Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Details from IMDB:

Kingsmen-202x300

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

R  | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 13 February 2015 (USA)

Ratings: 8.2/10 from 87,959 users   Metascore: 59/100
Reviews: 326 user | 300 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Director:

Matthew Vaughn

Writers:

Jane Goldman (screenplay), Matthew Vaughn (screenplay), 2 more credits »

Stars:

Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I had heard good things about this movie and of course Sam Jackson as a villain? That’s generally a solid choice (except for The Spirit, please don’t see that piece of crap!) This was actually my second time trying to see it, as before it was sold out and we ended up just having dinner. Plus the fact that it’s based on a comic book and the theater I saw it in served alcohol, it was an obvious choice.

Main Thoughts:

This movie starts out with a bang and some great music (Dire Straits in particular), it’s just a fun action movie that has some clever twists and some adult moments.  (It is restricted after all). Colin Firth is not who you would think of as an action hero but he pulls it off quite well. The movie does sneak in some social commentary and even made me think a little about being born into a privileged life, versus having to struggle to achieve success and overcome difficult circumstances.

The action scenes are top notch, with the only stumbling point that for an incredibly violent movie there is almost no blood. I’m not obsessed with gore by any means but when someone gets literally cut in half and there is no blood? It just bothers me. Back to the positive Sam Jackson is an excellent villain, he lends his own style to it by dresser as a rapper from the 80’s and having a slight speech impediment.

There is a nice twist that I won’t spoil and a couple of other nice surprises. I have to say that I also enjoyed Mark Hamil’s cameo, though I hardly recognized him at first. I suppose like most people I haven’t seen him in anything since Return of the Jedi, way back in 1983 and he just looks a lot different (it was over 30 years ago after all).

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this movie if you like action mixed in with a little comedy and a lot of fun.  I give it a solid 8/10. Of course this is not for children as it features a lot of violence, some adult language and brief nudity. Once more I have to say I loved the music here, aside from "Money for Nothing" it also prominently features "Slave to Love" to Roxy Music (Bryan Ferry), two excellent songs. Still more movies to catch up up, talk to you all soon.

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Movie Review: Chappie

Details from IMDB:

Chappie

Chappie (2015)

R  | 120 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 6 March 2015 (USA)

Ratings: 7.3/10 from 29,838 users   Metascore: 41/100

Reviews: 259 user | 266 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

Director:

Neill Blomkamp

Writers:

Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

Stars:

Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I like Neil Blomkamp, I enjoyed District 9 and Elysium (though the latter was better), so when his new movie came out (and it got ok reviews) and the movie theater served beer, of course we went.

Main Thoughts:

The movie is certainly not the most original. I immediately started to think of RoboCop (though on a larger scale) and even District 9 (as it’s once again set in South Africa). I shouldn’t start off negative though, the action here is top notch are there are even some touching moments as Chappie (a robot with a full working AI) begins to mature.

It’s nice to see Sigourney Weaver in a movie and she’s fine here (though her role is very small). SurprisinglyYo-Landi Visser (who plays Yolandi) does a good job here as a mother figure to Chappie and it was nice to see Hugh Jackman take on a different role (he’s certainly not a nice guy here). The idea of a full working AI has been done a lot but it was nice here to see it in early stages, learning how to behave and make decisions on its own.

As with all of Neil’s movie this one too is a comment on society and the classes in society. While there are certainly bad people here, there are others that have redeeming qualities despite them breaking the law. There is good action scenes and a few funny parts but ultimately the story falls short and has a very cliche’ ending (which I won’t spoil).

Final Thoughts:

I give this a mild recommendation (though certainly not for anyone under 17) and a 7/10. As I said the ending is disappointing, it just seemed so obvious and sews everything up far too neatly. Even though it’s only 2 hours I felt it dragged a little at times. Neil has done better work and I hope his next film is more original but as you wait for Avengers, this is a pleasant enough distraction.

Movie Review: St. Vincent

StVincent

Details from IMDB:

St. Vincent (2014)

102 min  -  Comedy | Drama  -  24 October 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.4/10 from 11,625 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 79 user | 139 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.

Director:

Theodore Melfi

Writer:

Theodore Melfi (screenplay)

Stars:

Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Ahh Bill Murry, he’s been someone I’ve enjoyed from way back when I first saw Ghostbusters (first one is a classic, don’t bother with the second). He’s had some other great roles too (and some crappy ones) but I’ve found that for the most part he winds up in good movies. I had heard good things about St. Vincent and with it on Netflix (in France that is, I used Unlocator which I’d recommend) I decided to watch it.

Main Points:

I like Naomi Watts as well and while I’ve never been a big fan of Melissa McCarthy, I have to give her credit for a fine performance here. Really though, this is Bill Murray’s movie and he truly shines. His character, at first glance, is a miserable, penniless and we assume lazy and dirty. The wonderful part about this movie is how well Murry takes on the role, you grow to love Vince as the layers are slowly peeled back and you see what he is really like, you see what he’s been through.

The movie is a great take on reality (I’ll admit not so much as I know but what I’m sure rings true for many people), the feeling that you just can’t win, that life (and people) are only out to screw you and you have to take whatever you can get just to make it. As the movie progresses he begins to have a friendship with the young boy next door (whom he is often paid to babysit) and you find yourself liking the kid and rooting for these two to win.

I don’t want to give the whole plot away, there are some interesting (and sad) twists that really put Vincent and some other characters to the test. It’s a movie about the seeing the good in a person and having the courage to not give up on someone. It’s a movie about sacrifice, love and the meaning of life and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Final Thoughts:

Bill Murray could win an Oscar for this role, he is just amazing. There is one particular part near the end that I found very emotional and touching. I strongly recommend this movie (though as usual not for small children). It’s a damn great movie and I give it 9/10. If you have Netflix (France) or it’s still in theater you should really check it out. Until next time (will be my thoughts on another movie I just saw today).

Movie Review: Interstellar

InterStellar

Details from IMDB:

Interstellar (2014)

169 min  -  Adventure | Sci-Fi  -  7 November 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.9/10 from 329,512 users   Metascore: 74/100

Reviews: 1,565 user | 530 critic | 46 from Metacritic.com

A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity.

Director:

Christopher Nolan

Writers:

Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan

Stars:

Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about this movie, lately Matthew McConaughey has been doing some amazing acting and of course it’s Christopher Nolan (I enjoyed all the Batman movies and Inception) so I plunked down $17.50 for IMAX and went with a friend last week.

Main Points:

The movie is an interesting mixture of science and science-fiction, along with some great performances and a study of human nature and our behavior. The special effects (once they leave earth) are amazing, Nolan has a talent for doing these wide shots that can really bring out the beauty and majesty of a scene. In this movie really look out for when the spacecraft goes by Saturn, it looks incredible and the ship is so small it really helps but man’s insignificance in perspective.

Mcconaughey shines in this movie with a truly interesting character that goes through a lot. Michael Caine is quite good as is Anne Hathaway (who plays his daughter in the film). As it’s in credits I don’t mind saying Matt Damon is here and also is quite good in a smaller role.

Enough about the story and performances though, so there are ideas that leave you to think about long after you’ve left. How much damage have we really done to the earth? Will there come a time when humanity will have to leave? Will governments try to re-write history for our supposed benefit? (This has already happened several times in history). What would a wormhole be like? What would a black hole be like close up? How far away are we from putting people in suspended animation for a long trip? (Or to extend their life)

What will robots look like in the future? The movie has a robot that is basically one solid block with two other blocks on each side for moving (it can extend arms from all pieces as well). The robot is very functional and has an important part to play at several points. Is there dimensions that we can’t perceive? (Like a time dimension for example) While the movie answers a couple of these questions (and it’s fictional context) the rest I don’t know, I hope that we do better as a species to preserve the earth and eventually explore more of the solar system but sometimes with the state of the world I have doubts.

Final Thoughts:

This was getting really long so I’ll stop. Overall I really enjoyed this movie and would highly recommend it (though not for young children). Some of the concepts are wacky and strain credibility of the movie and it is on the longish side at almost 3 hours (all of Nolan’s movies are long though). I give it a strong 8/10. Next will be my thoughts on St. Vincent (which was on Netflix France), until then.

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses 2

HorribleBosses2

Details from IMDB:

 

Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

108 min  -  Comedy  -  26 November 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.1/10 from 8,930 users   Metascore: 40/100
Reviews: 51 user | 119 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

Dale, Kurt and Nick decide to start their own business but things don’t go as planned because of a slick investor, prompting the trio to pull off a harebrained and misguided kidnapping scheme.

Director:

Sean Anders

Writers:

Sean Anders (screenplay), John Morris (screenplay), 5 more credits »

Stars:

Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

Ah the sequel, it can be a good thing but it’s often fraught with peril. I found the first Horrible Bosses very funny (I’ve seen it several times) and this made me want to see the sequel. I have a regular movie critic I read and I check IMDB (usually a movie has to get at least a 7 for me to see it), all signs looked good so we went.

Main Points:

This movie starts off a little different (the guys have no horrible bosses, as they run their own business) but soon gets into familiar terrain of them trying to plan a big crime but fail terribly. I’ll admit there were some good performances (just not by any of the main actors) and Jennifer Aniston plays the super-sexual Julia perfectly (this time with more dirty talk), Jamie Foxx is excellent as Motherf**ker Jones and Kevin Spacey plays the lunatic boss behind bars well.

The most serious problem was the movie gets so predictable and the laughs dry up after the first 45 minutes. Having the characters (well two of them) continue to act so stupid and screw everything up just didn’t do it for me this time. Getting bored during a 108 minute movie is a serious problem. There are a few times I laughed (Chris Pine and Chistoph Waltz are funny at times) but just not enough.

Final Thoughts:

Due to the strength of the other performers and a few parts I laughed out loud I’ll give it a weak 6/10. Unless you’re a huge fan of the minor actors I mentioned and/or are desperate to see what happens next, I’d really can’t recommend this, save your money and see "Interstellar" (review coming soon) or see the last "Hobbit". If you do go please don’t bring children, as this is obviously an adult movie. Until next time! (when I review a much better movie)

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1

Details from IMDB:

MockingjayPart1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

123 min  -  Adventure | Sci-Fi  -  21 November 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 7.2/10 from 69,555 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 308 user | 253 critic | 44 from Metacritic.com

When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol.

Director:

Francis Lawrence

Writers:

Peter Craig (screenplay), Danny Strong (screenplay), 2 more credits »

Stars:

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve seen the first two "Hunger Games" movies (and I enjoyed the first one a lot) and is the case with me, I wanted to see the story continue (I haven’t read the books). So we got a chance to go to this on a quiet Saturday matinee show.

Main Points:

First off I enjoyed the performances of everyone in this film (though Woody Harrelson hardly gets to do anything) and of course I was sad to see one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances. This movie moves away from the actual hunger games and gets the war/rebellion in full swing against the capital.

I enjoyed how the film gets into the behind the scenes stuff with war. Both sides make propaganda films (though the Mockingjay one is never shown to anyone besides the top rebels) and the rebels realize that they need to show Katniss in the field fighting to make people want to join the rebellion. The movie also shows the horrors of war, dead bodies left in a corridor, a room full of people terribly wounded and then the government bombing the hospital.

The film also gets into torture and brainwashing, so for a film based on a YA novel I was surprised at some of the things they showed (twice there is a scene of burned/charred skeletons that is a little gruesome). There are a couple of twists that I won’t spoil and I like the fact that Katniss is a reluctant hero. She becomes the rebels spokesperson but only after several things happen and when she is injured another rebel is used to give a speech.

Final Thoughts:

Jennifer Lawrence continues to shine and I thought Juliane Moore and Sutherland gave good performances here. While the movie doesn’t show it, I assume that the rebels did cause some civilian causalities and we are shown that war always has its price, no matter how noble the cause. It even hints at the deeper idea that if you believe you fight for justice, what’s the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? How far would you go to fight for what you believe in?

With those things said I did think the movie drags a little at the beginning and the love triangle bit with Gale/Peeta/Katniss still gets on my nerves. There is one part near the end that is rather predictable but still exciting to watch. Overall though I enjoyed this film and while I can’t see it winning any Oscars I would recommend it for fans of the Hunger Games (just not for children).  A strong 7/10 from me. Next will be more movie reviews, December is when lots of good ones come out!

Movie Review: Fury

Details from IMDB:

Fury

Fury (2014)

134 min  -  Action | Drama | War  -  17 October 2014 (USA)

Ratings: 8.1/10 from 32,556 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 190 user | 201 critic | 47 from Metacritic.com

April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Director:

David Ayer

Writer:

David Ayer

Stars:

Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman | See full cast and crew »

Initial Thoughts:

I’m something of a WWII buff, I’ve never written a paper on it but I’ve read several books, seen lots of documentaries and even done History courses just to learn more about the time in history. So I’m always interested when any movie comes out set during WWII and of course Fury is one of those films. Top that off with I have always enjoyed Brad Pitt (and it got good reviews) meant that we went to see it a couple of weeks ago.

Main Points:

This is set near the end of the European part of WWII, Hitler committed suicide (no I don’t believe he faked his death) on April 30th so this film obviously takes place early to mid-April of ’45. I have to say right off that I was immensely impressed with the attention to detail and accurateness of this film. Big things like an actual German Tiger tank (borrowed from a British museum) all the way down to the uniforms and medals in this movie are authentic and in many cases actually worn/used in the war.

So the movie has some excellent action scenes. Be prepared though, several are quite gory. It shows the effect of war on all sides, the Germans fought tooth and nail at the end, even making children fight. The civilians whose lives were torn apart, houses destroyed or just killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps the most interesting part of the film is it shows the mental effects on the American soldiers. While some cling to religion for comfort, others become hardened and emotionless while others become twisted and almost unable to function with regular people anymore. There is a scene where the "Fury" tank members describe a battlefield experience where they killed thousands of horses to some French women, it is quite disturbing and shows just what the war has done to their mental states. The idea presented is that even good people (one character was just a typist in the Army who is suddenly thrown in a tank) are destroyed inside by war and violence, that you can’t come through such an experience unchanged.

It also makes you wonder can some people actually enjoy war? Are their people so dark already that war only brings out what was already inside them? The movie never answers these questions. Ultimately there is a final showdown and the idea of courage and bravery are also strongly presented. While there is no argument that Hitler was a monster and the concentration camps was perhaps the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, it leaves room for you to think about the regular German soldiers. They followed orders just as the Allied troops did and aside from the SS (who personally did terrible things including running the death camps), fought as any solider does in any war.

Final Thoughts:

Well this turned into a rather lengthy review. Suffice it to say I loved this movie, I give it a strong 8.5 out of 10. I’ll also say that while generally I don’t like Shia LaBeouf, I must say he surprised me here with a good performance. Brad Pitt was also quite good along with the rest of the cast. Please don’t take a child to see this film, I think this should only be seen by ages 17+ for the extreme violence. If you want to learn about history and what war really does to people I do strongly recommend it. Until next time all (not sure what that post will be), talk to you soon.