexander Petrov, Nikita Pavlenko, Aleksey Maslodudov, Eric Godon, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Andrew Howard, Ivan Franek

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@ 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.

MI: Rogue Nation

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Vampire Owl :: We have been missing the impossible.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we haven’t tried anything impossible for some time.

Vampire Owl :: Actually, we take no risks except when watching those terrible movies.

Vampire Bat :: Well, everyone can’t be Tom Cruise!

Vampire Owl :: Somehow, he never really gets old.

Vampire Bat :: May be he is immortal too, in another way.

Vampire Owl :: There is that special feeling when we hear that Mission Impossible music; I don’t know what it is.

[Gets the tickets].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/947-mission-impossible-5-review.html

We return to the super-hit franchise again. Tom Cruise, the Mission: Impossible franchise and the action movie fans have had a very good relationship in the last few years. Even as the third movie of the series was the least impressive of them all, they successfully made things a lot better with the fourth, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Inspired by a much older television series, Mission Impossible franchise has been making a very heavy impact on the fans since the first movie in 1996. It is no different in the case of this fifth movie which has everyone’s attention ever since the trailer began to show up in the theatres.

As his adventures continue, Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) comes face to face against a dangerous criminal organization called the Syndicate. But despite his best efforts, CIA and other organizations completely deny its existence. Meanwhile, the director of the CIA Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) gets IMF disbanded and taken into the CIA itself, with a mission to catch Ethan as early as possible. At the same time, Ethan is captured by the Syndicate, and is saved by a former MI6 agent working for the criminal organization, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). As IMF is disbanded and CIA is refusing to believe them, Ethan decides to take things into his own hands.

As Ethan remains on the run with CIA on his tail, he almost gets hold of a Syndicate member while attending an opera, but the Chancellor of Austria is killed at the same venue despite his best efforts. At the same time, Ilsa leaves him with clues which will help him to get to her at Casablanca. With the help of his friends Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Ethan has to figure this out and confront the leader of the Syndicate, Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). It turns out that the Syndicate is not a regular criminal organization as they thought it was, but something more with origin in secret government organizations.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is exactly the movie of the series that the fans might have wanted for a long time. It is surely intelligent and has a very interesting story despite having no spectacular sequences to finish it – the ending could have had bigger action and the villain also could have been a more menacing one face to face. The highlight of the movie, the sequence with Tom Cruise hanging outside the airplane comes very early. It is just one of those stylish action highlights of the movie which has others like an interesting sequence at an opera, a high voltage motor-bike chase and an underwater heist. These are also done at some of the best locations possible.

We know how well Mad Max: Fury Road managed to be a wonderful full action movie, and this one follows that path using its strength. The rest of the things are just means to this strength, and you can also admire the fact that the smartness of the plot supports it. You should notice how well things come together as the locations shift between different nations – you will love Morocco shown in this movie more than the rest. The sequences are also more believable. I was still a little disappointed that Jeremy Renner doesn’t take part in much of the big action here. But there is enough here to make up for that, and our cast surely does the job very well.

In a movie which has some nice twists and change of sides, Tom Cruise manages to emerge as the awesome action star once again. There is no difficulty there is making us believe in the impossible with this man around. It was great to see Rebecca Ferguson get a role which is very much on par with him, with just lesser in screen presence only to Tom Cruise. She is the best heroine ever in a Mission: Impossible movie and she has a part in almost every action sequence with our protagonist, and at the same time having no romantic side with the hero. She is perfectly suited for this role. She does those stunts in style and also brings the suspense as the person who is the most difficult to figure out in the whole movie. She is the one complicated person on whom the whole mission depends on. She becomes the big advantage that none of the other movies of the franchise had. Along with Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames also has a little too less to do in this flick.

The franchise achieves new heights with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, as the latest flick becomes a superior entertainer in the list of movies which have served us for almost twenty years. There is a certain improvement with this movie, which was thought to be a hard task, but it has been done. It won’t be easy to forget this one soon, as the thrilling experience will stay on the mind of viewers for quite a long time. Even though there have been so many movies with big action sequences, you can still take the level of action to an even higher level – it is not impossible, and this movie proves the same with ease. Look out for this movie this weekend, and it can make you forget Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

[After the movie]

Vampire Owl :: Well, Rebecca Ferguson does save the day more times than Tom Cruise, and that should be a first.

Vampire Bat :: She is too good! Most of the time, her character surely is the smartest one around!

Release date: 6th August 2015 (India); 31st July 2015 (US)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Simon McBurney, Jens Hultén, Tom Hollander

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.