Stowaway

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Doctor Frankenstein had a stowaway on his Ultimate Machine of Nightmares?

Vampire Bat: Why would someone want to have a ride of nightmares?

Vampire Owl: I guess they wanted to witness the greatness of this invention by the greatest scientist of all times?

Vampire Bat: Why are you not understanding that he is not a real scientist at all?

Vampire Owl: You are saying this because you studied arts only.

Vampire Bat: I am well aware of the way of science. Mr Frankenstein has no role in it.

Vampire Owl: You should understand that he can teleport you in a second or two.

Vampire Bat: Even those witches of the north can do that.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about teleportation to another realm.

Vampire Bat: He just creates a virtual reality within his laboratory and pretends that it is another realm. He cannot even teleport Uncle Dracula’s lost fangs.

[Gets a paneer masala dosa and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: A two year mission to Mars has been approved for the spaceship, MTS-42, which has the mission commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette), biologist David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim), and the ship’s doctor and researcher Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick) on board. They are taking the first steps to call Mars the second home, and each of them is very good with the needed abilities and extended training. Everything seems to go fine with the launch, and they are all glad to be on the way to a great expedition. Soon after the takeoff, they discover a launch support engineer, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), an unexpected traveler who seems to be caught and fallen unconscious between the two modules of the ship. As he falls down, the device that scrubs carbon-di-oxide from ship’s air is destroyed. They use use emergency lithium hydroxide canisters to get rid of the carbon-di-oxide from the air, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Marina is not sure about what has happened here, and wonders if something strange is going on in the background.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Michael wakes up and wants to go home, but everyone knows that a return is not possible now. He slowly adapts to the situation, as the company promises to help his sister to go through her life in his absence with guidance and monetary support. David begins cultivating his algae experiment of the ship before reaching Mars, as there is the need for some extra oxygen, but it is also not that much effective. The damage done to the carbon-di-oxide scrubbing device seems to be permanent, and their life support seems to be in trouble. If they are not able to find another method for the supply of oxygen, they are going to fall short of breathable air. The only option seems to be a spacewalk to climb the tethers of the spaceship and recover liquid oxygen from the upper stage of the rocket. Even though the other two are okay with it, Zoe is not ready to sacrifice Michael to make sure that they have enough oxygen for their journey, and the commander decides to wait for ten days to come up with a solution. But can they have one in time?

The defence of Stowaway :: The space and the spaceship around here are indeed well-detailed, and there is one final adventure to be done as the movie gets near its end, which provides a charming view of space. The world here has good detail, both outside and inside the spaceship. There is always the question about the significance of life of a person when it would mean the death of three others who are more important not just for one mission, but for the entire humanity. This something about the talks here, as there seems to be no clear solution for a problem. There are many routes which this movie seems to take too. The movie does talk about the importance of faith, belief and hope in life, even though it is indeed a double-edged sword which can end up ruining everything like a person too much motivated by a motivational speaker. Well, after all, we know that the life itself is about some tough choices that we make, and in the end, we are all just going to die a terrible death and lie a few feet under.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is surely slow, and never does it even try to get any faster, which is rather strange, as we look at all those possibilities which have been avoided. It doesn’t try to be that entertaining either, as the speed is never that much to keep us that much engaged with the possible thrills. There is that drag which is felt because the film has too many moments and dialogues which could have been avoided – a two hour movie was not needed to deal with this kind of a theme which never chooses to go bigger. The movie’s question does feel strange too, about humanity and all, because science has already brought extinction upon humanity, and most of the human beings do not deserve to saved. And, we all know that humans are not going to make that much of a sacrifice after thinking too much – so much of thoughts better lead to brutal murders. We don’t know that much about mission being undertaken here either, except for where it is headed, and related to some of the possibilities after reaching the destination.

The performers of the soul :: Among the performers, Anna Kendrick is the only one face that we seem to recognize at first sight. We have seen her in very less number of movies in the last few years, but as we see her again, she seems to be another actress who seems to get younger as time progress – we recognize her as almost the same as in those much earlier movies. Despite not being the commander, she is the true protagonist and heroine of the movie, and the one who is ready to make a different at any cost – she does the lady with the most conscience in a wonderful way. Toni Collette has been there for longer, but most of us have seen her in movies which are rather too old, which means that recognizing her would be difficult. She says good as the commander who has to take some very difficult decisions. Daniel Dae Kim plays the man with his own assumptions about success of the mission quite well. The only other character and the one who brings the change to the mission is Shamier Anderson, a job quite well done.

How it finishes :: There has been no shortage of interesting journey through space which Hollywood has undertaken – it was at times complicated like Interstellar, with great visual splendour of space like in Gravity, hope for colonization of another world like in The Martian, horror inside the spaceship like in Life, terror in space colonies like in Doom: Annihilation, searching for secrets of humanity like in Prometheus, more on drama and romance like in Passengers or even going the fully entertaining in Star Trek way. The Chinese had The Wandering Earth and the Koreans had Space Sweepers, now we have this one. Stowaway is closer to the genre of drama instead of becoming the thriller. It still has enough of the engaging moments, and also has the moral questions running through. Even though most of us will not get to space and will face the human extinction event, we will clap to the rich people going to space and living happily ever after, following the discoveries similar to that in this movie are made. Until then, we will watch similar movies again and again, adjusting to the interesting moments that they provide, as the apocalyptic event awaits with a terrible beauty ready to be unleashed.

Release date: 22nd April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Joe Penna
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, Toni Collette

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wandering Earth

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Earth can wander?

Vampire Bat: I have never known about Earth being a wanderer. Can it go to tourist destinations and see places?

Vampire Owl: This movie has Earth wandering around with he help of human technology to escape the solar system to save all life.

Vampire Bat: So, you mean to say that extinction is delayed in this case too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this time it is the Chinese that saves the day.

Vampire Bat: So, after The Monkey King 2 and The Mermaid, it is time for another full-length Chinese movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and we haven’t had something like Interstellar, Gravity or The Martian in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have missed space as well as the possible end of the world.

Vampire Owl: There are not many things that I have missed so much.

Vampire Bat: This one looks grand. So, it could assure fine quality science fiction during the possible end of the world.

[Gets a plum cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Sun which is getting older is about to turn into a red giant and would engulf Earth’s orbit very soon, and this realization forces the world nations to form a United Earth Government, an act of unity which never happened in the long history of humanity. The plan here is to take Earth out of the Solar System to the Alpha Centauri system which is many light-years away, so that mankind can be saved from extinction which seems to be very close. For the same reason, grand thrusters known as the Earth Engines, are built across the planet to keep Earth moving, after stopping its rotation. Many people die due to grand tsunamis that occured after the rotation stopped. As Earth moved away from the sun using the newly formed Earth Engines, the surface was frozen, forcing the remaining people to live in huge underground cities. These areas were built near the engines to make sure that there is enough power.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As this plan to keep Earth moving for many years, almost taking one hundred generations to finish the mission, a young man named Liu Qi (Qu Chuxiao) takes his younger sister Han Duoduo (Zhao Jinmai) on a journey at the surface. It happens to be an unauthorized trip to the surface, but as they travel in a heavy transport vehicle using fake IDs from criminal gangs and also using their grandfather Han Zi’ang’s (Ng Man-tat) heavy vehicle clearance pass. But their journey is halted by the security forces who takes them to prison, and they are soon joined by their grandfather who tries to bribe the authorities to get them out. Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing), Liu Qi’s father is an astronaut who is at an international space station that is supposed to help navigate the Earth on its journey that would last thousands of years, and also has DNA of animals and seeds of plants stored to ensure better life in the next solar system.

And what is to follow later in this tale? :: Liu Peiqiang’s mission in space is finally going to end and is all set to return to Earth after the Chinese New Year, and meet his son who has been very unhappy about leaving him behind. Liu Qi’s only happiness in the world is his adopted teenage sister Han Duoduo who was saved during the tsunamis by his grandfather. But the plans of a possible family reunion is soon destroyed, as huge earthquakes occur on Earth, as the planet has a gravitational spike during its journey close to it, instead of gaining a gravitational assist, and the Earth Engines are disables as a result. This would get Earth much closer to Jupiter, setting it on a collision course with the giant gas giant, which is many times bigger, and would mean the end of human life on all cities. With all the destruction around, the family escapes from the prison along with a fellow prisoner named Tim (Mike Sui) who is half-Chinese and half-Australian, as they get caught in a mission to save Earth. But can they do it and move Earth away from the largest planet in the solar system?

The defence of The Wandering Earth :: The movie does manage to have some good performances from Qu Chuxiao in the lead, Wu Jing as the father figure, Li Guangjie as the captain, Zhao Jinmai as the sister figure, Ng Man-tat as the grandfather figure, and others who support pretty well. But the movie is never that much about people, even though the emotional side is awakened at times, especially related to the family relations – the big advantage of the movie remains with the action-filled adventure set in the future, nicely managed in a world which is very well designed. There is a fine world that we see here, giving our eyes some beauty which is there to stay even after we finish watching the movie. The post-apocalyptic world is among the best, and the designs of the underground cities, the grand engines with the view of Earth and Jupiter, the new frozen world on the surface, and the message of hope are all nicely delivered. The thrills are delivered well.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the emotional touch is surely there, the characters remain underdeveloped, and the sister character, even though becomes one that catches our attention, doesn’t have that depth – the father-son relationship also struggles to move on, and the final sacrifice is the one thing that saves it, as its background remains too strained to be likable. There is also a certain amount of predictability related to that, and even with a new idea of using the Earth to go to another solar system instead of a spaceship to take people to another planet, the idea is not that much explored to the full potential. Even with the final attempt being something of zero chance of survival, when people go for it instead of supporting the survival of the species, one has to wonder what kind of astronauts and scientists are these people. At least the Artificial Intelligence did loss hope in mankind by then. This one surely needs a sequel to let us know how it goes after that fine finish, and I hope that it arrives soon.

How it finishes :: The Wandering Earth is undoubtedly the best Chinese full-length movie which I have watched so far, but it has to be noted that I haven’t watched many of those movies. It is a visually stunning spectacle which takes you on an apocalyptic as well as post-apocalyptic journey through a world which needs to be saved, and this is where the science fiction wears it action-adventure boots, and gets you on a thrilling adventure. It might not make you feel that it is entirely new inside, but what you see on the outside with its idea, is innovative. It might feel familiar at times, but also impressive, when you witness this grandeur on the screen. It is China’s third highest-grossing movie of all-time, and it might be their first full-scale space adventure, with apocalypse written all over it. Loosely based on the 2000 novel with the same name by Liu Cixin, the movie has you immersed in that world from the future.

Release date: 5th January 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Frant Gwo
Starring: Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjiem, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, Qu Jingjing, Zhang Yichi, Yang Haoyu, Li Hongchen, Yang Yi, Jiang Zhigang, Zhang Huan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

Valerian

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we went through space?

Vampire Bat: Yes, that was when the portal created by Doctor Frankenstein opened at the wrong place.

Vampire Owl: It is still a much debated topic. He says that the portal still opened at the right place, which has another portal as a connection.

Vampire Bat: There is no history of the existence of having a portal connected or placed within another portal.

Vampire Owl: He always makes new history. Last time he did something like this, it became a novel.

Vampire Bat: There is real debate on that, about his motives behind the same.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula trusts him more than anybody else?

Vampire Bat: Yes, just like the Frankenstein Monster trusted his monster. Where did it lead him?

Vampire Owl: Frankenstein Monster’s case is different. He was never really alive to be dead, and so he never really got out of life to die.

Vampire Bat: Life and death, they are just two sides of a leviathan’s coin, marked with the sign of the undead.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Krackjack biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A long way into the future, a former International Space Station has reached critical mass, getting relocated into deep space, being renamed as the city of Alpha, a space-traveling world inhabited by millions of creatures from many thousands of planets from different galaxies as humans build contact wit them. With the population going out of control, there is a special police force created to preserve peace as well as law and order, and it has Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who go on special missions all around the galaxy to make sure that everything works according to the plan. It is one of those days when they are having some vacation time that Valerian dreams about Princess Liho-Minaa (Sasha Luss) who is living in a planet with her peaceful group of people who fishes for pearls, but has their world destroyed by spaceships coming right out of the sky. But he is clueless about how the dream could be so clear, and it is as if the princess is calling out to him.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: It is analyzed that the message could have been from any time period and any part of the universe, and there is no chance of finding what could have caused the message to get through him, and the source remains unknown. At the same time, their next mission is on, with the need to get something that replicates almost anything in the universe – but it turns out that the same is with the black market dealer Igon Siruss (John Goodman) who is part of an extra-dimensional marketplace. There, Valerian and Laureline find the secret to unlocking something which has been troubling the government for a long time – Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) of something strange happening in the centre of Alpha, and that the troops sent into that particular area have not returned, and the area which is out of their control, is growing. Now, it is up to the two to find more of the missing links, and unveil the big mystery.

The defence of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets :: What you would notice as the first thing about Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that it is one of the most beautiful things that you can watch on the screen, as the space, the planets, the world of thousands planets, as well as the alien creatures and people, they all make it such a colourful world which has so much detail with everything. The skill is not limited to that, as there are those nice action sequences which go with them, and there is also one mystery to come to light. What you see on the screen is the marvel that you will need to keep watching again and again, as we are transported to that world which has no boundaries in extravagance. You might need this one to make sure that you can escape to that world, some place further away than any travel site can tell you, as imagination run high here, and there is a twist to be discovered, as one would expect with a movie like this, as dark secrets get out.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when you feel that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has been focusing the most on its visuals – it is no crime, and we are invited into a wonderful feast on the screen, but you are certain to feel that there was scope for more with its story that goes beyond planets and galaxies. The last few moments take a little more time to reach the end unlike having a smooth run – there is a little unnecessary extension there without which the movie could have been smartly smoother. We also hope that the audience can grow up to this movie, instead of claiming that any fantasy movie without quality is so good just because it is from their industry – they were not looking for substance them, claiming that the over-hyped movies was something which it surely couldn’t go on to become. We have such shameless people around, and so, it is no surprise that the critics would also want to please them up to an extent.

Performers of the soul :: There is some good chemistry being shared by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in this movie which is about the two more than anyone else, except for a few aliens, if we look closer. Well, most of the Bollywood fans are not going to call this one chemistry for sure, and we can say the same about those critics who have been watching too many of those romantic melodrama nonsense for years. A good science fiction or action flick might be a long way out of their world. One might have still wanted more with the protagonists, but they are good, maintaining peace not just in the city of thousand planets, but also for the viewers. You remember Cara Delevingne from Suicide Squad, she made a wonderful Enchantress, a young archaeologist who was possessed by an ancient evil force – of course, critics took the right to be prejudiced then. Dane DeHaan was fantastic in A Cure for Wellness, if you have watched it, and when we consider the superhero movie stuff, it is The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s Green Goblin and Enchantress making a lovable no-longer-villain couple.

How it finishes :: Coming from the director of the surprise awesomeness Lucy, you will see that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that beautiful world on the screen that deserved more than what it got – the same was the case with Jupiter Ascending and John Carter, both having some wonderful worlds on the screen, with tales that go the distance; but we know that the audience and critics cam both be the kind of people who got the history of not making excellent movies score with box-office collections or opinions. Well, at least movies like Pacific Rim and Terminator Genisys did well outside North America to get the attention that they deserved. Well, it is good to have divergent audience all around, and only then can we nullify the effects of prejudiced viewers. For the same reason, lets hope that more people watch this movie and come with the good opinions, inspiring a sequel to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – we can see that the scope is rather endless with this one, like in the game Mass Effect.

Release date: 21st July 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer, John Goodman, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Spruell, Alain Chabat, Thom Findlay, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jonas Bloquet, Sand Van Roy, Sasha Luss, Louis Leterrier, Olivier Megaton

<— 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.

Gravity

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I have to agree that the wait for gravity has been much long, as the trailer came to the theatres quite early, with not much information available about it. No, it was not one of those movies which I was waiting for, but it became a movie worth waiting for, after having its own transformation from nothing to everything with those highly positive reviews and good word of mouth, and remained in the support of nearly 97% positive reviews in Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9 in IMDb, something which had to result in a rise in the number of viewers in the theatres, and because of that, we had to book our tickets online, not really something we had to do this year in spite of the fact that Iron Man 3 made us do the same, even as Man of Steel had threatened to do the same again and The Wolverine had succeeded in it. Yes, Gravity was to be watched at any cost, and we decided to waste no time, as we approached it the very next day after it was released here to positive reviews.

It has to be noted that the story for this movie is quite simple and lasts no more than one and half hours. We are introduced to Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first space mission, and the veteran space traveller Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who have almost finished their job when the space waste from a destroyed Russian satellite hits them and everyone except the two are dead. Matt saves Ryan from being lost in the space forever with low level of oxygen, but cuts himself off from her when he feels that it will endanger them both. After getting into the semi-destroyed International space station from their damaged shuttle, she has to use one of the damaged modules to somehow get to a chinese space station, from where she can go back home in their modules. As someone new to the whole thing, and with no communcations to advice her, she has to use more than what she knows to survive and make it back to Earth. It is not the most interesting plots around, but you have to love it for what is shown on the screen.

In the world of extreme science fiction, all these would seem too simple, but not for the realistic environment that the director has attempted to create right here. In an extended world of reality, there would be questions about reality, and one might wonder if this is also real enough. None of us did go to space already, and so this is no lesser unreality than most of the other things which are exaggerated, but the helplessness of the man and the lack of the scientific “supernatural” keeps this close enough to be defined real, even as I consider this to be that much of a work of imagination as any fantasy movie around there, and the chance of all these happening is as much as that of a Hobbit helping a group of Dwarves and a wizard against a dragon, or a young wizard with a scar going to a school hidden from reality. The one thing that denies sorcery here is that there are no superhumans here, and there is no deus ex machina. There is certain amount of role that fate has to play, but more of the job is done by the humans themselves.

There are only two actors in the movie, who are alive and shows their living faces. There are other astronauts for sure along with the voices, and there are dead bodies, and we see one of them floating around in space with almost a transparent face and a few others inside the space-shuttle, providing some moments of small shocks which work quite fine. Sandra Bullock is there or almost the whole time, and she comes up with what might be her best performances so far. She makes this survival movie her own, right from the beginning to the end. The fact that her character is too simple and ordinary, and none of her decisions come from the text books, make this one a dynamic character of infinite proportions in the infinite space of nothingness. George Clooney’s presence is small compared to our protagonist, but when he is there, one can think about, and can feel the awesomeness. The one memorable thing about this character is that there is the knowledge about when to let go and how to make not only his fellow characters in the screen, but also those outside the screen comfortable enough.

The life in infinite space has immense possibilities, and the survival in such a world with nothing to hold onto and and no hope to call or inform anyone for help is more than just another usual distress situation. Open Water and Open Water 2: Adrift made such worlds possible with their protagonists left hopeless in the middle of the ocean, but Gravity takes further steps into such helplessness when there is not even water, earth or any living creature nearby, and there is not even that distant hope of someone coming to help or trying to swim in order to reach somewhere. So, here comes the use of 3D. The Hindi movie Warning which was inspired from Open Water 2: Adrift tried some luck with it, but as we have seen before, it is rarely used effectively. But Gravity scores there with its spectacular use of 3D and all the resources which are available. It creates that connection with the audience with its 3D and visual effects, and it is that beauty on the screen and the technology that makes this one close enough to a beautiful thriller.

It is an experience worthy of being watched on the big screen. It is indeed one of the best visually stunning 3D experiences ever. The first person shots and the detail of the world requires special mention, as it takes the viewers closer to that experience of space, its beauty and its terrors. The magic of cinema in the theatre begins here, again with this “cine-magic”, or rather it started with the trailer of The Hobbit: Desolation of the Smaug. In spite o all these, Gravity will struggle to impress most of the viewers if watched on television or DVD, and that is a sure thing. If I had waited and watched this on another smaller medium, I might have just given this something around sixty five to sixty nine out of one hundred. There is that need to watch this with all its powers, and a smaller screen and the lack of 3D can only create that situation of being handicapped, and I would wonder why anyone would wish to watch a movie that is restricted to being half the flick that it is, when all its power lies in something and is stripped of the same.

There are still more that the viewers can ask for. On the local level, it is the presence of more shows, as it was there in just two multiplexes here; not something expected for such a movie; may be they scrapped it for movies which had stars who were more famous in this part of the world. On a more global needed, there was the need for more of George Clooney, a little bigger plot and thus a longer movie. But those are more of desires rather than needs. Gravity is pretty much exceptional in what it has achieved, even if it has done so not in a way that most of the viewers might have wanted it to. The movie itself works on the lack of gravity than gravity itself, just like it denies itself the opportunity to be just another exaggerated science fiction or a violent thriller. It defies all conventions and keeps faith on technology and the magic that is cinema, and thus honours all its viewers as well as its predecessors. There is the need for movies like Gravity, as without it, we might fail to understand the power of a medium such as cinema.

Release date: 11th October 2013 (India); 4th October 2013 (US)
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney (+emptiness, darkness, void and corpses)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Man of Steel

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Behold this moment, for this is that period of time when our childhood superhero, the most popular one of that time, would seem to be someone else when we look at the name of the movie which features him, but then we realize that he is still Superman.  He is the Man of Steel, as Batman is the Dark Knight, both rises and without any doubt, both would end. Both have changed and evolved so much that one can no longer use the common joke about Superman and Batman, what differentiates them from the common man without superpowers is the way they make the underwear into outerwear; for The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel no longer comes with the same, may be they found it incredibly difficult to find one, or in more modern terms, it doesn’t suit the new generation of so called stylish people who despite their own traditions in every possible way.  It is still good that they have learnt that what is to be worn inside should remain inside.  Actually, they are both not the superheroes who continue the legacy, as they move out of it.  Another thing is about this Steel Man and the Iron Man; considering the success of the Man of Iron, may be Man of Steel can make an impact close to enough to it, at least with the adults who still think Superman is a little childish, and with no doubts, too powerful for anyone to like. So, this is a new superhuman, as the alien takes a turn at the road not taken except for Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

This movie begins in another solar system, another galaxy, which might be strange for a superhero movie, as it is not usually expected unless the protagonist is He-Man of Eternia with all the focus on Castle Grayskull. But, this is a change which works quite well. We see that when the planet Krypton is facing total annihilation due to an unstable core, Jor-El and his wife Lara launch a small spaceship carrying their newborn son Kal-El and a genetic codex. Zod arrives in time, but fails to stop the launch; in rage, he murders Jor-El, but is captured, and he and his supporters are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a prison which holds its prisoners who suffer for almost eternity, thus serving as a device for damnation beyond the control of Satan. But they manage to escape when Krypton explodes and their control over the jail is gone. They travel around different planets looking for life as well as things to salvage. Meanwhile, Kal-El lands on Earth and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their son. So, the Earth’s location and its peculiarities provide the kid with superhuman abilities, which he manages to control with the help of his foster parents. This is where Superman begins his second phase, and the first known phase of this whole sequence of origins.

Living a wanderer’s life fearing for his own power and the possible reaction of the people of Earth about his strength and abilities, he finds a Kryptonian spaceship fron under the ice and meets the hologram of his own father which explains to him more about himself and his origins. The Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane comes to know about the same, but decides not to publish about him without his consent. Meanwhile, Zod finds his existence and comes to Earth with his followers and it is where the twist of fate takes place and the fun begins with the life or death situations, not just for Superman, but also for all Earthlings, all threatened by the superior technology and weapons of the Kryptonians as well as their superhuman strength on Earth. As he plans to terraform Earth and make it another Krypton, eradicating the whole population and replacing them with the Kryptonians with the help of the genetic codex, Superman chooses the side with which he is not supposed to get along despite his own evolution, that is humans. This is the choice which will define him in what is to come, as he is the alien, ghost as well as the guardian angel. With the help of the military and whatever is on his side, he has to prepare for the final battle, as the Kryptonians launch a world engine which terraforms the planet.

I guess Zack Snyder’s movies have never really disappointed me it, as Dawn of the Dead was good, Watchmen was even better, 300 was very impressive, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole had my attention, Sucker Punch was much above the expectations, and here is Man of Steel which raises the expectations for the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire for which it is incredibly difficult to wait. That should be a hundred percent record which is not seemingly inclined towards being broken. To add to it, the Greek hero of Immortals & the fairy tale princess-to-be from Enchanted make such a genuine combination on-screen even between such complexity and duality which surround an extraterrestrial heritage of thirty three years. Henry Cavill makes that super impact while Amy Adams as Lois Lane makes that character much more dearer to the viewers. Princess Giselle or Amelia Earheart from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will now be more of Lois Lane, and that less known Theseus surely has a more powerful real demi-god status this time. But this Superman is not just any other alien, as he is more human than any of the most wretched Earthling. He is more concerned about Earth and human life than the average common man who feeds on his own people and the mother nature. Superman is less involved with that title “super” which is a relief, as it is that word which one uses as a lie when many other words fail; welcome relief again.

As the movie is more inclined towards the Dark Knight series in its theme, but still resembles The Avengers in its alien invasion sequences, there is more to look forward to. Michael Shannon plays the impressive villain, General Zod – an iconic supervillain for sure. The villain is made for what he does, as the newborn babies are all created to be someone; to follow a path or duty – there is no moment when the person looks less focused on the one aim which is the return of Krypton’s life. It is more of a reflection of the current age, when the children are programmed into professional courses, rather than letting them make a choice. The result is just a profit-oriented world without morality and values, slowly moving towards total annihilation as in the case of Krypton. Antje Traue as Faora makes the villain’s sidekick, may be even as good as the General himself. Going back to her role in Pandorum, she is that person one might wish to watch in most of the action movies. Her fight sequence with Superman can be considered second only to the final battle. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, is that role which is surely going to be explored a lot in case of a sequel. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane plays the roles of Superman’s adoptive parents, and Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer his real parents from Krypton, providing some of the best emotional moments of the movie.

The movie is about choices, as Superman chooses to be human and not of his kind, and also chooses to hide between the people with whom he doesn’t belong. He also chooses to end his planet’s last hope of survival by helping the Earthlings. That might have brought the end of his culture and heritage, and all those which he could have achieved as the hero of his own race. In all these decisions, he makes him the most vulnerable, more mentally than physically. Superman is more of a man than the super being, something we could never associate with him during our childhood. Right now, it will be just right to say that he has made himself the most righteous superhero, many times better than Iron Man, and also above his nearest competitors who are Batman and Spider-Man. Well, this is set to break box-office records for sure, and it is already pulling in too much crowd at this part of the world even for those shows which are usually not even a quarter full. The lower critical ratings of this movie compared to the ones like The Avengers and Iron Man 3 forms another thing which is out of this world. The former has such ratings that even Superman might decide to choose any random Kryptonite prison for eternity rather than seeing these one-sided opinions which so many people are actually forced to believe. The movie also proves this dialogue from Kill Bill wrong: “Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.” Superman became superman because Earth made him so; he was nothing at Krypton. Everybody has life molded by choices, whether it is Superman, Count Dracula, Batman or Skeletor, and it is faith, belief and hope that guides one side, and the exact opposites the other.

So, Man of Steel is a must watch for all action fans, as this genesis go back to the planet of Krypton with stunning visuals and powerful sound effects. There is still the emotional element which has not let go; not yet. The effect of The Dark Knight series is also something which seems to hide, but still stays there. The action sequences are breath-taking, and one can see how well one superhero does all that the whole team in The Avengers could barely manage to do – some might disagree, and they can have enough reasons for that. Here is the man who can smash and also get beaten up like the Hulk and Thor, be aggressive and agile as the Iron Man, be righteous and true to the cause like Captain America, be as accurate as the Hawkeye, and be a better fighter than the Black Widow. This one has won the battle of superheroes this year, as Iron Man 3 would surely have to take the backseat, not by a long distance though, for both would seem to belong to different genres as we consider the souls of them. Thor: The Dark World wouldn’t stand a chance as far as the things seem to be now. This is where you see the need for He-Man and The Phantom again, but this year has been booked by the alien from the other planet, and there is nothing to be done other than to watch this one and enjoy it.

Release date: 14th June 2013
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.