Hotel Transylvania

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This review features the major excerpts from the interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last full moon night when both the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Owl were able to predict what was to expect in the movie After Earth and initiated a cryo-sleep on themselves to save themselves from visiting the theatres, something of which they are incapable. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those watching Malayalam new generation rom-shit movies/Hindi supposed-to-be-romantic movies (Eg: Annayum Rasoolum/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) might be a co-incidence and never practical. To add to it, no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on, but there is no guarantee about what happened after that. Well, this is that kind of an animated movie which can’t stand alone without Count Dracula, the supposed to be proud owner of Hotel Transylvania, where the world’s most awesome monsters can get away from human civilization and take rest. No, he is not the one who should not be named, so lets not call him just “D” or “CD”, and lets get on with what he thought about this flick.

Count Dracula: Oh its you again. Welcome to Hotel Transylvania! No, wait, welcome to Dracula castle. Hope you will never enjoy your stay here and get lost as soon as possible. You called my place a hotel in your letter – how can you even think so? I have a reputation to keep here, and movies like Twilight and whatever followed already took away half of it, and I am adjusting with whatever is left. Do I look pale? Do I sparkle right now? It has been so difficult to keep up with the new vampire fake myths. Nobody thinks that I am a vampire any more. To add to it, they are using the names like ward and swan related to vampires. And now, you come here with your fangs thinking this is a hotel. This is the worst thing that has happened to me since Twilight, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth – I lose my mind thinking about them and can’t even pronounce them right! Make it quick, Vampire Brat!

Vampire Bat: Well, this is the seven hundred and twenty seventh time in he last five hundred and one years of acquaintance that I am telling you that it is not the Vampire Brat, but the Vampire Bat. The “R” is not there ; it doesn’t even exist. Where do you think you are? In The Matrix trying to be Neo and bend the spoon even as there is actually no spoon? Is that what you want?

Count Dracula: Neo and spoon! Can I feed a little bit of that Neo thing in the spoon to my Zombie Dog who is caught in a loop chasing that local Vampire Cat for eternity? He can’t even stop for death; isn’t that the worst thing that can happen to anybody?

Vampire Bat: The first thing is that I hate that dog. The second thing is that there is no time. The third thing is about your home and your lovely monster friends who come to visit you very often.

Count Dracula: You are talking about Frank frankie freak? Frankenstein’s monster as you call him, is my oldest and the best friend even as he belongs to the zombie category which gives him reservation. He used to get thirty five marks moderation in his exams for which the pass mark for his category was twenty five. We vampires used to be given a maximum of thirty five out of hundred in all exams so that the balance was maintained! He even passed the interview for the job at The Demon’s Keep soul ferry service by only pretending to apply for it. But he is a good friend as I can murder him so many times and he won’t mind as he is already ugly and dead.

Vampire Bat: This doesn’t really feature in the movie, and I would like to stick to it. Your best friends include Wayne the werewolf, Frank the zombie, Griffin the invisible man and Murray the mummy. Your wife was murdered by a mob who set fire to your house and it was for your daughter Mavis that you built this hotel, I mean castle.

Count Dracula: That doesn’t make any sense as I was never married and neither did I have a daughter. I do call doctors here though, most are dentists. Do you like my golden tooth or the silver one? Never mind, please continue, as I like that story even as it is in no way related to me as a vampire.

Vampire Bat: On your daughter’s 118th birthday, you use your zombie minions to trick her and make her stay away from the humans whom you consider dangerous. But a human named Jonathan arrives, and you are forced to make him look like a monster to the other monsters to save your hotel. But soon, your daughter becomes attracted to him and the rest is history. Any part of this which you agree to?

Count Dracula: None of it. This mortal-immortal love story is the worst thing in the world. But I am glad that they didn’t add wolves to it this time. There is still a little bit of attraction which even a vampire would feel to such a simple, and yet different story. Was the movie a good watch for you?

Vampire Bat: I think it was very good during most of the parts. But the death of that mortal and Mavis living the right immortal life would have made it more interesting. She is the most evil one among the monsters as she chooses to go after a mentally retarded creature of modernity who doesn’t care about anybody but himself and his personified stupidity, a characteristic which changes only by his stay with the Count. She will surely be in hell for making such a nasty decision out of pure selfishness, but as it is fiction, let her rest in hell, for that Lucifer, Belzebub and Mephistopheles won’t mind. The visuals were pretty good, but the characters were kind of shallow. You are kind of strange in that movie and so is your daughter. To be frank, none of the monsters retain their basic qualities except for the looks which are made funnier, and this fun is the bright side along with the variety which has been brought.

Count Dracula: I would watch it then. I have many ways of watching a movie undetected by the humans at their own places. Do you think it deserves me by its portrayal of the great Count Dracula of Transylvania?

Vampire Bat: I would say yes. You have been depicted more good than ever, which is not always a bad thing. It is shown that you are a loving and caring father, and also has concern for the fellow monsters. You would even do anything to make all which you believe happen. If you can forget the funny part as just part of the complete fun, you surely won’t find it humiliating or anti-vampire.

Count Dracula: I shall watch it on next full moon with Frank. I trust you on this, and if you fail me, I shall make you watch some movies of nothingness – like that Malayalam movie Kili Poyi.

Vampire Bat: I have watched it and died many times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to take my leave, until we collide on a hunt again. Good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, brother; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something as modern and horribly romantic as Twilight. The same would have happend to the Frankenstein monster as well as the Mummy, but in a lesser manner. This movie doesn’t give him his lost glory, but it surely does provide an alternative to Twilight for the faint-hearted ones who can’t really handle the supreme vampire with all his horrifying powers.

There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great animation, and the way in which each monster is detailed needs special mention, especially the Mummy and the Frankenstein monster. But the plot doesn’t stay that powerful, and there is the lack of use of the evil side of each and every monster except Quasimodo whose dark side is not that black to be explored in such a way. The characters are not that strong enough to create a grand experience. It is perfect for the kids with its lovable characters who show no shade of their original evil, and the love between a mortal and an immortal would interest many, as a Twilight inverse made in a cute way. Even Count Dracula gets his due, still not in the way he might have wanted; yet, works in the right manner. But, each and every second, you know what is going to happen, and there are no surprises in this one. If you are expecting something like Megamind, Monsters v/s Aliens, Finding Nemo or Kung Fu Panda, you are going to be disappointed. The attempt is still good, and I would wait for its sequel supposed to release on September 25, 2015 – lets see how much they can improve on this beginning. Adam Sandler voices Count Dracula and Selena Gomez is the daughter Mavis; that should add to the need for watching the movie.

Release date: 28th September 2012
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring (voice): Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Green

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Epic

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Epic is said to be based on William Joyce’s book for children, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. It is produced by Blue Sky Studios, the makers of the Ice Age series, Robots, Horton Hears a Who! and Rio. It is directed by Chris Wedge who was the director of Ice Age and Robots. The movie shows the battle in the woods between the forces of good and evil, to know if life or decay, whichever overcomes the other. The most interesting thing is that as their world is saved, ours is saved too. As the will premiere in the United States only on May 24th 2013, we know that this has come here early. It should be because it might collide with Fast & Furious 6 otherwise, but there is also another thing about it. It is not of logic, but of impulse, that is the pollution of the natural environment which is a serious challenge in this part of the world. Remember these lines from The Matrix – they are not to be forgotten as the movie ends; “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure”. The truth in these words are not to be considered unseen before we move into this movie.

When Epic begins, we understand that there is a battle between good and evil, life and decay, green woods and the dark woods, the right and wrong going on in the forest. The two sides are always inter-locked in a never-ending battle for supremacy, one for keeping the balance of nature and the other to extend their borders and make their side weigh more. But they exist invisible to the normal human eye. The forest world is actually preparing for a great moment, the selection of the successor to the queen of the woods, which is looked at with anger and hatred by the forces of evil who wishes or a dark prince instead, who can change the green woods into dark woods, with darkness all around. In the middle of all these, young girl named Mary Katherine (preferring to be called M.K), visits her father Professor Bomba who lives in an old house near some thick woods with his dog, Ozzie and never ending hope of finding a group of little elf-like warriors who live in the woods and protect their world as well as that of humans as the guardians of the good – represented by leaves. He has cameras set everywhere in the woods and also wanders around a lot, hoping to find them some day. It is evident that it has been a long time since he had any contact with the outside world. He is too busy with his job and neglects his daughter just like he had done to his wife years earlier, leading to Mary putting a note for him to see and leaving the place as she feels she will never get her father back to normal life.

As she is leaving, Ozzie finds a chance to go out of the monotonous world which is the house, and runs into the woods. Mary goes into the woods to look out for him, but as she catches one of the glowing leaves which seemed to fall from the sky, she suddenly shrinks in size. Then she discovers the group of warriors her father was looking out for, and find them as the Leafmen. To her surprise, she is soon forced to assist them in a war against the forces of evil known as the Boggans and their powerful leader Mandrake, along with trying to find a way to become big again as well as to return home. The situation is such that the queen of the woods has been murdered and to find the successor who planned by her before death, Mary and her friends, who include a slug, a snail, and two leafmen – one being the leader of the leafmen and the other being the aggressive and arrogant rookie, have to see the keeper of the scrolls, and with his advice, go on to find the new queen from among the flowers and leaves of the woods. But Mandrake is filled with anger and vengeance due to the death of his son by the leaf-men commander Ronin, and would stop at nothing other than a forest without life. He has already transformed a good part of the woods into his world of death and decay. The team has to fight an almost impossible battle in an enchanted world which seems to belong to the dark forces now.

The movie is a journey, just like The Croods, just four minutes longer and surely intellectually superior, still trailing in the 3D effects and the funny side. But emotionally, this one is as strong as the Colossus. Its social message of saving the trees and forest works for sure. This also another Alice in Wonderland, as the girl is thrown into another mysterious world, a land of magic; but this time, it is too connected with the external world. In that case, Arthur and the Minimoys a.k.a Arthur and the Invisibles might come into the picture in pictures of connected worlds, one a miniature place and the other, what we all live in. It is quite surprising that it was a movie which didn’t get that much an attention here. But, we know that little elf-like warriors, magical woods, fairy queens and a young girl or boy changing fate and destiny of two worlds are not exactly new concepts and with the high predictability might be a little let down. A background story on the good and evil might have given a little more support in the matter, but the two sides have already been painted black and white, evil and good; as this is more a fairy tale thing, there will be no questions asked either. But the world we live in has turned into more of the world of the grey, which is slightly more interested in evil, and it could affect the progress of this movie.

The alignment here is too obvious, unlike Age of Wonders, the game in which I first realized the importance of being aligned more or less to one side or being equi-distant from all. Highmen and Archons were pure good out there, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings and Syrons were good, Frostlings, Humans, Azracs, Lizardmen, Draconians, Tigrans and Nomads were the neutral ones, evil had Orcs, Goblins, Dark Elves and Shadow Demons and those of pure evil were called the Undead. Such was the division in that game series, and what we see is more of pure good and pure evil in this movie, and there is no further division. All these fairy tale characters seem to be good enough to make a powerful comeback these days, as the animated movies seems to be working better than the live-action usual thing, even as it is limited to Hollywood. Our movie here is strong enough to pave the way for the next animated ones which are to come, but there are times when some of these supposed to be pure good characters do nothing good; they can’t even preach well enough – at least that might have been expected of them. But the lost fun is recaptured by the main characters who make up for the less important ones. The 3D looks a little unnecessary, and here it was just another reason to take twenty five Rupees extra and increase the total time spent in the theatre.

Well, who doesn’t like a fairy tale though? One has to think that the kids would surely love it, even as the new generation has moved more to the video games and other stuff than books. Still, understanding them as movies is just a bonus for them. Here, the punch is solid and striking deep enough both on the brain and the heart. Its loyality to the genre can never be questioned, but a certain signs of evolution in the fantasy world is not to be ignored at any moment. Despite its loss in the 3D, it still has great visuals and wonderful CGI. The fairy tale of the girl who becomes lost in the forest and shortened by magic, uncovers a mysterious world of little people with its base on the enchanted woods. But other than being another Alice in a different wonderland of inferior quality, considering the way in which the movie progresses, supported by its stunning imagery & the “save environment” message, this becomes much better. It is surely going to appeal not only to kids, but also the adults. This is kind of a vacation season around, and this summer, this might be the right movie to watch as a family. Well, the woods grow over many years, but can be destroyed in a day – a message to the future generation. As the leafman says “We are individuals, but we are all connected”. There is a message for our selfish world; the world of humans who interrupt and cause devastation on nature. FernGully: The Last Rainforest might have already taught a few lessons though, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax surely succeeded in inspiring more than one person.

We have the major issues with water pollution, mostly due to untreated and illegal sewage disposal; we have another big issue as air pollution with vehicle emission and traffic congestion, and not to forget the disposal of garbage on land. The disasters should be much more than these, and the deterioration of the environment the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife, something which starts basically from deforestation. There is no solution to greed for sure, and Agent Smith was partially right, and we are still trying to prove him completely correct. Well, that dialogue was a point when he had the sure upperhand in a world of reason. Extinction is not a limited thing for sure. Looking into Avatar, there is one particular dialogue “There’s no green there. They killed their Mother, and they’re gonna do the same here”. It doesn’t imply anything other than the destruction of the world of green by using their so called advanced technology. As most of the new discoveries have made life easier for man, they have surely made decay easier for nature. This predicament has another nemesis in Epic, as the movie comes against it strongly; it might be a little ordinary and quite predictable in its plot, but is still an inspiring story with a powerful message against the exploitation of nature and deforestation. There is the need for such movies with strong environmental theme.

Release date: 17th May 2013
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Starring (voice): Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Oblivion

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It was about six or seven years ago, that the Vampire Bat landed on a game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and he landed on his broken tooth which made him as addicted to it, as Count Dracula is to his coffin. This sequel to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the predecessor of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had shocked him in a good way, like no other game had before, and his wish was to write a review on it, giving it 100/100 along with Mass Effect, for providing him with that world, his second life where he actually lived, died, resurrected and got beheaded/shot on the head – well, he loved these two games so much that he finished it, as he wanted to that right from the beginning with no rest. For years, the Vampire Bat wished for the movie adaptations of these two, especially of the first one which was his mythical/fantasy world of chivalry compared to the inter-star battles and interactions of the second. But he has been disappointed for long, and here what he get is a movie of the same name as the Oblivion game, with a setting similar to the Mass Effect game. No, the movie doesn’t resemble both of these in story or theme; but this coming together of the elements of these two games is what came to the mind of this nocturnal soul when the first time he saw the movie poster, and he wouldn’t have dared not to share it.

The awesomeness of these two games are clearly visible in this movie though, but not in a way which has similarities. In those games, we could travel anywhere, but coming into the movie, it is a limited world which follows an alien invasion which nearly destroyed the Earth. After the devastation of moon which caused horrible natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrible climatic variations. The land is left uninhabitable with the mankind being transported to their new habitat. Former Marine commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone mechanic who repairs flying machines with advanced weaponry used for defence against alien lifeforms, and is also one of the last few humans stationed on the dying planet with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) living in a baseless tower-like structure thousands of feet above the Earth, but she is still no Rapunzel, and neither is he her prince or adventurer, something which shall be revealed later. Most of their memories are erased, and the knowledge about their past stays locked at the moment. For now, their relationship would seem to reveal that they are in love and might have been even married.

They are part of an operation to clean up the remaining forces of the alien invasion who are referred to as scavengers and also extract the planet’s remaining resources and are due to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack and Victoria maintain contact with civilization through a video link with their commander, whom they recognize as Sally (Melissa Leo) who is their symbol of hope and salvation, an escape from a world which is almost a wasteland and surrounded by radio active areas. Jack suffers from dreams which are more like flashbacks, having images of New York before the alien invasion and an unknown beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). Meanwhile, Jack rescues an unknown woman from a crashed spaceship as she was encased in a sleeping capsule, in a state of hibernation/hypersleep, and she turns out as the woman from his dreams. But they are captured by a group of humans led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) who reveals to him that there are no aliens on the planet and it is the humans who are hunted by the drones. He requests Jack to reprogram one of the captured drones. But Jack refuses. Malcolm then tells Jack to visit the radio active areas which are restricted to him, and there all his doubts will be cleared.

With a spoiler alert, this paragraph shall proceed. It is revealed that the mystery woman is Jack’s wife, Julia who was with Jack and Victoria when they approached the alien ship, before Jack sending her and the other crew of the ship who are in hypersleep, into the space by detaching the backside of the ship, keeping them away from the aliens. Later it is found out that Jack and Victoria are cloned and there is a large number of clones of both, and they were not born, but grown – a reminder of The Matrix and The Daybreakers, I guess. Their supposed to be passionate relationship is also a product of these alien method of growth and one photo of them together. The alien shown here is more of a super computer, may be sent by the possible original aliens, masters of technology. This monolithic structure is clearly logical in its talks and even uses the images known to the originals of the clones so that they could be made to believe and obey. It creates a little dystopia to the group of two, or the groups of two to be exact. They are actually oppressed and are made to fight against their own race by naming them scavenger aliens. But, thanks to the imperfection of the humans, the imperfect cloning technology of the aliens and also a possible divine providence, Jack becomes somewhat the original again and leads the fight against his former employers. The solution would surely be much better than using a computer virus in Independence Day style.

The mystery starts and ends with Tom Cruise’s Jack – may be brings something from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall. We have had so many Jacks, from Jack Reacher to Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack Frost, Jack Sparrow, Jack and Jill etc. Here, this one is more of a thinker and a lover of nature, which makes Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome catch his attention, and he has quite a good collection of books including Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which he has kept in a small house in the middle of greenery unaffected by the destruction that has gone around for years. He is no parrot and this poetic imagination and love for literature makes him different, and may be he evolved thus after his cloning and erasing of memory. How can one not remember what happened in the movie The Island? Such a thing is perfectly applicable to an alien technology. Well, there is no limit for fiction, and if too many limits are placed, it would lose its right to be called fiction. It would become closer to reality, which would still spawn the question, who’s reality? Now that would be something better left untouched. This is another one of Tom Cruise’s memorable characters for sure, even as he may not be the perfect protagonist, and even if he may be many, numbering in millions. He seems to have fitted into the character with ease.

Jack’s should be existential. He should have been that confused in that wasteland, and also when he had realized that he was just a clone or a copy of someone else. There was that redundant identity crisis and those dreams which seemed to perpetuate nothing. His life gets more and more absurd every time he tries to get answers, as all the answers lead to him finally being a random copy. He had waited for salvation, the firmament which awaited him in the moon of Saturn, but that too is crushed. Now what would remain for him to end as a nihilist, but he has the last fight on his list, as he decides to help the human rebels, and in that process, even sacrifice himself. It is through that loss of life, that the Earth could be redeemed. But who needs an alien invasion to destroy the planet, and considering what is done to it, who might be the aliens? Some are alien to the planet and also to their fellow human beings, and in that case, aren’t these aliens with a powerful inverted pyramid computer better as they keep the human race alive? There is the oppression factor, but is that so much of an oppression considering what humans have done to their own kind for centuries and still continue to do the same in a worse manner even while calling themselves modern and technologically advanced?

Morgan Freeman is as solid as ever, and the two women, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough goes through their sequences as the characters themselves. The former is the emotional lover and the latter the passionate lover. Still, their roles are limited despite the screen presence. Another thing is that the CGI and the special effects out-did the beautiful women. As Jack “wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills” in his mosquito-like helicopter (like that futuristic helicopter they called Raptor in Unreal Tournament 2004), the visually stunning world is brought to light. There is destruction clearly visible, and the signs of the civilization included destroyed buildings, ships and bridges half submerged in sand, never-ceasing smoke from some areas and so on. There are gaps leading to somewhat an abyss between a group of buildings held together by soil or may be in their own centre – a path to Hades and Persephone, half-destroyed structures which look like different things all together, as well as whatever is underground and underwater. To add to it, there is the beautiful area of nature with the small house. Oblivion is an experience, and a lesson to mankind, as well as a reminder of the power of art and literature – rooted on that creativity which is more important than logic, for science can win brutal battles, but to win the war, you need art and literature, as they heal the soul better and people need their wounds to heal and their scars to fade after a major disaster.

Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.