The Fire Still Burns

The list of interesting movies which didn’t get the attention of the mainstream audience is endless. I would add a movie released in 2008 to the list. It had less scope to be popular here because the first big mall in my state opened only in 2009 and a multiplex in the form of Cinemax only followed at the same mall much later. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the people I know haven’t watched this one. Yes, Star Movies is once again the channel which has made this movie known here.

I am hoping to have more people getting to know about this movie. It was a box-office flop, and I can only wonder about the reason for the same in North America. May be people misunderstood and expected the wrong thing from this movie. The reviews were positive to mixed, but things didn’t work well with the audience. This movie is an adaptation of a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Jeanne DuPrau which was published in 2003, and this lone flick which remains the only one in the franchise is known by the name, City of Ember.

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The movie was released just about two months after the release of the last book in the series; The Diamond of Darkhold – but thanks to the terrible reception by the audience, it remains the only movie of the franchise, with any hope for a sequel lost without hope. City of Ember is a movie which deserved more. May be it released a little bit too early, considering the increase in the viewership of English movies now and also the better love for the movie adaptations from books. It can do well with a reboot during these times.

City of Ember has a very interesting setting. It takes us to a dystopia which has existed for a long time after something like an end of the world had happened. The human civilization is limited to this world underground which is actually running short of supplies. As the new world was established inside a giant cave, the generators falling apart meant continuous darkness and the trouble with plumbing works happened to be other reasons along with the food shortage. As the leaders refuse to accept the doom and won’t allow an exploration to the outside, there is no easy way out.

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The movie uses the idea of the dystopia, and how it chooses to remain the same without going to explore the other possibilities due to concern, fear, anxiety and thoughts of losing power. The present city gives them what they want, and it goes on and on in the same way without any change, and it has worked for them. So, even in a distant future with things seemingly getting worse, they have that feeling that everything will get back to normal and everything will be all right.

The design of the world is indeed special and has a special dark beauty for itself. The performances add to the total charm. Saoirse Ronan leads the team with that charm that not many young actresses could come up with. It might be one of those movies which established her talents so early. Harry Treadaway follows and he does a significant job in keeping side efficient. I would still say that even with fair performances from the rest of the cast, nobody can match the leading lady on the screen.

City of Ember itself is a reflection of our present world in which the situation is getting worse and nobody cares. The only difference is that our planet can still be saved, and an escape is not the best solution. But the much needed qualities to inspire the same is missing, and people were fed with a need to win at any cost, right from their childhood – so it will actually be a strange thing if someone actually bothers about the humanity as a whole without caring for the personal gains.

***The images used in this blog post are cropped from the screenshots taken from the movie.

TeNy

The Judgment is Here

I was wandering through the hot topics which were running, and this week’s In(di)spire topic instantly caught my attention. It was about reviewing a great movie or a great book which failed to get the attention of the mainstream audience. I thought about it, and finally managed to keep the idea vampire-free. It was difficult, but I decided to choose a movie which failed at the box-office, and not many people I know realize its strength either. At the same time, it is also one of those movies which has a name with most of the people confuse with the spelling.

The reviews were positive, but itĀ couldn’t bring people to the theatres at that time. Even I missed the movie on the big screen, but thankfully, it comes to Star Movies very often. This movie has one other speciality. Some time after its release, after it had disappeared from the theatres, people realized that it deserved a sequel, and the Facebook Page demanding a sequel has more than double the total number of likes which the movie has. With over one lakh fans hoping for a sequel even as the first part did bad business, this movie is Dredd.

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I am confident that Dredd would have been a big hit if it had released these days. Mad Max: Fury Road with its post-apocalyptic mayhem was a huge success, and Dredd is much bigger than that in action, adventure, chaos and themes. The 1995 Sylvester Stallone and Diane Lane starrer Judge Dredd based on the same comics actually had better collection with negative reviews. I would say that Dredd was lost somewhere in between due to no fault of anyone associated with. If you consider the situation here, Dredd was never a character well-known, and needed more boost.

Dredd thrives on its imagery, of a future metropolis among the wasteland Mega-City One, a world of extreme violence where judges manage the law and order in the streets as they are police, judges and executioners, all at the same time. Among these criminals, some of them reign supreme, and one such figure is the queen of crimes, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). The Judges Dredd (Karl Urban) and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) will go to the two hundred storied tower where she rules, as three men are skinned alive and thrown from the top. But Ma-Ma will seal off the building with them inside and make sure that no more judges will come that way. Judges don’t think so though.

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The movie is full of stylish violence which never really gets out of hand except for the blood – the limits are maintained. There is a lot of action involved and the efficient use of Slo-Mo and not the usual slow motion makes the sequences amazing to watch; there is an artistic beauty like never before. Slo-Mo is a drug which reduces the user’s perception of time heavily, and it is a smart excuse used here to make use of the slow motion in an efficient way and yet not disrupt the pace and flow of the movie. It would have been even more joy to watch it in 3D, but we all have missed that!

The cast brings some unbelievable amount of strength to this movie. Karl Urban does the incredible with most of his face covered. The character never removes the helmet, and it is a depressing thing that even as he continues to make nice impact in the leading role in a lot of movies, none of them have gone on to become big hits; not Pathfinder, not Doom and not this one. He brings the surprise here and so does Olivia Thirlby. It is an exceptional performance from her too, with her psychic side as well as in the role of a judge. I would say that this is her best ever; it is strong, emotional and stylish.

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Lena Headey makes one of the best female villains of all time. You might not even recognize this Cersei/Gorgo if you weren’t told. This is too good from her. That is not all. The world design, the judges costumes, the weapons, the interiors, all have been nicely adjusted to create a realistic and yet stylish environment and sequence of events. You need science fiction, crime drama, action thriller or something with a relevant theme? Dredd got them all, and it just needs you to watch it. Star Movies is there to make sure that you do.

TeNy