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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Last Knight

Vampire Owl: This particular alien species seems to have too many movies about them.

Vampire Bat: Yes, these days, they have a lot more than vampire movies.

Vampire Owl: They even have so much of box-office collections.

Vampire Bat: It is strange, isn’t it? We, vampires have existed on Earth long before these people, and nowadays, we rarely have movies.

Vampire Owl: Some time ago, we were the trend. Even my zombie minions were trending.

Vampire Bat: That age seems to be gone. Even local superheroes trend more these days.

Vampire Owl: Even people from myth, like Thor are converted into huge box-office success.

Vampire Bat: Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman – they are all success; even as the teams of Avengers and Justice League.

Vampire Owl: Even X-Men with their Wolverine, Deadpool and more.

Vampire Bat: We should be back soon, and take whatever is ours.

[Gets three cups of cardamom tea with Nice biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: The last Transformers movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction had ended with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) ending with sending a message to his creators that he was coming for them. Lockdown (Mark Ryan) as well as Galvatron (Frank Welker) were defeated, but things haven’t really changed much. Transformers continued to be declared outlaws by human government, and a new military wing known as the Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) is now in action against all those new transforming robots, both autobots and decepticons which keep falling on our planet. There is the possibility of an alien invasion being asserted by all governments, and there is nothing more than a threat as far as the alien transformers are concerned. With Optimus Prime having left to meet the makers of transformers, things are the worst situation for his kind that are left on Earth, being hunted and destroyed by humans and their drones at will.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: An orphan Izabella (Isabela Moner) tries to save a few transformers in between, with Sqweeks (Reno Wilson) as the last one left on her side. They are about to be captured by the human troops, but are saved by Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl), Hound (John Goodman) and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) who are leading the resistance of autobots, hiding themselves far away from trouble, with Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Drift (Ken Watanabe), Wheelie (Tom Kenny) and the randomly visiting scavenger Daytrader (Steve Buscemi). A talisman is attached to Cade by a transformer knight before dying, while they were trying to save Izabella in the area which was more like a transformer graveyard. The team of decepticons are aware of the same from Barricade (Jess Harnell), and comes looking for them at their hiding place, a junkyard, as Megatron (Frank Welker) with his team, launches an attack which pushes the autobots out of hiding.

And what is to follow next in this adventure? :: At the same time, there is the history of humans coming together with that of transformers on Earth. Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), the twelfth Earl of Folgan, who is an astronomer and historian, is one of the experts in the same. There is the unknown tale of King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and his knights struggling in a terrible battle against the Saxons who got them almost defeated. Edmund’s version of history says that it is the Knights of Iacon, a team of twelve Transformers who were hiding on Earth that helped Arthur and his knights to triumph over the Saxons as they transformed together into a dragon. But what remains from those days is an ancient staff which holds unlimited power. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime meets their maker, Quintessa (Gemma Chan), a Cybertronian Sorceress who brainwashes him into destroying Earth to rebuild their home planet of Cyberton. So, with enemies all around, can autobots and Earth make it to a safer situation?

The defence of Transformers: The Last Knight :: You are going to praise the visuals of this one too, as that quality is maintained with ease here – all that you see on the screen will have your attention. The universe of this movie is nothing less than breath-taking, as we have all those things which could light up the screen with ease. There comes the question about what you really need with this movie, and if it is this escapism into a world of chaos and destruction which looks great on the screen, with big action sequences, there is not reason why you shouldn’t choose this movie. These movies will not be banned here either, as nothing from Indian history is made to be related to the Transformers – lets hope that the other movie makers also take a lesson from the Padmavati episode, and deviate, combine or transcreate through history, myth and fiction. You will notice that Mark Wahlberg is very good in this avatar, and Laura Haddock is lovely, and she might be the best leading actress in this franchise so far as far as acting is concerned. Isabela Moner is good young talent while Anthony Hopkins is once again joy to watch.

The claws of flaw :: Transformers: The Last Knight needed more ideas, and a better tale to go with this kind of a thing which has existed for so long. But here, they have added so many things without taking much of care about dealing with them in the better ways. It is as if they are attributing everything to Transformers, and the victory of King Arthur or Saxons is just one of them – there are the wars, discoveries, inventions, assassinations, mysteries, and all that have important places in history being credited to the Transformers and their actions. The movie is long, rather too long, and there are so many moments which could have been cut off from this one. We are also tired of having this Optimus Prime saying the same thing again and again, and Bumblebee being a special Transformer for no reason – at the same time, Megatron goes through varying degree of powers; there is no consistency at all, with this one. They used to have a weapon specialist called Ironhide giving him the best moments of the first movie, and then they successfully kill him in a dumb sequel.

How it finishes :: Transformers: The Last Knight never really makes the franchise any better. It is not better than Transformers: Age of Extinction, and is only better than Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is undoubtedly the worst movie of the whole franchise which seems to continue to try for more of similar kind of movies without focusing on anything new. The first movie had everything going in the right direction, but for some reason, the franchise refuses to go any higher or even keep the same level. You will find this movie in the Transformers franchise to be an entertaining one too, but there is that certain question about how far the series can go, as there seems to be the problem of running out of ideas. If we think about it, that would be kind of depressing, and so, lets go on watching these movies, and hope that there would be change with one of those movies, and Transformers would get bigger with the story rather than anything else. You can actually watch this one as a stand-alone flick without having watched any other flick from the series.

Release date: 21st June 2017
Running time: 154 minutes
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Hopkins, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, John Turturro, Glenn Morshower, Liam Garrigan, Mitch Pileggi, Tony Hale, Gil Birmingham, Peter Cullen, Jim Carter, Erik Aadahl, Ken Watanabe, Omar Sy, John Goodman, John DiMaggio, Reno Wilson, Tom Kenny, Steven Barr, Steve Buscemi, Mark Ryan, Frank Welker, Jess Harnell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mockingjay II

mockingjaypart2 (1)

Vampire Owl: So, this is the name of the movie in reality. It was written here on this newspaper as Mocking Hay and I was wondering what it was about.

Vampire Bat: Here, on this other newspaper, it is written as Mockway. It is a more distant spelling. I do wonder what they might have called Goosebumps.

Vampire Owl: It is because of this wrong spelling that we felt that this was a movie which we knew nothing about, and made the choice not to watch it earlier! I don’t understand why they can’t have people who are able to spell this. I am beginning to doubt how they choose the people behind this.

Vampire Bat: They make such mistakes and still we read them. Then, we see that at some other editions of the same newspaper, and even at some other columns of the same, it is correct and then we are made sure that this particular title is another movie. I don’t understand why we are like this, looking at the mistakes, being mislead, understanding that it was too silly a thing and then continuing to read the same newspapers – actually, we even watch the same news channels which we don’t like.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.co/index.php/current-film-releases/1200-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-movie-review

A science-fiction dystopian adventure book from the US author Suzanne Collins was made into a movie in 2012, with Jennifer Lawrence playing the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. This movie adapted from the first book of The Hunger Games series was very successful. With The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire becoming grand success at the box-office, the third book in the series, Mockingjay was divided into two movies. Here we have the second part of the two, and this movie finishes the franchise. There was one movie in the franchise releasing each year from 2012 onwards, and the last three movies of the franchise have all released in the latter half of November.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) continues to be the Mockingjay and the one grand symbol of revolution as the districts unite against President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland). The attack from a brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) did affect her, but she is back there on the warzone with her speeches and charisma only to be shot by a loyalist from District Two. Even though Katniss wishes to kill President Snow herself, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) asks her not to risk her life again, and advices her to remain as the inspiration and the symbol of their defiance. As she is someone who can motivate the crowd with her presence, she agrees to Coin’s idea.

But Katniss is not the one to keep away from her ultimate aim, as she sneaks into an aircraft leaving to join Commander Paylor (Patina Miller) who is planning a huge assault. There, she is told to be part of a squad lead by Boggs (Mahershala Ali) as they have to evade the booby traps or the pods on the streets which are left by game-makers of the Hunger Games. Thus the journey will be more of less like the seventy sixth Hunger Games. They will be joined by Peeta as they are to go through the streets facing the unexpected threats which await them. The Capitol and Snow will think that she is dead, not once but many times, but Mockingjay is not someone who is going to stay dead as the squad keep going towards the big destination.

The problems caused by breaking down one book into two like Harry Potter and Twilight can be seen. The fans will surely prefer this because they can watch more of their favourite franchise. More of Katniss Everdeen will be there for them to see. But as the last book is divided into two, this movie surely has been cursed with a certain amount of drag. This certainly wouldn’t have been there if Mockingjay was just one movie instead of two stretched movies. But there is one advantage that this movie does possess, and it is the ability to finish the franchise in the right way. The finish is all about that climax which has one shot from the bow of the protagonist that determines everything, even though there are some predictable sequences after that.

The second part of Mockingjay is surely ahead of its predecessor because of the quality of the material in the latter part of the book. If you have read the book already, you will feel that this movie is a good adaptation even with the stretched parts. There are some nice conversations to go with the interesting action sequences, even as there is nothing much here to compete with those which we have seen in the first two movies. There are some traces of what was seen in the games earlier, but there is no big combats shown here. The special effects are good, and the dystopian world will once again grab your attention. The weapons as well as the other gadgets will also catch your eyes.

The movie has its touching moments and thrills which are surely present. There is also some reflection of the real effects of war on the common man which is nothing more than destruction and chaos. The lives of the civilians and morality are two things which are used to one’s advantage as shown here. But the movie does end with hope, despite the deaths, and we know this factor as something which was too far away in the previous movies of the franchise. For those who are new to this franchise, they will find themselves in trouble as the movie goes directly into the story, but with some focus, a certain clue about the dystopian idea and some understanding on what this franchise is about, they can still go through this movie.

As it was in the case of the previous movies, Jennifer Lawrence still remains the biggest asset as the Mockingjay. It is a pleasure to watch her as Katniss Everdeen once again, as she does her job with no trouble at all. As expected, she has and handles those best moments of movie; there is one other point which comes with a sudden impact, related to mutant creatures in the sewers – that was a grand one too. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth provide the needed support very well. Maybe, the movie could have finished better without using the epilogue from the book, even though that would be ignoring the faithful fans of the book. Here ends another movie based on another Young Adult Novel, and despite the flaws, it is a good finish to the franchise.

Release date: 27th November 2015 (India); 20th November 2015 (USA)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Willow Shields, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Gwendoline Christie, Stanley Tucci, Evan Ross, Donald Sutherland, Mahershala Ali, Patina Miller, Stef Dawson, Paula Malcomson, Meta Golding, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson, Michelle Forbes, Omid Abtahi, Misty Ormiston, Kim Ormiston

mockingjayII

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Transformers IV

transformers extinction (3)

Vampire Owl :: Isn’t this the movie in which your Chevrolet Beat transforms?

Vampire Bat :: No, it doesn’t. The best it can do is to transform into a Titanic on on our roads on a monsoon season giving company to the other cars.

Vampire Owl :: Shouldn’t the movie at least feature you?

Vampire Bat :: Why me? When was the last time I transformed?

Vampire Owl :: It is named Age of Extinction. I think Vampire Bats are going extinct. Nobody really likes you. Even Poe prefers a raven at night.

Vampire Bat :: No, that is not true. There are people who like me, like Count Dracula, Batman, the cute zombie girl next door and twelve thousand two hundred and fifty three normal vampires. I might even have a candlelight dinner with Countess Dracula.

Vampire Owl :: I hope you take this lightly, but Countess Dracula is dead.

Vampire Bat :: What? When?

Vampire Owl :: I am not sure, but that should be about four hundred years ago or so?

Vampire Bat :: It is difficult being immortal; you have to watch good people suffering and bad people thriving.

[Enters the movie hall].

What is it about? :: Years have passed since the last battle between autobots and decepticons which left the city in ruins and so many people dead, making it difficult for the government to rebuild it again, and as a result, all the aliens were declared fugitives and there was not going to be any combined efforts between humans and the autobots anymore. Another transformer called Lockdown who belongs to neither of the two factions is shown to help the government in doing the same, with a promise of something in return for the capture of the autobot leader, Optimus Prime. Meanwhile, the human research on dead transformers is progressing, and there was the discovery of transformium, a metal which is unstable and can transform, creating more of such robots which can replace human soldiers in the case of a war. With the help of a captured Brains, they are slowly using this metal to build transformers which accept command from the humans, including Galvatron, Stinger and Junkheap. At the same time, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his friend Lucas Flannery (T. J. Miller) purchase an old truck in hope of helping Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz) in her studies with the money they can get from selling the parts. But that truck would be Optimus Prime in hiding and things will take a turn.

The defence of Transformers: Age of Extinction :: The movie has great battles, as robots collide and fight against each other in a war which lets sparks fly and makes things come towards you in 3D which is a nice visual extravaganza. The special effects nicely compliment the action sequences, and the chaotic world is nice to watch with transformations to come with the same. There are the nice cars to which the robots transform which look better than ever. The best scene is that which involves the huge spaceship which wanders in the sky, and also uses its powers with all the possible awesomeness as far as a movie like this is concerned. The destruction is also taken to another level. The transformations also take a twist, with dinobots having robots transforming into giant dinosaurs as well as the human constructed transformers having their own way of changing, all of them contributing in a different manner. The three machines which are better than the others are the Optimus Prime and Galvatron (Pacific Rim‘s Gypsy Danger’s evil twin) trucks along with the cars of Lockdown and Stinger. There is a lot for the Transformers fans to cheer about, as the awesome heroes once again go on their mission to save planet Earth with the support of a very few human allies. The human greed and the inherent evil are also nicely shown.

The claws of flaw :: The movie suffers from the usual problems with the plot which we can associate with all the Transformers movies which try to follow the path of the original with one villain at a time, Megatron, Fallen and Sentinel Prime who were in the previous movies make way for Lockdown, and Megatron is once again here being the secondary villain, just in another form. There is also the old truck Optimus Prime who refuses to stay in the grave and comes back from the dead as the metallic zombie which I have always hoped to have stayed dead or refusing to die at all. Bumblebee continues to be overrated and lives, while the kill off the last interesting robot from the first movie, Ratchet, something which they already did to Jazz and Ironhide. The robot design is also more complicated, but at the same time, horribly flawed, as we no longer see the usual robot faces, but creatures with face of Japanese Samurai and those with beard and smoking cigars, something which looks so dumb in the detail. The plot gets predictable by the second half, and the addition of dinobots is nice variety, but the way in which they are introduced is lame. The movie is also too long and has too many repetitive fights which often makes the viewers wonder if they had already seen all these. The characterization is another case for downfall.

Performances of the soul :: Mark Wahlberg is rock solid in this movie, and it is good to see him instead of the usual cast that we had, because he is always one of those nice action stars who are suitable to play this kind of role which involves being the hero and yet not being the strongest one around. Here he is, being the mechanic, father and action hero all at the same time, and makes it work even as his character is not without flaws. Nicola Peltz is more about being the beauty among the population which are mostly robots or action heroes, and being the one with teenage girl problems and having problems with her father. She looks great and proves that one thing. Sophia Myles and Li Bingbing also contributes to the overall beauty, having nothing too much with their characters. T. J. Miller provides some comic side which is there only for some time. Stanley Tucci’s partially villainous character also provides some comic relief during the intense action, but it only works partially – not something which the Transformers franchise haven’t tried before and often succeeded; other times proving the inherent dumbness. Jack Reynor has a nice presence, as what can be called the supporting actor, but as a need for our girlfriend to have a love interest. Kelsey Grammer is a nice villain, but not fully utilized and forced to come second. Titus Welliver also comes up with a strong performance.

Soul exploration :: The movie leaves with hope for a sequel, but the question remains if it has a soul to work on. It had the always-ready-to-die Optimus Prime with an ideal, but that is actually less worked on now. The autobot-decepticon enmity has also gone the wrong way. At the same time, the movie has given us an idea about how bad the effects of science and technology can be, and there are secrets that should be left alone, for there are other things that humanity should focus on, as they are that species which are infested by greed, hatred, lust and envy. The technology is rarely safe in the hands of man, as they are incapable of handling the same due to the presence of their inherent evil nature. When the movie goes on to be a massive success story at the box-office, the one thing we have to think about is how well it has portrayed humanity and the problems caused by its pride. Even a robot knows better than humans who are blessed with better teachers throughout the centuries, and even with all the knowledge that they have gathered, man fails to be good, and it is a case of shame. Then in finding the creators, they are indeed Prometheus infested.

How it finishes :: I had considered Transformers: Dark of the Moon as the worst Transformers movie of all time, and I will stick to the same, but I would still think that our movie here has got more problems in its story-line than the others, but it does make up with the better special effects and action sequences, plus Mark Wahlberg who looks very well suited for this kind of role. Still, except for the first Transformers movie which I have watched so many times already, I wouldn’t dare to watch another one of this franchise again. I would suggest you watch the robots of Pacific Rim rather than watch the aliens of this movie if given a choice. But there is no denying that this movie is pure entertainment, except for the fact that its lack of brain and the repetition, along with the terrible length makes the situation a bit intolerable to a few. Transformers fans should like this movie a lot, and the new additions can impress a number of viewers. This is one of those non-superhero Hollywood movies which are running houseful right from the day it was released, and one can be sure that this is not the end for this franchise, and this sequel is going to collect a lot of money.

Release date: 27th June 2014
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, Titus Welliver, T. J. Miller, Melanie Specht, Victoria Summer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

mrpeabody&sherman

Every dog has its day :: Mr. Peabody needs a day for himself, just like any other dog (but surely with specs and a bow tie) without that day being called “a dog’s day”. Yes, the other person without the title is the human character who is obviously less intelligent. As the cats have nine lives and continues to dodge death (with the exceptions of our favourite cats who successfully tested the speed of those faster cars on the highway, may be not knowing that eight of the nine lives have ended and it is nearing game over – they should come up with a life bar on the top right corner of the eye or something), the dogs also need a day on which they can use their awesomeness to good use without taking any physical risk that could permanently place them outside the material realm to be devoured by the soul reaver. This is that day for Peabody, a white dog which could have easily been the ruler of the planet on another parallel Earth. As an intelligent creature who doesn’t ask for the nine lives for himself or claim his right to a possible return from the dead in the name of equality, this dog takes us into an adventure which has already been highly rated by the critics and is indeed splendid.

What is it about? :: Mr. Peabody might be not only the smartest dog in the world, but also the most intelligent creature on Earth surpassing all humans with ease. He proved that he was different from the other dogs in the childhood itself, due to which he was never adopted and never had a home as a puppy. So later, he adopted a boy named Sherman instead, only after he gets rich and popular. As Sherman gets into conflict with his classmate, Penny Peterson who tried to the be the “mean girl”, the adoption agency blames it on the behaviour of Peabody who is an animal and they threaten to cancel the adoption. As Penny is invited to their home with her parents to make sure that nothing worse happens, the kids end up in the time machine invented by Peabody which is usually used to teach Sherman history. As Penny gets caught in Ancient Egypt, Peabody and Sherman has to make things right before the space-time continuum is completely destroyed. But for the same, just a random journey to Egypt won’t be enough, that is for sure.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman @Ancient Egypt :: Chronologically the first place to be visited, but otherwise the second, the Little King Tut a.k.a Tutankhamun wants force Penny into child marriage to which she has no objection (even with the revelation that his name rhymes with butt) until she comes to know about the wonderful customs of the land from the Vizier. This is a nice little episode (the movie is so short, so it had to be little) which involves them wandering around through the tombs inside The Sphinx and using the statue of Anubis, the god of death to their advantage. There are some nice jokes involving plague, the underworld and the god-kings. This place is the answer to where, when and how the adventures of Peabody and Sherman actually begins. Well, what is the use of a time machine if you haven’t seen the Pyramids in the zenith of its glory? We don’t have the Roman or the Persian Empire at its zenith, at least we got Egypt. Still, there could have been more of the place, and the same can be felt about what is to be mentioned next.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman @Greek-Troy War :: The trio lands in the middle of the Greek Trojan war as the result of a crash making it chronologically the second place to be visited, otherwise the final one. The Greeks are ready to avenge the death of Achilles and bring the fight into the city of Troy as they have carefully placed themselves inside the Wooden Horse. Sherman joins King Agamemnon, Odysseus and team in their battle against Troy, but is saved by Peabody before Trojans get to him. One has to admit that Agamemnon is the funniest character of the movie, and as the good guys beating up the enemies, they are lots of fun. From the location map, I was of the impression that this was going to be the Dracula Castle which was not to be. Well, there should be a sequel, we can hope for that. The father-son relationship reaches its climax during this visit and right after that, as a good number of historical figures make a visit to the future.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman @Italian Renaissance :: The trio catches up with Leonardo da Vinci during his attempt to paint Mona Lisa and even manages to make the lady smile or rather laugh in the process. Chronologically the third place to be visited and otherwise the second, this visit to Florence is when Sherman finds himself capable of something and he also gets along with Penny even managing to fly the prototype of a flying machine made by da Vinci together. The city of Florence as well as the Florence cathedral looks beautifully created, and the painting scene as well as the flying scene are nicely done. It is obvious that there were so many people in the theatre who knew nothing about Renaissance, it was a cultural movement of the thirteenth and fourteenth century beginning in the Italian states, especially the city of Florence. We were not taught about it in detail in the school history books, but Mr. Peabody will make sure that you won’t forget it that easily.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman @French Revolution :: Being at the French Revolution was more of a study trip for Sherman until things get serious. Thus it was the first time travel event to be shown even as it should come last in a chronological order. Caught between the cakes of Marie Antoinette and the call for assassination by Maximilien de Robespierre, Sherman avoids some advice for having cake as Peabody is almost executed in the guillotine before he finds a way out. As he mistakes Reign of Terror which comes with the French Revolution to be just another rain – they seem to struggle to escape, but Peabody does the escape act with ease. Nobody seems to be a match for the talking dog. The significant role which history would play in this movie is evident from this. I would say no history lover can dare to miss this movie, and it can also serve as a very interesting history class for kids, even as the movie might seem to lack logic like any other animated movie along with lacking in total content.

How it finishes :: Mr. Peabody & Sherman is that movie which has prevented Non-Stop from releasing here, and it might not be a good news for many, as it was a much awaited movie especially with Liam Neeson coming back to that path and into that avatar which the fans would like him to follow. Still, it has only lesser shows here at selected multiplexes just like The Lego Movie had if not slightly better. But as it is such a wonderful movie, why would someone ask for anything else? To add to it, this movie releases here a week before it releases in the United States, and that is a twist of fate. Let’s not be fooled by the name of the movie, as it is indeed not good enough to bring people to the big screen. The first impression that came to my mind when I heard the title was not good either. But do not just a movie by its name, especially an animated movie, as they never cease to surprise you, like this one which is the best movie of the year so far – yes better than The Lego Movie too.

Release date: 28th February 2014 (India); 7th March 2014 (US)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Rob Minkoff
Starring (voice): Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Leslie Mann, Stephen Colbert, Allison Janney, Stephen Tobolowsky, Mel Brooks, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell, Zach Callison, Lauri Fraser, Guillaume Aretos, Dennis Haysbert

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games II

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On the predecessor :: The first movie in the franchise was released last year, and I have to say that I was impressed by the same. I shouldn’t feel that there are many people who doesn’t know the story, but I do know a few people who haven’t heard about it. So, it is a story set in the future, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where the world is divided into a rich Capitol which controls things and twelve poor districts. The boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen (One boy and one girl from each district) are forced to take part in the Hunger Games conducted by the Capitol, an annual reality event telecast all around world. The selected youth known as “the tributes” are required to fight till death until there will be only one person remaining alive. Our protagonist is a young lady joined by the male tribute from her same district to be declared winners as they both threaten to commit suicide thus making the games invalid with everyone else dead – the first time when more than one winner is selected. The Capitol as well as the President remains unhappy about it, but covers the action as an act of true love and not a rebellion so that there won’t be the chance of a revolution against the Capitol from the suffering districts.

What is it about? :: Time has passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took the place of her little sister who was chosen by lottery to participate in the games and won it with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) creating a new record and bringing about a certain difference which was not entertained by the authorities. But they have returned home as the unexpected winners. President Coriolanus Snow visits the lady and tells her to prove that her action was based on love rather than defiance, as there are lots of rebellions taking place in districts, thanks to them defying the order to kill each other. But it doesn’t really work well as the winners’ visit to District 11 lets the emotions run high and sparks riots. Snow decides to get this problem finished as he declares the third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Hunger Games held in every twenty five years in which the participants are to be selected from recent winners. Even as Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is selected by lottery with Katniss to participate, Peeta takes his place and both are once again in the game, this time against better opponents.

The defence of The Hunger Games :: The best thing about the movie is that it tells us how ridiculous these reality shows are, and we should rather be ashamed of them for making it “reality” when those who conduct the shows decide who should win. I was shocked at the number of reality shows in India, especially in Malayalam television channels, and they were getting more and more pathetic, except for may be the comedy shows. The word “reality” is the one thing that doesn’t suit them as many unnecessary outside forces work through it. The movie’s take on the other things such as inequality, oppression and the evil of a dystopia is highly effective and moving – its rather direct, I would say with people always told what to do and obey in a world filled with false hope. All of its themes have been portrayed beautifully, bringing our feelings alive for the characters – the oppressed ones. The twist in the end is also pretty nice, and there is found to be nothing missing about it. This movie has also improved in its graphics and there are some better special effects and action in store compared to its predecessor.

Claws of flaw :: The Hunger Games II is too long, and nobody can really defend against that. The movie was also very slow in getting into the action, as the tournament starts only some time after the second half starts. There are occasions when one might thing why this chooses to drag when not needed. The emotional side remains something of lesser power compared to the first despite the characters going through more, and we might not remember this one as we remember the first. The climax is surely inferior to what was there in the predecessor with an end which is too quick, and there is too much of a projection of the leading character which gets repetitive and one is forced to wonder what is there for that. A better game was also expected by the viewers, that is for sure judging from how the people were responding in the theatre. The movie is too much like the first movie, and there is also the absence of that much fun as well as seriousness. But this one remains a force to reckon with, and it can lose only to that force which will come as another sequel, The Hobbit II, and if I am asked more about it, I expect that one to keep this one restricted to one of those corners as shows are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: I had watched Silver Linings Playbook recently, and I was sure about who was going to steal the show once again, yes that is our leading lady, the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. With the intensity of her character and the severe shortage of any good feeling, the life of Katniss is powerfully portrayed, and there are not many characters in a science fiction movie that affects the audience like this, and there are not many actresses who might have done the role so well, so charming in her disturbed state of mind and so strong even in the weakest state, Katniss is a lot more than the ordinary sci-fi hero or heroine, and it is evident that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed awakened Katniss again. Josh Hutcherson isn’t lost in that either, as Peeta deserves a lot, and he makes sure that the characters get what is deserved. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Philip Hoffman and Donald Sutherland are there with valuable support in a combination of fine performances. Another character I liked was Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone, there was something about that one.

Soul exploration :: The Hunger Games continues as the indirect satire on reality television, and how its winners are determined by those who are at the top. I liked the same in The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso, but on the entertainment side. The evil of dictatorship is also there, and the thing about inequality is even stronger in this second movie of the franchise. The revolution side is also stronger in this one as it starts powerfully right from the beginning of the movie. In a world which is moving more and more towards modernity and its horrible side effects, what we see in the movie gets more and more relevant. There is always pain, suffering, helplessness and oppression – everyone fights more than one battle for survival, and everyone with a mind is a revolutionary, hopefully of the peaceful nature. The power of media and government control becomes more shocking than ever in this movie. As Katniss sacrifices her life to save her sister in the first movie, the sacrifice is done by Peeta this time.

How it finishes :: The newer fiction doesn’t really work well for me when made into movies, the most significant ones being Twilight, The Host and Mortal Instruments – the novels won’t work for me either, but that would spawn another story another day. I am glad that this is another movie which worked, and it is going to make more in the box-office here as the movie of the weekend. The month starts well and hope the year ends well! There are not many more movies to come. It is not really necessary to watch the first movie before Catching Fire, but it might be nice if you do. There are lots of things that is carried over to this movie, but this sequel can still work out alone as the story is concerned – but one will only be happy about having watched the first movie. Lets hope that it will only get better with the next movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as well as its sequel. Let the hunger stay alive, for freedom and equality.

Release date: 6th December 2013 (India); 22nd November 2013 (US)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Percy Jackson II

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In an overwhelming desire to find myself fair about this movie, I have to confess that I watched The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones right after watching this – it was a back-to-back movie adventure separated only by the desire to have lunch and the need to travel from one mall to the other. If you don’t need to know more about it, and the two movies in relation to each other, you are free to skip the first two paragraphs, an offer of escape from comparisons which includes this paragraph. In a simple comparison of no great intellect, our reviewed movie is more of a follower of the Harry Potter pattern, with a world for the demigods away from the original world, with its major base on magic and the individual and collective inner strength and righteousness which they exhibit while facing big powers; but the second movie has more similarities with Twilight, with a female protagonist who is just a boring ordinary girl who is introduced into another world which is hidden among the known human world and is once again caught in a triangular love between herself and two other guys, both belonging to different species.

So the other fantasy movie of the day has a good amount of Constantine, Underworld and surely, the most of dominant of them all, Twilight. To make it look more of a formidable power, it has added the horror elements, and there was demons, vampires and werewolves, the three creatures whom we never thought would come along in herds in the same movie, an absurd improvement on Underworld and Twilight which has surely backfired, despite of the presence of the lovely leading actress who can act incredibly well, Lily Collins who has done a great job. But with a little visual effects, horror and action, the movie runs out of gas. It is there that Percy Jackson scores. The two movies were released on the same day here, along with We’re the Millers, and the advantage would surely go with Sea of Monsters, as it doesn’t come with an “A” certificate unlike the others, and it is in 3D. The theatres seem to have realized the same too, as they have put more shows for the movie, and it is the only English movie in more than one theatres this week.

Even as it is difficult to set aside the great performance of the beautiful Lily Collins, lets leave the absurdity which was the half-baked bad mixture of all the fantasy works ever produced, which was The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and move on to the movie of the week, which is Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Our movie doesn’t deal with forbidden love and has no apples or people with bad tooth unless they are monsters. May be that should be reserved for Twilight copies, and there might be a time when the apples begin to keep the viewers away rather than the doctors. The best thing about Percy Jackson is that it sticks to the basics. It takes the legends from the Greek Mythology, but it maintains a formula which is not at all ambiguous and more true to the core. It doesn’t rely on anything strange or unnecessary to give temporary satisfaction with any teenage fantasy which doesn’t go well with the plot and the flow of the story. It doesn’t try to give pleasure to anyone suffering from the withdrawal symptoms, which is mostly a Twilight withdrawal rather than from the intellectually superior Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter series.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) no longer seems to have the popularity that he might have had with him getting back the lightning bolt, saving both the Olympus and the world, and such great stuff which were to become legends. Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin) is his constant rival to glory, as she beats him in almost all the competitions. As Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), announces his plans to destroy Mount Olympus by bringing back Kronos from Tartarus and sends a mechanical bull to attack the demi-god camp after poisoning Thalia Grace (Paloma Kwiatkowski) who is the tree which defends the camp with a magic forcefield. Even as Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) is the one who finds out that the Golden Fleece could heal and restore the tree, Clarisse is sent to retrieve the artefact much to the dismay of Percy, Annabeth and Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson). But the trio decides to follow the team led by Clarisse, and they are joined by Percy’s half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is a cyclops. They also have one prophecy and a group of rogue half-bloods supported by a Manticore, and one big cyclops guarding the fleece to deal with.

With no denial of credit to one Lily Collins who had tried in vain to restore order among chaos and absurdity in the other fantasy movie, lets move into our characters. Logan Lerman leads the team as Percy Jackson, a demigod and the son of the God of Ocean, Poseidon. He was there in the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, and here is he is again, and it surely seems to be a familiar territory for him. It is a honest performance from all angles. Brandon T. Jackson as Grover Underwood makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, along with Douglas Smith as Tyson the Cyclops. Most of the funny moments of the movie are from these two, and they are really good, and never inappropriate. Alexandra Daddario plays Annabeth Chase, the demigod daughter of Athena, the Godess of Wisdom, and this is one supporting character that you will remember for a long time, despite of the romantic angle kept away in the movie completely. She does have that look too, of that intensity which is kept in check by the heavenly wisdom. She was that good in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief too, and continues the good work.

Leven Rambin is Clarisse La Rue, the arrogant, hot-tempered daughter of the war God, Ares – always looking for combat, and at at the same time finding Percy a threat to her supremacy. After seeing her in The Hunger Games as the District 1 tribute, and the strong contender Glimmer, there was a certainty, that she was going to be great in such roles, and here she is, leading a group of undead who served her father Ares. As the story progresses, her character turns out to be more dynamic, along with adding to the funny as well as the action elements of the movie. There is the suiting depiction of the contrast between the daughter of this God of War and the Goddess of Wisdom. There is no point where the two are similar, and being the daughter of the great War God, she shares nothing in common with all the others out there, with Paloma Kwiatkowski’s Thalia Grace, of the demigod daughter of Zeus still pending. Jake Abel’s Luke Castellan, the demigod son of Hermes is a continuation of what was there in the first part of the movie. Nathan Fillion’s Hermes is a short, but effective presence which stays throughout the movie.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has taken over at a time when the book-based fantasy novels are on the decline. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has proved to follow the path of The Host, and clearly stay with Twilight. The Harry Potter series have finished and Lord of the Rings and Narnia are taking a slow path. There is the need for something similar to fill in, and here is Percy Jackson. With its superior and appropriate 3D effects and the well done action sequences supported by the visual imagery, there is no loss of moments spent for watching this movie. There are also the funny lines, but it denies itself a big chance to take some risks, as it follows the conventional path, never to stray away from it. But, there is a huge amount of honesty in this path which is without any ambiguity, and there is absolutely no attempt to complicate things. The whole thing is kept simple, and as the endoskeleton comes from the Greek Mythology and a little bit of the Harry Potter series, this is a bankable movie which most of the critics need to stop overthinking. It is time to have some fun and at the same time, recollect those days of learning the Greek Mythology.

Release date: 7th August 2013 (United States); 30th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Douglas Smith, Anthony Head, Robert Maillet, Derek Mears, Aleks Paunovic, Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown, Mary Birdsong

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games

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As we wait with that patience which would be intolerant in the absence of the movies like Pacific Rim for the arrival of that possible sequel of magnificent wonder and unparalleled inspiration, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and HBO Asia finding it a part of their interest to show its prequel on a number of occasions, it is only a matter of a few micro-seconds when that expected decision is taken to write on this movie which began the adventures of Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire – the beautiful protagonist of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy on screen. The question would remain though, about how much of an impact these movies can create, on those undesirable factors which prevail throughout the current world, even as the movie is set in the future. On my records, this is among the best movies of 2012, sharing the honour for third place with The Cabin in the Woods, but in a perfectly assigned scoring system which I would implement when I came back from the grave, this might come fourth. But isn’t it catchy enough already with its name itself – the games of hunger, or the games for getting rid of hunger, in a future dystopia where inequality thrives with its roots going deep into the soil of human nature? Well, the games would continue in November 2013 and until now, there is this completed game.

A post-apocalyptic situation has lead to the nation of Panem consisting of a wealthy city of Capitol and twelve poor, struggling districts. As a punishment for a past rebellion and riots, each district is forced to provide a boy and a girl as tributes to compete in a virtually created environment in the form of a real world where they would have to struggle for survival, and the last man or woman standing would be rewarded. The tributes are supposed to be between the ages of 12 and 18 and are selected by the lottery method which they called the Reaping. These tournaments of magnificence are called the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her family come from District 12, a coal-mining district which is incredibly poor and less populated, having not a good record or good chance at the annual games. They struggle to survive in situations of hardship. When her sister Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is chosen to fight till death in her first Reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place in the games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son, is chosen as the other district tribute. Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol in a luxury train and is provided with high level accommodation and the facilities which would have been unknown to them in their district.

They are accompanied by their mentor and past Games victor, an alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). They are informed that they should make them likable enough for the sponsors to send them anything helpful during the match. The find the tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who are trained to win the tournament from the early age itself, and have a big chance of murdering the rest of the participants early. Katniss and Peeta succeeds in making early good impressions with their first public appearance as well as the interviews, and the former does exceedingly well with her archery skills. Peeta’s love for Katniss is also revealed during the period of preparation. About half the tributes are killed in the beginning of the game itself, and Katniss, while on the run forms an alliance with a little girl Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 11 as the others come up with their own unholy alliances. After her death, Katniss joins with Peeta and tries to survive with only a few contestants left. This process is affected by a number of interventions by the tournament controllers and their plans to keep the tournament at a level which would be the most favourable.

With no surprises, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, as the whole world is centred around Katniss Everdeen. This is third movie of hers that I had the opportunity to watch, after X-Men: First Class and House at the End of the Street, and doubt me not when I say that I shall also watch Silver Linings Playbook. She has set new standards for the leading character of a movie which is a deathmatch with the rules of the last man standing, something which takes a gamer back to that game mode in Unreal Tournament, and whatever followed as the other first-person shooter computer games. Even with doing nothing spectacular, she keeps her character strong, powerful and attractive. Katniss’ extraordinary display of courage is not only portrayed through her one huge life-changing decision to replace her sister and save her life, but also in her words,from the moment she is chosen as the tribute and her existence was possibly going to be a very short one: “No. You can’t. Not like when dad died. You’re all she has. No matter what you feel, you be there for her, you understand. Don’t cry. Don’t cry”. She traverses around that forest with her bow and a quiver of arrows like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of hunting. Josh Hutcherson progresses in the role of Peeta in the exact same way as the viewer would expect.

Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow delivers those powerful quotes to be remembered: “I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up twenty-four at random and execute them all at one? It would be a lot faster. Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it”. This dialogue defines the movie in a scene – what The Hunger Games is all about. As the primary antagonist of the series, and the autocratic ruler of the Capitol and all of Panem, it also defines the character and lest us know what to expect from him in the upcoming movies. There is a lot more to come from him, and one can be sure that some of those moments won’t leave one that easily. Foxface is the female tribute from District 5 played by Jacqueline Emerson is the next interesting character, even as the tribute makes very less impact on the storyline. Alexander Ludwig’s Cato and Isabelle Fuhrman’s Clove makes the skilled and heaviy trained District 2 tributes who work as the major antagonists inside the tournament.

The movie lacks in the intense action sequences and use of good special effects and CGI which could have made this one even better, and the slowness gets a little uninspiring at some moments. But what it losses in its lack of pace, action and effects is gained by some great acting and its own powerful theme. Katniss herself is a symbol of a rebellion for the twelve poor districts against the rich Capitol’s oppression, and even as this movie only begins a procedure, and Katniss has only become the shadow of what she can do later, this is one message against inequality and oppression which the movie has conveyed wonderfully. “War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitors were defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed, that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute, one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.”

What is said in these lines are the lies that the common man is forced to believe; and as the dictator himself says, it gives them hope which rises over their fear. But this is that fake hope which helps them to rule over the common man and continue to be rich at their cost. The need for rebellion is asserted, as it is the Capitol that rules them all, and it is that one city that has everything, and when the rebellion for their own basic needs is termed as treachery and the people branded traitors. The theme of self-sacrifice is there, as Katniss’ substitutes herself and becomes willing to die for her younger sister, like Jesus did for the atonement of the sins of humanity; Peeta also rises from under the stone, and the symbolism of bread prevails throughout the movie. The human battle for survival, the influence of the media and the need for freedom are also seen throughout the movie. There is the rise of the underdog, a common popular thing, and his defiance which changes the world upto an extent, and will define it further. The movie strikes, and it inspires, and Jennifer Lawrence does the rest. This is one movie which makes you think on many lines, and the most significant thought is defiance. Remember the story of the demi-god Theseus and the Minotaur, in which the Minotaur is fed with a certain number of boys and girls from the city, for there are some cycles which need to stop.

Release date: 23rd March 2012
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Dayo Okeniyi, Isabelle Fuhrman, Alexander Ludwig, Paula Malcomson, Jacqueline Emerson, Leven Rambin, Dayo Okeniyi, Jack Quaid, Amandla Stenberg, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jack the Giant Slayer

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Back in the childhood, there was a story which featured in a lot of books, a fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. But the adventure had not met its end at that time; now, after the return of Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Hansel & Gretel to the new movie world, another fairy tale comes back to life in a different manner – our legend this time goes like this “Fee Fi Fo Fum, ask not whence the thunder come; For between heaven and earth it’s a perilous place, home to a fearsome giant race; Who hunger to conquer the mortals below, waiting for the seeds of revenge to grow”. The original one was “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he live, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread”. The difference between the fairy tale and the movie doesn’t end there, for Jack is not someone who steals anything, but a hero and the defender of his realm. He never even takes anything to or from this world to the other. But he is still a boy from the farm and he kills some giants (two to be exact), just in defence though.

“Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man” would be the words of Edgar in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, but it might be better suited to the giants. Did those giants bother you in your childhood dreams and convert them into horrible nightmares? Where they your nightmare creatures? If they were, this is the time to redeem them. The giants haven’t really got their evil image running, as gentle giants tend to become more popular. But with giants, you never know and here it is proven; with gentle Jack and not-so-gentle giants who love to eat humans more than anything. Jack is just a simple farm boy; he is no Jack Sparrow and surely no Jack McClane. But what he does would change his life forever. From his fear of heights, or the fear of falling as he himself would call it, the man without any noble blood would rise to save the kingdom and the world of the humans from an invasion of the man-eating giants and also marry the beautiful princess to become the next ruler. If there is something like destiny, Jack has the best experience of it; if there is fate, it belongs to Jack; and as this fairy tale itself belongs to him as his own story, this is a fact which would be easily known.

Jack, the son of a farmer and Isabelle, the daughter of the king are shown to listen to the same bedtime story about giants and their invasion of human realm as the result of the creation of a gateway with magical beans in the form of a huge tree as part of an attempt of a few monks to reach heaven by the use of sorcery. The battle was clearly in the favour of giants an mankind could have faced extinction before a group of monks could create a crown which could let the wearer control the giants and force them to go back to their world. The connection was severed and everything went back to normal. Most of the people believed the story to be just a random legend, but both the kids believed in it. Ten years later, Jack has lost his parents and Isabelle is a wandering princess. The king’s right-hand man and adviser wishes to own that crown and re-link the two worlds unleashing an army of giants which he could control. His attempt to steal the remaining beans lead to a monk giving them to Jack before being captured and killed.

Meanwhile, the princess keeps wandering away in search of adventure and ends up in Jack’s house looking for shelter from the heavy rain. Their conversation is cut short as one of the beans get wet, it starts working and sprouts into a huge tree taking Jack’s house and the princess with it. Jack is thrown out of the house and is later found by the king and his soldiers. So our orphaned farm boy Jack has to set off on a quest to rescue a princess by climbing the huge tree to the middle world between the land of man and the land of God. But he would not be alone, as he is accompanied by the king’s best soldiers as well as the treacherous adviser who is looking for a chance to be in the world of giants and also the king’s most loyal leader of the royal knights. They would be in not just unfamiliar territory, but also a land infested by the world’s largest cannibals. An addition to this trouble would be the fact that the adviser has taken the crown with him to prepare the giants for the invasion of man’s world. The crown has its own power, as it is made out of the heart of a fallen giant of the former invasion.

The movie resembles Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in many ways and it has a richer story, but too predictable and longer than need; it also has lesser 3D effects an weaker CGI compared to the witch-hunting action-horror fantasy. The horror element is als quite weak and there was the need for the darker elements in such a story. Instead this one is chosen to be watched by almost everyone, instead of giving it the power of horror and terror which it deserved. In the end, it continues to be a fairy tale with a happy ending; for they lived happily ever after and the tales of the giants continued to spread, creating new versions. Still, it scores over the lesser fairy tale re-builder which was Snow White and the Huntsman and is on level with Red Riding Hood in many ways. But then too, the effect created by the giants fails to grow like that seed; it could have reached the top with wings, but it decided to crawl underground and keeping itself safe. One has to wonder if the Twilight effect has completely destroyed the power of awesomeness in fantasy.

There is Nicholas Hoult, the Beast a.k.a Hank McCoy of X-Men: First Class who has blended into the character with no mutant-effect provided to the character, and Eleanor Tomlinson as the beautiful princess Isabelle never creating a question about a better cast; the same is the case of Stanley Tucci as Lord Roderick – the villain; not really the scariest one around, but still perfect for the way in which the movie has progressed. Ewan McGregor’s Elmont, the leader of the royal guard, makes that right character for a fairy tale adventure filled with action. As a whole, it is a perfect situation, but still the movie doesn’t rise as is should have; it is as if change was much less suited to this movie than the rest. But, with slight improvements, this could have made this genre, something spectacular, but such a thing was not to happen. The need to be on the safe side has locked this one – it has prevented the movie from going average or below average, but the same thing has prevented it from rising above the horizons from its own genre.

So this is where the Vampire Bat has started off for the month – one Jack, a princess and a large number of giants. The choices were many, especially among Malayalam and Hindi movies, but the decision to go for the classic fairy tale resurrection was not a bad idea. It has delivered; not completely in the way the Vampire Bat had expected it to, but surely in a way which didn’t disappoint him at all. He could just escape into it from a world which had much less for him. The vampire bats getting eaten by giants with bad teeth and foul breath might not make such great news, but still it would be an honour for him. The expectations are still there, if not for giants, it should be for awesome movies; and there is no rest for the Vampire Bat, nothing this world is aware of. There is still the need to be there for the right movie, something as good as Celluloid; that would make this a significant year if such an experience would happen in the first half of the year.

Release date: 1st March 2013
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.