Kingsman: The Secret Service


Viewed – 19 June 2015  Online rental

The spy spoof is nothing new, but placed in the hands of Matthew Vaughn who breathed a welcome injection of rebellious attitude to the costumed hero genre, with Kick-Ass and probably made one of the finest X-Men to date in First Class, I’d say we were in safe hands.  A troubled teenager who just so happens to be related to a former Kingsman secret agent gets the chance of a lifetime to join the top-secret British agency just as a megalomaniac internet billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) prepares to cause mass genocide.  Cue plenty of gadgets, tailored suits and before you can say Mark Hamill cameo it’s all action, intrigue and tongue planted firmly in cheek.

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Colin Firth, everyone’s favourite swarve English gent is perfectly cast as Galahad, the Kingsman’s top agent who single handily takes said troubled teenager Egsy (Taron Egerton) under his wing and helps him crawl out from under his Asbo lifestyle and housing estate surroundings to become someone capable of saving the world.  Jackson plays a little against type as an (annoyingly) lisping villain but is clearly having a ball – even if his character is a tad too cartoony for my liking.  The whole training stuff also gets rather predictable. Add to this a budget clearly spent on it’s decor, Michael Caine and designer-suits rather than decent effects (honestly, CGI blood, CGI explosions.  Who ever said that crap looked any good?).  But such shortcomings aside, director Vaughn pulls out all his nudge-nudge wink-wink tricks, bending and breaking genre conventions to throw in the odd surprise and a few slam-dunk gags (land of hope and glory?)..

It lacks the venom of Vaughn’s earlier Hit-Girl scene-stealing tour-de-force and clearly struggles with over ambition (the international locales can look noticeably fake, and action relies more on fancy camera trickery than genuine fight choreography).  Enthusiasm counts for a lot though, and the cast, crew and excellent soundtrack (a fight played to the tune of “Give It Up” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band?  Oh yes!) still make this worth a watch.  Bond has nothing to worry about though.

Verdict:  3 /5

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Before I Go To Sleep


Viewed – 14 February 2015  Online-rental

This is rather unique for me, reviewing a movie where I am particularly familiar with the book it is based on.  S J Watson’s taught psychological thriller was a riveting read, and so naturally the prospect of a movie adaptation was quite exciting.  Then I learnt of the casting.  Not for a second did I picture either Colin Firth, Mark Strong or especially Nicole Kidman in the shoes of characters that were so interesting and well written in the novel.  Yet I approached this with an open mind.

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Kidman plays Christine Lucas, an amnesiac who every morning she wakes up has to re-learn her life and who her husband is and her she is, before it is wiped again when she goes to sleep.  She was in a terrible accident according to her husband Ben (Firth) and it’s not until she receives a morning phone call from a psychiatrist, Dr Nash (Strong) that she starts to piece together her life in the hope of discovering exactly what happened to her.

It’s a good premise, not that original granted but gripping.  Sad then that the performances here let the show down, despite the principle leads acting credentials.  Lines and scenes are delivered very wooden, especially by an overly sincere Mark Strong and even Kidman who should be able to tackle this material with ease, seems overly pathetic and weak.  The movie is also in a hell of a rush to get to it’s conclusion.  It covered the major plot points so quickly I found it a challenge to keep up.  It jumps from one situation to the next so fast knowing exactly what was happening or feeling much of anything was impossible.  The book had time to create mood, explore emotions more deeply and form relationships.  The friendship between Christine and her estranged friend Claire is portrayed very matter-of-fact where in the book it was a pivotal part of the story and the bond between the two characters was clear.  Also the slightly flirty, will-they-won’t-they relationship between Christine and Dr Nash is very poorly explored and doesn’t come across as convincing either – the scenes where he says they may have feeling for each other, or the hug in his car felt incredibly forced.

With more attention to the little things, perhaps better casting and well, better direction this could have been an excellent thriller – but sadly it’s anything but.  Stick with the book.

Verdict:  2 /5

Alphabet Movie Meme


I saw this idea initially over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger, although the idea originates from this blog:The Drama Llama and well I thought it was pretty cool.  Below you will see my choices and I heartily recommend you have a go yourselves!

Anticipating Movie Of 2014

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

I was very impressed with how ROTPOTA turned out… really well done origin tale of the whole ‘apes mythology and made me anticipate what comes next immensely.  That anticipation has died down in the few years since, but now it’s finally due out this year … I can’t wait.

Book Adaption I’d Like To See

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Before I Go To Sleep

I didn’t realise it was coming out, and as I am not an avid reader, of the very few books I have read, last year I got around to Before I Go To Sleep … a wonderfully thrilling and gripping story about a woman with 24hr amnesia, and the mystery of those in her life, who can be trusted and who is telling the truth etc.  The movie has Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in it, very much NOT how I saw it, but will be interesting to see how S J Watson’s text translates to the big screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

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Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

I tried and failed to read his autobiography last year (will I pick it up again?) but have always been an admirer, not just down to his movies, but also his political career.

 

Dream Director / Actor Pairing

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David Fincher & Ellen Page

One of the best directors around right now with one of the best young actresses right now.  ‘Nuff said.

Essential Classic Film

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Taxi Driver – one of the most thought-provoking and daring movies of the 70s with  a superb Robert DeNiro and a stunningly convincing Jodie Foster.  Love it.

Favourite Film Franchise

I actually don’t think I have a favourite right now…titles like Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars etc come to mind, but firstly is ‘Rings a franchise?  Oh and Star Wars has disappointed me too many times to be a favourite.

Genre I Watch The Most

Thriller – I was going to go for drama, but I think I find myself watching crime movies, action, something with a bit of danger, violence or mature themes in it a lot… gritty you might say, so yes thriller kind of covers all those.

Hidden Gem

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Hmm, by this I’m guessing something fairly obscure that not many have heard about?  I’ll go for Let The Right One In … yes marginally famous but believe me, most who don’t have an awareness of world cinema (and have only seen the dire remake) will not know about this one.  And they really should do … now!

Important Moment In My Film Life

First time I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.  I remember bringing it home from the rental store, on VHS and thinking I had something very special in my possession.  It remains my favourite movie of all time, endlessly watchable and has inspired my style of fiction writing and my love of great dialogue and the crime / gangster genre a whole.

Just Right Movie For A Rainy Day

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The Back To The Future Trilogy

I’ll go for these as they are easy watching, very easy to enjoy from the start, not overly deep, serious or complex and when not in the mood for anything else, superb fun. 

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

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The Lion King

… a great story, beautiful hand-drawn animation and memorable songs!!

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

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The Shire … I mean, who wouldn’t?  Beautiful, and such lovely houses!

Marathon I First Attended

I haven’t ever done a movie marathon … to my recollection.  I don’t think I have the attention span.

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

V/H/S – which I enjoyed a lot.  Strangely the last Netflix movie I saw too, if you don’t count documentaries.  I do intend to rectify this though as there are a few movies I plan on watching.

One Movie I Saw In Theatres More Than Once

I actually don’t think this has ever happened.

Preferred Place To Watch A New Movie

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Difficult one … I love the cinema, but technology being what it is now, I’d say the home get’s my vote.

 

 

Quote That Inspires Me

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This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time’ and pretty much most of Fight Club as well.

 

 

Remakes (Friend or Foe)

Neither

I don’t have a problem with remakes in theory, as long as they bring something new to an old idea, not just re-tread the same ground, often resulting in a poor imitation.  Which is often the case.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Anything chocolate based.

Twist That Boggled My Mind

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Hmm how to say this without a spoiler…so I wont… but pretty much the best goes to Twelve Monkeys.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

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Martin Scorsese … but who would apologise for that?  He’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Mostly ‘meh’ … good movies rarely even get a nomination, let alone win, with some exceptions.  I’ll check out the winners and be happy if something I think is good walks away with something… but otherwise I’m not overly bothered.

Wish I’d Never Watched

Seed Of Chucky

How to kill a perfectly entertaining franchise … or at least I thought it had…until I heard of Curse Of Chucky.

XXX-Movie I Watched At A Really Young Age

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A Nightmare On Elm Street … scared the crap out of me, and I loved it!

Your Latest Movie Related Obsession

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Studio Ghibli

I love this style of animation, endless imagination, wonderful art and personality.  I haven’t yet seen a Ghibli movie I haven’t liked … and several I have loved.

ZZZ-catchers

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Anything with Harry Potter in the title … just does nothing for me and I am proud to say I have never watched even one of them.

Gambit


Viewed – 23 June 2013  DVD

An interesting one, this… A remake of a 1966 comedy that starred Michael Caine and Shirley Maclaine, boasts a screenplay by none other than Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit, Fargo, The Big Lebowski) and this time stars everyone’s favorite Englishman, Colin Firth.  Firth plays Harry Deane, an art curator who is planning on double-crossing his mean spirited boss (Alan Rickman) by conning him into buying a forgery of a Monet painting.  Roped into Harry’s nefarious scheme is Texan cowgirl PJ (Cameron Diaz).

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I am not familiar with the original movie, but this was a fast, funny and sharp caper comedy in the style of 50s / 60s British movies like The Italian Job.  Firth is perfectly cast despite being obviously stereotyped, and Rickman is clearly having a ball as his pantomime villain boss.  Less effective is Diaz, seemingly wasted as a cartoon-like cowgirl with a grating Texan accent and zero depth.  The script, showcasing the Coen’s brand of oddball characters and snappy dialogue zipped by at a good pace though, with all three leads proving fun.  For this kind of material, over familiarity reared it’s head from time to time and for a Coen’s script, the comedy whilst effective, seemed a touch too farcical for such talents.

The real problem here though, is that both as a remake and as a British comedy (whoever may have written it) it just offered too few surprises, and I would have liked something a little more complex and clever.  Yet still see it if you like the cast and want an undemanding, but enjoyable evening’s viewing – just don’t go expecting anything fresh, new or particularly imaginative.

Verdict:  3 /5

Oscars results are in!


So being a common or garden Englishman without a subscription to Sky television, I did not get to watch the Academy Awards last night.  However I was pleased to see that a few of my predictions were bang on the nail, namely Christian Bale getting Best Supporting Actor and Colin Firth getting Best Actor.  I think 127 Hours’ James Franco, also the host for the evening, was robbed however as his performance in that film simply amazed me, but at least the academy made up for such a oversite with Natalie Portman getting Best Actress.  Well deserved.  I was hoping that Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky had got the nod rather than the guy who made The King’s Speech, but at least that particular movie got just four awards, for Best Picture and Original Screenplay also, rather than the gushing ridiculousness that was the Baftas.