Oh, yes, it’s on!!! Has it been three years already?
Matthew Vaughn’s (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) MARV Films and 20th Century Fox has released the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This time around, it looks like Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is out to solve another global incident with the help of (or is being opposed by) the Statesman. Are they the American version of the Kingsman?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle also stars Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges (both from The Big Lebowski), Mark Strong (a Vaughn favorite), Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Colin Firth.
Here are six mini-reviews of six films that I saw in 2016!
Alice Through The Looking Glass (dir by James Bobin)
In a word — BORING!
Personally, I’ve always thought that, as a work of literature, Through The Looking Glass is actually superior to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. That’s largely because Through The Looking Glass is a lot darker than Wonderland and the satire is a lot more fierce. You wouldn’t know that from watching the latest film adaptation, though. Alice Through The Looking Glass doesn’t really seem to care much about the source material. Instead, it’s all about making money and if that means ignoring everything that made the story a classic and instead turning it into a rip-off of every other recent blockbuster, so be it. At times, I wondered if I was watching a film based on Lewis Carroll or a film based on Suicide Squad. Well, regardless, the whole enterprise is way too cynical to really enjoy.
(On the plus side, the CGI is fairly well-done. If you listen, you’ll hear the voice of Alan Rickman.)
Gods of Egypt (dir by Alex Proyas)
I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to describing the plot of Gods of Egypt. This was one of the most confusing films that I’ve ever seen but then again, I’m also not exactly an expert when it comes to Egyptian mythology. As far as I could tell, it was about Egyptian Gods fighting some sort of war with each other but I was never quite sure who was who or why they were fighting or anything else. My ADHD went crazy while I was watching Gods of Egypt. There were so much plot and so many superfluous distractions that I couldn’t really concentrate on what the Hell was actually going on.
But you know what? With all that in mind, Gods of Egypt is still not as bad as you’ve heard. It’s a big and ludicrous film but ultimately, it’s so big and so ludicrous that it becomes oddly charming. Director Alex Proyas had a definite vision in mind when he made this film and that alone makes Gods of Egypt better than some of the other films that I’m reviewing in this post.
Is Gods of Egypt so bad that its good? I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Instead, I would say that it’s so ludicrous that it’s unexpectedly watchable.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (dir by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)
Bleh. Who cares? I mean, I hate to put it like that but The Huntsman: Winter’s War felt pretty much like every other wannabe blockbuster that was released in April of last year. Big battles, big cast, big visuals, big production but the movie itself was way too predictable to be interesting.
Did we really need a follow-up to Snow White and The Huntsman? Judging by this film, we did not.
Me Before You (dir by Thea Sharrock)
Me Before You was assisted suicide propaganda, disguised as a Nicolas Sparks-style love story. Emilia Clarke is hired to serve as a caregiver to a paralyzed and bitter former banker played by Sam Claflin. At first they hate each other but then they love each other but it may be too late because Claflin is determined to end his life in Switzerland. Trying to change his mind, Clarke tries to prove to him that it’s a big beautiful world out there. Claflin appreciates the effort but it turns out that he really, really wants to die. It helps, of course, that Switzerland is a really beautiful and romantic country. I mean, if you’re going to end your life, Switzerland is the place to do it. Take that, Sea of Trees.
Anyway, Me Before You makes its points with all the subtlety and nuance of a sledge-hammer that’s been borrowed from the Final Exit Network. It doesn’t help that Clarke and Claflin have next to no chemistry. Even without all the propaganda, Me Before You would have been forgettable. The propaganda just pushes the movie over the line that separates mediocre from terrible.
Mother’s Day (dir by Garry Marshall)
Y’know, the only reason that I’ve put off writing about how much I hated this film is because Garry Marshall died shortly after it was released and I read so many tweets and interviews from people talking about what a nice and sincere guy he was that I actually started to feel guilty for hating his final movie.
But seriously, Mother’s Day was really bad. This was the third of Marshall’s holiday films. All three of them were ensemble pieces that ascribed a ludicrous amount of importance to one particular holiday. None of them were any good, largely because they all felt like cynical cash-ins. If you didn’t see Valentine’s Day, you hated love. If you didn’t see New Year’s Eve, you didn’t care about the future of the world. And if you didn’t see Mother’s Day … well, let’s just not go there, okay?
Mother’s Day takes place in Atlanta and it deals with a group of people who are all either mothers or dealing with a mother. The ensemble is made up of familiar faces — Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and others! — but nobody really seems to be making much of an effort to act. Instead, they simple show up, recite a few lines in whatever their trademark style may be, and then cash their paycheck. The whole thing feels so incredibly manipulative and shallow and fake that it leaves you wondering if maybe all future holidays should be canceled.
I know Garry Marshall was a great guy but seriously, Mother’s Day is just the worst.
As far as recent Biblical films go, Risen is not that bad. It takes place shortly after the Crucifixion and stars Joseph Fiennes as a Roman centurion who is assigned to discover why the body of Jesus has disappeared from its tomb. You can probably guess what happens next. The film may be a little bit heavy-handed but the Roman Empire is convincingly recreated, Joseph Fiennes gives a pretty good performance, and Kevin Reynolds keeps the action moving quickly. As a faith-based film that never becomes preachy, Risen is far superior to something like God’s Not Dead 2.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a no brainer for me. I’ve been following Matthew Vaughn since Stardust, and a friend pointed me towards Layer Cake, which I love. Most audiences know Vaughn from his work on X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass. That’s the main reason I ran towards this movie. I also found out writer Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick-Ass, Marvel’s Civil War) was involved and the story was originally a comic, so the flow of the film makes perfect sense. Overall, Kingsman is a triumph for everyone involved, easily a film I could see myself returning to see again, but it’s not without it’s quirks. If the movie were cut into four acts, the first three were great, but the last act comes close to falling into the clichés it tries so hard to avoid.
Short and Sweet:
If you liked Wanted’s and Kick-Ass’ action sequences and copious amounts of violence mixed with bloodletting, Kingsman has your name written all over it. Throats are cut, people are shot, and bones are broken. It doesn’t happen often throughout the film, but when it does, it can get messy. The movie may have you considering wanting to get yourself some good business attire. It isn’t for kids by a long shot, it’s rated R for a reason.
The Slightly Long Version:
Kingsman is the tale of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), a young man who ends up being recruited for The Kingsman after a run in with the law. The Kingsman are a secret society of spies that at one time were tailors to great people. When a threat to the world rises in the form of a rich tech wiz named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), the Kingsmen must find a way to stop him.
Eggsy’s recruiter is Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, who does the best job out of all of the actors involved (in my opinion). Being the one who has to explain what all this is about, Firth manages to play the mentor role well. When it comes to fighting, he shows everyone who’s boss. Who knew Mark Darcy could fight (well, other than Daniel Cleaver, I guess)?
The casting for Kingsman really couldn’t offer any more surprises than it did. You have Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean), Mark Hamill (channeling his inner Joker here), Michael Caine, Mark Strong (a Vaughn favorite), Sofia Boutella (whose dance techniques work well for her blade wielding character) and Sophie Cookson. There’s really no one out of place here, save for maybe Jackson, who’s villain hates violence yet sees when it needs to be done. I do like that the movie kept me guessing about the Valentine’s intentions.As for Egerton, though I’ve never seen Egerton in anything before this, he’s good enough to warrant seeing him in a sequel. I can see him becoming a Vaughn regular in another film – maybe as an X-Men member?
As if the crew spent some time watching John Wick, the action in Kingsman moves pretty fast and fierce at times, and there’ll undoubtedly be a few scenes that will have you abusing the slo-mo feature when it arrives on digital download. The film moves through scenes with few cuts involved. You’ll have someone staring into a monitor at a fight that travels to the fight itself, and then flow into another moment. It’s Vaughn at his best, and at times, it’s all beautiful. I guarantee you that at least one scene in particular will probably have people talking. By far, one of the most unique uses of a Lynyrd Skynyrd track since The Devil’s Rejects. On a side note, it’s wonderful to see every advertised gadget get some use.
So, with all that praise, what’s the problem? Well, the last part of the film felt a little flat for me. If you’ve ever watched Batman Begins and it’s repetitious “stop the train before it hits the Wayne Tower” sequence, Kingsman feels similar. What bothered me was how some of the events were kind of caught in a bubble. Given the stakes involved (especially near the end), you’re never really told or shown the outcome of the actions. It’s really hard to explain without giving anything away, but I could put it like this. If you fired a gun in the middle of a street in broad daylight, someone would react and call the cops, no? So, if you escalate that action, shouldn’t the reaction / after effects be big? Between this and an annoying bit of product placement, I suppose it couldn’t be avoided. Still, it may be something that stands out for some audiences. It’s by no means a deal breaker, though.