Rings

Vampire Owl: This sounds a lot cooler. Does the “s” in the end mean that there are many rings?

Vampire Bat: Why does this feel cooler when the critical appreciation has been so low with this one?

Vampire Owl: Because there seems to be more than one ring. So, there could be more than one spirit in play.

Vampire Bat: Are you going towards talking about the wedding ring that is planned to be given to Lady Death?

Vampire Owl: Yes, something like that too.

Vampire Bat: Dude, don’t you know that being married to Lady Death means that you have to die?

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I am already dead and risen. I am undead, we all are.

Vampire Bat: But the undead can also die in some ways, and you know that too.

Vampire Owl: But death by Lady Death has its special advantages.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is your undead call in the end.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with aloo paratha].

What is the movie about? :: On an airplane, two passengers Carter (Zach Roerig) and Kelly (Lizzie Brochere) discover that it has been seven days since they both had watched the infamous Samara Morgan’s (Zoe Pessin) cursed videotape which has been circulating well to take enough lives all around. The two realise that they are going to die soon, but at some point, it feels that being on airplane provides them some protection as the cursed entity from the video tape can’t reach there as they are so much above the ground and in the presence of many people, but it turns out that they are wrong. There seems to be some problem with all the screens of the airplane whether it is of the pilots or the passengers, as the evil entity arrives on the video, and the plane crashes killing them all, with no evidence of what caused the disaster.

So, what happens next? :: Julia (Matilda Lutz) sends off her boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) to the college, and after being in contact for months, suddenly has no information about him. One day, she finds Skye (Aimee Teegarden), a beautiful girl on the other side of the video chat, and there is no sign of Holt. So, she decides to search for him all by herself. She reaches the college, and find the professor whom Holt said was an interesting person with whom he was working with projects – Gabriel Brown (Johnny Galecki). But the professor denies having known this particular person, and tells her that she should move on, as people of his age finds something more interesting, or maybe it is about him finding someone better. But she doesn’t give up as she follows Gabriel to a secret area of the college, which is more than what meets the eye.

So, how does the big mystery reveal with its twists? :: There she meets the beautiful girl whom she had seen in the video chat, Skye, who takes her to her apartment, and asks her to watch a video. But Holt who contacts them asks her not to, and then there is the evil entity, Samara arriving, and she takes Skye’s life while Julia locks her inside the bathroom. Holt arrives soon to confirm everything, and she comes to know that he is in trouble. Gabriel, who had bought a VCR with the tape inside, had watched the mysterious video, and was keeping on transferring the curse to another person before the seven days end, a process that has been going on and on, so that nobody died. Gabriel was so much interested in learning about this tape which is the gateway to the other world, so that the process continues. Unable to watch Holt die, Julia watches his copy and carries over the curse to him, but this time, the video is more than the usual one.

The defence of Rings :: This is the tale that becomes more of an origin story than anything else. This could have easily been a reboot, or the tale of another girl who is not the popular horror character who has been there for so long. The mystery factor gets the advantage over the horror side. Also, among the cast, it is Aimee Teegarden who seems to be able to become the best scream queen, and they could have used her throughout the movie, while Matilda Lutz brings enough of the same. There is something that we can always be sure about though; it is that a movie from The Ring franchise will always be that, and no matter how much people try to degrade a movie from the series, there will always be something in it, as the continuation of one of the most loved horror movies of all-time, and what might be the best horror adaptation from the Japanese.

The Claws of flaw :: You would expect that a movie like this which has a powerful foundation can do very well to make this franchise even better, but that is not the case, as there is no symbol of improvement everyone, and at times, one has to wonder if this has deviated so much that Rings is a movie which has not much to do with the franchise except for the antagonist proclaiming the same. The movie also has a certain shortage of scares, which is surprising, because the antagonist here is someone who has attained an iconic status, not just with the movies of this franchise, but also with the Scary Movie franchise, most notably Scary Movie 3 which had used the scary moments to evoke laughter brilliantly. The expectations were so high, but what was delivered was just a movie just manages to do enough because we had forgotten most of that movie which released fifteen years ago, and the gap here is so much to bring a comparison without watching the original again.

How it finishes :: A lot of things have changed since the first movie had released, and there is no doubt that we have a different world for the entity to enter right now. It was like fifteen years ago when the horror genre hadn’t become this huge as far as the common audience are concerned. These are the days when even Malayalam movie industry which focuses so less in horror, thought that bringing a superstar horror movie with high quality special effects was required, and Ezra came into being. Rings might not be anywhere close to bringing justice to the series of novels wriiten by Koji Suzuki, the Japanese versions of the movies, or the first movie which made the big impact and brought alive the other remakes from the Japanese including The Grudge, Dark Water and Pulse. But Rings still remain a movie which can keep the franchise moving forward, and it surely has those moments which will keep you wish for a sequel that could do even better. Just don’t look for a Don’t Breathe, Lights Out or It Follows, as this is the sequel to a big horror movie, and it will be fine enough.

Release date: 3rd February 2017
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan, Chuck David Willis, Patrick R. Walker, Zach Roerig, Laura Wiggins, Lizzie Brocheré, Karen Ceesay, Dave Blamy, Michael E. Sanders, Randall Taylor, Drew Grey, Kayli Carter, Jill Jane Clements, Adam Fristoe, Zoe Pessin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jurassic World

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Vampire Owl: Are you sure that the dinosaurs haven’t ever allied with werewolves and were not the enemies of the Old Vampire World?

Vampire Bat: Yes. It says right here in the Grand Vampire History and Encyclopedia. Dinosaurs were a neutral group of creatures who preceded the Draconian Reptile Order, but has no direct relation with any of the magical species of the present world.

Vampire Owl: Lets watch the movie then.

[Gets the tickets].

This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com where I handle the Hollywood movie reviews division: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/867-jurassic-world-movie-review.html

A long time has passed since our last adventures in a park of dinosaurs. It took the makers quite a long time after that 1993 movie which had a big place in our childhood and also spawned two sequels which made a much lesser impact even when taken together. The aim for this third sequel seems to be simple – as they understand that sequels and remakes are doing wonderful work these days at the box-office. It is not easy to match up to a movie which had become the highest grossing movie, breaking all records, until Titanic came up to claim the status of the highest grosser of all time – but Jurassic World was going to give it a try.

A new dinosaur theme park is open with live dinosaurs, twenty two years after the incidents which were featured in the first Jurassic Park. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park operations manager, and her nephews, Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) arrives at the park for having some family time together along with enjoying the special features of the place. The park had become a favourite destination for the tourists and had grown a lot with its environment and the new varieties of dinosaurs. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is a trainer of Velociraptors, who is asked by Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the owner of the Jurassic World to check for safety at the enclosure set for a new genetically modified dinosaur which they call the Indominus Rex.

The dinosaur turns out to be smarter than they thought, as the creature manages to get out of the enclosure while pretending to have already escaped, and Owen just manages to get away at the last minute. The rest of the movie is about the destruction that the creature causes and how the team at the Jurassic World led by Owen and Claire manages to finish it off, as the hybrid dinosaur unleashes chaos, taking out the tracking implant from its own body and asserting its supremacy over all other creatures. At the same time, they also have to find the missing brothers who were on a ride which was cancelled with the declaration of emergency throughout the park.

As most of the fans might have expected, Jurassic World is nowhere near the original Jurassic Park. But among the sequels of the original movie, this one manages to be the best so far. The movie is full of entertainment even with those occasional moments of slight drag. There are some nice attractions and good design of dinosaurs with fine use of the CGI and the special effects. The new park which has its last name replaced is a joy to watch with its design and visuals. The creatures look better as you would expect, and the battles have also gone bigger with those better dinosaurs and people armed with better weapons. But there was the need to show and explain more of the new park, establishing it as a genuine wonder for the tourists.

Chris Pratt doesn’t go on like in Guardians of the Galaxy – he is not even the central character here despite the fact that he might be the one who goes through the maximum action sequences. It is a different kind of character from that space action movie, and he manages it very well. The scene with him riding on a bike surrounded by the raptors is a very nice one, and he is the one real action hero of this movie. The main character is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, and she is like the least interested character who manages to get forced into the action and she works that out very well. There is also more humour when she is around, and she contributes to saving the day as much as Chris Pratt and sometimes even more.

Irrfan Khan is a fine reason for the Indian audience to watch the movie. If you remember seeing him in The Amazing Spider-Man, this is a similar role, but lasts longer and actually he does more in this movie – another millionaire, ambitious, but not really villainous this time. But there is surely limited scope for performances in a movie ruled by dinosaurs who remain the true performers just like they have been throughout the franchise. This is the same reason why the smartness of the dinosaur should have been better used instead of its size and strength – may be it could have been shown to hunt more by using its intelligence causing the humans to come up with stranger ideas to bring it down. That would have meant scope for more stylish, and yet intelligent action.

Jurassic World is a movie that brings you some dinosaur nostalgia as the memories of your childhood’s most awesome movies come back to life. There are moments which remind us of the first movie of the franchise. There is no other creature which sells like the dinosaur in a movie, and it was evident with the rush at the theatre. The specialty of this one is that the whole thing connects better even to people with a wide variety of preferences. This could have used more wonder and tension, but this still manages to be your fine entertainer with scope of becoming a nice blockbuster, and may be even go on to become the third highest grossing movie of the year with half of 2015 gone, after Fast and Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Release date: 11th June 2015 (India); 12th June 2015 (USA)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Brian Tee, Lauren Lapkus, Katie McGrath, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley, James DuMont, Jimmy Fallon

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sinister

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There was a time when I had a longing for movies of pure horror rather than the ones with blood and gore. My prayers were answered this year with The Conjuring, but I later came to know that there was a movie in 2012 which I missed, that was also dependent less on the blood and gore and more on the shocks and thrills. That movie was Sinister, and even as I almost confused it with Insidious for apparently no specific reason, here is another addition to my long list of favourite horror movies which can extend beyond any long paper. This is one of those movies which got released before our theatres had the courage to release horror movies here – lack of cowardice which they gained with The Conjuring and its long run in the theatres here. There was the pure absence of horror movies in the theatres before that, with the exception of hybrid movies like those of Resident Evil series. It is a strange thing, because they could have had a lot of success with Silent Hill last year and Evil Dead this year, but they decided to keep both out of theatres just like they did to Sinister. But there would be not many people who wouldn’t know of this movie, and that is a certainty.

We have the director of Hellraiser: Inferno and The Exorcism of Emily Rose working on this one – that was inspiring even as I can’t recollect the first movie and I never did watch the second. He would also direct Deus Ex, a movie based on the awesome computer game of the same name. The presence of Ethan Hawke was also interesting, as the last time I saw him was in an action-horror mix of a movie called Daybreakers, and I loved his performance in it. The movie also had a very interesting poster almost giving us the feeling of presence of a serial killer more and of a supernatural entity less. But what it gives us would be another result, a mixture of horror which has evolved into something innovative and new compared to the other horror movies of the year. I had also expected a lot of blood and gore, but this one has not much of it, and that works mostly to its advantage rather than against it. From what we see, it is just a simple horror film with innovation inside it. But it might be more than that, as there is a lot to this movie than what meets the eye. We have a lot of interesting things in the movie which arouse our curiosity by a good margin.

The movie begins with a Super 8 footage depicting a family of four standing under a tree with heads covered, hands tied and nooses around their necks, and someone causing their deaths by hanging. We can later see that a true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves into the house with his family of his wife, daughter and son. He was not having a good run as a crime writer for sometimes, and believes that this might change his situation. He doesn’t tell his family that this was the house where the murders took place. By staying there, he hopes to unveil something about the murders and write about it in his book thus bringing him back to fame and fortune. As he tries to mix fact and fiction without much hope, he soon discovers a projector and several reels of Standard 8 mm footage under the label of home movies. To his shock, he discovers that they are rather snuff movies, and it shows different families being brually murders in several ways: being burnt in a car, drowned in a pool, throats being cut, being run over by a lawn mower and finally the hanging which was shown in the beginning of the movie.

He actually notices a figure with a demonic face witnessing all these murders from some part of the screen. He also discovers childish drawings showing the murders, along with sketches of a demonic figure, whose name is written as Mr. Boogie. He finds out that the sketches are made by the one member of the family who went missing in the case of each murder which took place at different places during different time periods, with the helps of a deputy at the nearby station. He feels that there is some killer specialized in the occult or demon worship behind it after seeing a sign and knowing that it is a little kid who went missing all the time. He feels that he is on to something huge this time. Trying to decipher the symbol seen in the films, he comes to know that it is relate to a pagan Sumerian deity named Bughuul (Nick King), who would usually kill entire families before he takes their children into his world and consume their souls. Meanwhile, strange things happen at his house, as he has visions of dead, decaying children as well as the monster. His son has night terrors and his daughter draws strange things on the wall. So the game is on – are they hallucinations, an extremely smart killer or something supernatural at work?

Ethan Hawke is the star of the movie, as the man who investigates for money and fame, and almost feels that he has got something about a serial killer which the police didn’t, but later realizes that by moving into that house and searching for information, he has put the lives of himself and his family in trouble. We can see him making a sincere effort to portray his character who is determined at first, hopeful later and beyond all expectations by the end. The character himself is the tragic flaw which has them in peril, or accurately talking about it, there is the desire to unravel a mystery which was not supposed to be known to him. In one way or the other, this writer becomes another Doctor Faustus and even without signing a deal with the demons, brings about bleeding dagger on the head of his family and himself. His idea of hiding this information from his family, and telling his wife that the place is nowhere near any house where any murders took place doesn’t help at all. He might have been a best-selling author with a lot of fans, but not everyone would care about the same. He needs this work to be done so badly, and we can see his feelings, and well done Ethan Hawke in bringing the same to us.

Our director also bounces back from a not that good remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves, and gives us a lot to expect from Deus Ex. The movie shocks with its child images itself [Spoilers Ahead – you may skip to the last paragraph] One of the most shocking things in the movie is the realization about the children, as they wanders around in their decaying state – as if the result of the evil that has befallen them in the form of Mr. Boogie. Yes, the children are damned, and taken to the other world of the evil deity whom we can interpret as a demon. Before they are taken, there is the manipulation by the creature they call Mr. Boogie who makes them kill all their family members themselves before taken into the other dimension inside that movie. The process repeats very often as the creatures takes his own collection of souls to feed on. We do remember the 2008 horror movie The Children, don’t we? Yes, the children are the evil ones, manipulated out of their supposed innocence, like William Golding depicted in Lord of the Flies. This movie also asserts the fact that they can be easily corrupted – by circumstance or by a villain; or even by the circumstance which is the villain.

One has to wonder if Sinister gives a little too much and fails to keep the suspense glowing till the end. But it is a clear fact that they have rightly added those shocks to help the procedure. It does remind one of many movies, but none directly and therefore it is quite fresh for most of the audience. This could rather be a predecessor to what awesomeness which was to come next year in the form of The Conjuring. I did feel that keeping the creature from the other world as simply the devil would have been much better, as it is more of an entity whom we can attribute taking human souls with. With its theory of goodness plagued by the branches of evil, and the multiple shocks involving decaying children as well as that shadowy figure that is Mr. Boogie, Sinister does something that most of the horror movies fail; that is to bring a powerful plot with lots of brains behind it. The creepy atmosphere rightly ornate this movie with such an ease, and if someone other than Ethan Hawke scores, it is our own monster from the movie with right support from the kids who have turned into his own children.

PS: Thanks to Simon (http://simonsayswatchthis.wordpress.com/) for the recommendation 😀

Release date: 12th October 2012
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick King, Victoria Leigh, Blake Mizrahi, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield, Danielle Kotch

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Escape Plan

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There are only a few occasions which none of the action movie fans would wish to miss, and one of them is when Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger come together in a movie, not as part of an over-packed action movie like The Expendables, but in a flick which is carried on the shoulders by these two actors together. Now that the Rocky and Demolition Man meets The Terminator and Predator again, there is that expectation which brings so many people into the theatres even in the presence of such a visual magnificence like Gravity which hasn’t yet managed to disappear even a little. This is more or less like Freddy vs Jason in disguise, as Terminator with Rambo rather than against; it is that nostalgia which this movie brings to the viewers, even as these two actors might be judged too old by a few people we are familiar with. Yes, Escape Plan is not The Expendables, that is for sure; and it is that one thing which makes this better, even as a few of the action movie fans won’t like this one that much for the same reason.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a former lawyer who owns a security firm which tests maximum security prisons for their quality and reliability and is helped by Abigail Ross (Amy Ryan) and Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). He spends his life getting himself into prisons and escaping from them, mentioning that his total escape count is fourteen. He is shown to observe the routine and habits of prison guards, create distractions, and also get help from the outside to get himself out of captivity. One day, they are offered a big deal by CIA agent Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) to test a top secret prison used to keep the worst of all criminals of the world. Breslin is reluctant at first, but agrees to the deal and gets himself captured in New Orleans under the name of a terrorist named Portos, but as his tracking micro chip is removed and he is drugged before he is taken into a prison in an unknown location, the plans go out of range and the objective seems nearly impossible.

Breslin wakes up in one of the many glass cells where the prisoners were kept, with no sight of the outside world to know the location. Their world is limited to what can be seen in that area. They even have bar codes attached to their clothes to automatically make sure about their presence at the places where they are supposed to be during the time. There are masked guards all around making sure that nobody gets to know who is working on which day, and to add to that, they rarely talks or shows any remarkable characteristic for them to be remembered. After befriending another inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), he tries getting into two fights with him, the second involving another prisoner, and the latter attempt, he gets out of his cell and reaches the outside, but finds out that he can’t just run away from the prison, and it is not that simple. So they team up with another inmate Javed (Faran Tahir), and under constant guard and strict watch, the question remains if they can make it out of there.

[Spoiler alert for this paragraph] The best moments of the movie include when Breslin makes out of the prison and finds out that he is standing on an oil tanker, in the middle of nowhere, and is forced to go back to his cell the same way he came out. The moment when Rottmayer’s real identity is revealed, is another good twist. One of the other moments have to include that moment when Breslin wakes up to find the kind of twisted maze that the prison is. The escape sequence and the shooting on the deck shows that Arnold Schwarzenegger still manages to make a powerful impact with whatever action sequence he is performing. Now that was the moment which received the most claps in the theatre, and I won’t wonder why it was that sequence which managed them. Well, both of them have a lot of life in them, and even as Stallone is undoubtedly the hero, there is no credit taken away from Schwarzenegger, as right from the moment he lands in prison, the team work begins, and they share the action.

Sylvester Stallone keeps coming back again and again with his days of glory, and here he is as good as he has been. There is nothing lost from his performance, even at this age. But the man who stole the applause was once again Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been loved so much in this part of the world even by those generations who had known only a little about him, thanks to The Terminator, Predator, Commando, Conan the Barbarian, Total Recall, Collateral Damage, The 6th Day, The Running Man, End of Days, Conan the Destroyer, True Lies, Eraser and so many others which still bring a case of nostalgia to the minds of a few, and for others too, they are gems. I can’t really say that Rocky and Rambo had that much of an effect at this part of the world, and Demolition Man as well as Judge Dredd came to the picture pretty late, along with The Specialist. Even as I have admired Arnold Schwarzenegger throughout most of my life, I have to admit that Sylvester Stallone is slowly taking over that admiration with the way in which he has been handling his performance.

Yes, the claps for Schwarzenegger was much awaited, and Stallone deserves his own, even as there was nothing much there from the audience, which might have been surprising for a few. He was incredibly solid throughout the movie, and the way in which he depicted Breslin was more than just good. We remember the former’s earlier comeback as the lone hero in The Last Stand, and people had loved that. Here we see both in the way we always liked them, as action stars, supposed to be old, but still punching much younger people on the nose and shooting them right on the forehead. We might not have dreamed about such moments in the 1990s, but here is the treat for you, as they does what they always did the best. Here are two actors, belonging to the same genre, having acted in somewhat similar kind of movies, with names quite difficult to pronounce for an average man or woman from this part of the world. Well, you can think about many people when they talk about action, including Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Will Smith, but these two are still our best.

So as Sylvester Stallone would say in Judge Dredd, what would the judgement be? Well, it is already almost houseful at this part of the world, and shall run for another week or two for sure, with Insidious: Chapter 2 ready for its release here. This should make way only for Thor: The Dark World only, and none of the regional releases nor the big national releases should threaten its position. With its impressive trailer and the posters, along with the two men who make this movie of clever, but slightly ineffective plot, creates a lot for the audience who should feel that these two are enough to go for this movie. There is no bigger name than Arnold Schwarzenegger here, even after so many years; and after watching this movie, Sylvester Stallone shall be my favourite actor of that age group – and I shall never miss any of his movies, as I expect entertainment to be guaranteed without the lack of too much logic and without the presence of much nonsense. Well done, dear veterans; you haven’t let us down.

Release date: 18th October 2013
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Curtis Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Faran Tahir, Caitriona Balfe, Matt Gerald

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.