Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Image is property of 20th Century Fox and Marv

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Film Review

Cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Sophie Cookson, Pedro Pascal

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Synopsis:  After their organisation comes under attack, The Kingsman seek the help of their US Counterparts, the Statesman, to help them save the world…

Review: It is always nice when a film knows exactly what the audience wants and doesn’t take itself too seriously. In addition, when said film knew that it was a ridiculously over the top, almost parody of the the spy films that it obviously drew inspiration from, and plays that to its advantage to deliver an absurd amount of entertainment, and laughs, that’s always a most welcome outcome, and this is precisely what Kingsman: The Secret Service was. Therefore, a sequel to this surprise hit was almost inevitable, and Vaughn despite perhaps some initial hesitation, eventually came back to the director’s chair.

The first film was, for the most part British-centric, and more specifically on the Kingsman and the recruitment of young Eggsy into this elite spy organisation. The plot now goes a bit more global, well across the Pond to be exact. With the Kingsman on their knees following a vicious attack, a clue leads them to their US based allies, the Statesman. Their research leads them to something that is known as the “Golden Circle” and with the Kingsman and Statesman now side by side, they must band together to help save the world because as you would expect, as there’s always some dastardly villain looking to wreak world havoc.

Eggsy’s development from deadbeat chav, to a sophisticated gentleman spy was a central theme of what The Secret Service was all about. All the while saving the world with mentor Harry Hart (Firth) by his side. Though Harry initially seems to have suffered a grim demise, but with a presence that is hard to miss if you have seen any promotional material, it indicates that Harry did not meet said demise. Their character development was a key arc of the first movie, but there is much less focus on that arc, and indeed character development as a whole, which can be frustrating to say the least.

“We are the three amigos…”

Instead Vaughn and Goldman zone in on the action stakes, turning up the volume to maximum. If his past work is anything to go by, Vaughn is certainly a director who knows how to helm jaw dropping action scenes,  the church scene from the first film certainly stands out. They’re very fast paced and exhilarating, although sometimes they way they are cut together, with very fast, quick cut editing can make them a bit jarring to watch. The plot is again a bit far fetched to say the least, even more so than the last film, but the movie knows that this is part of its charm, and it uses that to its advantage.

Taron Egerton remains on great form as Eggsy and he is ably supported by the familiar faces of Merlin and Roxy, whilst continuing a relationship with his royal girlfriend. The main bunch of new recruits comes in the shape of the Statesman cast, with Bridges giving Rooster Cogburn a 21st century makeover in the form of Statesman top dog Champ. Tequila and Ginger Ale (Tatum and Berry) are welcome additions but both feel somewhat underutilised. Meanwhile Pedro Pascal as Whiskey is perhaps the most interesting of the new bunch, honing his Oberyn Martell-esque fighting skills to great effect, and while she does have some time to shine, Julianne Moore as the antagonist would have benefited from a bit more screen time.

Though it doesn’t get too bloated, the film does feel perhaps a tad too long, perhaps because Vaughn does cram so much into this new adventure. but there’s more than enough good material here for audiences to enjoy. Like last time, the movie remains very self-aware, it knows it is a bat shit crazy experience with spies, espionage, gadgets, action and VERY adult humour. And that’s just what you signed up for, suited and booted and all.

There’s not a great deal of character development to be found, but like its predecessor, The Golden Circle delivers those insane and thrilling action set pieces and adult humour that make it such a blast to watch.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

X Men First Class (2011)

xmen first class
Image righrs belong to Marvel Entertainment, The Donners’ Company, Bad Hat Harry Production, Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Film Partners and 20th Century Fox

X Men – First Class Film Review

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon, January Jones

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Synopsis: In the middle of the Cold War, the US government seeks the help of a young Charles Xavier aided by a young Erik Lensherr, to stop the rise of Sebastian Shaw, a mutant hell bent on mutant supremacy, and human extinction.

Review: When we were first introduced to characters such as Professor X, Mystique, Magneto and the rest of the X Men crew back in 2000, they were already well established as seasoned mutant veterans, and the battle lines were already firmly drawn particularly between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr with very different ideologies. However, the origins of that rivalry were ultimately not explored in a substantial amount of detail in the original trilogy. What made them into the enemies that they ultimately become? Matthew Vaughn after directing the brilliant Kick Ass, has the answers to the questions with this prequel tale of the story that was set in motion by Bryan Singer.

It is the 1960s, and we meet a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) , with a head full of hair and not wheelchair bound, and his loyal friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence by his side. Through circumstances and the plucky wit of CIA Agent Moira McTaggert, they come across the brilliant but somewhat warped Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon.) Shaw is a firm believer of mutant superiority and that mutants are the next step of the evolution process. His methods and madness certainly play on the mind of Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) who is hunting Shaw with a vengeance after some brutal tests that he carried out on him when Erik was a teenager. Through circumstances, the two cross paths and become allies in their fight to take Shaw down. But of course there is a very obvious difference between the two men in terms of their philosophy, and despite their initial friendship, the cracks begin to show.

With a whole new cast of mutants we had grown to love over the course of the original trilogy, this new crop had a great challenge on their hands, and thankfully they all came through in flying colours, particularly from McAvoy and Fassbender. McAvoy gives the younger Xavier a youthful spirit and while he remains the incredibly powerful mutant he is, he clearly loves life and cherishes those closes to him, specifically Raven, played by Jennifer Lawrence. After Rebecca Romijin’s great work with the blue skinned mutant, but Lawrence manages to give the character terrific depth as she struggles to decide where her place in the world really lies. Fassbender’s Lensherr is a man driven by hatred and revenge after some deep personal tragedy, and his performance is also incredibly powerful. It’s the work of these three that ultimately helps drive the movie forward, in particular the relationship between Charles and Erik, added with a very fine cameo from everyone’s favourite claw wielding mutant. Yet there’s a plethora of new mutants on show, and not all of them get a chance to shine which is a bit bothersome to say the least.

After showing his hand in the superhero genre with Kick Ass, Vaughn does a tremendous job once again. The screenplay that Vaughn penned with Jane Goldman along with Zack Stenz and Ashley Edward Miller goes deep into what it means to be a mutant. Are they superior to us weak and pathetic human beings, or should they be a part of society. And for some, they want to just hide away altogether. Vaughn knows how to handle the big action scenes and once again he delivers some gripping moments, with the final throw down in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis conflict is enthralling to the maximum. After suffering a few trips, this prequel gave the franchise a welcome return to form, no doubt leaving fans Xstatic and keen to see more!

With exciting performances from the new cast, especially from McAvoy and Fassbender, combined with some expert direction and action sequences, the franchise returned with a triumph!

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Kingsman- The Secret Service (2015)

Kingsman
Image rights belong to Marv Films, Cloudy Productions, Shangri-La Entertainment, TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Film Review

Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Samuel L Jackson, Sophie Cookson, Sofia Boutella

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Synopsis:  A young man, down on his luck, is given the chance to turn his life around, and to apply for a unique organisation called the Kingsmen.

Review: When you think of the spy movie genre, the likes of a sophisticated gentleman sipping a Vodka Martini whilst dressed in a sharp looking tuxedo may come to mind. Over the years, the James Bond franchise has dominated the spy genre, and this film recognises that. Yet it is not a rip off, not at all, it is director Matthew Vaughn’s love letter to the genre. It’s not quite From Russia with Love, more like From Vaughn with Love. The class and sophistication that is reminiscent of 007 is most certainly present, but Kingsman comes along, and ups the fun ante by a considerable amount.

The focus of this story is Eggsy (Taron Egerton). Immediately it is apparent that this is a guy who is seemingly on the road to nowhere, almost destined for prison. This is until a gentleman in the shape of Harry Hart (Colin Firth) comes in. An opportunity has arisen to apply to become one of the Kingsman, a very unique organisation. All the while, as with almost all spy movies, there is a crazy villainous dude (Samuel L Jackson) who has some rather disturbing plans to bring about the end of the world via a device that many of us find ourselves glued to these days. Thus we descend into familiar territory, gadgets, crazy fights, and just some good fun entertainment, that is definitely worth the price of an admission ticket, and then some. The fun is here, and so is the vulgarity and the violence that would make Quentin Tarantino very proud indeed.

As in 2010 with Chloe Grace Moretz, Matthew Vaughn has unearthed another gem of a young, talented actor in Taron Egerton. His character transformation from young troubled kid living in a rather sorry looking estate to a sophisticated gentleman is a joy to watch. There providing his support is an electric Colin Firth, who is definitely having the most fun he’s had in quite some time. Here is a gentleman who will sip a beer and then smash you over the face with the glass! Together their chemistry is enthralling to watch. You really witness that Harry sees something of a kindred spirit in Eggsy. While his character’s lisp is a little bit annoying at times, Samuel L Jackson also brings his A game to his villainous role, and like Firth, he definitely looks as though he’s having an absolute blast. Accompanying him is a lethal femme fatale in Gazelle, who is armed with some dangerous blades on her feet in a throwback to old school Bond villains.

To some this may feel like a James Bond rip off, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no denying that James Bond has a big influence, what with all the references that are littered throughout, but this is definitely a Matthew Vaughn picture. The action is handled extremely well with exhilarating scenes aplenty. Although some scenes may unsettle some as they venture into the Tarantino scale of madness. There are also times when it is seemingly apparent that there is a stunt double in action. However, the sharp, funny screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman packs plenty of emotion in there as well. The villainous plot is a little bit ridiculous and implausible, but you leave your brain at home here, you are here to be entertained, and Vaughn and co bring that in abundance, shaken and stirred to the best degree possible. Fasten your seatbelts, cos you’re in for a blast, innit bruv!

Enormously entertaining with plenty of wit, humour, vulgarity and some terrific action scenes, the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down to Daniel Craig and co with this year’s Spectre. 

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