Dark Phoenix

What is the movie about? :: In the year 1992, when a space mission seems to be in trouble, while facing a solar flare, the X-Men lead by Professor X a.k.a. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) decides to help the humans, and once again prove that mutants and humand are to co-exist. But it is a risky mission, as the plane is ready for a journey into space. But the team including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver a.k.a. Peter Maximoff (Evan Peter), Mystique a.k.a. Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast a.k.a. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Cyclops a.k.a. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) go on the mission despite having the doubts. The situation seems under control as Nightcrawler’s teleportation and Quicksilver’s high speed seems to be enough to finish the job.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But it is revealed that there is one more person to be saved, and they decide to go back. With Jean holding the space shuttle together, Nightcrawler takes the remaining person out, but is unable to take Jean back as the solar flare covers her. But he is able to recover her body after that, and surprisingly, she wakes up. The X-Men are hailed as heroes by the public, and the bond between humans and mutants gets to be stronger. But there is something different about Jane after that incident. Hank finds her energy to be beyond comprehension, crossing all borders. Scott also feels that there is something different about her. At the same time, Raven is not happy about Charles leading the mission to a point from which a return becomes near impossible; she feels that making a future with the deaths of mutants won’t be fair.

And what more is to happen? :: Jean seems to unleash herself at a point, and collapses. Unable to get into her head for the first time, Charles uses the Cerebro machine, and with it at high power, finds that the bad memories that he had shielded in the mind of Jean, are now out in the open, and she won’t be the same again. With memories of her distant past coming back to her, Jean leaves, and the X-Men follows here – they won’t have anything positive to find there though. Her actions there would turn both mutants and humans against her, with no chance to return to the previous state. At the same time, certain aliens from outer space have also reached Earth, searching for the Phoenix Force within Jane. They are lead by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who serves as the leader of this shape-shifting alien race, called D’Bari. This would lead to time running out for Jean, before she could be herself again.

The defence of X-Men: Dark Phoenix :: The action sequences surely score with this movie, and so does the visual beauty. The action on the train in the final moments are among the best so far in any X-Men movie. There are also a few others which offer something similar. The special effects are used well, and we see the mutant powers being used nicely. CGI is used nicely by the movie, as the desire for another superhero movie after Avengers: Endgame has been provided in the form of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The path that the movie takes seems to be interesting, and ready to bring further twists, even though this might be the final movie of this film with these characters in the main roles. The premise is a wonderful one for sure, even though the movie doesn’t really use the same to the best of effects. It has also released in India earlier than the original release date, and it should serve the movie to get better collections here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is unable to prove to be better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was the movie which dealt with the same story thirteen years ago, and still managed to better at that time. It was not a fantastic movie in any way, but it had somehow managed to do better, not just with its story, but as a whole – it is only with the final moments of action that this movie holds more power. The titular character is also not explored in the right way, as her being all-powerful just goes too much beyond the border, as we get tired of the same quickly. We also know what is to happen with this tale, and how the same person does the job in the end is ridiculous – this is where the previous Dark Phoenix movie served better, with weakness in between the all-powerful; think about Superman without the idea of kryptonite there, and it is easier to understand. The movie also slows down in the middle, and the emotions go weak on a number of occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Sophie Turner from the Game of Thrones fame, has been an interesting addition to the film series – we see her continuing her form at a number of moments, but not as a whole, as things get repetitive. We wouldn’t get to see her as we had seen her in the popular television series, with the avatar itself being different around here. It would have been nice to see her as the earlier and more vulnerable Jane better. Jennifer Lawrence is completely wasted in her short stay there, and there is nothing that she does except for coming up with some unnecessary dialogues. The one who comes up with some of the best moments is Michael Fassbender, who shines as Magneto once again, rising above his good friend and leader of X-Men – James McAvoy who plays the leader is a weakened figure going too strange this time. Alexandra Shipp and Nicholas Hoult come up with pretty good job here. Kodi Smit-McPhee is memorable, while Jessica Chastain and Tye Sheridan are not.

How it finishes :: There is something about X-Men that we have always loved, going back to the childhood memories of watching that animated series. There is not much of a reflection of the same around here though, as the level has certainly come down from the predecessors X-Men: Days of the Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse – it can’t even stand against the single mutant centered tales which came earlier, like Deadpool, Deadpool 2, The Wolverine and Logan. But it is enjoyable up to an extent, thanks to the action sequences where the mutants go for the full scale display of their powers. We are not going to miss the X-Men after this as we already miss Wolverine, and so lets watch a movie of the series one more time, and enjoy the good parts, while we will also have The New Mutants releasing next year as an extra addition. It will have Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams as young mutants, making it something to look forward to.

Release date: 5th June 2019 (India); 7th June 2019 (USA)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Logan

Vampire Owl: He is quite the popular person, isn’t he?

Vampire Bat: Yes, he is the favourite mutant of almost everyone you meet.

Vampire Owl: I wish that the mutants in our worlds were not zombies.

Vampire Bat: They have to be considered separately, especially with a world of supernaturals and superheroes in waiting.

Vampire Owl: Well, we were the most popular supernatural creatures at a time, and it is sad that there are signs of the same changing.

Vampire Bat: I believe that we are still very much popular, and our side remains strong. The mutants have always been there as superheroes or supervillains.

Vampire Owl: I have watched the trailer of this one. It is strange, for I thought this one was at least partially immortal.

Vampire Bat: He is a product of science; they haven’t really understood immortality yet.

Vampire Owl: But immorality is there.

Vampire Bat: That is kind of an easy thing for humans these days.

[Gets three cups of cardamom tea with Hide and Seek biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Going right into a distant future, mutants are almost extinct. There is no longer the need for fighting the other mutants lead by Magneto (Ian McKellen), and there is no battle between the humans and the mutants, with the mutant problem seemingly not there as a threat. During these times, James Logan Howlett a.k.a. the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), drives a limo and takes care of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease which has lead to the world’s most dangerous brain being not something of use, and the telepathic abilities no longer working. Logan remains only a shadow of what he has been earlier, with his healing factor leaving him with time making him age, and without the healing, the adamantium skeleton which is the unyieldingly hard material inside him, is slowly and steadily killing him from inside.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The two mutants are given company by another mutant, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who has the ability to sense the presence of other mutants and track them. These are not easy times for Logan, who does get into trouble at times. One day, Logan is approached by a woman named Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who claims to have worked as a nurse for some biotechnology corporation. He keeps trying to avoid her, but after offering him some money, she requests him to escort her and an eleven year girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to a place in North Dakota known only as Eden. After she gets murdered, Logan, Xavier and Laura manages to escape the people who pursue them, while Caliban is captured. They are chased by a group of men lead by the cybernetically-enhanced fighter, Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).

And what follows the same in the movie? :: Laura also has adamantium skeleton bonded to her, and has claws not only in her hands, but also in her feet. They find out from Gabriela’s final video message that she is one of several mutant children the company was breeding and joining with the DNA from different mutants, thus transferring their powers to children whom they felt were easier to brainwash into the ultimate killing machines, but it was not that effective as it was planned. Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) who was the head of the project, is now in pursuit of his lost assets, and is determined to capture them dead or alive. Logan doesn’t have an instant liking to Laura who was cloned from his own DNA, but things get better as they go on traveling together. But unknown to them, there is one more thing after them, the X-24 project, which is more of the killing machine than Logan and Laura combined – how do they fight the monsters on their tail?

The defence of Logan :: This is one superhero movie in a divergent mode, which makes most of the things different with this one’s protagonist. There is something good with a superhero movie trying things differently as this one, as we get something other than the usual thing. With the powerful action scenes, what we have here is an even stronger emotional side, and we go through the hero’s struggles to live up to the legend in order to save more than one life, rather than finding him achieve greatness with a fantastic display of powers – something which X-Men and Avengers have been focusing on, along with destroying quite a good amount of public and private property. A predictable side is present too. We feel the pain of the hero more than in any other superhero movie, and it is something that the character of Wolverine has so much scope in providing us, along with those big action sequences. This one surely shows that there is more than one way to go divergent than Deadpool, and maybe Logan shouldn’t have been a movie with just one part.

The claws of flaw :: One is certain to find this too violent a movie, something which the X-Men movies haven’t focused on. There was already one special child in Midnight Special, and we have a rather more violent one here. There is also too much of a length for this movie considering the material that is possesses and how things have been proceeding, and just as many Wolverine fans had said, this is not the movie that they wanted with their hero at the centre – the end might be too much for them who might have wished for their favourite mutant to steal the show and just continue for eternity. A lot of things in this movie are going to be feeling like tragedy for the fans, and the situation of the great Professor X goes with that of Wolverine. This one is a lot dark and depressing with its content, and with violent kids in there, this is the movie that you would want to avoid watching with the younger ones – even as the kids and youth of these ages are surely getting more violent.

How it finishes :: Logan is one superhero movie with a difference; it will not go on to become something like The Dark Knight franchise, but this divergent treatment is certain to make one think about how much better each superhero movie could be – an idea which even those Bollywood superhero movies stealing from Hollywood can also think about. It can also work beyond the genre, as not a superhero movie. One thing that you will love more than everything else is, as expected, Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine who once again gives it all, as the older man who is not the killing machine that he used to be – with a number of X-Men movies, we have been missing him, and we needed something like this which was all about him. There is also Dafne Keen who is also almost as good as the big man with her performance. There might be other movies with superheroes, mutants or X-Men, but Logan is a movie that walks the different path, and will have your attention with how well it manages to do the same.

PS: Also, look forward to this week’s movie, Tiyaan.

Release date: 3rd March 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

X-Men: Apocalypse

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What is the movie about? :: En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), later known as the Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant possessed powers that were stronger than everyone else combined, and ruled the ancient Egyptian civilisation as the force that nobody could think about stopping. Worshipped as God and obeyed as the king, he enjoyed unlimited powers in the greatest civilisation of its time on the banks of River Nile. Using his powers to make himself even stronger and supported by four other powerful mutants who are referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he easily got rid of all those who stood against him. But one day, his worshipers who had enough of his tyranny manage to hold and bury him inside a pyramid at a time when he was changing his body to keep his eternal life going. With his mutant force dead while trying to preserve him, he stayed there, buried deep.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After many years, Apocalypse awakens to a world which is nowhere near his vision. With the weaklings humans having control over everything with their machines, he decides to destroy all that mankind has built to create a new world which will have him and his fellow mutants as gods and demigods, who are to be worshiped by the weak humans. With Egypt as the centre of the new world again, he would bring the change that every mutant would have wanted to happen at some point. As an immortal being, he understands that he should still be the greatest power of the time, even bigger than the weapons of mass destruction that the man has invented, and also those mutants of the newer age. With the rise of the Apocalypse, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) begins to have terrible visions about the end of the world.

So, what follows the rise of Apocalypse? :: Alex Summers a.k.a. Havoc (Lucas Till) finds out that his younger brother Scott a.k.a. Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is mutating and is having problems with controlling the optic beams coming out of his eyes. He takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) institute for mutants, hoping that they could find some way to bring him in control. There, Scott meets Jean and they become good friends. Meanwhile, Apocalypse finds his four horsemen starting with Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who is a pickpocket wandering around the streets of Cairo, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who happens to be a blackmarket enforcer, Angel (Ben Hardy) who used to be a fighter, and Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is deeply saddened by the death of his wife and daugher in the hands of humans.

What fate awaits the world with Apocalypse unleashed? :: With Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) returning to the institute with the new recruit Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to talk about Magneto and Peter Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) joining them in a search for his father, can they stop the evil that threatens to destroy the world right from its foundation itself? What does Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a the Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who is looking forward to being themselves and the CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who has been witness to the rise of this ancient evil think? What role does Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) has to play as he looks forward to turn these mutants into weapons following his Weapon X programme? Does any of these mutants stand a chance against Apocalypse and his upgraded horsemen?

The defence of X-Men: Apocalypse :: The big advantage of this X-Men movie that it makes the viewers think – it is a development that has come a long way since this series first showed up. The action sequences are also nothing less than amazing, with the mutants at their full power battling for what they think is the best for their world. The battles are nicely done, and there are lots of visual effects that are used really well. In the end, it become more of that visual treat, and its mutant characters are all very interesting, and the most interesting one should be Nightcrawler who returns to the franchise after a long time. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey becomes a nice improvement for this character that we have seen before and had gone to the worst possible level in X-Men: The Last Stand. Olivia Munn as Psylocke also catches our attention even when she gets less screen space, and with all of them around, the final battle becomes something nothing less than a full action treat.

Positives and negatives :: Among all X-Men movies, I have felt that this one is not just the best looking, but also the best-fitting into that long list of puzzles that make the franchise. Some people might find this rising evil and saving the world to be repetitive, but without that what would superhero movies do? Maybe Apocalypse is that kind of a villain who got even more possibilities, but this one works as it is. This one also doesn’t directly continue from where the last movie had left off. Meanwhile, the movie also reminds you of how good Michael Fassbender is, as Magneto never gets to be any less interesting. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver continues to catch one’s attention, as he also gets his own nice sequences. There is one sad thing though, and it is that Mystique doesn’t get enough of her place as a character with her own style to be interesting, and the same is the case of the Beast and Storm. Well, you needed a spectacle bigger than the previous movies, and you can have it here – just keep the thoughts of repetitions away from the mind!

How it finishes :: X-Men: Apocalypse is actually an improvement from its predecessors released in the last few years, including X-Men First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool. Filled with entertainment right from the beginning, and also having a fine emotional side, this movie will make sure that the full 144 minutes don’t go missing. With all these mutant powers running wild, one has to wonder why people can choose not like this movie. The full dose of action that is present here often makes one wonder if Avenger movies can take something right out of this one. There is intelligence in the choice of mutants and the use of their powers displayed on screen, and we have to accept the fact that this is a superior superhero compared to many others which get too much of positive opinions.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Ben Hardy, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Tómas Lemarquis, Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, Fraser Aitcheson, Zehra Leverman, Željko Ivanek, Anthony Konechny, Hugh Jackman (Cameo), Bryan Singer (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Deadpool

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Vampire Owl :: Oh! Mr. Pool, Dead. I have heard about him.

Vampire Bat :: No, this is not about that zombie who became part of the undead team by falling into a pool.

Vampire Owl :: Oh! His love for Brain Biriyani had caught my attention. So this is not really him!

Vampire Bat :: He is a mutant. You saw him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, some part of the memory is back, I guess. But this version seems to be the cooler one.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, which is why it has managed all those positive opinions.

Vampire Owl :: I miss the Wolverine claws more though.

Vampire Bat :: Lets see what all can be managed from this one. There should be some interesting mutants.

Vampire Owl :: Lets go for the Pool, Dead then.

Vampire Bat :: I don’t see why not. After that I will find a poster that will make people confused with the genre.

[Gets three cups of tea with jackfruit chips].

What is it about? :: The first person we meet in the movie is a man in red, introducing himself as Deadpool in a taxi. As he gets into a fight, we are taken through the flashback, as Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who works as a mercenary after years of working with the special forces, meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). As they begin a relationship together, he is diagnosed with cancer. He doesn’t want to stay there with Vanessa and die, even though she insists that they can face this together. So when he is approached by a stranger who claims that he is able to not just cure his disease, but also give him extraordinary powers, he decides to give it a try while running out of options. He runs away from home, and reaches the secret laboratory, agreeing to the conditions.

So what happens next? :: There he comes across Ajax (Ed Skrein) who is in charge of the place and attempts to create a mutation in the test subjects. With the support of Angel Dust (Gina Carano), he hopes to create people with superpowers, but not with an aim to help mankind or not even with an objective in favour of the country. The defiance and the choice of words from Wade don’t go well with Ajax, who tries to force a mutation out of him, and even though that provides him with an accelerated healing ability, leaves him disfigured. After escaping the laboratory, he prepares for vengeance, with a red mask and a new choice of name, Deadpool. Now ashamed of facing Vanessa, he looks forward to finding a cure for his scars from the man who caused them.

The defence of Deadpool :: The entertainment never really stops with Deadpool. It is funny, with a lot of action sequences and a fast pace that it maintains till the end. Deadpool chooses to be different, and completely dismantles the rules which brings a certain enjoyable divergence that we can all appreciate. It is obvious that you don’t wish to see the same people saving the world again and again – guess what happens with watching the same for eternity? Change is a necessity, and Deadpool has realized that. It is the energy in this movie that makes sure that it works, and for the same, we can thank the actors. The dialogues in the taxi happen to provide some big boost to the funny side – it is such a nice beginning to this flick, along with the opening credits. Deadpool might not be the hero character to be loved by family audience, but the movie is heroic enough to go the divergent path.

The claws of flaw :: Deadpool could have surely gone forward with a better story, and it should have avoided becoming the same as those superhero movies which it seemed to make fun of. It often becomes what Meet the Spartans was to 300, Vampires Suck was to Twilight and the Scary Movie series was to Scream, Signs, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Blair Witch Project, The Ring, The Grudge, The Village, War of the Worlds, Saw and so many others. It is nearly impossible to take Deadpool seriously, but it is still pretty much a serious story, and there lies the contradiction that makes one wonder and think about that Deadpool who was there in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One can also feel that some moments here are supposed to be funny, but they aren’t. With the final moments, Deadpool is not so different as one would expect either, and some blood and gore to that.

Performers of the soul :: Ryan Reynolds has some very nice moments as the new big anti-hero and he never hesitates in stealing the show. We remember Morena Baccarin from Gotham and she makes a great choice for this role – I feel that her character with her there, has a lot more potential. Meanwhile, the one person who brings something special in there is Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead – from that name itself, she provides a lot more to the funny side. From being Daario Naharis in the Season three of Game of Thrones to being the new Frank Martin in The Transporter Refueled, Ed Skrein brings a fine villain here for a change. Coming back to another big movie from Fast and Furious 6, Gina Carano is another right choice – there is nothing to blame in the casting; even with those characters of lesser significance.

How it finishes :: Deadpool is no usual superhero movie, as there is nothing heroic in what he does, as said by the protagonist himself. Consider it as a usual superhero movie might not do it that much good, and I would consider it a harbinger of change in this genre, just like what Batman Begins and its sequels did earlier. But unlike the Dark Knight trilogy, this one leaves the audience with no real inspirational message – you can still dive deeper and maybe come up with something that is buried deep. But even if such a thing can be done, Deadpool is a movie which is made for some fun, and there is not much to taken seriously out of it – that is a fact which we can conclude by just listening to the main character; the conversation in the taxi makes that even clearer. Deadpool could have been a better movie, but they have chosen to keep it funny rather than that!

Release date: 12th February 2016
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapičić, Karan Soni, Jed Rees

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wolverine

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The sixth movie of the X-Men film series has been released on that day on which I had to submit my thesis, which I found to be a reason to identify myself with the Wolverine; with immortality reigning both in my that thesis of mine and also through the blood of our leading character in this movie. The fact that this movie follows the events of the 2006 movie and the worst one of the series, X-Men: The Last Stand was depressing, but not many people can deny Wolverine a.k.a Logan a visit after how well X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned out to be. It was when X-Men: First Class released, that the realization about how much we miss this character flashed through the mind which was full of absurdity. The movie was still good, and if we think about how much bigger that movie would have become with this character, there might be shocking box-office figures expected. This is the impact Wolverine brings with him, and he is that character who has the status that almost rivals most of the individual heroes like Spider-Man, Superman and Batman, and clearly makes an impression which none of the X-Men can make alone. This is that movie which can take all the other English movies out of the theatres here, and from the bookings happening right now, that is quite likely.

So, this installment of the movie series comes up without the X-Men tag added to its title, and it is clear that this is more about Wolverine than anything else, and there is enough power in it to survive without that tag. Chronologically, this is to be considered X-Men 4 though, as this doesn’t follow X-Men Origins: Wolverine as some had thought it would. Logan (Hugh Jackman) has been living the life of a recluse after the death of Jean Grey which was a major part of the events of X-Men: The Last Stand which practically ended the need for the existence of X-Men as there was a period of relative peace which followed. But there is no peace of mind for Logan as is frequently troubled by hallucinations nightmares about Jean, whom he was forced to kill, and a lesser memory from the Nagasaki bombing of 1945 where he saved the life of a Japanese soldier. He maintains very less contact with the human world, and stays in the wilderness most of the time. One day, during a fight with a group of hunters in a bar, he is found by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), another mutant, representing Ichirō Yashida, the man whom Logan had saved earlier. He is asked to go to Tokyo so that the dying man can possibly thank him and bid adieu, to which Logan reluctantly agrees.

After reaching Japan, Logan comes across Yashida’s son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada)and his grand daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), both seemingly having problems with the relationship with eachother. Yashida offers Logan the opportunity of a transfer of mutant powers to get rid of his immortality and die in peace instead of living in nightmares and pain. Logan refuses to transfer his powers to the dying man, and is later informed that Yashida has died. During the funeral, he saves Mariko from the assassins of an enemy clan with help from Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), an archer and Mariko’s lover. They get onboard a train and more opponents are encountered in a fighting sequence which involves combat even on the top of the train. While fighting, Logan is shot multiple times and finds out that he is not healing instantly as he used to, and has to be taken care of by a doctor. With another mutant, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) chasing him for his powers, and Mariko being hunted by her own father for the control of the family business empire, Logan has more to deal with this time, at a time when he is losing his powers and has become incredibly close to mortality. But this would lead to that moment which he needs to get rid of the psychotic monster that his lover was, from his head. It might be worth fighting for.

It is fair to say that Hugh Jackman controls this movie and makes the whole thing work as if he is playing that much of a superhero as Spider-man, Superman or Batman. Wolverine has turned out to be the one mutant who can work out alone and be the saviour of the world alone. Hugh Jackman has achieved all these alone, and from what it seems, this could get a better box-office collection that X-Men: First Class which had so many more mutants with interesting powers. I would consider that one the better movie, but this one has Hugh Jackman and he has done magic with his character, something which would depress the audience if someone else was to play the Wolverine, from what it seems right now. The possibility of a stand-alone expansion to X-Men has been wonderfully done through his character. X-Men: The Last Stand might have dminished the scope of the whole franchise, and had made X-Men: First Class suffer; but the case of the movies featuring Wolverine as the hero would be different, and Hugh Jackman scores again and again right there. He was there as Leopold in Kate & Leopold, as Gabriel Van Helsing in Van Helsing, and as our favourite robot-controlling boxer in Real Steel. But what Wolverine does, stays not only with one movie, as the man has made the character bigger than what one mutant could ever be, and that is worth all the respect.

Haruhiko Yamanouchi as Ichirō Yashida brings surprises, and be ready for it. Tao Okamoto as Mariko Yashida brings a kind of serenity to the world which is otherwise full of heavy action and hidden evil. Rila Fukushima as Yukio adds to the martial arts segment of the movie, and as a mutant, she is one of the main three gifted people in the movie, and may be the more physically trained and skilled one among them. Will Yun Lee as Kenuichio Harada and Hiroyuki Sanada as Shingen Yashida also adds to the martial arts powered action sequences. Meanwhile, Svetlana Khodchenkova makes an entrance as Viper, a poisonous mutant immune to toxins, resembling a snake in many ways. She is seen as the most powerful and the most vigorous enemy of Wolverine and Mariko until the Silver Samurai finally shows up covered in adamantium armour and holding an adamantium sword of immense power. Famke Janssen is also there as Jean Grey, but more as a hallucination or nightmare for the protagonist, but still the character portrayed better than X-Men: The Last Stand. This is hundred percent a better Jean Grey than that of the third movie of the X-Men franchise. It is a vital presence, even as it is not real. There is also a post-credits scene involing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto respectively.

Even in the presence of the psychological elements, the movie runs on its action sequences, and some of the one-liners as the others lack innovation. The battle of the claws against the swords of the samurai makes an impact, but I would still prefer the usual mutant battles, or the Wolverine v/s Sabretooth head-to-head combats. The action sequence on the bullet train came as no surprise, and it was indeed powerful. The most interesting thing is that all these action sequences and interesting dialogues happen around Wolverine, and the whole situation is about him, just like the title suggests. Everyone else just revolves around the character, and with Hugh Jackman holding one end strongly, there is no need for anything spectacular. There was always the need for balance, and it is attained by the Wolverine suffering from that pain which Louis de Pointe du Lac seemed to suffer in Interview with the Vampire, the only difference being the lack of need for blood which is replaced by the need for combat. As Louis wished for death as he hated his inability to act, Wolverine hated his life as he had acted in such a way that he lost control of his world even as he saved the same. Both were reborn as hunters, weren’t they? Both were seemingly indestructible, and both were clear misfits in a world which had no place for them.

There are a few things one has to be aware of; this one is not an origin story, but still it moves on like one, with a good amount of slower moments. The 3D was almost unnecessary. It also has a predictable climax and not too surprising twist which supports it. There is the absence of an imposing villain, as the one expected challenge for Wolverine is unleashed only the end, but that too within limitations. There is so much left on the shoulders of Hugh Jackman. But still the man with the claws cannot be resisted. X2: X-Men United would still be the best of the franchise, followed by X-Men: First Class, the first entry of the series, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But there will be more hope about X-Men: Days of Future Past which combines the cast of all these movies. For now, The Wolverine will do just fine at the box-office, as this week doesn’t have many powerful competitors around here, which has caused Pacific Rim to bounce back. Turbo, Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel hasn’t left the theatres too, but they should worry this one less. We need X-Men, and we need Wolverine, and therefore we will need to watch this movie – even with varying thoughts about the X-Men movies which we can agree to disagree on. I would still miss Nightcrawler and Shadowcat, and that fact diminishes this X-Men world.

Release date: 26th July 2013
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Patrick Stewart (cameo), Ian McKellen (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Dark Knight Rises

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The one thing I am certain about this movie is that it is the one I have waited eagerly in 2012, and what I might differ in opinion with a few is that this is not among the best movies of the year. There is another element in which I would agree on, and it is that this is not the best of the series, and where I disagree is at the level of quality of each movie of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, with my favourites going in the same path as the timeline, as Batman Begins is my favourite, followed by The Dark Knight and this one, both separated by not much. But I wouldn’t do that without reasons. Ra’s al Ghul v/s Joker v/s Bane is a battle which has a clear winner for many, but The first one is a villain with something special, a big idea. But Batman Begins succeeds in its story, and the Scarecrow is a better villain than Two Face for sure. Both the Two Face and Bane were not used to their potential, and this is where the first movie of the series scores, as it built this triology out of nowhere, with nothing to support it at a time when Spider-Man and X-Men had the status of being the better loved heroes around here.

Without Batman Begins, there is no dark knight, a term which became incredibly popular and was even used with Novak Djokovic, not that much of an expected winner caught between the rivalry between Rafael Nadal who had clay in his pocket at that time, and Roger Federer who ruled the rest of the clay-less world. Therefore, it is just natural to pay the due respect to that movie which started them all. The Dark Knight had all its fame and glory only due to what the beginning had given its viewers, and I have to admit that I didn’t realize that the first time. But as long as the long list of origin stories are concerned, from X-Men Origins to the recently released Man of Steel, Batman Begins has a high place. The Dark Knight Rises continues that legacy which was handed over to it by the more critically acclaimed and more hyped second movie, and has completed the trilogy in style. The problem which this movie has to face is the long trail of near-perfection in the superhero genre that its predecessors had left for this one, and the same thing is both the good thing and the bad thing for this movie; for this one could improve on box-office, as it went on to overtake its predecessors and become the eighth highest grossing movie of all time grossing over a billion United States dollars. But it is to be noted that unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

Eight years have passed after Harvey Dent’s death and the covering of the existence of the Two Face. The organized crime has almost been wiped out completely. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes and framing Batman for the same, Gotham City’s Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech which revealed the truth concerning the two, but decides not to use it at the last moment. Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne has kept himself away from all the action. It is at this moment that a burglar Selina Kyle appears, known to most of the fans as the Cat Woman. Bane’s appearance is the other major thing which changes the scenario, as he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham City and thus fulfill the aim of the League of Shadows. He punishes Batman and breaks his back, and then puts him in a prison from where escape is almost impossible. The fellow prisoners tell him the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping, the only prisoner to have ever done so – Batman assumes the child to be Bane, and his actions the revenge for what Batman did to his father.

Meanwhile, Bane traps Gotham police underground and destroys all the exits. He converts Bruce’s own reactor core into a nuclear bomb and uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the rest of the world. Using Gordon’s speech which he had stolen, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes telling the people that the whole police action and passed laws based on Dent’s act was a lie and releases the prisoners from different jails. There is a kind of revolution and the wealthy and powerful have their money and property taken away, are dragged from their homes, and forced to trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a the Scarecrow, where any sentence means death on most occasions and otherwise exile. After months of recovery and training both the body and the mind to face Bane, Batman manages to escape the prison and reach Gotham City, and enlist the help of Cat Woman and the others. But with a pseudo-revolution on the run, and all the criminals on the streets with no police force to stop them, Batman has more than what he would wish for this time. It is up-to him to stop the man who broke his back with relative ease, and to prevent whatever Ra’s al Ghul had intended to do.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman continues his conquests, and here his performance is lowered only due to the absence of a villain who was as good as those in the first two movies, and there is no intellectually superior mastermind who decides who lives and who dies, and there is no wretched of the soul who is half Loki and half Lucifer, made with everything evil and everything psychotic. Instead he has a militant who is more of a physical threat than mental. Unfortunately, his thoughts and decisions are not his alone and himself outsmarting Batman was not something for which he could take credit, and at that point, he loses his significance and still not his presence and power. Still, Tom Hardy’s Bane is excellent in what he does. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Cat Woman becomes a revelation in the movie, and it is evident that she has trained extremely tried and tried her best to fit into that costume which so much physically demanding. Marion Cotillard outshines herself in the second half, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake comes up with a pleasant performance. Michael Caine and Gary Oldman plays the two normal characters in the movie who makes any impact.

Christopher Nolan did make Inception just a few years before this with that touch of brilliance, it was what stood between the two sequels; it was something which further accelerated the expectations. Here, we get some of it, and considering the fact that Batman has undergone evolution and there is no real base for the same, and there is no end to this superhero, we have to respect this title despite of the hype. It has done all that it could do, but it did nothing spectacular, and yet, this is very well done. It was a good decision to continue the Ra’s al Ghul legacy, and it was hundred percent a good decision not to make this in the 3D – full marks to that. There are movies that are to be enjoyed for fun, and even with all the entertaining elements in this movie, it scores slightly higher at the intellectual level rather than how it is supposed to happen in a regular superhero movie. The movie also leaves open slots, not just for a sequel, but also for a Cat Woman and a Robin spin-off as well as Justice League of America movie, in the model of The Avengers. It is certain that we haven’t seen even a little bit of what the DC’s cinematic universe has to offer its viewers. There is a lot coming, that is for sure with this one being the third highest grossing film of 2012 and also the third highest grossing superhero film of all time.

There is no doubt that the caped crusader has grown enough to lead the Mount Olympus of superheroes as the Zeus of this generation, with his biggest arch-rival Superman failing to live up-to the hype, and his next best rival Spider-Man slowly fading from the scene – both of them coming up with below-the-bat reboots which fails to challenge the Man-Bat. These three are challenged not by those superheroes of childhood, The Phantom and He-Man, but by the man they call Iron Man and his gang of Avengers, as well as X-Men, but they all follow a different path. The world’s greatest detective with the Bat logo has nothing to worry about his position right now, but in case of a reboot, it is all upto him to lose, as the rest have only gotten better. The concept of billionaire playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist itself already has been challenged by Iron Man, and with Man of Steel all the dark elements; The Amazing Spiderman has conquered the heroic elements, and whenever the abilities are glorified, there was X-Men First Class, with Wolverine to follow this year. Therefore, this domination of the dark knight is in a precarious position, and as this end to the trilogy was not as perfect as expected, there is surely a storm coming, and it would consist of more than one superhero. The only fear that I have is that can the Batman remain Batman for long, or will he be completely transformed into the dark knight, and Superman into the man of steel? It is that question which will be answered in a decade.

Release date: 20th July 2012
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Rise of the Guardians

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There was a movie of the late December 2012 which belonged more to 2013 than 2012, and as the 2013 Movies List does include a movie which was released in the previous year, but was watched in the theatres later, including this story of the wonderful guardians and getting another special, honorary position for it shall do no harm. This might have arrived earlier in the United States, but in India, it came late for good – for Christmas, which made the occasion even better. This animated movie tells a story about the popular characters of the ancient beliefs, here referred to as the Guardians – Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Sandman, who are forced to enlist a much less interested and not-so-caring about the world, the seemingly selfish Jack Frost due to the advice of the Man in the Moon, to stop Bogeyman from immersing the world in darkness and change all the dreams of children into nightmares, with the first step being the destruction of all sources of belief, faith and hope. The movie is supposed to be based on the American author William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and the short film The Man in the Moon by Joyce and Reel FX.

The spirit of winter, Jack Frost is raised from a frozen lake by the Man in the Moon with superpowers, but he is unseen in the world and shall remain so as he is not believed in, and all of his memories from his former life are gone. Only his name is known to the world and to him. Jack Frost has been popularly known to be the personification of frost and cold weather and his roots might be in the Norse or Anglo-Saxon system of beliefs. The most well known presence of Jack in literature might be in L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. This work by the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz might be the closest depiction of this character to the one in the movie. The other depictions can be left behind for now, and the stress is to be kept in what he is in the movie. He is a playful spirit who is hidden from the sights of people as he is not believed in, unlike the other guardians. But he plays pranks with the kids and lives as mysterious spirit with control over snow and ice. He is haunted throughout the movie with an identity crisis and his sadness and anger is not just because he is not seen by others, but also because he doesn’t know who he is, or his purpose. It is as if he never existed and never makes a difference.

It is the Man in the Moon who changes that life, for he instructs the Guardians to induct Jack Frost as a new Guardian in order to combat the threat of the powerful Bogeyman. There would be the question who this divine presence might be, and the answer could not be restricted to just one. It is just the moon that is shown, and there is the divine power which never hesitates to show the signs. From raising Jack Frost from the dead, to giving him his extraordinary powers and making the spirit a Guardian – all these is planned by that supreme power. But the person never speaks or make a direct impact on the world below on Earth, and it is with silence that the man speaks, most of the time. He is both the observer and the decision maker. His impact is not temporary, but permanent, and his power is not easily visible, but hidden. He might be one of those images and faces you see on the moon every day. He is surely no Neil Armstrong or Edwin Aldrin. As one finds it easy to believe what the science say about moon and all the details about it without being seen, it is not that hard to believe in a man in the moon – it is simpler and more believable than all the theories of science. May be that round thing you see every night on the sky is not really a natural satellite, but just some random lie invented by science just to make a good fictional story out of a white dot of heaven, and so might be the solar system, galaxies, meteors, comets, planets and whatever they might be.

As we now know that there is no moon as the science describes it, lets go to the next big character, the Bogeyman, also known as Pitch Black – the king of nightmares all set to become the emperor of all dreams, both good and bad. Wasn’t he the one nocturnal creature whom you feared without hesitation during your childhood? Didn’t he force you to look under the bed each and every time you wake up? No it rarely happened to me, as I had chosen to fall on the floor and sleep at times. Meanwhile, our villain is a strong and powerful one who has become better and meaner as he is powered by the fear of the children, and his nightmares cover all the good dreams of the world. His strives not on belief of love, but belief of fear. He feeds on the fear and thus on the souls of his victims, creating better nightmares every time. His aim is to destroy the Guardians one by one, by first getting rid of the faith and belief of children in them. He chooses them one by one and with his ever-increasing power driven by the dark horses of fear, he goes through his mission of darkness and pure evil which was hidden under an underground bed for a long time.

The Easter Bunny is the angry young man of the story and the short-tempered star of the Guardians – in simple words, and in ancient beliefs, that one rabbit bringing Easter eggs. This one is not the cute little one though, as he is a fighter who is always ready for action. He is not that friendly with Jack Frost in the beginning either. Well, he still brings the Easter eggs, and so that should be okay. Our Santa Claus, also referred to as North, is the more likable of characters, with his tattooed arms and funny dialogues. He is more of the leader of Guardians and he lives as a happy old man in his castle in the North Pole with Yetis and Christmas Elves. He has all he needs for Christmas including the flying reindeer driven chariot, and the gifts. He would deliver the presents, including toys and candy to all of the nice children in the world, as long as he can keep the Bogeyman away. As the movie was released just a few days before Christmas in India, the importance of Santa is further more – well, he is the most well-known of the team for sure, and the only one who can claim to be known enough might be the Bogeyman, and Easter Bunny can only claim the third place.

Then comes the Tooth Fairy, the mythical tooth collector. She is half human and half hummingbird and is assisted by a large number of little fairies who are just like herself, only incredibly small. According to the popular beliefs (which I came to know about only a decade ago) when a child loses a baby tooth and places it beneath the bed pillow, the Tooth Fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small gift. Here in the movie, she collects the children’s teeth, and they hold their most precious memories during their life on Earth. She also has the role of storing them in her palace to return them when they are needed the most. She and her minions have an instant liking for Jack and his teeth. But her palace is the place which is first attacked by the Bogeyman who finds the memories very interesting. Well, I have always wondered where the dentists keep all those tooth which are taken out. May be they are given to the tooth fairies. I wonder if they keep that half-a-tooth of mine which was broken while eating “Chakka Varuthathu” in a special bottle. The Sandman is the next Guardian – according to the legends, the one who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep. Here he does not speak, but communicates through sand images that appears above his head. He is the exact opposite of Bogeyman, as the master of all good dreams.

These are our five guardians, one villain and the one divine element. Other than destroying evil, what the movie suggests is the importance of belief and saving the magic of childhood, both being destroyed by modernity. It tells the need for the power of wonder, faith, hope and belief in an artificial world where it is slowly, but surely disappearing, and are replaced by a void which can be filled by the wastes of hell, as inferno’s own dumping yard where no recycling of souls or bad deeds takes place. The machinery of the movie is without rust, as the magical 3D and beautiful animation tries the best to keep it working and to make this my favourite animated movie watched in a theatre – no disrespect to Kungfu Panda, but this one hit me better, in a good way. The Polar Express did a good job in re-affirming faith and belief, and Rise of the Guardians have done the same in an even better way. On first look, this might seem to be for kids, and there is no denying the fact that it could be a combination of X-Men and The Avengers for kids, but one can’t also deny that there has never been a more suitable animated family movie which is enjoyable to people of almost any age – not to forget the philosophical undercurrent which has its morality element running.

Release date: 21st November 2012 (USA); 21st December 2012 (India)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Peter Ramsey
Starring (voice): Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Hansel and Gretel

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We have had the darker versions of fairy tales, one each in the last two years – Red Riding Hood in 2011 and Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012. The latter getting better reviews than the former was a strange a thing just like this one getting negative reviews – this is astrange world for sure. The one thing which might be agreeable to the fans of all three movies might be that none of them really made an impact on the critics like they did on the box-office. While Amanda Seyfried lead the way in the former, it was the antagonist Charlize Theron who made the impact in the latter. But, here comes Hansel and Gretel, which surely is a much better watch; and a clear winner as a creation of dark fantasy.

It did remind me of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but our good re-telling of the old fairy tale happens to do better by a long way. Then once again, the critical reception might favour the wrong movie even as it is marginal. But trusting someone else who doesn’t know your taste is the worst mistake you can do. I almost made the same mistake, but I could see beyond it, as Ghost Rider 2, the worst Hollywood movie to reach the theatres of India in the last two or three years had more approval than some of those above average movies. This might have been a little long introduction, but it was strange to see that the shows of Hansel and Gretel were cancelled and I had to wait for days to watch it. Therefore, forget the critical ratings; and may be ask your friends who share your interests, and go for the movie.

The Grimm Brothers had given the world the story of two kids who outsmarted a witch; a story which was one of my favourites during childhood. After saving themselves from an abusive step-mother and the evil witch, these children do live happily ever after, as I can recollect. It is absolutely correct until the death of the witch in the movie too. But then comes the “living happily” part, which is a little existential in character. They are witch-hunters – professional ones; one of them is diabetic and the other one is later found to be a ” ” (it is a twist and there will be no spoiler here). But still, they might have found fun in doing their job – it is athletic and they get good payment for it. There is the possibility of ending in a witch’s cauldron or simply as a corpse, but considering what people do these days for attention, I would say that witch-hunting is not that horrible unless that witch got too many fans on facebook. Vampire bats do that often in the dreams.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are the grown-up versions of the awesome little ones, who have dedicated their lives to fight the evil: to save the world from the broomstick-riders who fly better than some of the airlines. Hansel and Gretel start the latest adventure by preventing the town’s Sheriff Berringer from executing a young woman who is accused to be a witch (has the same name Mina – reminding of Mina Harker) after the siblings were hired by the mayor to find and bring back a number of children believed to be abducted by witches. Berringer hires his own men who are killed by a powerful witch, Muriel in the dark woods. The one who is left alive doesn’t last long with a curse for the hunger of crawling things.

Hansel and Gretel discover that the witches are preparing for the notorious ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls with certain peculiarities.  The town is attacked by Muriel and her minions, which include a troll Edward (never away from that name from Twilight, but the fans can forgive the appearance of this troll). Now the witches have enough children to sacrifice for Blood Moon, but they need something else (which shall not be revealed to break the suspense) and the remaining question is whether the witches succeed in the ritual which would make them almost invincible. The twists include the truth about their step-mother who was not really evil, the mystery about Mina and the last ingredient of the Blood Moon ritual which would change the siblings’ idea about witches and witch hunting.

This story might sound too familiar and not that awesome to follow, but it is made better with the movie’s great CGI which is one of the best. The 3D effects make it one of the best horror-action experiences through the glasses with bullets, explosions, arrows – all coming towards you in frequent intervals, as well as the dark beauty of the atmosphere which catches you out of the screen. Right from the opening title scenes to the ending credits, it promises and delivers the same. Famke Janssen does remind one of her role as Jean Grey / Phoenix in X-Men III: The Last Stand, but she is surely better as Muriel. The witches look much better than in any movie released in the last few years, and the variety in them brings the culture element into the play – they are not the same. They are incredibly detailed to be just side-kick witches. Their screams create that fear element even when they are not on screen.

The most conservative, horror-hating, gore-fighting people of the pseudo-realistic world needn’t watch this movie though. Let the wonderful action sequences and breath-taking fights be missed by you. The 3D and the CGI can treat the deserving eyes. There are times when one has to cease being intellectual, and what is science but full of contradictions and uncertainty? Therefore, why be against a movie of magic and fantasy saying that it is not real? There is thousand times more chance of this happening than anything of the Twilight series. But the fact is that you don’t even realize why you are in this world; none of us do. Our life is in the hands of the greater power that guides us. So don’t be judgmental on this one, for this is not there to be judged by some superior intellect which goes to Moon or Mars and search for water – this is there to be enjoyed, supported by imagination. This is not a product of perfect reasoning power supported by some random theory; this is not simple every day life – this is dark fantasy. I love action-horror movies and I feel this has only strengthened the genre.

Release date: 25th January 2013 (USA); 1st February 2013 (India)
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Thomas Mann

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.