Shazam!

What is the movie about? :: In an ancient magical temple in another dimension, a powerful wizard named Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) has spent centuries searching for someone pure of heart to grant him his powers and make him his champion. The previous champion was corrupted as he had released the Seven Deadly Sins for personal gains which killed the rest of the Council of Wizards who shared space with him. The sins, pride, wrath, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony and lust are also looking to escape and find their own champion. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who had spent many years searching for the magical temple, manages to find the clues, and reach the place before the champion could be discovered by the wizard. He was someone who was forced to live in hope for finding the power, after being rejected at a younger age by the wizard due to his attraction to the temptations of the deadly sins.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Making his way to the magical temple, he steals the Eye of Sin, and the sins become part of him as they defeat the wizard. An angry Thaddeus uses his newfound power to kill his father, brother, and his own company Sivana Industries’ board of directors, as nobody believed what he described as a child, about the wizard and the deadly sins. At the same time, a fourteen year old foster child Billy Batson (Asher Angel) keeps running away from foster homes to search for his mother, from whom he became separated when they were at a grand carnival. Finally, he is put in a group home with five other foster children including Frederick Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) who becomes his best friend, the beautiful and academically driven Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton), extremely loving and good natured Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), gamer and technology expert Eugene Choi (Ian Chen) shy and sensitive Pedro Pena (Jovan Armand)

And what else follows with the happenings? :: The group home is run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans) who tries to keep the family together with great effort. But they are not really a family with differences showing up at all times, especially with Billy, who desperately wants to meet his biological mother again. One day, when Billy finally decides to stand up for Frederick as a brother as he sees himself in his position, he is chased by bullies to end up in a metro from where he is transported to the magical temple, which is known as the Rock of Eternity. There, the wizard chooses him to be his champion of the good against evil, and to save the world from the deadly sins which were unleashed, and the vessel which Thaddeus had become. A confused Billy reluctantly agrees, and on saying the magic word, is transformed into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) – but he is clueless about what happens next with the wizard gone. What can he do now?

The defence of Shazam! :: This is the movie when DC decides to go away from its darker and serious tone, towards a world which has common men and women with children having all the fun in the world, and at the same time, brings some fine jokes. Shazam! never really makes one feel that there is terror beyond words, and that the world is in peril – it is thus something which is best suited for children. The movies like Justice League, Man of Steel, Aquaman and Wonder Woman gave that feeling which made an apocalypse come closer, but in this case, with a continuing funny side and added kids, it never feels that the Seven Deadly Sins and its vessel will bring that terror. The movie’s superhero elements are usual, but well explored. We also have some kind of message about family, which feels too common and repetitive, but is there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: Compared to the usual superhero stuff, Shazam! takes a deviation, and this sometimes works, and at times, it just doesn’t. Without the feeling of enough terror faced by the world, it struggles to keep up the momentum, even though it is never that foolish as Deadpool and Deadpool 2 even with that funny side which stays throughout the movie. It is still not that effective as Ant-Man and Ant-Man 2 managed to come up with. Starting from an idea which wouldn’t make sense even in the superhero world, the movie is more or less childish in nature, and for the same reason, it doesn’t work that well with the adult audience. Shazam! is best suited to be an animated movie, and the fact that they have managed this far is worth the applause, but it will not be something that will stay in our minds for long as it goes too childish at times.

The performers of the soul :: This movie comes from the director of Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation – doesn’t really carry that feeling of horror and terror into this movie, as he makes another one to work. David F Sandberg will also be directing the second film in the series too. Concerning the performances, the movie’s strongest point is its villain, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana is a joy to watch as he becomes a controlled, evil villain whom we can admire. The kids led by Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer are pretty good, but nothing much for us to remember. Zachary Levi makes a pretty good impact as the adult version superhero. Grace Fulton is the next one whom we remember. She could have a bigger superhero appearance sooner or later as she seems to be very much suited for such a character. The Seven Deadly Sins could have had human forms too, as they would provide more to explore within them.

How it finishes :: Shazam! is the first movie which I watch during the Corona Lockdown, during its early stages. India went into a complete lockdown on 24th of March midnight, and it was supposed to go on until 14th of April midnight, a time period of 21 days. But our lockdown at home had started rather early, on 22nd of March, one day before the Janata Curfew and the lockdown of Corona infected districts and states. The situation has definitely changed now, and so have our worries. With the vaccine almost here, lets hope that we all survive this pandemic. We can only hope that there are no more big variations of the virus which would bring further trouble. This will also be the final movie of the year to be reviewed on Movies of the Soul, as we hope for a new beginning in 2021, with the expectation that it won’t be that bad as 2020, but you can never be so sure about it.

Release date: 5th April 2019
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: David F Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Glass

Vampire Owl: So, have you watched the Unbreakable film series?

Vampire Bat: I have heard that it is better known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that nobody has really heard about this fanchise having such a strange and complex name.

Vampire Bat: I have watched Split, which was a very good movie, and I don’t remember much about Unbreakable.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that some memory of that movie might be needed to follow this one.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can remember something, but as far as Split is concerned, memory works better.

Vampire Owl: It is quite natural though, considering the fact that the first movie released in 2000 and the second in 2016.

Vampire Bat: I watch so many movies that my memories are very quickly replaced – I often forget a movie which I watched only a few months ago.

Vampire Owl: You are suffering from a case of movie overdose.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and there is no treatment for that. Even lock-down couldn’t do much.

[Gets a British cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Nineteen years have passed since the Eastrail 177 train wreck, and David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a superhuman who survived the wreck is not working as a vigilante who is often called by the media as the Overseer while continuing his business with his son, Joseph Dunn (Spencer Treat Clark). Elijah price who called himself Mr Glass remains confined to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, after David had reported him to the police, as the one who was responsible for that train wreck which killed everyone except David. Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) who has twenty three plus one distinct personalities formed in him after he was abused as a child by his mother during his childhood remains in action, as he kidnaps four cheerleaders (Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, Kyli Zion and Shannon Ryan) and keep them chained inside a warehouse, just like he did earlier with Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her friends who were to be sacrificed to the greatest entity inside him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Kevin keeps the girls chained at all times, even though he does have the manifestations of different personalities at all times, none of them ready to rescue the girls from their bondage. It is then that David comes across Kevin, and understands that he is holding a secret, which is none other than the missing young girls. He gets into the warehouse and unchains the girls, only to come face to face with the personality of the Beast. While the girls escape, the two superhumans fight, only to fall in front of the police force, and has to surrender. Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), an experienced psychiatrist specializing in delusions of grandeur visits them at the mental hospital where the two are admitted along with Mr. Glass. She tries to make them believe that they have no superhuman abilities, and they are just a little stronger than the rest, and might not be stronger than the strongest and the most muscular men in the world. But Mr Glass will have other plans. Who will succeed in achieving their mission?

The defence of Glass :: As one would expect, the performances of the three actors playing the three main characters, the protagonists, the superhumans – this keeps the movie at a higher level even when the flick slows down and makes one wonder if it is not going to reach anywhere. The action sequences here are kept simple. The idea keeps growing within the movie, and if you watched the previous two movies, you are going to be more interested in the proceedings here. The ending is the highest point of the movie, and there is one twist there which you should have guessed, but most probably you might not have – these final scenes show the mastery of M Night Shyamalan over the material, on what concerns the comics and the superheroes, very much unlike your usual superheroes. There are a few moments in this movie, which later turns out to be smart and masterful acts, but in the middle, you won’t know them to be that good. Then, in the end, you ask for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: As the third movie of the story, and with the three main characters already established, you would probably expect this to be a tale which ends a good v/s evil story, but this one more or less continues that origins story rather than doing anything else. There is also the absence of action for most of this movie, and when you are having a superhero movie here which is not Brightburn, you will be expecting full action or thrills, but such an option is not here. The movie has a lot of dialogues, and most of them are in a place without colours – inside the mental asylum, but some of it are totally unnecessary. After the initial fight, there is a lot of time spent at the talks rather than anything else, and it often makes the movie slow, unlike any superhero movie which you have ever watched. This is a movie which you cannot watch as your regular superhero movie, because it looks for meanings rather than any kind of heroism. This is not the superhero world you dreamed about.

Performers of the soul :: Glass depends heavily on its performances just like its predecessor Split did. James McAvoy once again leads the way, continuing the form with twenty three plus one distinct personalities. He shines in different ways as personalities alter. Most people from this part of the world might have known him from the X-Men movies, the last one being X:Men: Dark Pheonix, a film which didn’t make that much of an impact as one had expected it to. But related to movies like X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Days of Future Past, you know that he has been there raising the level of the movie. But none of them matches this character that he plays here. Bruce Willis is back in action, with some action sequences, and you do want the Die Hard star to do that – here he also has an emotional touch to his character. Samuel L Jackson begins ordinary, but as the movie goes to its end, we see the change, and he is glorious in those moments. Anya Taylor-Joy, the girl from The Witch is the Beast’s girl with a beautiful serenity running through her, while Sarah Paulson is good.

How it finishes :: Glass thrives on James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson, who plays the three superhumans with augmented abilities, but the viewer has to note that it is not a regular superhero movie, and if one falls into that kind of a trap, this is not going to be that interesting. The common view pertaining to all those superheroes we have known not just through movies, but also through comics and cartoons, reaching their zenith in the recent years with those Avengers and Justice League movies collecting all of them and presenting them to the audience as spectacle on the big screen in 3D. Changing this viewpoint is essential when watching this movie, or the film might just end up changing it by adding a certain amount of realism to the whole thing. Glass is surely a movie with a difference and as we look at M Night Shyamalan’s movies which we have watched and liked, he has been a master in that, whether it was this movie’s predecessor Split, or the surprise fun which was The Visit.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: M Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, Kyli Zion, Shannon Ryan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Despicable Me 3

Vampire Owl: I would like to use this particular title for myself too.

Vampire Bat: Why do you want to be called the vampire deserving hatred and contempt?

Vampire Owl: Because I am going to take over the world.

Vampire Bat: You have had that thought since you became a vampire apprentice for the first time. It is not real.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has always believed in alternate realities.

Vampire Bat: But you don’t believe in Mr. Frankenstein.

Vampire Owl: He is just not part of my reality. But his methods surely are.

Vampire Bat: You cannot pretend to put things into different realities, and speak as if you are from one reality in which is independent of the others when all of these is just one reality.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that with regular practice and with finding inner peace, we can create our own realities with our minds?

Vampire Bat: This is exactly why I feel that zombies without brains are awesome.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and caramel popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Felonious Gru (Steve Carell) is spending some nice time as a secret agent of the anti-villain league along with his newfound love, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) who is also trying hard to be a loving mother to the three adopted kids, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel). Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a supervillain obsessed with the television character that he played, has become Gru’s biggest opponent, and even evades him and Lucy on so many occasions. After the last encounter between the two, Gru and Lucy end up being fired from the league by the new chief of the league. Now left without any job, the minions led by Mel (Pierre Coffin) wishes for him to go evil again, so that they will all have something to do. But Gru doesn’t want go back to be the villain again as it would be against all he had hoped for, and so the minions just decide to quit, except for two.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, Balthazar continues to have more and more success with his evil plans, stealing world’s most precious diamond without even having to think twice about it. It is during those times that Gru comes to know that he has a twin brother named Dru (again Steve Carell), who seems to be rather a successful businessman with his pig farms. They had separated when they were kids, as Gru was taken by his mother and Dru by his father, both not knowing about each other until now. When it is revealed, Dru does invite Gru and his family to his special place, where they are given a grand welcome. With golden hair on the head and being a more cheerful and successful man, Dru does make Gru jealous, but it is not the visit is more about. Dru reveals that Gru has always been a role-model in the form of a master villain, even with his failures – he claims that it is Gru who has kept the family tradition going.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Meanwhile, minions end up in prison, and come up with some special plans to get back with Gru due to the nostalgia keeping on troubling them. Dru wants Gru to go back to crime with him, as he feels that both of them could get the family crime legacy to the next level. Gru who is now married to his love and being the father of three adopted children, doesn’t really want to do the same, but wants to get even with Balthazar. He plans to get the diamond from the criminal, and get it to the anti-villain league along with the villain himself, so that he could find him and his wife back in the job. But his brother is interested in this because they could get their hands on the most valuable diamond in the world, and the heist would thus go down in history. But our evil villain does have other plans starting from Hollywood, and going on for mass destruction. Will Gru be able to stop him this time?

The defence of Despicable Me 3:: There is the focus on laughter here, and attempts are regularly made at the same. With the attempt to bring in more action sequences, and situations made for comedy, we are surely seeing an entertainment which finishes without taking that much of our time. It also leaves things open in the end which means that we can have something to go for with a fourth movie which will be something better if good imagination gets the right inspiration. Minions, even though out of the main tale, making almost no impact, are still fun to watch – there are some rare cases here that has repetition being fun. The kids are surely going to love this one a lot – there is no reason why they shouldn’t, as silliness is written again and again on screen with this movie around. Everyone from that age really wants to be Gru or at least with him in an animated world full of action and minions, don’t they? Well, be there early as this one released in India before it did in the United States of America.

The claws of flaw :: Well, Despicable Me 3 is just too childish – surely more childish than the first movie as well as Despicable Me 2. There is almost no thinking regarding the story-line here, as we get to know that quite early. We see not much happening here, and even the usual messages are not present. With what seems to be a random mixture of things, the emotional side is rather lost, something which can be rather catastrophic of an animated movie – the kids have almost no significance in the tale along with the minions who are just there for the laughter, and there are the two brothers whose story just seemed to have been brought for the sake of the adventure, and there is the villain who seems to have the appeal rather too much on the kids rather than anyone else. You would also realise that there have been two movies before this and a spin-off, and a better result still evades the makers and the fans alike. 3D is also not that much of a difference maker.

How it finishes :: Well, Despicable Me 3 is fun for sure, even though it seems to trail behind Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 without even trying well enough to make much of an impact. Maybe, everyone have already felt that this franchise is in an eternal safe zone, like Ice Age, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda series might have been thinking already. But, if we compare the number of screens and the number of viewers for Cars 3 and this one, it is clear that safe zone is slowly and steadily becoming a myth – there are always new movies which are not sequels made out of special creativity, like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen and Inside Out, ready to conquer the animated area. They will surely have to put the extra effort for the next movie, if people are going to continue believing in the same – this will work as of now with its comic side and how good it looks on the screen, but an animated movie is going to require more than that in order to have a long and better run.

Release date: 16th June 2017 (India); 30th June 2017 (USA)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, Jenny Slate, Pierre Coffin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Big Hero 6

bighero6 )

Vampire Owl :: I am still suffering from a certain amount of brain damage after watching Interstellar.

Vampire Bat :: Nolan added Physics into that movie because he know that we have all hated our Physics teachers and it is almost everybody’s least favourite subject along with Mathematics. I do feel that the movie has added Physics to my list of degrees without telling me.

Vampire Owl :: Free degree, that is cool. Actually, do you even remember any of our Physics teachers?

Vampire Bat :: No, I don’t, and I shall never remember. Even after I tried harder for the same, I was always let down by it. But Chemistry has worked the other way around for me. I was so shocked by my scores for the subject that I wanted to faint and prove it.

Vampire Owl :: Do you think that this movie will have Physics?

Vampire Bat :: Not as much as Interstellar, I am sure. They will at least speak in English rather than in a nerd language this time.

Vampire Owl :: Thank God that we are partial nerds then.

Vampire Bat :: That should be why we enjoyed Interstellar, especially when our imaginations go to space as well as the other dimensions every day.

Vampire Owl :: Is it just an illusion or does it actually seem like a How to Train your Dragon: Robot Version?

Vampire Bat :: I think we should watch this and check. It has managed to gain so much of critical appreciation.

[Starts the car].

The background :: Big Hero 6 comes from a group of superheroes which were part of Marvel Comics. But the differences are there, no doubt about that. This becomes the first movie to feature characters from Marvel comics and builds hype as from the makers of Frozen and Wreck it Ralph! – something which will draw in plenty of comparisons. This is also the sixth big animated movie released in this year at this part of the world after Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Lego Movie, How to Train your Dragon, Rio 2 and Planes: Fire and Rescue – I have watched all except the last. People might think that this is not the right weekend to release an animated movie as it has to face the powerful Interstellar in a battle of David and Goliath, especially when in the modern world, David has very less chance to win. But it is not always about one thing or two when it comes to movies, isn’t it? Which is why Big Hero 6 could keep itself working well enough when facing such a big nemesis.

What is it about? :: Set in the fictional world of San Fransokyo (kind of like San Francisco and Tokyo in a combo), Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) spends his time attempting to participate in illegal robot fights. He is an expert in robotics, and his brother Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Tenney) feels that he is wasting his potential by doing such worthless things outside law. So, he shows his little brother his university and the robotics laboratory where he and his friends are achieving marvellous things under the experienced Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell). Hiro is highly impressed and is desperate to the get into the university, for which he invents something called microbots which can transform into anything, and can be controlled using telepathy. He is accepted into the university, but a fire breaks out and his brother is killed, which leaves him in permanent grief. But soon, with the help of his brother’s robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), he attempts to find the man who might be responsible for the death of his brother.

The defence of Big Hero 6 :: Here is what you expect from an animated movies in the right quantities, nothing too much and not really missing out anywhere. The comedy works most of the time, but is more limited to the main robot and less to the rest. The movie is all fun and entertainment too, visually looking very good and having some very nice action sequences which are overtaken by the emotional ones which are even better. The world is nicely detailed with different architectural combinations, and the characters are also nice and pretty much likable, with one extremely lovable robot at the centre of everything. The superheroes are nicely created and the supervillain also looks impressive. Well, this one is light, easy to follow and connect, as well as lovely to watch on the big screen, and what more would you need in an animated movie? Big Hero 6 surely scores here, and deserves the whole family in the theatre. Well, it isn’t accompanied by the hype such as Interstellar got, so it can only be a clear winner. I would expect a sequel to hit the theatres soon, as this origin story is now established.

The Claws of flaw :: It follows the usual animated movie policy and doesn’t try to innovate too much, may be due to the fear that it will repel the family audience which is supposed to be its strength. There is too much of a predictable plot, very unlike Mr. Peabody and Sherman which had its nice additions to bring twists to the story. Even the small suspense about the identity of the villain is also predictable up-to an extent, and we almost know most of the things that are going to happen before they do. May be the kids, and those who are new to the genre might not guess that well, but it is so. The usual things that happen include the loss of a loved one, revenge, team of superheroes and a big villain which is the setup too many movies that we have known in this genre. The humour is also not as good as some other animated movies in comparison, and the 3D not that much up-to the mark. Too many movies with similar factors have happened, and our hero with his robot is a lot like another hero with his dragon, and that also happened this year for the second time. May be the villain also could have taken up a better characterization and backstory?

Soul exploration :: Big Hero 6 is not better than Frozen, and it is a clear fact, expect for some irritating fan-boys and girls saying that it is so without any particular reason. It is not better than Mr. Peabody and Sherman which is the best animated movie of 2014 as it stands now, and stands below many other animated titles. But we cannot deny the emotional power of this movie, and its message of friendship and brotherhood, and the call to use one’s skills and abilities for others. The fact remains that the one non-human character in the movie, the robot is the one who spreads all these messages and by influencing the humans around it to heal and not to hurt, that brings out the truth that humans always need someone else to tell them what is right and what is wrong, as they are too much affected by the bad emotions and not that much by the right ones. Yes, this robot is one positive role-model for everyone, and the other movie at the theatres now, Interstellar has none even as it is superior in many ways. May be it is time to get a Baymax robot action figure for a change – we have had too many transforming robots already!

How it finishes :: Big Hero 6 has been the surprise package of the weekend while Interstellar is just doing as it was expected to perform, and there are even some who had expected a lot more from that movie – Christpher Nolan is that kind of person. But our movie is the silent assassin here, coming up our of nowhere and making the impact, overtaking the expectations associated with it. What works against Interstellar is that none of the common man group has gone to space and there is no real idea about how it is, or if anybody has actually gone there or if it is just a conspiracy theory. So when in a science fiction, if science completely devours fiction, there will be a problem for people. If it had dealt with what actually happens with human lives, things would have been direct, but otherwise there was the need to make it less complicated. It is not bad to have things complicated, but it has alienated the family audience here, and that section has been taken over by Big Hero 6 which has one robot with better emotional connection than the whole cast of Interstellar combined, including that of the third rate ghost-contacting father-hating daughter.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring (voice): Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Génesis Rodríguez, Damon Wayans Jr, Maya Rudolph, Stan Lee, James Cromwell

bighero6

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.