Kingsman: The Secret Service -Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service poster

“”Kingsman: the Secret Service” Is More Fun Than It Has Any Right To Be.”

Honestly I didn’t go into Kingsman: The Secret Service expecting all that much.  It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn, who did X-Men: First Class, Stardust, Kick-Ass, and Layer Cake.

Luckily my reticence wasn’t necessary because it’s a pretty good time.  The movie takes the spy thriller–something anyone that’s seen James Bond, Jason Bourne or even Austin Powers is familiar with–and tweaks them in some pretty interesting ways.

This secret organization, Kingsman (sort of like Torchwood, but without the name of their organization on their cars) is loosely structured based on King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, which means that there are individuals with code names like Arthur, Merlin and Lancelot.  They operate outside of government and work behind the scenes to stabilize trouble spots all over the world.

There are about three violent set pieces in the movie, and they’re all gloriously over-the-top, making Kingsman probably one of the most violent mainstream movies that I have seen in awhile (in fact, it’s almost Monty Python-violent at times).

There’s also a very populist current undergirding much of the action, which was an interesting–and unexpected–turn.

Though mainly the movie was just surprisingly fun, and a lot of the credit goes to Samuel Jackson, who plays Valentine, a megalomaniacal billionaire who’s plan for saving the world just happens to involve the killing of millions of “surplus” people (and unlike most spy movies, his scheme actually makes sense in a Machiavellian kind of way).

And Valentine is a particularly quirky individual, though there’s one peculiarity that’s not only ballsy for any actor to attempt, but that Jackson pulls off with aplomb.

In fact, Kingsman is full of all sorts of ballsy moves that would have failed in a lesser movie, but happen to work in this particular case so if you’re on the fence about seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, get off and go see it.



‘RoboCop’ Review


“RoboCop 2.0 is new, and not exactly improved, but it’s still worth the upgrade.”

I have an iPad 2, and I really liked iOS 6, and was perfectly content with it.  Soon enough, Apple came out with iOS 7, and when I upgraded I didn’t like it.  It was all shiny and colorful, but different than I was accustomed to.

That’s exactly the way felt about José Padlha’s “RoboCop” reboot:  Sure, you can do it, but why?  I like my old RoboCop just fine, thank you!

Like Apple, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “upgraded” anyway.

Anyone who has read this blog before has probably noticed that I hate changes made just for the sake of change.

With iOS 7, once I got used to the changed appearance, I noticed that it offered certain benefits that iOS 6 didn’t.  The same thing applies to the new RoboCop.  It may not be the one that I remember, but for the most part it doesn’t feel like the changes were done just to change something (or as a cynical money grab, which is also popular with Hollywood).

You see, studio executives realize that if they reboot a popular franchise, name recognition is built-in, as is (they’d like to think) the audience.

But there’s a problem, especially when the film you’re rebooting a masterwork, which I honestly think the original film is.  It was a proudly R-rated stew of jingoism, bad taste and violence so extreme that the the original film was rated X before Paul Verhoeven cut it enough to warrant an R rating.

So when I learned of the reboot, directed by Brazilian director José Padilha (“Elite Squad”) was going to be rated PG-13, something stank.

The odor that aroused my attention must have been the laundry that’s sitting in the hamper next to my desk, because Padilha’s “RoboCop” differs from Verhoeven’s in ways that are mainly good, and the film was actually pretty enjoyable.

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‘Transformers: Age Of Extinction’ Trailer


I just finished watching the trailer for Michael Bay’s latest ‘Transformers’ film, and I have to say that he’s had better trailers.  This one has a particularly disjointed quality to it, and feels like random footage was thrown together with little logic.

Which isn’t unusual for a trailer, though some sort of narrative cohesion would be nice.

Perhaps I would be more enthusiastic if I knew, or cared, about any of the characters, old or new.  And speaking of new, this time around we have Dinobots and Mark Wahlberg, who’s seems a bit more likable than Shia Lebeouf (who has an odd tendency to bite the hand that feeds).

By way of example, Samuel Jackson has played in some pretty mediocre films, yet I have never once read about him criticizing any of them.  I suspect that he understands that it’s a job, and no matter what you feel about your job–or your boss, for that matter–you shut up and do what you’re paid to do because there are a lot of people that aren’t so fortunate.  Unless you’re talking about David O’ Russell, who George Clooney was going to wipe the floor with, though he’s supposedly resolved his anger issues (scroll down to the bottom of the link, though there are some other interesting stories about directors and their issues with actors).

In reference to Michael Bay, he’s got a great visual sense.  His films are very dynamic, but when you look beneath the awesome visuals, there’s not that much left.

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ Sheds Audience

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.DABC’s Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” had a bit of a ratings fall-off since its premiere, down to 3.1 from a high of 4.6.  That being said, a 3.1 rating translates to 8.44 million viewers, hardly anything to sneeze at.

Though it is a surprise considering that Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson, the hardest working man in Hollywood) may have had a surprise cameo.

That being said, if that number continues to fall, the future of the series will be in doubt.

‘RoboCop’ Trailer

That was quick.  Thanks to Rafael Dominguez Estrada, who found this on Youtube, despite me having looked for it earlier.  The trailer in and of itself looks OK, but the major league actors (Samuel Jackson and Gary Oldman) that look to be playing somewhat “minor” roles reminds me of Christopher Nolan’s casting of Michael Caine as Alfred in his Batman films.

Which has always struck me as odd because I am sure that there’s someone else not quite as established as any of those actors that could really use the break.

I also didn’t see any hint of the trademark violence – or the snarkiness – of the Paul Verhoeven original, which isn’t a good thing.

To Post-Convert To 3D Or Not Post-Convert

Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is being post-converted to 3D, which is interesting when you consider how terrible such conversions tend to be.

Remember “Wrath Of The Titans?”  If there’s another film that was converted to 3D to such seemingly universal disdain, I am unaware of it.

That being said tickets for 3D films tend to be significantly more expensive than those for traditional films, so I am sure that that figured into someone’s calculations.

And you cannot talk about 3D films without mentioning James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which actually had very good 3D, though I felt that it was too enthralled with its own technology (after all, did we really need to see what often felt like a documentary called “The Flora and Fauna of Pandora?”) to be as effective as it could have been.

I enjoyed “Tron: Legacy,” but to be honest I am so smitten with everything ‘Tron’ that I barely noticed the effect, more often than not.

The three dimensional version of “The Avengers” was also pretty mediocre because what I remember most from the effect was from the beginning of the film, where for some odd reason Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) was thrust so far forward it actually diminished the effect for everyone else in the scene.  The S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier scenes were cool, but it’s essentially a flying aircraft carrier, so there’s little you can to to frak that up.

The only saving grace I can see is that 3D technology, like any other technology, will advance, so perhaps my fears are unfounded.

And besides, this is Guillermo Del Toro film, and if anyone can shepherd some really good post-converted 3D, it’s him.

Sam Jackson: Here To Stay

Samuel Jackson at ComicCon. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The New York Times has a fascinating interview with Samuel Jackson, who plays Nick Fury in “The Avengers.”  If you’re unaware of why he’s known as one of the hardest working men in show business, this article should clear that up.

The Times is behind a paywalll, though they do allow you to access ten articles a month for free.