The Witches

Vampire Owl: It is strange that we are being called by the witches too.

Vampire Bat: The vampires are now more accepted in a society than ever.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t say that about each and every vampire.

Vampire Bat: Well, humans create divisions among themselves and also divide vampires.

Vampire Owl: The absence of politicians among us has hindered those divisions.

Vampire Bat: I would say that we should divide them before they do the same to us.

Vampire Owl: I find the possibility of bringing more divisions to humans as too easy.

Vampire Bat: But the question still remains if there is space for more of them.

Vampire Owl: Well, lets first go and play, and we will know later.

Vampire Bat: I hope that they have at least set a good athletic sport and not something as lazy as golf or cricket.

[Gets a vegetable burger and three cups of orange juice].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) losses both his parents to a car accident on a snow evening, and his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) comes to his aid. She takes him home, and does everything to keep him happy when he is wih her. She was someone who used to be known as a healer among her people, and knew how to make sick people feel better. The boy also gets a pet mouse which he names Daisy. One day, the boy is approached by a witch with a snake in her hands, and while she tries to cast a spell on him, grandmother comes and ruins the magic. The grandmother also starts coughing, and as he tells her the story of the lady whom he had met, she realizes that it was a witch, and decides to leave the place with the boy to avoid any more meetings with the witch, as she did have a past with one of such creatures when she was a child. They decide to go to a hotel where her cousin is the chief cook, and stay there, safe from the witches.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things there are not that safe as they thought. A group of witches led by their all-powerful great leader, The Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway), arrives there, and the team includes the one the boy had met earlier. At the same time, the boy meets Bruno Jenkins (Codie-Lei Eastick), a boy who is addicted to food, and highly attached to chocolates. As the boy secretly enters a large hall to train his mouse, he is forced to hide, with witches coming in to hold their meeting. He sees them in their true forms, as they have claws instead of fingernails, which is hidden by wearing gloves; they are bald, and adjust by wearing wigs; have square sized feet without toes, which they hide under sensible shoes; strange and scary forms for the boy. There, the boy hears them making their grand plans, as The Grand High Witch tells them to give the all the children in the world a potion, mixed into sweets, that can transform all of them into mice, starting with Bruno. Now, he and his mouse should find a way to stop them.

The defence of The Witches :: It can be seen that the movie does capture our interest well enough from the beginning itself, as the starting scenes make a fine build-up. The special effects as well as the performances contribute nicely here, and it will appeal the most to children, with whom the movie can have some instant connection. The children would find most of the approach taken by the film to be adorable, and the pattern is the same which has been adopted by such stories for decades. There is the usual folk-tale and fairy-tale power that comes from behind it. The unpredictability factor, maybe coming out of the original book by Roald Dahl, a man who has something for the twists as we know from Lamb to the Slaughter, the much appreciated twisted short stories which became part of the syllabus of many universities including our own MG University’s Modes of Fiction paper. It is always good to see the witches, after vampires, zombies and werewolves ruled the big screen and novels for too long.

The claws of flaw :: The Witches is not that strong as it should have been, with any element attached to it. The film could have used a lot of elements of magic in there, and the whole thing could have lit up with colourful spells – maybe even with a touch of darkness to add to it. There is no clear movement towards a colourful, light world or towards that world of terror, as the movie stays reluctant, playing in the safe side, never taking the risks from the beginning to the end. The finish could have also been bigger in scope. There is also supposed to be an older version, which is supposed to be better than this, at least according to the critics. Finding of faults will be easy for this movie for people who live in the far away past, but not the same for those who understand it from the time when the book was published. The movie also came a little bit late, because an OTT release in April or May would have brought more viewers, with children not having schools, and colleges having some kind of semester breaks in between.

Performers of the soul :: Anne Hathaway comes up with a fantastic performance as the witch to remember, with a funny side – the last time we saw such a thing was related to Eva Green in Dark Shadows. She has blended into the witch-role really well. She is the one person on whom this movie can depend on, not only as the big performer, but the one huge name that everyone knows about – she has been a superstar even in the areas where people don’t remember the name of Hollywood celebrities. Octavia Spencer is there in a role which suits her really well right from the beginning itself. Jahzir Kadeem Bruno who plays the main kid does a really good job. Stanley Tucci as the manager of the grand hotel is fun throughout the film’s run. The other witches are also come up with a nice job, even though they don’t really get to do anything in particular individually. It is all left for the leader of the witches, and that comes as rather surprising, because more witch identities and some special powers to add to the same would have been nice to watch with the availability of special effects.

How it finishes :: The Witches does have your attention as the one film which seems to sparkle with its poster being shown among the new releases on the OTT platform. We did have one movie named The Witch a few years later which dealt with everything in an entirely different way. The movie we have here is certainly not the serious one among the two, focusing more on simple basic entertainment rather than anything else. There can be some accusations against this one, but those simple things can be passed over as things of no importance, as this is the kind of film which thrives on the cute silliness, and will appeal to the younger audience really well. Well, this is another movie which will keep us interested in the escapist mode, as this world where the witches go among the humans to deal with the children whom they consider to be brats, is a good addition during the COVID-19 lockdown which never really seems to end. This is the kind of old style entertainment that we need to keep us going through a world of chaos.

Release date: 22nd October 2020 (USA), 5th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, Codie-Lei Eastick, Jahzir Kadeem Bruno, Charles Edwards, Morgana Robinson, Josette Simon, Eugenia Caruso, Ana-Maria Maskell, Orla O’Rourke, Penny Lisle, Simon Manyonda, Philippe Spall, Brian Bovell

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Ukrainian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Indonesian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Norwegian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aladdin

What is the movie about? :: Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a young man living in the streets of Agrabah with his pet monkey, with no parents and no idea about family. He is considered as a petty thief living in the streets, stealing one thing or the other to keep going, and his monkey is not far behind in the same skill. In the streets, he meet Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who has dressed up as a commoner and is wandering in the streets. After giving some bread to a few starving children without paying for the same, they are chased by the soldiers, and she leaves him with the idea that he is just a thief, as he fails to return her bracelet which his monkey had taken. But Aladdin decides to get it back to the lady whom he misunderstands as the princess’ handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad). At a time when she is bothered by suitors from different nations like Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen), Aladdin sneaks into the palace.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: His skills are noticed by the Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the chief advisor to The Sultan (Navid Negahban). Even though he is the second most powerful person in the kingdom, he wants more, and for the same, he needs a magic lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders. It is a near impossible task, and as Aladdin enters the palace unnoticed, he decides to use the skills of the young man to get the lamp from the cave which has been unkind to those who tried to take the lamp earlier. In return for the same, he offers the youth from the street infinite riches and even the attention of the princess. But as Aladdin gets into the cave, he realizes that it is no ordinary cave, and the lamp is not the usual one – it has the Genie (Will Smith) who is ready with three wishes. But will that be enough to marry the beautiful princess?

And what more is to happen? :: Genie hopes that the last wish of Aladdin would be about setting him free. Jafar hopes that he could get his hands on the magic lamp at some point. Jasmine hopes that it is not just her curves that is loved by her suitors, but also her ideas, with a desire to become the ruler of her kingdom one day. Aladdin would go back to the palace by the name Prince Ali, and hope to gain the attention of the princess and win her hand. But it turns out that Jasmine is not at all interested in the newly arrived prince despite him displaying all the wealth that Genie had brought. Despite Jasmine’s lack of interest, there would be Jaffar’s interest, as his evil plans continue. With his desire to become the most powerful man in the kingdom as well as the known world, what could stop him? Will there be a better fate in store for the kingdom?

The defence of Aladdin :: The memories of childhood comes back with Aladdin, as we remember those days of watching a lot of cartoon and that music which goes by the lines, Arabian Nights. Nostalgia surely becomes a grand factor here, and not just Princess Jasmine, but also her handmaiden remains adorable. Even though there is nothing spectacular about the fight scenes, the visual beauty can be seen there as well as with the city itself. The whole place is nicely built, and the magical elements add to the visuals well. There are some nice fun sequences around here, and Will Smith plays the big part in the same. These keep the fun element going. Coming from the man who brought Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, along with The Man from UNCLE, one could surely guess a few things about this one, and raise the level of expectations.

The claws of flaw :: The problem here is that there is the feeling of not being able to make this one better than what we had seen in the past, even though the ideas as well as technology did improve a lot. A visual extravaganza in the desert could have meant more. The Arabian Nights song version here is not that interesting as the original one, and often the Genie fails to rise as the character and becomes more of the actor that plays the same – Will Smith. At the expense of making the main female character stronger, the viewers are presented with a weaker villain who never really seems like he could come up with something terrifying. The changes from the original version are not really improvements, but strange diversions that take the essence away from what we know about Aladdin – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time could actually do this better, whichever way we look at the same.

The performers of the soul :: The top performer of this movie is Naomi Scott, and she goes through the whole movie with charm, scoring heavily in the final moments. One can see that she plays her character to such perfection at some moments that we feel that she could do well with a sequel, further away from the original Aladdin story. She is lovely to watch on the screen from the beginning, to the end. Mena Massoud’s titular character is memorable, and has his own moments. Will Smith brings the funny side very well, even though deviated from our idea of a genie – some are surely overdone, but he holds on really well. Marwan Kenzari as Jafar brings a weaker villain, and one has to wonder if that was intentional. Nasim Pedrad as Dalia is a fine addition of a character. The animal characters are nicely worked on too.

How it finishes :: Aladdin makes an interesting watch with family, especially with kids. It keeps going the light-hearted way, and there is no real menace to be seen, as we go through this safe trip. The movie could have actually began with its action rather than using the story within the story setting – it ruins the chance to bring a certain twist. Well, Aladdin could have been lesser like Robin Hood last year, and there were so many chances of it to miss out, but it does hold on and brings Aladdin well enough to touch our nostalgia. With Avengers: Endgame and John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum continuing to stay, this one can also accompany them, as Hollywood movies have been scoring bigger these days. Also, lets wonder what more could have been added to this particular movie.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Mena Massoud, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen

<— Click here to go to an earlier review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lost Village

Vampire Owl: I was looking for blue creatures in our realm. There has been none.

Vampire Bat: After orcs had chosen green and goblins also choosing the same, the popularity for blue has been decreasing.

Vampire Owl: And these werewolves always come in black.

Vampire Bat: Just like those Batman gadgets.

Vampire Owl: Even Mr. Luttappi is just red, you know.

Vampire Bat: Do you even remember having watched these Smurfs movies?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I can clearly remember that I have watched them both.

Vampire Bat: Okay, then talk about something that you remember more than the rest.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that there was anything in particular – there was the village, blue people, bad wizard with a cat…

Vampire Bat: It was the main problem. They were not at all memorable.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: In the secret Smurf Village, the Smurfs continue to live a happy life, hidden from the evil that await in the outside world. Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), their leader takes care of them as a fatherly figure, and things go on quite normally through times. Among those Smurfs who are given names according to their character or purpose are Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) and many others, with even the strangest of names. It is only Smurfette (Demi Lovato) whom, despite being admired by all other smurfs as the only girl smurf around, seems to have no sense of purpose. As she was created by the evil remorseless wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) from a lump of clay to use as the means to catch other smurfs, now she has no meaning of life, transformed into one of them, and out of the evil ways. It keeps bothering her most of the time.

So, what happens next in the adventure? :: With Gargamel on a mission to capture the Smurfs, steal their blue essence, and become the strongest wizard in the world, Smurfette and her friends sneak out of their village. Gargamel’s pet cat Azrael (Frank Welker) and his pet vulture Monty (Dee Bradley Baker) are also on the look out for any sign of a smurf in the woods. Smurfette comes up against a blue creature hidden by leaves, which runs away into the Forbidden Forest, and leaves a hat behind. She as well as the hat is taken by Garamel, who uses it to discover the location of a new group of smurfs with his magic. She is rescued by her friends, and all of them get grounded by Papa Smurf for disobeying him. But she is determined to save these lost smurfs from the evil wizard, and with her friends, set out for Forbidden Village, no matter how forbidden it is for her people. At the same time, Gargamel, Azrael and Monty also set out in search for the new village.

And what is to follow with the blue people against a wizard and his minions? :: The smurfs are attacked by Gargamel and his team, and is presumed dead by the evil wizard, but they escape with the help of a few bunnies. It is quite the dangerous mission that they are up against, as they have no idea what dangers lie ahead in a world which has been forbidden to them for such a long time. There they come up against animals and plants which are not normal, and soon they would be on a race against Gargamel, Azrael and Monty who are also traveling on the same route. Surprised to find each other again, they race, only to have Gargamel drowning in the river. After Hefty and Smurfette support the idea of saving him, he throws the smurfs down the waterfalls instead of thanking them. But they survive, and travel on land. They are soon trapped by the blue creatures under the leaves. They are supposed to be smurfs aren’t they? If they are smurfs, they are surely in danger, right?

The defence of Smurfs: The Lost Village :: There are good visuals for this one, that is for sure, and we get to see some nice animation not just with the characters, but also with the world. There is no more the mixture of the real world and the animated world, which is also a nice thing – also, there are no humans in this one except for the big evil wizard; it is another positive thing, as the mixture can have big problems with working. This is indeed cute and sweet too, and with all the colours around, the kids are going to enjoy it without doubt, and everyone else is going to have their childish side awakened. There are occasions when you feel that this is the kind of movie which you would have loved to watch during your early childhood, but wasn’t there; we are always happy that we had those Doordarshan cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ducktales, Talespin and Tom and Jerry, but we imagine ourselves having such a treat, but childhood is long gone, a sad thing indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is without doubt, predictable from the first moment itself. It is not like the same becomes a big problem in an animated feature film which is prone to the same. But you know that there have been exceptions like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out and others which have deviated from the expected path during the journey more than once. Smurfs: The Lost Village never really stands a chance against the animated movies of our times, with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Finding Dory and Kung Fu Panda 3, all being pretty cool sequels inheriting the original’s qualities. Just like its predecessors, this one has predictability written into it. The movie also has too much focus on one character whose search for her purpose gets rather repetitive. There is also the inability to capitalize on a funny side which always had the chance to be better. It even has a villain who is not even half smart as his cat, and that is not used to bring enough laughter. Better and smarter story in also not on cards.

How it finishes :: Smurfs: The Lost Village can be seen not to deviate, not inside the movie, and also not within the franchise. But it surely manages to be one of the most appropriate movies for the kids, with not much left to ponder about except for finding one’s purpose in life, and it leaves the message that being good will bring that meaning of life on this day, or at some other point – there is only the need to wait for the same. During these time when the life as well as the movies are so complicated, this kind of cuteness becomes rather necessary, and let the simplicity of this one save us from the complex evil of a world which is slowly and steadily being taken over by those who have no heart. The Smurfs franchise is becoming more interested in being the brand which has movies to add to it rather than flicks with big tales. Well, there is more than one than one way to go around with things, and cute little creatures are more than just fair for children.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Gordon Ramsay, Tituss Burgess, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Kelly Asbury, Bret Marnell, Melissa Sturm, Frank Welker, Dee Bradley Baker

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Doctor Strange

doctorstrange-1

What is the movie about? :: In the city of Kathmandu in Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his small group of followers sneaks into the library of the place known as Kamar-Taj and kills its librarian. There they steal a magic ritual from the forbidden texts of the sorcerer who is known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). This ancient sorcerer who has lived for centuries and has taught all these sorcerers including Kaecilius, won’t give up pursuit though, and still the group manages to evade her and escape through a portal right in the middle of the city. The Ancient One is forced to retreat to Kamar-Taj and prepare to defend her place as well as appoint new librarian and better guardians for the place, as she realises that something terribly evil is ready to be unleashed on her world, considering the powerfull spell that those pages possess.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, in the city of New York, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a famous but arrogant neurosurgeon is spending his life in luxury and also in an attempt to gain more and more fame with new discoveries. He considers the rest of the doctors as people below him, and that includes his own friend and former lover Doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). One day, his car meets with an accident, and he loses the use of his hands. Even though Christine asks him to move on with his life as there are so many other things that he could do, he is adamant that there should be ways in science through which he could find a cure that could get him back on track as a neurosurgeon. He dedicates his time and spends most of his money in an attempt to do the same, and feels that he could have done better with his hands if he was operating himself.

So, what all follows in his life? :: Stephen has exhausted almost all his resources and is about to lose faith on everything when he comes across a man who is able to walk again after a terrible accident affecting his spine – this person was considered incurable by Stephen himself, and when asking about how this miracle happened, he is lead to Kamar-Taj. He travels to Kathmandu as the final resort, having no money or reputation left. There, he is attacked by thieves, but is saved by a socerer called Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was trained by the Ancient One too. As he reaches Kamar-Taj and meets the Ancient One over a cup of tea, he remains a non-believer who holds on to his beliefs in science. But as the Ancient One brings a display of her powers, he begs them to take him in, and she finally does.

Towards Doctor Strange, the sorcerer :: Without the strength of his hands, it seems difficult for him to cast the spells in the beginning, but he turns out to be a quick learner soon. Even as the Ancient One finds the same qualities in him that she had seen in Kaecilius, she feels that he can achieve much more, and Karl Mordo feels that he will be instrumental when their new enemy attacks them. It is said that the Earth is protected from creatures of other dimensions by the Sanctums, the three buildings which are found in New York, London, and Hong Kong. It is up-to the sorcerers to defend these sanctums as if their lives depended on them. Getting more and more interested in the ancient magic, Stephen attempts to go deeper, but Mordo and the new librarian Wong (Benedict Wong) warns him against disrupting the laws of nature, as there will be consequences. As he gets through his training, evil visits the sanctums, and the question remains if Doctor Strange can be the man to change the future of the world, or will he be just a man called Stephen?

The defence of Doctor Strange :: The best thing about this movie is that it is amazingly good-looking. As a movie which is based on ancient magic, Doctor Strange has used all the visual possibilities of this situation, which is easily visible as sorcerers battle through more than one world. Benedict Cumberbatch becomes the perfect cast for the same, and we see that as Iron Man was once Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Strange was also Sherlock, thus linking all of them together as part of a spectacle. With the best use of special effects and action sequences, this Marvel movie also has a fantastic supporting cast, and a good story-line to go with the same. It is also a message about finding oneself when facing a personal tragedy, and reminds us that the answer is not in science for most of the time, as humanity is more than that – it is not the conventional medicine that works the best, and it is something well-known among the people who have the ability to think and understand differently.

The claws of flaw :: There was still the need for the better use of some of the characters too, as someone like Mads Mikkelsen isn’t allowed to unleash himself as the man of terror, and instead a creature who wishes to bring the end of the world once again comes to the scene – one has to wonder for how long the world will be in such terror which seems to be too similar to each other; all these Marvel and DC superheroes have been saving the world since the beginning of time, and still it is not saved. Yes, a lot of destruction also begin to happen here, and it goes to boost the visual effects though. Another thing is that Rachel McAdams’ role is restricted to saving people, for it is what she keeps on doing in this one. There is also the question of how the wizards will come in with the superheroes, and how both of these groups come in both the teams – can this world of too many superheroes be in control with this new addition which expands the whole thing so much? We can only wait and see.

How it finishes :: Doctor Strange is more like an experience with a superhero who is also a wizard, a sorcerer or a magician, whichever title you would like to provide for the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a movie with a superhero as well as a flick with a lot of magic – it works both ways, and along with the same, it provides us with a new superhero, this one based on magic like Mandrake the Magician whom we have been reading in those Malayalam newspapers during our childhood, and watching as part of that animated series, Defenders of the Earth with The Phantom and the others. With no Lothar, and providing us with the visual treat, Doctor Strange does remind us of those times during the childhood, and the fact remains that none of us really knew this particular magician during those time – it was all about Mandrake as far as magic was concerned. Now, there is a lot of them with movies like The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. And the latest for full superhero fun is indeed Wonder Woman.

Release date: 4th November 2016
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Linda Louise Duan, Mark Anthony Brighton, Topo Wresniwiro, Chris Hemsworth (cameo), Stan Lee (cameo)

doctorstrange

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5

Vampire Owl: I have some problems with these dead men.

Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that you don’t even know them.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, but I don’t understand why they come to the conclusion that dead men tell no tales.

Vampire Bat: It is quite a common saying in the human world, as I have heard.

Vampire Owl: But we are dead, and we tell stories.

Vampire Bat: We are the undead. It is a different case. Even in the movie, the undead exist.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they can tell a few tales too.

Vampire Bat: Do you prefer the subtitle to be Salazar’s Revenge?

Vampire Owl: Revenge is so common, so dull. It is not that sweet as it used to be. I would prefer to wait and achieve greatness, which would be my revenge, which is not really the direct revenge.

Vampire Bat: Let them keep the dead men and their tales then.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and french fries].

What is the movie about? :: Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) works on a warship belonging to the Royal British Navy which has been after the pirates who have been plaguing the ocean around the Americas. It is an eventful journey, with pirates being around now and then. During one of such journeys, when they are chasing a pirate ship, they go right into the Devil’s Triangle, known more to the modern world as the Bermuda Triangle. Henry tries to prevent the same, but rising against the captain’s order makes his talks and action something resembling mutiny, and he is imprisoned in a cage. But it is not the pirate ship that they found inside, but something resembling a wrecked ship, and the undead in the form of sailors led by a man known as Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) attacks them, and kills everyone except Henry who is asked to deliver a message to Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), about death coming after him.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, Jack is trying to rob a newly opened bank with his pirate gang, but in the end, they lose all the money, and he is left behind in the process. Henry who survives the attack of the undead pirates after being left behind by Salazar, is captured by the British, and branding him as a coward and a traitor, they plan to execute him. It is during that time that he comes across a young woman named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who was sentenced to death for witchcraft, but had escaped at the same time when Jack was going through his robbery. She is also captured while trying to contact Henry, but he escapes when the attention is on her. The curious Carina also intends to go to find the Trident of Poseidon which Henry has been looking for, as it is supposed to have the power to free his father from the curse. Jack, who is left with nothing in the sea, also gets caught after drinking too much. The British decides to execute the witch and the pirate at the same location, at the same time, by hanging and by the guillotine.

And, what is to follow next in the seas? :: With the help of Jack’s former crew, Henry manages to help both Jack and Carina escape, and they get back to the sea in search of the trident on Jack’s small ship, Dying Gull. Carina has the map that would lead them to the same, which only she can read with her skills. With Salazar and his undead crew managing to escape from their dark captivity, and the undead captain assigning the grand pirate Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) with the duty of finding Jack after some threatening, Jack and his new friends have more than one trident to look out for. Salazar’s main objective is to kill Jack, but he wouldn’t hesitate to kill or destroy anyone or anything that he finds on his way, and with the Royal Navy as well as Barbossa being no match to him and his army of undead, how would Jack, Carina and Henry manage to escape from the clutches of the evil which is ready to be unleashed all around the waters?

The defence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales :: There is entertainment in store in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, that is for sure, and we have the same with the support of some nice visuals, and the 3D is pretty much okay. The undead sailors and sharks are all nice, and the locations contribute to the same so well. The comic side is at its best with the scenes of execution of two protagonists, a big bank robbery scene and the jokes regarding the job description of the heroine – other than that, there are a few working here and there, fine enough to keep the ship floating. Johnny Depp still has a lot of the sparrow in him with nothing much changing about the character we have loved for so long, and Kaya Scodelario is a lot welcome addition to the same, coming right out of The Maze Runner and its sequel, The Scorch Trials. Javier Bardem and Brenton Thwaites also becomes fine additions to this adventure, and they all contribute to making this movie good, even though it is still the least interesting movie among all the five flicks that make this franchise.

The claws of flaw :: The fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise might have surely expected something bigger with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and it would leave them thinking why this one hasn’t evolved even after such a long gap with no pirates in the seas. There could have been more magnificence with the horror here, and something even bigger to end the movie with. The forced cameos bring no surprise and it can be said all the time. We wanted more of everything considering how long it took to come up with this sequel. Here is even Jack Sparrow not becoming the one whom we had waited for so long – the comic side is good, but we end up thinking if the character itself was needed, or some other pirate could have been enough. A stronger tale could have also helped, because this one seems to be a story written just to bring this movie to light, and get more money at the box-office in the name of the brand – the effect of having the pirates is coming down, and the makers have to be careful, for this is not even an animated movie like the Ice Age movie series.

How it finishes :: Even with some fun in store, one has to think that Disney is using the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise too much in the same way, trying to make more and more money out of the same. It has been fourteen long years since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl released, and it has been six years since the last movie of the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides released – there are two sides to the same, for most people should have forgotten how things have been going on in this movie, and there is also a lot of people who have wished to see something or anything related to the pirates on the big screen. If more of the same thing is needed to be repeated, this is the movie that you should go for, as nothing new or special makes its way into this movie. You can watch this one to have more of pirates, but you can’t expect it to bring anything new – for experimentation seems to have left this franchise with ease, and being more creative is no longer the visible option for the makers.

Release date: 26th May 2017
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Starring: Johnny Depp, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kevin McNally, Geoffrey Rush, Martin Klebba, Orlando Bloom (cameo), Keira Knightley (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Warcraft

warcraft

Vampire Owl: An orc story? How can you even think about it? This is a no-orc zone around here.

Vampire Bat: It is a humans against orcs tale.

Vampire Owl: Whatever it is, I just can’t stand these orcs. They don’t even smell good.

Vampire Bat: Why do you try to smell them? It is totally unnecessary.

Vampire Owl: It is not intentional. We just come across one or two of them at the Goblin Market all the time.

Vampire Bat: Why do you go to the Goblin Market?

Vampire Owl: What? I just love their special fruit juice.

Vampire Bat: Dude, they are not healthy drinks. You should just stick to the natural vampire drinks.

Vampire Owl: Still healthier than those human-made things like Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can agree to that.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

Flashback to the game :: As all of you would know by now, Warcraft is an adaptation of the game of the same name, just as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Hitman, Max Payne, Need For Speed, Alone in the Dark and Prince of Persia had been, among the others. But what Warcraft has achieved here, is that it has gone on to become the highest grossing video game adaptation of all-time, thus creating a fine record, despite what the critics have been saying. We know that the critics are never fond of a movie made from a video game, as they are all sitting there waiting to blame the attempt. But Warcraft has a longer history for me than any other game, as Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness is the first real-time strategy (non-turn based) or any strategy game that I had ever played, thus making way for more strategy games getting into my head, from Age of Empires to Caesar, Age of Wonders, Age of Mythology, Disciples and Civilization. Therefore Warcraft has a special place in my mind, as for many others.

What was the game about? :: The game had orcs entering this dimension through a portal, and after the initial raids, were slowly making their way more and more into the human lands. The first game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, even though it might look too simple for the gamers of this age, had a firm base for the battles established, which Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness nicely used to its advantage with new additions. Winning a good number of awards during the year of its release, the second game was nothing less than top quality fun. In the game, even though orcs have the superior strength and keeps on gaining brutal victories, there are interesting units on both sides. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos which comes much later introduces two new races, the Night Elves and the and Undead. It was followed by the expansion, The Frozen Throne. Then there was World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and with a number of expansions, the saga continues – so can the movie live up-to that?

What is the movie about? :: The orcs are in a battle for existence as their world is almost near extinction – they look forward to finding new lands for their people, as Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), a powerful orc warlock opens a portal to the human world, and invites all tribes of orcs to join forces for one purpose, to claim new lands for themselves. Durotan (Toby Kebbell), the chief of the Frostwolf Clan is a man who believes in honour and fairness, and he also joins the first group of orcs who come through the portal as he is looking for a better place for his family to thrive. With the brutal raids from orcs destroying villages, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer), a mage finds the evil magic of fel in the bodies of the dead, and warns the knight Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) chooses to call for the Guardian, Medivh (Ben Foster) with whose help, they capture Garona Halforcen (Paula Patton), a half-orc. But things are more than just about a battle between the two races.

The defence of Warcraft :: There is one thing about Warcraft that everyone should agree on – it is an amazingly good-looking movie; with visuals which will make one feel the fantasy world with all its beauty. There are shots from the top which often reminds one of the game itself, not just the one this is inspired from, but also about many other strategy fantasy games. The visual effects make sure that the magic combined with swordfights create even better impact. Among the characters, it is the half-orc played by Paula Patton that steals the show. The movie’s message is sacrifice throughout its run, as both the races got the respective leaders striving to make sure that it gets better for their own people. Even in an effort to survive, there is no loss of honour on the good side, and there is no missing pieces of evil on the other side, the dark magic that comes in between the two races. Fans have waited for this movie so long, and so they should like it without doubt.

The claws of flaw :: There are places where Warcraft could have been better and less predictable. It could have had more races in the battle scenes instead of just being present there. The orc characters are actually better than the humans too, winning our respect, while the humans trail – it is surprising that the orcs decide not to finish off the human knight, but they allowed their own cheftain to be killed earlier; there is something strange in the working in totality. The two main human characters, the guardian and the commander knight become flaws of the movie as they keep losing strength all the time. Well, it is the time for orcs to have some fun – the hobbits had so much of the same, and the undead have been enjoying too much; let the orcs get their due too. There are times when one wonder if the movie could have used more of the games, and there will be the question if the special effects were overused.

How it finishes :: There can be many claims against Warcraft, but the truth is that it manages to be better than many other movies which doesn’t have the backup of a video game – just because this is based on a popular game, this has been given too much negative reviews. But Warcraft is better than all that, and along with being the highest grossing video game adaptation of all-time, it also has enough in it to gain the attention of those who are not prejudiced. With the chance for a sequel open, we can be sure that this can expand into a fine franchise, as long as the sceptics won’t bother us with more of the prejudice saying that this is from a video game and so it can’t be good. This one has almost all that one needs in an entertaining movie without going through the path of some dumb fun. Therefore, it needs to be shown some appreciation that it deserves.

Release date: 10th June 2016
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Burkely Duffield, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Glenn Close

warcraft

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Huntsman

thehuntsman (2)

What is it about? :: The movie begins a long time before the incidents which were depicted in Snow White and the Huntsman, as Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the dark sorceress finds out that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) has an affair with Andrew (Colin Morgan), and is carrying her child. But the marriage doesn’t happen as Andrew is engaged to someone else, and after giving birth to a baby girl, Freya on a dark night, sees that he has murdered their child. This unleashes an uncontrolled fury in her which brings out the hidden powers of ice and snow from inside her, killing her lover and transforming her love into hate. She abandons her sister’s kingdom and comes up with a new kingdom in the north which is covered in ice and snow under her power.

So what happens next? :: It is a new world of depression and sadness that she creates far north to the kingdom of her sister who unleashes her own evil. She gets children kidnapped so that they could be trained to become remorseless huntsmen, who were to become part of her army. She raises the group to become her soldiers who know no love and has no regret. All of them trains to become the elite group of huntsmen who are feared and fight her battles. Soon she finds the best of them in Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), but they only fall in love many years later, something that she can never agree to. She successfully separates them, and the former lives in the grief of having watched the latter die.

And then to the present :: Then the scene shifts to many years later, after the incidents of the first movie, as Eric is wandering through the forest only to find that Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is ill and the magic mirror has gone missing. Freya is having an eye on these lands, and the dark magic in the mirror threatens the kingdom. Now it is up-to Eric the Huntsman to save the day and he is joined by Nion (Nick Frost) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon). Two other dwarves Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) also join their team. There will be magic and there shall be goblins on their way. Freya has sent her own team of huntsmen, but another big surprise awaits them. What about true love? Does it go beyond death and devastation?

The defence of The Huntsman: Winter’s War :: There is one thing that a person can be sure about here, and it is that The Huntsman: Winter’s War is cent percent a better movie than its predecessor Snow White and the Huntsman which was so empty a movie with empty expressions from its heroine. We also have some of the most amazing visuals here, with all the magic around. The snow and ice on the screen never ceases to be interesting. With magical creatures added, there is the further scope for visual beauty an that is explored very well here. The final scene of battle is also a very good one, which means that the movie manages to finish off really well. It is mostly all that a fairy-tale should be, and is a clear improvement from the predecessor; the lower box-office collection should go to the credit of the terrible predecessor which had already ruined the opinion about what was to follow.

The claws of flaw :: There are those predictable lines going through this movie too. A number of things can be guessed, and there is no real attempt to try differently either. The journey from a prequel to sequel goes rather strange too – it could have been just the sequel with a very small flashback and that could have worked out perfectly. There is also the chance to make use of its potential, which is not fully taken. Charlize Theron is underused, and we needed more battles of magic like the final one. In a movie in which there are two evil sorceresses, we see a little too less use of powerful magic. There is also the case of the mirror which should have been better utilized. There are those times when the direction of the movie is a little doubtful and some of the jokes also go on without making the desired effect.

Performers of the soul :: Even though Charlize Theron is there only for a few minutes, she has that kind of a presence that is strong enough to steal the show. We are sure to ask for more of her. Meanwhile, Emily Blunt shines in her ice and snow avatar while Jessica Chastain remains just okay in her role as the huntswoman. Maybe these two could have switched their roles to bring a better effect as we all know what the former is capable of in such a role with her Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow. Chris Hemsworth continues the same thing as he did with the earlier movie, and that manages to be okay. The actors and actresses who played the dwarves bring some good fun. It is nice to have gotten rid of Kristen Stewart’s Snow White though, as that certainly made things a lot better.

How it finishes :: As many other fairy-tales, this one also focuses on that one special thing, which is true love. The main idea here itself is about the two main protagonists and the lost love even though the villains do steal the show in between. It is the usual battle between love and hate that goes on here, and the much awaited defeat of evil waiting to happen by the finish. As a whole, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is an entertaining movie which takes those usual elements of fairy-tales and deals them well enough with some interesting messages. It was just too much underrated by the audience and the critics judging it as a part of its predecessor. There are things that fairy-tales could do, and this one thankfully knows that well enough.

Release date: 22nd April 2016
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, Alexandra Roach, Sheridan Smith, Sope Dirisu, Colin Morgan, Fred Tatasciore, Sam Hazeldine, Sophie Cookson, Madeleine Worrall, Kristen Stewart

thehuntsman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit II

thehobbit2 (1)

On The Hobbit :: In the first installment of a three-part film prequel series based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien called An Unexpected Journey, we saw thirteen dwarves accompanied by one wizard and a hobbit, going on a mission to reclaim the dwarf lands which was earlier claimed by a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. It was then that our hobbit had attained possession of a ring from Gollum which will make a difference in many ways later. The film had ended with a vision of the Lonely mountain with the dragon, and the creature opening its eyes. This movie has released almost exactly an year after the first movie released, and the third movie There and Back Again will be there on December 17th, 2014. It would have been even better if Guillermo del Toro was more involved with the movie, and it was his vision that was there, but even now, this movie is incredibly strong, and one would wonder if how different this would have been if he was in charge – may be something which was so different that one has to wonder so much? Who knows?

What is it about? :: After taking refuge from the orcs at the home of a skin-changer, the team of fifteen splits up as Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) who separates from them with a promise to meet them before they reach their destination. After fighting giant spiders, they are caught by the wood-elves from where the escape hidden in empty wine barrels. Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) invisibility ring helps in both cases. Meanwhile, Gandalf fights a legion of orcs as well as an entity known as the Necromancer. They are later helped by a human bowman Bard (Luke Evans) and later receives a great send-off when the talk about the riches come into play. But the orcs are after them, and so are two elves, Legolas and Tauriel who have more obvious reasons. With Gandalf missing, the fourteen are on their own in their battle against the dragon, and the questions remain about how they would get inside the mountain, how will they get the Arkenstone which is needed to rule, and how they will slay, defeat or at least survive from the dragon if they could. Another interesting question might be about who all will survive, with a dragon, an evil necromancer and lots of orcs involved.

The defence of The Hobbit II :: Talking about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is exactly what I had expected from this movie, and the movie has provided me with exactly what I was expecting. The fans of the book might disagree, but I haven’t read it and the whole movie remains a spectacle for me. The movie is an improvement from the previous one of the series, and it is a huge improvement as the action sequences and special effects are considered – may be I am a little prejudiced with this point as I watched the first movie on television in Sony Pix and this one in a multiplex in 3D, first day third show. But you can’t deny the strength of action sequences here, especially with the team’s barrel run chased by the orcs who are chased by the elves, and then when Legolas is involved. The dragon is also well-designed and it is an interesting character with its fire breath adding to the special effects more burning beauty. The spiders, the web and the forest remains another area which makes the whole thing interesting. One can actually take time to talk about almost every character out there, but I would rather not do the same.

Positives and Negatives :: We know the dragon is an impressive creature here, and so are all the creatures of different races, but there is one thing that doesn’t stand that good, it is the female elf Tauriel who seems to do nothing interesting other than create a bad love triangle. But we can still think that she never existed as the dwarf whom she healed was treated by other dwarves or humans. But the character is awesome in the action sequences, so may be she can be of interest in the next movie as long as the significance of that unnecessary love triangle will become less. As a character who is not in the book, I would think that she won’t be liked by the book fans. The movie is very long, but there is no dull moment in it, so just take that length negativity out of the equation. May be some people don’t like journeys like this, but obviously this was what one was supposed to expect, and the ending is quick, but better executed than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and gives people more interest in going for the third movie which is surely going to be heavily packed with action. The 3D is fine and even excellent at times, nothing spectacular considering the overall quality of the movie, but I wasn’t looking for that in this movie.

Performers of the soul :: As the movie gets into action very early unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which takes an eternity, our people are also prepared. Martin Freeman steals the show, and Ian McKellen comes as the big tree which holds things together. Richard Armitage’s dwarf king gets better, and Luke Evans’ presence is something which will be strong only by fulfilling his character’s destiny in the next movie if it is indeed the fate. Orlando Bloom is the ultimate action hero of the movie, and the number of claps he received in the theatre can’t be counted. The movie needed the character from Lord of the Rings, even as I hear people say that he is not The Hobbit character. He is more an archer magician right there making most of his screen presence. Despite Evangeline Lilly’s nice portrayal of her character, it is an avoidable she-elf – otherwise she is good and excellent in the action sequences. Well, elves are crowd favourites! Aidan Turner is equally detestable for that love triangle even as one has to like the way he has performed. Lee Pace makes a fine elf king, while the other dwarves work as good as they did in the first movie. Above all, love Benedict Cumberbatch’s fire-breathing red dragon, for that one rules.

Soul exploration :: The movie deals with the courage of a hobbit yet again, as despite his weaknesses and the lack of abilities, he joins the dwarf warriors, and continues his journey here. He is more heroic than he was in the first movie and even saves the dwarves from being eaten by giant spiders as well as being eternally imprisoned in the elf prisons – he even talks to the dragon face to face, and there is the courage that he has found, along with the ring. Meanwhile, Bard has to accomplish his destiny or rather fail in it, leaving a question mark for the final movie of the series. Elves, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls and humans – they have all been in the series, and except for goblins and trolls, the rest make an impact in this movie too. The human neutrality is evident, and so is the orc alignment towards pure evil. The dwarves and hobbits remain more on the good side a little more than neutral, and the elves are good in their own way. But when we look at the ideals of the three – dwarves, elves and hobbits, they are different with variable views on each other, and if given a choice, I would think that most would chose the elves, and so would I. This racial difference is an incredible thing, and I have loved this variety in creatures since playing Age of Wonders.

How it finishes :: I would sincerly hope that all who are praising the special effects and CGI of some of the worst movies of the year, to watch this one (Krrish 3 fans can look at Dhoom 3 when it releases if waiting for an opponent of equal platform). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is one of the best movies of the year and also a visual treat which entertains with its witty dialogues, incredible action sequences and a flurry of special effects. It indeed makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feel that it could have been a better movie. Peter Jackson has indeed created the right hobbit movie which will surely make me choose Halflings as the race the next time I play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic – something which I had given up in favour of the Draconians and the Undead. Meanwhile, I hope you all had a great Friday the 13th. It is the favourite day (and night) of the Vampire Bat, and on this occasion, he has decided to go lenient on his ratings, but The Hobbit II actually deserves it. Still, the one year wait for the third movie is going to be so depressing!

Release date: 13th December 2013
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt

thehobbit2 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Dark Shadows

darkshadows (16)

✠ The rating given to this movie might shock a few mortals, but as this blog written from the Vampire Bat’s perspective, he has decided to take control to fulfill his partially broken promise to that Count who lived as a recluse inside a coffin in a castle. Yes, the Vampire Bat doesn’t broke promises, or rather doesn’t break anything other than may be, his own teeth – blame the root canal offers from local dentists in that case. To add to it, the Vampire Bat shall write this review on a Wednesday, as he was born on such a day. He is mentally depressed after writing a test, and after asserting what he had found out that each and every other person of his world wants the questions from the syllabus while he wants the same from outside. May be he never belonged to the world of humans, and should rather fly away one day. But the depressing side is that he can’t fly – so he will write a bloody review about one of his favourite vampire movies, and undoubtedly his favourite blood sucking movie of 2012. Yes, this is that movie.

Count Dracula: Here you are again. I think that your review of Dark Shadows has been pending for long. Do you have it with you? Its time Barnabas Collins gets his due. He is one of those few vampires who could see McDonalds and feel the presence of Mephistopheles. He is our saviour against Twilight and Mortal Instruments creatures of pseudo-darkness.

Vampire Bat: I can see that you feel the need for some good vampires like Barnabas Collins and Victoria Winters. I love that scene when he sees M for McDonalds: Over 1 billion served. He was accidently quite right about the fast food and the beverages being the demons who suck the soul out of our insides, leaving us nothing of much use. Twilight and Mortal Instruments are the result of the same fast food, as they mess up our brain rather than the stomach.

Count Dracula: So what do you think about this vampire and his family? I did feel the presence of other wonderful forces of the supernatural right from outside the theatre where it was showing – I was wandering around in the mist until I crashed on the wall of that place, it was not good for my fangs, but still felt good for the presence.

Vampire Bat: Barnabas returns 196 years later, after feeling the wrath of unrequited love from a witch, Angelique Bouchard who cursed him into a bloodsucker, killed his parents and also forced his true love to commit suicide. She is a witch who curses his family and gets him buried alive in the middle of a forest, takes over his family business and puts his descendents into ruin. The worst thing is that the witch is still alive, using her magic to identify herself as her own descendants. This love has always been so overrated, right?

Count Dracula: Yes, even with me it is the same. I already feel a lot of love for Angelique Bouchard. Eva Green is that good, and I still can’t forget The Dreamers. I can remember my first infatuation with a witch already. Why would he not return the love baffles me. Whom does he have instead?

Vampire Bat: There is Bella Heathcote taking rebirth, from Josette du Pres to Victoria Winters. She appears as if an enchanting fairy vampire, not as some random Bella. But the two characters you will surely love are Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and Chloë Grace Moretz’s Carolyn who asks “are you stoned or something” to which the recently risen Barnabas says “they tried stoning me dear, it did not work”. To add to it, he calls a lava lamp “pulsating blood urn”, and the crane as “a giant dragon with millions of teeth and a thousand shining eyes” – you have to love him. His seriousness is awesome!

Count Dracula: I have felt that myself, rising from the grave and seeing the world different. I know you feel the change each and every day. The world is indeed to fast, and I am sure that most of us hope that each and every day we go to sleep, we never wake up again. I wish for the sunlight to disappear, and you hope for the day to end, and there is not much different in how we see the world, and we are as outdated as Barnabas Collins; it is just that we have no lover witch.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have always thought that, and Dark Shadows makes sure about the same. Moretz is wonderful in the movie, and the way she says “I’m a werewolf, okay? Don’t make such a big deal over it” to her mother, and always special mention needs to be for Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. Meanwhile, if you don’t like Bella Heathcote in this movie, you have to be blind – not that closing of eyes you do with sunlight, but the real blindness of the physical world.

Count Dracula: You make the point there. I have read about the many faces of Johnny Depp too, and I shall not doubt him at any moment. This face is my favourite indeed, and then comes that Jack Sparrow followed by the crow-carrying head in The Lone Ranger. Then comes Sweeney Todd and The Hatter – who won’t love Alice in Wonderland by the way, and they were two special characters. I am not going to count the faces of such a versatile actor, as that won’t even please my coffin. Instead tell me more about Eva Green.

Vampire Bat: Her character has angel in her name and some strange love which keeps her in the attitude that “If I can’t have you, my love, I’ll destroy you!” – not that much of hatred as she keeps him alive; should be too much admiration. She tries everything she can, but true love finally wins – not really a surprise, isn’t it? Eva Green is fantastic in the movie, as she is beautiful, charming and perfect as the pretty witch. The cast itself is the real strength of the movie. With such awesome names involved with it, who would not wish to watch this movie? The comedy is also well done.

Count Dracula: That sounds like interesting stuff. A vampire movie with all of these? That should cure me from the death strike which fell on me with Twilight and Mortal Instruments. I shall have a new life of blood. You should have reviewed this one much earlier – remember how long ago I had told you to do the same?

Vampire Bat: Despite the good box-office returns, the ratings haven’t been good with it. I would think that it is the result of an anti-vampire sentiment and possible cruelty which has been unleashed on vampire movies due to terror which was Twilight and all the sequels that followed tried desperately to destroy man’s faith in vampires. No wonder Byzantium didn’t release at this part of the world. There is only one chance for us to reclaim that lost faith, or rather two – release a movie from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, or create the much needed sequel to this movie which has left a good chance for another story by the end of it.

Count Dracula: It is much needed, that is for sure! These undead creatures are bothering me too much just because they had to watch Twilight. Even the wolves no longer listen to me – they think I am going to wear their skin as clothing and call myself a werewolf. See how these movies are badly affecting my children of the night. We need that, or I might have to turn my whole castle into a one big coffin.

Vampire Bat: There is less hope for both of them. The problem about having a Vampire Chronicles movie is that nothing can live up-to the awesomeness of Interview with the Vampire. The scope of a Dark Shadows sequel is less, due to the lack of need and the not that positive critical reception. One day, we will take over as official undead reviewers with bad teeth, and then we can change the whole thing.

Count Dracula: Then we shall stick with this Barnabas as the vampire hero of this century so far. The last century’s control was disputed, but for this one, it has become pretty clear, the only challenge being from Selene and the next closest was indeed Rayne, but they were rather the heroines who enchanted us. I shall pray for the rise of more vampire in movies and literature which are as good as Barnabas.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is worth your time for sure, especially as you have not much to do, and all the souls are going to love it. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you, especially the dark shadows if you got what I meant.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie mostly due to the great performance of Johnny Depp in his new avatar, and then due to the good work put into it by Eva Green with great support from the rest, especially Bella Heathcote, Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. Here, we have that true vampire comedy movie which adds almost every ingredient correctly, thus making this a great choice, and the reason why you need to go back in time and check the theatres.

✠ I don’t know about that television show or soap opera on which this movie is based, and that might not be necessary, but if you love vampire flicks and bloodsuckers in literature, you will like Dark Shadows which keep the worlds of Twilight and Mortal Instruments away. Even if you don’t care much about the same, the comic side of the movie will keep you interested. Still, there is so much seriousness underneath striving for true love, which makes this a wonderfully layered movie. I am pretty sure that whatever you like and wherever you are from, most of you will at least like this one as an average movie, and there are not many places where you can have this much vampire fun along with looking at such a great cast. Behold the beauty of the shadows of this movie, and you might end up loving it along with Bella Heathcote. This one won’t even make Count Dracula think twice, and in that case, long live Barnabas Collins, who has survived a witch’s love and watched his own dark shadows in a coffin for such a long time.

Release date: 11th May 2012
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Bella Heathcote, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller

darkshadows copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Smurfs 2

thesmurfs2 (3)

There are times when people think that a sequel is necessary for every successful movie. Such sequels often go bad, as they are more of repetitions and imitations of the first – but this one manages to hold its ground, not with full strength; just marginally. It has forced itself on the viewers, and has often succeeded with its funny dialogues and the incredible cuteness which it has developed, with an inherent goodness and a little stupidity which gets overshadowed by their aversion towards evil, unlike the minions of Despicable Me 2. That should make this the perfect movie for kids, as there is the moral side which is strong, and everything else goes on depending on this side of the good. Well, The Smurfs 2 is highly dependent on what the first movie had given the viewers, and in the process of making this sequel, it has copied almost everything from The Smurfs and has presented it in a slightly different manner. The advantage that we achieve with the same is that this one is an even better story in morals, and it is further preachy in nature as it goes on and on. There is divine justice as well as the poetic justice, but not without the actions from our little and bigger heroes does fate and destiny dare to intervene.

The Smurfs 2 is a collection of escapism and childish fantasy. It has done enough to have almost every child drag their parents into the theatres to watch some cute little blue creatures. They have also tested the same on the older one very well, as there is a certain amount of nostagia of childhood that seem to affect the grown ups too, and if this was released before Despicable Me 2, the scope would have been higher. They had taken on New York earlier, and now they are at Paris. The little blue creatures have tried their best, but lacking in bringing innovation and originality, this movie had to try and bring a smile to the face of all the viewers, and once again, the result is effectiveness of a lesser scale. If one didn’t watch the first movie, the probability of liking this movie might even go higher. There is a good explanations of the things that go on with this world even in this movie. There are so many occasions when a predecessor’s shoes are good enough, but shouldn’t they have tried to remove the dirt in the same instead of throwing more on it, in a huge variety of colours? May be colourful dirt is good – at least its not bad or evil, and there is a little more time to be sure about that.

Years have passed after the group of smurfs got sucked into a gigantic vortex which brought them to the new world of New York City. Smurfette is shown to suffer from an identity crisis, as she is having nightmares about betraying her fellow Smurfs and getting them captured by Gargamel. At the same time, the Smurfs are preparing a surprise birthday party for Smurfette. But as nobody talks about her birthday and keeps it a secret, she feels that they have forgotten the day and don’t consider her as one of them. She feels that she is neither here nor there, as neither the daughter of Gargamel or Papa Smurf, created by one and given the life of a Smurf by Papa Smurf. She had been an instrument to distract and trap the Smurfs, but now she is claimed as one of them, but the doubts in her mind never ends. She wanders away from the village thinking about the same. Meanwhile, Gargamel has become a famous magician in Paris, but he is running out the Smurf essence and thus losing his magical powers. With his new Smurf-like creations, who are called the Naughties – Vexy and Hackus, Gargamel plans on opening a portal to the Smurf village and get the Smurf formula by kidnapping Smurfette who joined the other side. But he doesn’t have the magical powers to create a portal big enough for him to enter, and he sends Vexy who goes through it and successfully tricks the first Smurf lady through the portal as she wanders around alone.

The Smurfs are alerted, and Papa Smurf uses his magic to create crystals that would allow some of his best Smurfs to go back to the human world, but through an accident, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity ends up travelling to the modern world rather than Brainy, Hefty, and Gutsy. The four Smurfs arrive in the apartment of Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) right after the birthday celebration of his son Blue (Jacob Tremblay) who has been named after them. They also meet Patrick’s stepfather Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson), whom Patrick hates and wishes to keep away from his family. The Smurfs join with them as well as Patrick’s lovely wife Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays) and goes to Paris where the sorcerer has set up his abode. The team manages to sneak through the backside of the magic arena of the villain, but fails to find Smurfette. Meanwhile, she joins with Vexy and Hackus in fun, and almost forget the Smurf life. Gargamel and his cat Azrael try their best to get information out of the Smurf lady, and at the same time, the human gang and the Smurfs tries to get through to the secret lair of Gargamel. In the battle for Smurf identity and Smurfy existence, there is a lot at stake including the Smurf lady as well as the whole Smurf village.

So, this movie running just a minute more than its predecessor, is no entity which can be considered different from the first movie. Its twelve percent approval rating at the Rotten Tomatoes comes as no surprise, even as that is a little harsh considering how much goodness this movie carries, or at least attempts to hold in itself. Its best moments are recreated from the first movie, and it fails to exist as a thing of innovation. With the large number of animated movies releasing these days, this half-an-animation might be a little repetitive in a less interesting manner. We already saw The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Epic and Turbo making impact this year, and this movie tries to impress kids in the same way. But how much can the kids take? They have a similar movie coming up each month which gives them their good time in the theatre. It is us horror fans who have less for our liking. We are fed with one movie, once in five months or so, in the form of The Conjuring, and that too should have been cut so much that there is that new question about what the horror really is. I guess we don’t count anymore, and the animated movies are the new, profitable trend – if the superhero movies don’t have anything to say against that claim; ask our beloved Man of Steel who lost his underwear in his effort to match a Dark Knight who rises.

Smurfette is the central character of this movie, and the second significant one is Vexy, voiced by Katy Perry and Christina Ricci respectively, bringing the whole new sisterly Smurf relationship to the movie series. The best moments though, belong to Vanity Smurf and Azrael bringing good laughter through their pride and fall. Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick Winslow has a lesser role to play in this sequel as his character looks more hammered into the middle of the world as a misfit, and Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow has even lesser to do this time. Brendan Gleeson as Victor Doyle brings some fun right into the middle of chaos. Hank Azaria as Gargamel continues to keep us interested even as the villain seems to be more of a clone of what he was in the first movie. But we can’t avoid Gargamel and his sorcery that easily, as the man continues to be the villain that he was in the first movie. Azrael the cat could have had a little more screen-time to make the most out of it. The movie should have found something smurfantastic, but it takes the easy way out, as the movie starts in an ordinary manner and ends in a predictable manner. Whatever happens in the middle tries to hold this world together.

Even with some good 3D effects, The Smurfs 2 fails to get rid of all those things which might have added negatively to the first movie. But all the good things are still there. With The Conjuring on the other screen, this would attract the families with kids, that’s for sure. But the fact remains that Pacific Rim, The Wolverine and Man of Steel haven’t disappeared yet as expected. Therefore, the choices are there, and this movie has to strive hard. The big shock might be that there is the little presence of Despicable Me 2 somewhere around. But The Smurfs 2 is new and they got style, colour and a cute and easy to pronounce title which rhymes with Surf Excel, our common detergent powder which has attacked the television screens without mercy. With its ordinary moral story which keeps you smurfed, smurfized and smurfined, the question would remain if they could have waited a little more and come up with a better sequel of excellent content. The little blue creatures have more potential than this, and we can only hope that the third movie of the series would fulfill it. Until then, one has to adjust with this movie, and I am sure that it won’t bore you to death – it doesn’t make you feel awesome either.

Release date: 31st July 2013 (USA); 4th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson , Jacob Tremblay, Nancy O’Dell & a big number of voice actors including Katy Perry and Christina Ricci

thesmurfs2 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.