Gemini Man

What is the movie about? :: Henry Brogan (Will Smith), is a fifty one year old former Marine Sniper who had managed to go through the terrors of war in different wars in which United States of America was a part of. After finishing his assignments, he has been working as an assassin for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). As he is sent on a mission to assassinate a terrorist on board a bullet train, and after he successfully makes the hit a few milliseconds before it enters a tunnel, he decides to quit the job. But his old friend Jack Willis (Douglas Hodge) tells him that he was tricked, and the person he last murdered was not a terrorist, but a Russian molecular biologist and a Russian operative Yuri Kovacs (Ilia Volok) has proof about it. Janet Lassiter (Linda Emond), the director of the DIA who comes to know about Henry realizing the truth, decides to get him assassinated, and so does Clayton Varris (Clive Owen) the director of GEMINI, a top secret black ops unit.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Meanwhile, while spending time on a fishing boat, Henry realizes that Danny Zakarewski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who was supposed to be the cute, friendly neighborhood boat rental manager is also a fellow DIA agent who retired from Navy earlier. During the same night, everyone who came close to Henry are killed, and Danny herself is almost killed, but manages to fight off the assassin after getting an early warning from Henry. Both Danny and Henry escape to Colombia with Baron (Benedict Wong), who was in the military with the latter, and is now working as a tour operator. With the assassins failing to kill both of them, Clayton sends another one after them, this time, someone who is an expert, and won’t stop until he completed his mission. Meanwhile, Henry hopes to find Yuri and talk to him about the assassination of the molecular biologist and the twist of fate which had followed.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: When the assassin reaches the house, and when Henry comes face to face with him, he realizes that it is just him, about thirty years ago. He resembled Henry very much that Danny ends up asking if he had a relationship when he was young, to which he answers that the closest he was to a woman was with her. Testing the DNA samples of both men, Danny realizes that the assassin is a younger clone of Henry. The clone possessed the same skill sets and even had the allergies from the former assassin. Henry manage to meet Yuri in Hungary who talks to him about the cloning project and the man he assassinated was one of the project’s main scientists. The idea was to produce clones without pain and emotions so that they can be perfect killing machines, and nobody would come looking for them either – there would be nothing much that could be taken from them if captured either. Now, time starts running out for them.

The defence of Gemini Man :: There are some interesting ideas used here by the movie, reminding one of the science fiction action thrillers of a much earlier period, like The 6th Day which had cloning at the core, and the main character being cloned. There are some fine action sequences to go with it, and as the story goes on, we see some humour in there, and the bonding scenes between the main characters are nice. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does have that kind of a combination with Will Smith – she is looking so different from her earlier adventures that it is difficult to recognize her, but she is really good here. The best action sequence is the one involving shootout and motorbike chasing sequences which come quite early into the movie. In the final moments, there are more to add to it though. There is also the question about morality being asked in the end, but that is just a little addition which comes towards it.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much of a suspense or twist in the movie, but there was scope for a lot – The 6th Day had something grand going on underneath, but this one is just too direct with the plans. There are also moments when the strength of Will Smith as the action hero shows signs of fading, even as he does quickly go back up. The movie could have the two going against each other for a long time, until all of a sudden, the big revelation is made as a twist, but this one chooses to go forward with everything well known. Gemini Man could have been John Wick on another day, but not on this day, and with the movie seems to be having a finish with no opening for a sequel, this particular hitman might not be coming back to provide anything more to us. Considering what we have, it doesn’t try to achieve something special, going through the predictable path.

The performers of the soul :: Will Smith guides this movie in his usual style, and we know that the role of assassin suits him well. We had seen him last in Aladdin, where he served as the genie from the lamp. But this one should point directly to Suicide Squad, the highly underrated beauty of a movie where he played expert marksman and assassin, Deadshot, as part of the team of dangerous criminals set to save the world. The character is very much suited to him, and he delivers in usual style, even though it is not that much there with the younger version of him. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been a common name in horror movies, a scream queen who was last seen with full strength in the post-apocalyptic psychological horror thriller which gained much critical and audience acclaim, 10 Cloverfield Lane – with this one, she proves to be fine action material too, maybe the right choice for a Mission Impossible movie. Clive Owen makes a pretty good villain at the same time.

How it finishes :: With the eternal action hero Will Smith and the Scream Queen turned action star Mary Elizabeth Winstead does move this film forward in style, but with the inability to innovate, and the hesitation to try something different, Gemini Man doesn’t rise above its limitations at all times. We know the kind of movies Ang Lee has come up with, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to Life of Pi, and in comparison, this one doesn’t gain the needed strength. But as an entertainer, you cannot question the quality of Gemini Man, because it delivers just that with ease. This surely is your usual kind of an action adventure movie, with the protagonist being hunted by the group he used to be working with, and he has to get away and find a solution – for the same, he has his very small list of allies, not numbering more than two. So, enjoy this one within the genre.

Release date: 11th October 2019
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Linda Emond. Ralph Brown, Douglas Hodge, Ilia Volok

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

MIB International

Vampire Owl: This particular franchise has been so old that I am beginning to feel young.

Vampire Bat: Do you know that we have a group, Vampires in Black?

Vampire Owl: We do? What do they do?

Vampire Bat: They wear black, and wander around the castle, as if black is the coolest colour a vampire can wear.

Vampire Owl: So, this VIB does nothing of use.

Vampire Bat: Well, MIB has had another sequel, and so we might be up for more.

Vampire Owl: I think that we should run VIB parallel to MIB because I have so many ideas related to it.

Vampire Bat: What kind of idea do you have?

Vampire Owl: It is regarding a group of vampires wearing black, and facing aliens.

Vampire Bat: I think that people won’t need many more of that, unless created with some really good content.

[Gets a ghee cake and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson) is someone who had witnessed her parents’ memories of aliens erased by agents of Men in Black while she helps an alien escape. As her memories of aliens stayed, she started looking for employment in the secret organization which she found out about, but finds out that there is no chance. Everybody thinks that she is delusional, and that there is something really weird about her. With no friends and no life of her own, she finally manages to find the Men in Black after tracing an alien who is taken away by the agents. She discovers the headquarters of the organization quite fast, enters without any hesitation, and makes a fine impression on Agent O (Emma Thompson) who heads the team in United States of America, and after naming her Agent M, sends her to work in London as a probationary agent to know how much she is capable of.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There, Agent M meets High T (Liam Neeson), head of the London branch, and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), the two of whom are supposed to have stopped an invasion of the Hive, a parasitic race at the Eiffel Tower, many years ago. After that, while High T leads the force, Agent H had become irresponsible, leading to T having to cover up all his failures. M meets H, and manages to go with him in his meeting with his close friend and alien royalty who is killed by some mysterious alien twins able to manifest as pure energy, which the agents are not able to counter. Before dying, the alien royalty provides M with a strange crystal, telling to her that it won’t be useful giving it to H because he had changed after the incident during which he saved the world. It turns out that the crystal is not just the usual thing, and that there is something special about it, but they will have to find it the hard way, while the agency is not happy about the royal alien being killed. So, what is next for the two against all odds? Can they save the world?

The defence of Men in Black International :: As expected, the special effects with the action sequences score more than anything else, and the CGI elements are at fine work here, making the alien presence have glory – after all, the technology has improved so much, and this was to look better in each and every movie. The location explored are really nice, especially Marrakesh in Morocco which provides the best visuals around. MIB does manage to continue as how it used to be in essence, with a big universe with unlimited number of aliens to be saved these days. There is some humour present, even though most of them don’t work, or are repetitive. We can hope to have another movie in the franchise though, including these new characters and some of the old ones, which can prove to be interesting with some extra innovation, for we should never be short of smart ideas as far as alien invasion is concerned.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much different here as far as the plot idea of the Men in Black series is concerned, as each movie works on a similar thing every time, and the disadvantage here is that it lacks those stars whom we have associated this movie franchise with, and there is absolutely no emotional connection here – that side is almost completely done with. We develop no feelings for the protagonists here, and therefore the concern is rather less. There is not much to save here compared to those original movies which we had, and the villain reveal was rather unnecessary, because we could have guessed that from a long time ago, and it was certainly not that good a choice. The twist was pretty much unnecessary, and the best characters in the movie go unexplored. There is also absence of humour, as the funny side here is rather minimal, and it rarely works, leading us to question the direction it is going.

Performers of the soul :: Men in Black will miss Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones this time, and there is no doubt about the same. It might be due to the same reason that we have a pair which worked so well with Thor: Ragnarok to get out of the Avengers world with that grand finish in Avengers: Endgame, and come to this franchise. Yes, they will have their roles to play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thor and Valkyire, but their combination doesn’t work that well in this movie, even though they are okay together for most part of the movie. Chris Hemsworth does take a little bit of the early Thor attitude in here too, as the proud MIB agent. Tessa Thompson is fine here, but a younger actress playing this role would have been more appropriate. Rebecca Ferguson, the Mission Impossible and Doctor Sleep girl has fine run in her smaller role, while our TakenNon-stop action star Liam Neeson is a fine addition to the movie here, but they could have used him in a better way, at least by the end scenes.

How it finishes :: Men in Black International continues that same format which it had been following for a long time, and through that idea which has been well-established, it manages to be entertaining – after all, there is also the presence of the big names like Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson and Liam Neeson who are there to keep us entertained. There is not much that we will find new in this movie, or to be greater than the previous movies in the franchise, but you have the guarantee because it is this particular franchise that we are talking about. But, it could have had a movie like Charlie’s Angels had, a long time later, but falls short due to the absence of that humour and an energetic cast. Yet, it is the movie that you watch for being Men in Black with all the aliens and saving the world stuff.

Release date: 14th June 2019
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: F Gary Gray
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Liam Neeson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anna

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

Vampire Bat: Do you remember The Man from UNCLE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Johnny English 3

What is the movie about? :: Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is spending his retirement peacefully as a Geography teacher far away from city-life. But MI7 has a cyber attack from an unknown force, leaving the identities of all their active agents exposed, and some of them dead. This leads to a call for return of the retired agents, hoping that they could investigate this situation without giving any clue to the attacker. But in the end, it turns out that Johnny is the only remaining person who could take the job, about which he has no second thoughts either. For the same, his sidekick Jeremy Bough (Ben Miller) is assigned to accompany him. At the same time, a confused Prime Minister (Emma Thompson)is considering a meeting with a computer expert and billionaire Jason Volta (Jake Lacy), to help them with controlling the cyber attacks and to form an agreement that could bring everything back to normal.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: After traveling to france, the two get a clue that the cyber attack came from a yacht named Dot Calm. There they come across a few goons lead by a Russian woman named Ophelia Bulletova (Olga Kurylenko). She gets them captured, but the two could manage to escape. Their paths cross again, and Ophelia tries to kill him more than once – she never gets close to succeeding though. They soon figure out that there is something about Jason that is not right. The yacht itself belongs to him, and they feel that he has something to do with everything that goes on, including the cyber attack which affects all signal lights in London. But can they stop something bigger from happening, and can they act in time before the whole system is broken down? What is the interest of Ophelia in all these? Can the Prime Minister make sure that the country is safe?

The defence of Johnny English Strikes Again :: There is a lot of laughter to be generated with this particular movie. The best moments come from the high-energy dance and the use of virtual reality. But these are certainly not those moments where the fun begins or ends. The movie surely knows how to generate laughter without using cheap jokes which was done by movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service which pretends to be funny. There also some nice visuals, and the adventure continues to be funny throughout the journey. In this short journey of less that one and half hours, there is care taken to make sure that the good, common audience also gets more than the usual, and not just those special viewers. We can be sure that there will be even more to come if Johnny English decides to strike further with another wonderful sequel – we will be ready for it considering the potential, and lets keep the lady lead the same for that one too, this time.

The claws of flaw :: The story might seem similar to Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway and Dwayne Johnson starrer Get Smart, in the beginning stages even though there are changes to follow. There is predictability in store here, without doubt. It is also too small a movie, ending up with less than one and half hours, which makes us ask for more. The expectations were high with the trailer, as we all know – it has been so long since the earlier movie in the franchise released, and even longer after the first one. The absence of a heart and soul to enjoy such simple jokes can be a problem too. The simplicity shown by the movie might not be for those who are looking for the complexities, and not able to find the fun at some point of life. Most of the reasons which are written in some reviews about not liking this movie are kind of ridiculous though, and lets not fall into the trap, as not many flaws are there in this kind of a movie within its own genre, and you can be sure about that much.

The performers of the soul :: Whether it is about Mr. Bean movie adaptations Bean and Mr. Bean’s Holiday, or the earlier Johnny English flicks which we loved so much, there is one person that we would always want to watch. Can we forget the British sitcom and the animated series which were inspired by the same? I would say that it is an impossible task to keep them away, and we just have to watch them whenever there is a chance. The Rowan Atkinson effect continues in this one too, as he entertains us the big way again. There is no doubt regarding the reason for watching the movie for most people, and it is him – Mr. Bean and Johnny English are the type of characters who are to be remembered forever, and they are also those for which there can be no other actor playing the role. There are many actors who can make you laugh, and then there is this man who never stops doing that.

Further performers of the soul :: Olga Kurylenko has been an actress with a lot of potential. She was there in the James Bond movie, Quantum Solace; she was there in the game adaptation Hitman, and also in the post-apocalyptic science fiction movie, Oblivion with Tom Cruise. She had shined in all of them, and this one is no different. She remains funny on one side, as well as doing so well in those action scenes. Just like Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Mission Impossible: Fallout, she is someone with immense potential in action movies, and looks perfectly suited for this role. Ben Miller nicely adds to the funny side with his support too. The rest of the cast does manage to do a pretty good job, but there is not that much to be remembered there.

How it finishes :: Johnny English Strikes Again provides some great fun without doubt, and anyone who thinks otherwise might need to check their sense of humour. If someone likes movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service, and fails to have any interest in this one surely needs to check for the same further. Kingsman was one miserable movie, and never came close to being funny. But we can see that Johnny English Strikes Again handles everything so well that you can listen to the whole theatre laughing at regular intervals. This is the kind of laughter that even those regional movies which focused on common audience failed to bring in a packed theatre – it is for the same that Johnny English Strikes Again has to be appreciated; there is always the need to connect and this one surely has that quality which can inspire more of similar movies.

Release date: 28th September 2018
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: David Kerr
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Jake Lacy, Emma Thompson, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Adam James, Miranda Hennessy, Irena Tyshyna, Samantha Russell, David Mumeni, Tuncay Gunes, Nick Owenford, Junichi Kajioka, Matthew Beard

<— Click here to go to the previous review. Also check the reviews of The Predator and The Nun which are still running at the nearby theatres as well as the recent superhero flick, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

MI: Fallout

What is the movie about? :: Two years ago, the Impossible Mission Force agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) had come face to face against a secret criminal organization called the Syndicate and its leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), defeating them against all odds with the help of Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), former MI6 agent and his own team. But the situation doesn’t get any better even with Solomon in captivity, as his idea of creating a new world order lives on through the free members of his organization who have transformed into a new terrorist group known as The Apostles. Ethan receives his new mission regarding the same, which includes preventing the sale of three plutonium cores to members of this group, who have an unknown leader going by the name John Lark – this shadowy figure plans to use it to cause the maximum suffering on most number of people.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: His IMF team members Benjamin Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) are with him on this mission, but the same doesn’t become the success that they expected with the loss of plutonium cores, as he chooses to save his friend’s life instead. The team manages to get some information regarding the Apostles, but it seems that IMF won’t be the only group involved in the mission. Erica Sloane (Angela Bassett), Director of the CIA, has Special Activities operative and Assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) to go with Ethan. Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), the IMF chief reluctantly agrees to the same, and the two makes an unusual combination with their own problems even in being together on a dangerous mission.

And what is follow with the tale? :: They reach Paris, and finds John Lark who is about to buy the plutonium core from White Widow (Vanessa Kirby), a black market dealer. But things go further complicated as John Lark is murdered by Ila Faust who is also there on a mission, and Ethan has to take his place to make sure that the deal happens. It turns out that there is more than money involved in the deal, and Ethan is also suspected to be the real John Lark. There is more than one twist ready to happen, and Solomon Lane is not finished yet. Ilsa also has her own hidden agenda, and August Walker has his own motives. With Ethan being caught in the middle of all these, will there be chaos and anarchy from the Apostles reviving the Syndicate or can there be temporary peace with another impossible mission nicely completed by Ethan Hunt and his team?

The defence of Mission Impossible: Fallout :: Here is one more of the Mission Impossible movies that keep you on the edge of the seat. We have so many things happening here, and some nice twists are always there. The action sequences continue to be exceptional with car chases, bike chases and even helicopter chases, all of them not requiring that much of a willing suspension of disbelief from us – the franchise does know where to draw the lines, and it is something that not many movie series can do with their flicks. Well, the hand-to-hand combat scenes are also excellent as we look at them. The final moments of action are too good, and we feel so immersed in it that every second counts. There is no reason why any lover of action movies should miss this – Mission Impossible is that kind of a franchise that makes the best of its resources.

The claws of flaw :: Once again, Mission Impossible has the idea at the core, with one man being the key to saving the world, even though not without some help from his people. There is that feeling here that at some point, this series is going to run out of ideas like Transformers franchise has been threatening to do. Well, every movie can’t go on doing this, as the similarities do remain; Marvel and DC might be able to do that with endless possibilities for future, as superheroes are so many, and Justice League and Avengers will keep producing more. The Indian version has too many cuts too, with the word Kashmir never used – figuring that one out needs the help of the internet. We also miss Jeremy Renner in this movie, and we hope for more of his work in the next possible Mission Impossible movie.

The performers of the soul :: The franchise continues to be the grand Tom Cruise thing even after so many years of existence – he is the one who holds everything high here too. As expected, he excels in all those action sequences, from running, climbing, fist fighting, shooting and racing to even flying a helicopter. Rebecca Ferguson excels once again, even though not with that much charm as we had seen in the previous movie. It was joy to watch her in that flick as she lit up the screen so well. She is still the best heroine in a Mission Impossible movie without doubt. Henry Cavill brings something special here, as he did with his Superman roles in Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, or in The Man from UNCLE. Vanessa Kirby is a lovely addition to the movie too. Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg are perfectly suited here.

How it finishes :: Mission Impossible movies have always been joy to watch for the action sequences. It is more or less about mission being successful no matter what kind of obstacles are there – we enjoy the same without doubt. Among all those movies, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has been my favourite, and this one is a big entertainer like all those other movies of the genre. The thrilling experience that this movie provides with all those action sequences will be difficult to forget. One will keep searching for more Mission Impossible movies, and hoping for the franchise to never end, it has the kind of success story that everyone needs with a movie franchise. Here, we get the success with both the critics as well as the box-office collections; never really the easy thing to do.

Release date: 27th July 2018
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Alec Baldwin

<— Click here to go to the previous review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naam Shabana

Vampire Owl: I know this person from Baby.

Vampire Bat: This is a spin-off prequel to that movie, and so it is no surprise that you know her.

Vampire Owl: So, this is both a spin-off and a prequel? That should mean two levels.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one also has Ajay Singh Rajput played by Akshay Kumar, Anjali Singh Rajput played by Madhurima Tuli and Om Prakash Shukla played by Anupam Kher.

Vampire Owl: And joins Shabana Khan played by Taapsee Pannu, I see.

Vampire Bat: There is also our own Prithviraj with an evil side.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see what can be better than that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ivide had shown his negative shades better than any other.

Vampire Owl: And we remember that older movie with him playing the bad cop getting reformed – Vargam, I guess. I also liked him in his other Bollywood movie, Aurangzeb.

Vampire Bat: Bollywood needs a few more in their movies, just like him. I still have Memories in my head.

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

What is the movie about? :: Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) is a college student who is also practicing Judo to take part in a number of competitions. Her mother, Farida Begum Khan (Natasha Rastogi) is in full support of her, whatever she plans to do. She doesn’t hesitate in beating up people who cause any kind of nuisance, no matter how small it is, or how meaningless the fight is. She has made herself tougher, as she had grown up watching her father beat up her mother mercilessly all the time after coming home drunk and out of his senses. On one of those days when he was attacking her mother, she had hit her father so hard on the back of his head, that he ended up dead – it had left her in the juvenile home, until coming back stronger to help her mother move forward with her life. This flashback about her is rather unknown to her new friends.

So, what happens next? :: Shabana is quite a popular girl in the college, and one of her friends, Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala) has fallen in love with her. He asks her to accompany him for dinner, and they seem to have fallen in love, but on that night, they come across some eve teasing, to which she decides to respond – the result is Jai getting killed and leaving her scarred for life. His parents blame her for the incident, and despite going to the police station almost every day, she finds no progress at all. Frustrated and without hope, one day while returning from the police station, she gets the calls of an unknown man (Manoj Bajpayee) who gives her an offer she can’t refuse. She will get her revenge against the four men, but he wants something from her in return. So, will she manage to live up to the promise on her end, and will he be able to do the same?

The defence of Naam Shabana :: A lot of reviewers who go around in Bollywood are sure to miss how good Prithviraj Sukumaran has been in this movie, and there is that tendency to figure out how much they can appreciate everyone else. The makers won’t give that much for someone of such calibre, and the reviewers will just focus more on the Bollywood stars – just like I had written earlier in the review of the short-film, Invisible Actor, that there are actors and superstars, and there are those who are good enough to become both and maintain the balance. Along with him and Taapsee, the movie has its thrilling side going. There are also some very nice action sequences, and nothing overdone in that department. There are also some nice dialogues to go with the same – some of them are actually funny, whether intentional or not. It also feels good to get an origin story, which provides more scope for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Some scenes in this movies are just strange – with people removing their shirts to fight, vengeance given so much importance by an intelligence wing, the villain willingly giving away his identity when there was other options considering how smart he is, choosing the rookie to do this dangerous mission when there are experienced people around, and so on. It is still good to see that such Bollywood tendencies get to be controlled up to an extent. Shabana also has rather less attention on her character than everything else about her. Some of the moments just get funny when they shouldn’t have been, and we also get so much less of the villain who should have been the highlight of this movie from the darker side. The first half of the movie, with its stretched romance, becomes the rather too long thing here too. They could have done without the songs too.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Taapsee Pannu does provide some knockout punches here, and she suits the character really well – even when the character is not flawless, she nullifies a few bad sides. It her work in the original movie which has inspired this one, and she gets to play the girl with fire more. Everyone loved her in Pink, and this one no longer has her as a damsel in distress – she gets to make sure that her agency remains a proud one. Still, as her work in Baby was so effective in such a short time, that would be remembered more. Prithviraj Sukumaran who was seen in Malayalam movies which were different kind of thrillers, Oozham, Ezra and Tiyaan, here we have him playing the villain, and I am sure that having more of him would have helped this movie better. Akshay Kumar’s role is small, but quick and effective, while Manoj Bajpayee only gets to talk, without getting any action. Madhurima Tuli and Anupam Kher also cross over here from Baby.

How it finishes :: Naam Shabana is a movie which could have done better with more focus on its antagonist, and a more consistent character development of our protagonist. If you don’t go for this one with the expectations high considering Baby, you are surely not going to be disappointed – it is that one which automatically let the expectations go high, and the makers seem to have thought that this would bring the money. They could have made more money with better focus on Prithviraj, but here, they have taken rather too much time for even Taapsee’s training to begin. Still, Naam Shabana is another thriller that works, and even without the name of Baby attached to it, there is more to the tale. Maybe the stand-alone feeling will give the flick even more strength. You can only watch this one and come up with your own opinion, and the need for another movie in the franchise.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Shivam Nair
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Murali Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala, Natasha Rastogi, Manav Vij, Mohan Kapoor, Elli Avram, Shibani Dandekar, Virendra Saxena, Aparna Upadhyay

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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Vampire Owl :: I believe that they are talking about Uncle Dracula returning to the castle.

Vampire Bat :: I don’t understand why they would do that. It is not possible.

Vampire Owl :: Or may be a man who is the messenger of Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat :: Don’t you know that the return of Uncle Dracula is not of concern for the humans these days as they don’t even believe in his existence?

Vampire Owl :: I guess I misunderstood the title then. I thought this would mean his return because the world needs it.

Vampire Bat :: It stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement as I have read on the internet.

Vampire Owl :: So, no true uncles are involved. It is actually good because some uncles are so irritating with their comparisons of their nephews and nieces.

Vampire Bat :: It is actually based on an American television series of the 1960s. There was also one called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. during the same time period.

Vampire Owl :: So, it is clearly new for us. During that period, we were not into television series, and surely none from that part of the world. Do you think that it will be good?

Vampire Bat :: Well, we will surely have to watch and find that out. This comes from Guy Ritchie, the man who brought the two Sherlock Holmes movies to us, and will bring a King Arthur movie next year.

[Gets a cup of tea with chocolate chip cookies].

What is it about? :: At a time when the Cold War was going strong, years after the Second World War, a former professional thief and the present CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is on a special mission. He brings Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of Udo Teller (Christian Berkel), an expert scientist who was working for the Nazis, out of East Berlin, as they manage to go past the KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) who gives a big chase. But it turns out that the job is not anywhere close to being finished yet, with the two rich shipping company owning couple Alexander (Luca Calvani) and Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) Vinciguerra who are Nazi sympathizers have the scientist with them, and Gaby’s uncle Rudi (Sylvester Groth) working with them might be their only chance to get to Udo. The time might be less because the couple might be creating their own nuclear weapons.

So what is the possible solution here and where do they go? :: So, with chaos and destruction staring them right on their faces, CIA and KGB decides to bring their best men together, with Napolean and Illya working together to bring solution to this new problem. Gaby and Illya are to pretend to be engaged as they go to meet her uncle in Italy. Solo also poses as an antiquities dealer and stays in another room in the same hotel at Rome. So, another game begins far away from home, and the question remains if these three can get along. Gaby’s best interest seems to be in finding her father, and the two agents have the interests of their own nations and the agencies to keep steady. With their own agendas being there, what can these people do to ensure world peace in front of an enemy which is more united than they are? Saving the world is not a choice though, isn’t it? Especially when USA and USSR did join forces!

The defence of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. :: One thing which you can be hundred percent sure about this particular flick is that it has some simple, light-hearted fun. The humour that has been used in this movie never crosses the limit, making it appropriate for almost all kinds of audience, a quality which is not easy to maintain for the Hollywood movies of these times as they intend to go for sex and violence instead. Well, that should have made the censor board very happy or they would have been on a grand cutting process around here. The thrills are present and there is one twist and some nice smaller turning of events. The movie also has a fine style going throughout it, and the music used in the flick gives an even better feeling. What surprised me the most is how this flick, even with its simplest scenes, could bring smiles on our faces – a quality which the more appreciated movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service completely lacked and replaced it with boredom.

Claws of flaw :: The fact remains that there might not be anyone who has watched that telvision series around here, as the idiot box presence improved only later around here, and the number of channels only increased even later. So, the case of nostalgia is completely going out through the window for ny person from this part of the world. The movie could have also used a lot more humour here because the possibility was very much there – there were some nice points where it could have added so much more to the movie. The three protagonists could have taken them in easily. The story could have also been more polished to bring the suspense and thrills to the next level – it is something which could have made sure that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. will be the spy movie which worked for a genre-based audience. There could have also been more melee combat here. As this is more like an origin story, a possible sequel should solve the problems!

Performers of the Soul :: The three leading performers in this movie are nothing less than complete fun. Their characters have something special, and they are nicely brought on screen with action and humour. They are the ones who make us wish for a sequel for this one. Among the three, the big performer is undoubtedly Henry Cavill who has the thief turned into CIA agent played with charm; coming right out of Man of Steel – one wonders if he will make a nice James Bond in a parallel universe. His agent makes a fine combination with his former nemesis character Armie Hammer, and both nicely compliment each other. You will love the third one, played by Alicia Vikander too. It won’t be that big a performance or something of very high quality like her work in Ex Machina, but she is cute and full of fun in this movie. You will surely get something a lot better than her Seventh Son though. You will also notice Elizabeth Debicki making a nice lady villain.

How it finishes :: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is indeed a fine spy movie with fun. Unlike Kingsman: The Secret Service which was always running out of ideas making it use violence and ridiculous sexual remarks, this movie here knows exactly where it is going. The collections and critical appreciation for that mindless flick is a reflection of how much the quality of the viewers and critics have come down, but thanks to movies like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that we can have movies which are actually fun and not just claimed to be so. Our movie here shows Kingsman: The Secret Service how it is done, and how it should have been accomplished. On one side, we have interesting spy movies like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and on the other side, we have boring and clueless spy stuff like Kingsman: The Secret Service; and thankfully, I know that the former was the more successful one where I watch movies!

Release date: 14th August 2015
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant, Luca Calvani, Sylvester Groth, Simona Caparrini, Misha Kuznetsov, David Menkin, Christian Berkel

themanfromuncle

PS: Favourite pre-Christmas movie at the theatres right now: Anarkali. Merry Christmas 🙂

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phantom

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Vampire Owl :: Finally, we have someone whom we can add to our team.

Vampire Bat :: I have no idea what you are talking about. This movie is not related to any Phantom about whom you have heard. Actually, not even to Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Vampire Owl :: What? Not the Ghost who Walks? Not the Phantom of the Opera? Not even the usual ghost?

Vampire Bat :: No is the answer for all the three questions.

Vampire Owl :: I still like this poster. It seems to be designed with certain skill.

Vampire Bat :: Well, they have cancelled the shows for Double Barrel. What choice do we have?

Vampire Owl :: I believe that watching a non-Malayalam movie for Onam is a true case of cruelty.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we are forced to do the same.

Vampire Owl :: Phantom it is then!

Vampire Bat :: I am sure that the movie will have its moments.

[Gets the tickets and goes to buy cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a former soldier who was dishonorably discharged from the Indian Army has another chance at reclaiming his lost reputation and the love of his ex-military father. As RAW looks for the least suspected and less known face which they can depend on, Daniyal seems to be the best choice, despite that one bad decision which was made at the India-Pakistan border. He is given the task to eliminate a number of masterminds behind the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, as an unofficial mission without the approval of the Indian Government. With the help of a former intelligence agent Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif), Daniyal starts his mission at London, which will be followed by targets at other parts of the world.

The defence of Phantom :: As expected, Phantom is a thriller which attempts to make something which hasn’t happened to be represented as a possible truth which the audience are supposed to like. The feelings of every Indian will be touched here. With regular doses of patriotic statements and some interesting moments of action and thrills, Phantom does manage to accomplish that. With the early statements and the shots, this movie does create that feeling required in the viewer to move on. The idea is always there, and it never ceases to make the audience think over it again and again. The locations are really well created. There is a very realistic feel concerning the environment everywhere throughout this movie. The pace is kept good, and there is no dull moment, and even a possible romance doesn’t really happen, which is a clear bonus in the end. The ending is also something to be loved.

Claws of flaw :: The inability to use the full potential of Phantom is rather disappointing – there was so much to be done and something like the earlier espionage thriller Baby was possible here. But it just goes on and on with its material without completely developing the same. It does begin in a smarter way which somewhat struggles during the later stages, and when they do, they just add the gunshots or the chases. This should have been an espionage thriller movie with precision rather than making too much noise – in the gamer’s terms, instead of going Hitman: The Silent Assassin, this one becomes Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 Arena at times, chasing and shooting people around. One has to wonder why the thrills could not be embedded into this story instead of just coming and going; the story itself has the problems in the later stages, but couldn’t this have made it a lot stronger?

Performers of the soul :: The movie rests on the shoulders of Saif Ali Khan who plays the man who makes the difference and brings justice to the victims of the terrorist attacks not only in Mumbai but also at the other places. Even though he doesn’t go on to create that huge impact as this character, he surely controls things. He maintains that tough looks, and keeps the determination required for his character. The best moments from him are also in the first half of the movie, even though Katrina Kaif gets them in the second along with a few lesser known actors. The support is actually very good here, and there are times when the viewers wish for them to be there for more time on the screen. Katrina Kaif is not required to do that much here, but she manages things very well. The characterization make sure that not too much is demanded.

Soul Exploration :: There is the tagline “A story you wish were true”. It talks about the known fact that the masterminds who were really responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks are still living in peace and the truth that justice was not served to victims of that brutal terrorist attack which remains a permanent scar. The movie tells the viewers about how it could have been, and what would have been able to bring peace to the souls of the deceased. There is the freedom of being a fantasy movie asserted and taken right from the moment that tagline was first displayed on a poster. But it surely makes one think about all which have been said, and it does ask relevant questions. The shades of patriotism are also strong, and the strength of rewind can be seen here.

How it finishes :: It is only later that Phantom doesn’t really justify its title. The reason is its transformation as the whole thing moves from the strong point which was the brain to be adventurous. There is a car chase and public exchange of gunfire to kill the main villain which was not according to the movie’s soul – there was surprisingly no back-up plan. But as mentioned earlier, this does end well and along with being a thriller, this one has the strength to touch the emotions. So, Phantom remains an interesting movie which could have been even better. Well, this is Onam, and lets take some time to enjoy this movie too along with those large number of Malayalam movie releases as the festival season in Kerala going on in full power. I wish you all a Happy Onam! Enjoy and watch more movies!

Release date: 28th August 2015
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Kabir Khan
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mir Sarwar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rajesh Tailang, Denzil Smith, Qazi Touqeer, Brandi Alexander, Paul Lazenby

phantom

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

MI: Rogue Nation

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Vampire Owl :: We have been missing the impossible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Gets the tickets].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[After the movie]

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

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

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

mi5

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Baby

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Vampire Owl :: I am so confused that I can’t make a decision which movie to watch this weekend.

Vampire Bat :: It is the calming time after the tsunami which was Vikram’s I. Every Malayalam movie was waiting to avoid a release competing with the big thing that was I, because they understood what the best possible result for their movies was.

Vampire Owl :: There are so many Malayalam movies and a Hindi movie in the local theatres – how can we choose this time?

Vampire Bat :: I say, we toss a coin.

Vampire Owl :: I say we look at the theatre list.

Vampire Bat :: The irony is that the best movie might not come to our nearby theatres. It is how things work.

Vampire Owl :: And these movies are going to be mutually destructive to each other, and it is a shame that they release together.

Vampire Bat :: I say, you drive the motor-bike straight; we will go through the path which has less traffic and reach any theatre and watch the movie there.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, let fate decide.

Vampire Bat :: Unless fate is like Uncle Dracula.

[Reaches a theatre].

What is it about? :: During a mission in Istambul, Indian special agent Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) manages to uncover details about a number of possible terrorist attacks against India from outside, which is from a few people who are part of a terrorist organization in the neighbouring country and also from the inside which includes a group of brainwashed people. As Maulana Mohammed Rahman (Rasheed Naz) plots about the same from outside the nation, Bilal Khan (Kay Kay Menon) escapes from prison and plans from inside the country. To stop these attacks, the team of Ajay Singh Rajput and Priya Suryavanshi (Taapsee Pannu) have to first go to Nepal and find the first link, and then Ajay and another team will have to go to Saudi Arabia in a more dangerous mission. Can the team go past all their obstacles and come out victorious using all their skills?

The defence of Baby :: This movie gives you no nonsense, and it is all about action, that too in a rather believable collection of events. There are no flying bodies here, and fighting and getting beaten up actually means that. The best thing is that this doesn’t go in the path of Holiday which was always trying to take itself down; here we don’t say our hero making fake speech about patriotism, because we get it from the way in which the movie progresses. There are some nice dialogues about being secular and being Indian, but patriotism is something that runs through this movie and preaching about it is never needed. There is no dumb romance as in the movie or any full song, and this one is bloody serious about how it goes. The only comparison that can be made is with Madras Cafe, but that one was more realistic and cent percent serious; striving towards perfection – this one has its own serious comedy here and there which works. The visuals of three abroad locations are nice too. The background music also works. The thrills are plenty.

The Claws of Flaw :: Our hero is still beyond mistakes except for a few, and his family life was something of not much need here, plus no other family is shown in the whole movie. This reminds us of Mission Impossible franchise too, especially with the first scene involving Tom Cruise’ Ethan Hunt saving Keri Russell’s character – Akshay Kumar does something similar here. There is also a certain amount of drag associated with this, but that is very rare and happening more due to the length of the movie and the effort to stretch the thrilling moments further more. There is also the lesser use of the female cast when they were actually doing good. There might be some loopholes here and there in the movie too, and considering the build-up, a bigger climax and ending would have been expected. Everything comes together too easily by the end and it is a “terrorist hunting happily ever after” finish.

Performers of the soul :: Akshay Kumar goes in and comes out strong in this movie, as he works his way to perfection with his character. I would believe that this is exactly how the character was supposed to be; mostly emotion-free, sharp and improvising. This is the type of Akshay Kumar who is awesome. After all, he is the khiladi as we know him, and this is one role in which he can play his best. Madhurima Tuli is one of the prettiest faces on the screen indeed, but she is restricted to a small role here which she manages with ease and lights up those moments. Taapsee Pannu, the other female lead gets more to do on the screen, but her role is also limited to one mission; still she manages to do some stunts and make an impact. Anupam Kher is very good there too, and he along with Rana Daggubati and our protagonist makes a nice, interesting, lethal and funny combination which makes the need for a sequel right there. All the villains are effective, but it is not against personalities or communities that the team goes – it is against evil.

Soul exploration :: Baby surely has a strong heart. There is also the application of the much needed intelligence which has been lacking in Bollywood. It is yet another symbol Bollywood growing up, away from the childishness of flicks like Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3. This is also what Holiday should have been instead of being a masala action thriller, but that was just a remake and stuck to the plans. The movie salutes those who tries and work hard to keep the nation as well as its citizens safe, and this is the one nice tribute to them, and the only one movie which I can consider as a better tribute was Tango Charlie. The movie also works to build on that “Indian” identity which beyond religion, caste, creed, language and colour. Lets give this movie the salute that it deserves, as it doesn’t degrade itself to a commercial flick and try something from the Ek Tha Tiger model either.

How it finishes :: Baby surely needs support, not just because it seems to be the best of the weekend from what I have heard so far, but also because only with such movies succeeding, can we keep the terrible mindless movies away from the big screen. There is an unbelievable amount of toughness in this movie, and this Mission Impossible of India actually settles for five percent of success with their “impossible” as our protagonists say in this movie. Lets make one thing clear; Baby is not Holiday, and it means that you have to take this one seriously. Romance is not mandatory; songs are not needed; villains flying on hero’s contact is a waste – this is Baby, and the movie means something beyond mindless action and thrills; it is above them both intellectually and straight from the heart. Thank you Neeraj Pandey for beginning the Bollywood side so well for me; the first Hindi movie of the year that I watch in the theatre raises my hopes high for the rest of the year.

Release date: 23rd January 2015
Running time: 159 minutes
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Madhurima Tuli, Taapsee Pannu, Rana Daggubati, Anupam Kher, Danny Denzongpa, Kay Kay Menon, Sushant Singh, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Rasheed Naz, Rasheed Naz, Karan Wahi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Taken 3

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Uncle Dracula :: So do you believe that the Vampire Owl was taken?

Vampire Bat :: I didn’t say that. I was talking about him not going for movies, and not being available for consideration even for watching the movie Taken 3.

Uncle Dracula :: But he could have been taken, nevertheless.

Vampire Bat :: Why are we even having this conversation?

Uncle Dracula :: Because I am giving you a substitute for the Vampire Owl here. Take Igor.

Vampire Bat :: What? Wasn’t he with Doctor Frankenstein?

Uncle Dracula :: Yes, but he was taken. You didn’t know? Even my brides know that.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they will surely know that, because they have no other job. They don’t even brush their fangs. But taken by whom?

Uncle Dracula :: Taken by me. Who else? I am the only Bryan Mills around here. Now, take my new vampire chariot and leave. You are getting late and there is a chance that you might be taken by Doctor Frankenstein in retaliation.

Vampire Bat :: That is a fair point. And you stop abducting people after transforming into fog, mist, wolves, dogs, potato chips, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Titanic DVD and all those other things. The age is different now. It is not cool anymore.

[Kick-starts the vampire chariot].

What is it about? :: The two major incidents seem to have cooled down, and nobody seems to be “taken” anymore. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is once again trying to be good with his daughter Kim Mills (Maggie Grace) who is now living with her boyfriend and his ex-wife Lenore Mills (Famke Janssen) who is having problems with her current husband, Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott). But things get turned around as his wife is found murdered, and when he enters the house, he is framed for the murder. As he becomes the prime suspect here due to the evidence, he manages to flee from the scene using his special skills and uses the same to find a way to get to her murderer. The police is on his trail and asks him to surrender and let them investigate, leaving it for the court to decide, but Bryan knows that he can trust his skills better than anything else. Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) is in charge of the case and decides to go after Bryan.

The defence of Taken 3 :: You know what to expect in a sequel to the kind of movies that the predecessors were. Even with a change in the basic plot as nobody is “taken”, this one tries to use the same protagonist to its advantage nicely. Yes, it chooses not to follow that idea and comes up with something different, even as it is not something which hasn’t been tried before. The action sequences involving our protagonist are once again good, even as not raising the level. This is also more of the action movie than thriller, even as some suspense is there trying to make smaller impacts. The stunts mostly involve some melee combat, more shoot-outs and a lot more car chase action. The fans might still love this one up-to an extent, and too much expectation will kill this one. Yes, the franchise ends here, and may be that will also work in favour of this in your mind, even as one his the last dialogues might make one feel otherwise.

The claws of flaw:: Taken 3 fails to give a great ending to the franchise which has to be satisfied with the average finish compared to how it has been going. There is no coming anywhere near the first movie, that is for sure. A comparison with the predecessors is going to devastate this movie, and the place of this one is below the previous two. This is not even that well edited, or even developed as something that brings the thrills to the viewers. It even hesitates to go full swing action, and one has to wonder why. The final scenes also lack the power, and the villains as well as the gang remains not just weak, but also uninteresting. Even the twist could have used more power. It needed more action and thrills, but Taken 3 tries to hang on to the power of the previous movies and bring this franchise to an end which neither Liam Neeson or the audience deserved. After watching this one, may be you will feel that this should have been a movie out of Taken franchise – like Non-Stop, Unknown and The Grey.

Performers of the soul :: You see a Liam Neeson movie here again, and he takes the avatar of one of his best known characters, even as I don’t consider his characters in Non-Stop, The Grey and Unknown with any less reverence – same goes to Hannibal of The A-Team. Being the action hero that everyone wants to see beating up the bad people, he once again doesn’t fail to deliver. There are signs of old age for sure, but he still got it as the man who got the special skills that he acquired. Here, he is bigger than the movie – no doubt about that. You know that Famke Janssen’s character gets killed early, but Maggie Grace is once again very good, but is left with not that much to do in this movie. Forest Whitaker was impressive during his stay, but the villains were too weak. The Russian villain idea never really came close to working, and the other villain twist was another weak addition. There could have been better ideas about it, but we find none here.

Soul exploration :: Taken 3 has its heart at the family, and once again the father-daughter relationship gets a good chance in the middle. But if it was given better thoughts or at least shown with more humour, that would have actually worked in favour of this movie, considering how much this movie has struggled to keep up with its predecessors. Even in what has made this franchise such a big name, this one struggles to make the expected impact. I have actually heard my friends saying “does this guy’s family still have members who are to be kidnapped? How big a family is that?” – when they heard about the release of a third movie. Taken 3 is more like The Hangover III considering the fact that it had no hangover as this one had nobody being taken, but the after-effects of the earlier hangovers and those abductions in the earlier movies still stay.

How it finishes :: Taken 3 doesn’t seem to make much impact in the theatres, even as the initial crowd is there due to the fame of the previous movies, and it is only a matter of time until the advantage is lost. There is a long list of Hollywood movies from the previous weeks though, like Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Interstellar, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Penguins of Madagascar along with the other language movies, all of them with better opinions received than this one. The advice here would be not to go for Taken 3 with the expectation of another Taken. Think about it as another action movie coming from Liam Neeson, and the characters as just the reflections of the situation in the flick. Watch this one for Liam Neeson, and think not much about the franchise or the rest of the things.

Release date: 9th January 2015.
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, Jonny Weston, Dylan Bruno

takeniii

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Equalizer

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Vampire Owl :: So much violence in the human world. Can’t we watch something else rather than this movie with a gun on the poster?

Vampire Bat :: But I thought you liked violence.

Vampire Owl :: I like a violent me, but not people shooting each other. In the end, we will fail to know who shot who and I have to hit my head on the wall hoping for some vampire enlightenment to pour into my brain lighting it up.

Vampire Bat :: Then, there is Bollywood with this weekend’s movie Happy Ending.

Vampire Owl :: No! Shoot me, thats better. Get the tickets! Get the tickets!

Vampire Bat :: But you don’t like the violent stuff.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t want to die a slow, painful death with some Hindi romantic movie showing for nth time whatever they have doing for years.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some bad opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Bollywood anymore. If you talk about it again, I am deaf. If you talk about it twice, I am dumb too.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) has retired from his busy job as a secret government agent and is living his life in peace after the death of his wife. He spends his time working in a hardware store and giving no clue to anyone about who he has been. He becomes friends with Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) a trainee whom he helps to become a security guard, and then there is this teenage girl whom she regularly sees at a tea shop he visits. The girl is Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitue who reveals her real name as Aleena, is mistreated and beaten up by her pimp ending up in the ICU – Robert decides to take things into his hands, and to give the girl who loves music and books, a better chance at life. He goes to the pimp Slavi (David Meunier), and offers him 9800 dollars to leave her alone. But as he refuses and uses more foul language about her, Robert kills him and his goons. But the leader of this Russian mafia group, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his right-hand man Teddy (Marton Csokas) to find and eliminate the killer, and here starts another game.

The defence of The Equalizer :: This movie seems to be trying more to be an origin story, and therefore a few problems of the same can be avoided with ease. There is the perfect setup for the sequel which seems to be everywhere on the news. The movie has some nice dialogues, and the action is not overdone – our protagonist doesn’t try anything too much. He just does what he does the best, and continues to excel at it. There are some nice, beautiful shots from the skyline, and the cinematography keeps catching our attention – there is the stylish sequences which are used too; they are all so good, and makes things interesting when things cool down. There is also that dark and gloomy atmosphere that runs through the movie – check out for our protagonist’s attack at the pimp’s room and the warehouse, both of them done with so much of stylish violence and innovation, even as the latter might be a bit too long for some people. The cast also contributes nicely, and the message to do the right thing is strong in here.

Claws of flaw :: There is that drag in between, and makes one wonder why it was so. There are empty slots where something could be used for fill the space. The story is also rather predictable with the hero going on for having revenge due to something bad done to his younger friend, and being awesome as he is, becomes successful in the same – just like John Wick; that was a revenge seeking former assassin for the dark side, while this one being a similar person who was working for the government. It is something we have seen a lot of times in a different manner. There is a lot of violence out here, and some of it might seem unnecessary for a few people. Even then, there are lots of things which seem to be missing, but I would blame the censor board here for that – they should have got rid of some violence. Well, on television, I have seen the scary parts removed from horror movies and bikini scenes removed from James Bond movies. So, I am not surprised even though I understand the difference.

Performers of the soul :: Denzel Washington – sometimes just that name is enough; there are not many people who can doubt that. He goes through The Equalizer with so much power, as if it could be another vigilante movie franchise starting from now. It is once again impressive how he works – this man with a gun, do people need a lot more? Well, there were two in 2 Guns, but one will do here. He is going to turn sixty this year, not something that we can discover without wikipedia. From the first movie I watched with him being part, The Bone Collector; through my favourite movie, The Book of Eli and now standing in The Equalizer; nothing much has changed. It is always great to see Chloë Grace Moretz – she brings such charm to the screen like nobody else. Unfortunately, even as she is undoubtedly the heroine of the movie, our girl is there only for a few minutes in the beginning, and for an even shorter time in the end – it is a case of sadness which we are left with, along with her smile in the end. Marton Csokas is an interesting villain too, just not getting enough of it.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s opening has these lines from Mark Twain – “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. It is the same thing that the protagonist is trying to achieve in this movie – to use his skills to use for the common man. Even in the beginning, we can see that he is trying to help people as much as he can, without going the violent way. For the same, he later transforms, just like the books that he reads – from the retired old man who reads The Old Man and the Sea, through the hopeless knight in Don Quixote and in the end to The Invisible Man who goes through the city unnoticed, and helping the innocents – a Ghost Rider kind of figure who gets rid of the evil souls without any superpowers, but with the skills reminding one of Liam Neeson of Taken. Somewhat Bryan Mills, John Wick and Jack Reacher, this is another guy who has too many skills.

How it finishes :: The end result is that unexpectedly The Equalizer turns out to be better than John Wick, and it is not something that I had expected. Both had their own problem with a certain amount of drag, and the problem of not evolving for the century enough. But even in the troubles, The Equalizer is the superior one; even as there is no doubt about the fact that John Wick will win the box-office battle here, and the credit would go to Keanu Reeves who is more accepted that the big action protagonist more than Denzel Washington, thanks to The Matrix, Constantine and Speed. Gone Girl and Interstellar still stays in our theatres, the latter with so many shows. Dumb and Dumber To won’t pose that much of a challenge though, with lesser opinions and a lot lesser screens. Do give this movie a chance, and as far as you want an action movie without too much of mindless and dumb action, but still doing justice to the genre, this will be the right choice.

Release date: 21st November 2014 (India); 26th September 2014 (USA)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Marton Csokas, David Harbour, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, Vladimir Kulich, David Meunier, Alex Veadov, James Wilcox, Mike O’Dea, Anastasia Mousis

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

RED 2

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There are a few movies which reduce the chance of White House Down doing a good job, and among them the one which is the most similar in what happens on the screen, is RED 2, which can take out the take-over movie with its big cast. The closeness in the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings might also help in creating that big doubt in the minds of the viewers which is affected by Bruce Willis to attract them to this one, and I would say that even without that drag, this holds a clear edge over its only “same genre competitor” around here. You might already know that Red means “Retired Extremely Dangerous”, as a group of retired secret agents try to make an impact when forced out of retirement by several reasons, the most prominent one being them or their best friends being hunted to be shot at sight. While having such a title thrown towards the protagonists, they do the same designation of being extremely dangerous, a favour – they do what they do the best and what they were always expected to do throughout their lives. They react in such a way that the tables are turned on their enemies, and in the process, saves the day. This one will not have Karl Urban as William Cooper and that is a shame. But the entry of Anthony Hopkins, Lee Byung-hun and Catherine Zeta-Jones would add something else.

So we know that “the best never rest”, and once again Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is hunted and prevented from leading a normal life. Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) is still by him as the old best friend who saves Frank after faking his own death. Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) is with them, and after falling for Frank’s adventures, she is now eagerly looking forward to more dangers which could make her feel special. The gorgeous Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) getting back to his life, and being mentioned as “Frank’s Kryptonite” makes Sarah jealous and possessive and she herself tries to get into the middle of the action. He is supposed to be hunted, but actually supported by Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren), and is followed by Han Jo-Bae (Lee Byung-hun) who has taken the contract to murder Frank. In their mission, they come across the information about Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who would be needed in for their objective to be a success, but is currently in a lunatic asylum. Frank would need to bring them all together, and know who is on his side, how can be with him, and who might end up trying to kill him in order to survive the battle, thus creating a complicated situation, nothing that a retired, extremely dangerous man can’t solve again.

Bruce Willis continues with what he has been doing in the best way, and the triangle featuring him, Mary-Louise Parker and Catherine Zeta-Jones makes the funnier scenes of the movie. Jason Statham’s Frank Martin might be proud of this Frank, the older and the funnier one who has got no car to race. This Frank is there beating up people quite a lot, shooting them and bombing a lot of the world around him. Do they get stronger when they get older? Some might wish to ask so, and Die Hard fans would have to wonder if this is the series which might take Bruce Willis away from them in a crisis of retirement. There is no need to be doubtful though, as this is one man who might be retirement-proof in his real life too. Mary-Louise Parker’s character has only gotten funnier in this sequel, and comes up with some of the funniest moments, sometimes with the dialogues, but mostly just with the expressions. Her character makes so many attempts to prove her better than the possible weakness of her man, and by doing the same, she does the stranger things which adds to the fun element.

Catherine Zeta-Jones would have been not that easy to recognize for her earlier fans, of The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, and seems to have qualified for being still extremely dangerous, doesn’t matter if retirement is knocking at the door. A few memories do keep coming back from those days of early movie watching experience in the absence of the big screen. Those were the days, and she was there on the small screen. Despite of the loss of her older self, she still competes with Helen Mirren with the screen presence, but not with the action sequences. Marvin Boggs’ character continues the job John Malkovich did in the first part, but unfortunately there is no pig this time and we miss him saying “Frank, I never thought I’d say this again. I’m getting the pig!” But, the man still carries the movie forward with his funny one-liners and those comic scenes which never look out of place. There might be no occasion that won’t suit him, and if there is any character who can use a spin-off movie, here is one.

Lee Byung-hun remains the Storm Shadow in essence here too, and may be even as the better ninja than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel which was released earlier this year. He remains the character that he has been in that movie and as the assassin, he continues the same. Anthony Hopkins, our own Hannibal Lecter makes a personal impact on this one, not that big as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon, but still something that comes as a pleasant, evil surprise of good quality. Being in the lunatic asylum is one of those common things, and here there are more characteristics for him, of qualities strange enough to be another man of surprising variations. In many ways, these two were needed, as the movie is too much inclined to the funny side otherwise, not that they are completely against contributions to the comic side, but there is the need for the twists, thrills and awesome action. This is Expendables with such a huge cast, but in many ways funnier and the comic side being very effective, if not too effective. May be that movie could have been called with something similar to being retired, and extremely dangerous again.

Even as the movie keeps scoring with its action sequences and the funny dialogues, there is that feeling of the imitation of the first movie, and the predictability keeps on getting higher and higher. Even the climax is too predictable for the usual movie watcher’s liking. As our characters are played by those celebrities who are basically more royal than the others, they keep the viewers interested, but this kind of movie needs its own dose of little shocks, and RED 2 does have it, but not that powerful a thing of the royalty’s standard. There is no situation where the audience is supposed to be terrified or feel for the heroes. There are frequent one-liners which clear any doubt in the minds of the viewers, and with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins guiding the gang, and Lee Byung-hun following the path in a majestic manner, there is the reconquest of whatever is lost, and whenever the movie is about to drop down in its level, something new comes up, once in the form of Catherine Zeta-Jones and at another occasion in the form of Anthony Hopkins; the rest is well managed by the one-liners which drops a comic bomb which handles and stabilizes the situation.

RED 2 is stretching its arms towards that weekend box office victory here, but surely on a limited level. The movie edges over White House Down, and can pretend to be competent against Pacific Rim, Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel as this is the new entrant in the game and the reviews are not completely out yet, and Turbo belongs to an entirely different genre and attracts another type of viewers. There was still hope for more, that is for sure; RED had come up with the right platform of origins which could have been exploited further. At the same time, it had also used up a lot of resources, and the need of this sequel was for creativity, which has successfully arrived partially. But when one is looking for fun, there is hardly any opportunity to care and think more, and RED 2 gives that unlimited fun which is not without the flaws list. If this movie belongs to that genre which is pure entertainment, you are welcome to forgive its flaws. I would say that I have forgiven and forgotten the same and got into that roller coaster ride of entertainment which this movie hides behind its pillars of old age. May be it is time for most of you to give it a try, and the rest can wait for the year has a lot more in store.

Release date: 19th July 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.