The Balkan Line

Vampire Owl: So, we are travelling further through unexplored territories.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we should have travelled through these movies much earlier.

Vampire Owl: A Russian and Serbian collaboration is the kind of movie that we needed.

Vampire Bat: We have had a good dose of movies with collaboration already.

Vampire Owl: But, we are never short of having more and more of those.

Vampire Bat: These are all a result of the Corona Virus lock-down though.

Vampire Owl: We always have the chance to watch more movies during times of crisis.

Vampire Bat: It is nice to have some stories set somewhere around the Balkans.

Vampire Owl: There is some history about that place that we need to read about too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, our history texts in this part of the world don’t have enough information about it, and it is quite disappointing.

[Gets an blueberry cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: The events in the movie happen during the Kosovo War which was fought between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with further air support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Albanian Army which was there to provide support on ground. The NATO military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had reached a another level during the Kosovo War with their bombing of the country without the approval of United Nations, and in opposition to Russia and China, in the name of humanitarian intervention for Albanians who were forced to move out of their homes. As the disastrous bombing which caused many civilian deaths and mass destruction is almost over, Slatina airfield in Kosovo is taken over by terrorists led by a ruthless Albanian warlord, Smuk (Aleksandar Sreckovic). There is an operation planned by the Russian intelligence to capture the airfield from the terrorists, and a team is formed for the same.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As the Yugoslavian army had retreated following the merciless NATO bombing, the terrorists from Albania had taken over most of Kosovo. The Serbian minority in different parts of Kosovo remains unprotected from these terrorists targeting them, as these criminals plundered, murdered and raped through the area, and the duty of recapturing this particular airfleld came to the Russian intelligence officer Aslan-Bek Evkhoev (Gosha Kutsenko) and a former paratrooper-turned-mercenary Andrey Shatalov (Anton Pampushnyy) with their teams. At the same time time, Jasna Blagojevic (Milena Radulovic) whom Andrey had met and saved earlier from the terrorists who were targeting Christians, especially Russians and Serbians, was also taken as a hostage, and after they take over the airfield, they would have to defend it after being outnumbered heavily. Can they do it at a time of hostility when neither side will dare to stand back, whether it is about showing bravery in war or ruthlessness in genocide?

The defence of The Balkan Line :: It has to be noted that The Balkan Line is a movie with many moments which rise above those scenes from war films which are overrated. The final one hour is a real treat to watch, and the final forty five minutes make a blast like no other. With those action sequences, the movie scores higher than ever, and the last stand in the airport is a glorious one, with almost every soldier catching our attention. There is an act of bravery or brutal strength that will stay. The actors are all perfectly chosen for their roles, and they have given almost everyone something to cheer about. As this seems to have fictionalized moments too, there is no need to think too much about how accurate this is because two sides will always have different tales to tell and can make movies out of them, but what is shown on the screen is excellent work. There is no doubt about the quality of action that we see on the screen, and the thrills are too good with high intensity.

Positives and negatives :: The Balkan Line is a little too long for a movie of the genre, and it does drag in the beginning stages, but it does pick up the pace quite well. This much of a grand finish might not have been expected in the middle stages of the movie. There might be questions about historical accuracy, but as it seems, a lot of this movie is fictionalized, especially the main incident in the end having not much of a historical background. After all, there is always more than one side to history, but we can always come up with tales of heroes, especially those who were not real – but there could be some truth to things in parts. This movie is more or less about the fictionalized fight in the last moments, and that glory can easily take away the rest of its problems. With that, I would say that I am glad to have found this movie, with one of the best entertainment in the final one hour. We are completely into that battle in and around that airfield which is a glorious one indeed.

Performers of the soul :: The movie seems to have a team of Serbian and Russian actors working here, and they manage to do the job fine for a war flick. Among them, Anton Pampushnyy plays the most notable role, as he has those moments which are the most memorable for us, including that incident involving him saving the passengers of a bus after a priest is murdered by the terrorists. He remains solid as his character, and Gosha Kutsenko who is the leader of the gang maintain the same solid structure here. Ravshana Kurkova who plays the sniper of the team makes herself perfectly suitable for the action, and never stays behind, matching up with everyone around. Milena Radulovic who plays the doctor with some special interest in the man who saved her life, is another one to look out for – from witnessing the death of her pregnant patient and moving through hostage situations, there is the feeling of melancholy on her face, which reflects the situation of the world around her quite well. The rest of the case supports well.

How it finishes :: It is always good to watch movies like The Balkan Line because we no longer has NATO or the United States saving the day here, like almost of all alien movies and war movies are concerned. This way, we also get a different perspective of things, even if these are somewhat based on a few incidents during a war which happened some time ago with a fictionalized side. Then there is also the need to watch movies in other languages, and Serbian is also one of them, after watching The Whistlers, a Romanian movie. There seems to be some fine Eastern European movies which one would need to watch, and The Balkan Line is one of them. After all, we also have Novak Djokovic, one of the best on the tennis court, an entertainer who has not many parallels – this movie is also one fine entertainer, and it has moments which will establish itself as one of those interesting war movies, even though not as much as American Sniper and others which have followed the wars with full realism.

Release date: 21st March 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Andrey Volgin
Starring: Anton Pampushnyy, Ravshana Kurkova, Milena Radulovic, Gosha Kutsenko, Miloa Bikovic, Gojko Mitic, Sergey Marin, Nodari Janelidze, Kirill Polukhin, Dmitriy Frid, Svetlana Chuykina, Aleksandar Sreckovic, Miodrag Radonjic, Nikola Randelovic, Roman Kurtsyn

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Panther

What is the movie about? :: A long time ago, as a part of on-going tribal wars in a divided continent, five African tribes fought over a the control of a meteorite which was the source of an alien metal called vibranium, most commonly known to the Marvel fans as one of the materials used to construct Captain America’s shield. Vibranium which was first deposited on Earth by a meteorite about ten thousand years ago, had its variation in Wakanda, which absorbed sound waves, vibrations, and kinetic energy making the metal stronger. It was something that could do more than what the modern science could explain. This variety of vibranium is often referred to as a powerful mutagen, something that could change the genetic material, usually the DNA of an organism and thus would increase the frequency of mutations more than the usual background level. Vibranium exposure did the same to a number of Wakandan natives.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: A warrior who ate a heart shaped herb which was affected by the metal gained special abilities and became the first Black Panther. He united the tribes to form the nation of Wakanda, but that had only four of them as the Jabari tribe chose not to follow this new rule, moving to the mountains. The result was that the Wakandans used the vibranium’s abilities to become highly advanced with their science and technology. But they also chose to isolate themselves from the rest of the world with their modernity hidden within forests. Even after so many years, the outside world thinks about Wakanda as a third world country which is very much short of resources, but doesn’t trade with the outsiders or ask for help because of their pride and inability to combine their older and darker world with the new one.

And what else is to come? :: Following the events of Captain America: Civil War and the death of his father, the king, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda to claim the throne as the eldest son. The commander-in-chief of the Wakandan army Okoye (Danai Gurira), T’Challa’s ex-lover Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) are the happiest ones to see him as the new king. At the ceremony, the Jabari tribe’s leader M’Baku (Winston Duke), a mighty warrior challenges T’Challa for the throne of Wakanda, but is defeated in ritual combat – a battle in which he finally accepts defeat after T’Challa requests him to surrender lest the fight would only end with his death. But that would only begin trouble for T’Challa, for Wakanda needs more than just another king who kept continuing the tradition of the tribe for such a long time.

And then there is the case of trouble :: The first thing that he felt the need to accomplish after becoming the king was to find and bring to justice, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a black-market arms dealer and smuggler who had access to vibranium and knows the secrets of Wakanda. But on their path stands CIA agent Everett K Ross (Martin Freeman), who takes Klaue into custody, much to the dismay of the new king and his team who need to fulfil their promise by bringing the man to Wakanda’s justice or death. Meanwhile, an American black-ops soldier named Erik Stevens (Michael B Jordan) is after the throne, and he has a twisted past with Wakanda. He would try to make T’Challa pay for what his father had done, and also to make sure that his race could become the rulers of the world. What can the new Black Panther to do stop the man who has had only one mission in his life since childhood?

The defence of Black Panther :: As one would have expected after watching Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, the big strength of this flick remains the action sequences. There are some nice visuals of the new world in here, and we get transported nicely there. The final one hour of the movie is where this one picks up to become something interesting, as in the beginning stages, there was a certain amount of struggle. The movie has a pretty good cast which gives enough for it to keep going, but the pick of them all are Michael B Jordan who plays the villain with a purpose, the nice moments from Martin Freeman and all that Winston Duke brings as M’Baku, even though he is not present throughout the flick. Then there is the idea about the oppressed becoming the oppressor, and trying to have revenge on the next generation of those who had oppressed them years ago – it is certainly not the way, as it is nicely shown in the movie.

The claws of flaw :: There is no denying the fact that the expectations were so high with this movie that it is quite difficult to satisfy almost anyone who is watching this movie. You also have to wonder which kind of superhero movie gets this many good reviews – you will notice that this one is certainly not better than the last Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok. Sometimes, you feel that the reasons why this movie is often praised are not really what should be used as the positives regarding the flick. It could have dealt with the theme better, without doubt – the scope was more with this one compared to any other superhero flick. The story also has nothing new as it goes through the expected path, and even though there was the chance, there is absolutely no surprise here. Some of the costumes are rather strange, and the world itself could have used better attention. The funny side as well as the thrills are not able to get hold here either. The romantic side is certainly bad.

How it finishes :: The 3D didn’t have much to offer in this movie. But the movie becomes another interesting superhero movie with one more hero having the background origins story set. It doesn’t have its elements matching the previous Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok which was ahead in almost every department, from action and visuals to the funny side. Despite the critics being rather prejudiced in supporting this movie, it hasn’t created that much of an interest among the common audience like those Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, DeadpoolDoctor Strange & even Ant-Man movies would do for Marvel. But with that nice work in Captain America: Civil War, and with this tale of Wakanda already set and begun, we can expect to have more from Black Panther. With that nice finish in the end, there is surely more needed for us, and lets hope that the character would deliver more in the upcoming movies.

Release date: 16th February 2018
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.