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Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
The New James Bond Franchise?
Wonderful movie, full of surprises and nice quirks. Witty, charming, classy and humorous. There is so much to enjoy in this movie, including a very talented cast. The nod to the James Bond franchise is unmistakable and elevates the homage genre in the finest way. I feel like I am gushing in this review, but this really is a must-see movie for anyone that enjoys action packed thrillers with just the right touch of humor.
There is violence to be sure, but it is done in such a way, that is entirely unobjectionable and even farcical - but in the most enjoyable manner. Colin Firth is the perfect choice for Galahad and Samuel L. Jackson makes for the perfect "Bond" type villain, not to mention the metamorphosis of Taron Egerton into the perfect gentlemanly Kingsman.
I was fortunate enough to see this on the 4th of July, so the fireworks scene made me laugh in delight and cheer.
Just Starting to Relax
Space nut here. (If I wasn't such a coward, I would have signed up to go to Mars.) So, I was tense throughout the movie since I read a lot and watch a lot about space ("the final frontier")- non-fiction - and know some of the dangers.
In addition, the way the film is written and directed, I felt I knew the characters right from the start, so I felt for their plight. Slightly teary was I.
So, although physically tensed in my seat, and teary-eyed, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable film. And even though I am somewhat well informed, I am not informed enough to be distracted by anything that didn't ring true. An excellent film with beautiful visuals.
Lucky you if you have a large HD viewing medium. The opening scenes of this film are awesome. As a matter of fact, any of the scenes outside of the Kassandra are equally candy for the eyes.
But, a movie isn't built on visuals alone. While the plot outline is good, what I will refer to as the 'meat' of the story leaves much to be desired. For instance, the romance between Portmann and Decker seems to come out of nowhere. There is no lead up of any kind, Decker just kisses her out of the blue. As far as I can tell, there was very little interaction between them until that moment. Then they have sex. At first, I thought it was a casual hook-up, and that I could understand - cabin fever induced horniness. Then I thought, "They are going to "do it" in the passage way? That is like doing it in a cruise ship hallway, but, 'oh well'" Then they are in love. It is like the writer(s) was told that a romantic angle was needed and under duress just slapped something together.
Then there is the brief amount of time they have to get their tasks completed while Laura is in the simulation. There are less than 7 minutes left, yet she pauses to look around and admire the view. Then stops and kneels down to spend some time feeling the ground and the leaves. Finally she strolls up to her sister's house and then spends precious minutes having a loving family reunion. Come on! Peoples' lives are depending on her.
I really wanted to be able to give this a higher rating because it really is beautifully shot, but the storyline, outside of the main one (evil corporation/government cover up) is just too lame.
3 Geezers! (2013)
Why the hate?
Not sure why the low scores because this is a delightful and funny movie. Maybe it is because it is a cast mostly of middle-aged and elderly. Or maybe it is because western social attitudes about older people not being as interesting as those under 30. Or people are made uncomfortable by the thought of old people "doing it". "Old" people aren't supposed to be silly, irreverent, sex obsessed or pranksters? Well, from the elderly I know in real life, they definitely can be. It's really only illness and infirmity that puts a stop to it, if you were silly, irreverent, sex obsessed or a prankster when you were younger. Perhaps not even then. (I visit and occasionally have lunch out with a lady in her 70's who likes to scope out and then point out good looking young men to me. Not because she is trying to fix me up, but according to her, because she likes looking at good looking men!)
I don't think this would have been funny if this was about teenagers or twenty-somethings because it has been done to death. Using the older generation gives a tired old genre, a fresh new twist. It is filmed as if it were a documentary, and the unseen camera holder is mentioned a couple of times. But, unlike another review, I did not care for the beginning and almost stopped watching because of that Tyler Perry "filming a play for a movie" feel. Luckily, that changed after just a couple of minutes.
There are also some nice cameos, including a hilarious Christopher Walken impression by Kevin Pollak. While it isn't an Oscar contender, it is definitely an entertaining film worth the watch.
And I want that red "bikini".
Wish You Were Here (2012)
Slow Paced But Worth Watching
I'm not sure why the ratings on this one are so low, because this was actually a good movie. Although, because of the accents, it was a little difficult to understand at times, I got the gist of it. It's kind of slow paced and there really aren't any surprises, but it still captured my interest.
The one thing that might have put some people off is how naive the male lead was. So much is written in the news about visiting other countries and remembering that their laws, customs, attitudes and behaviors may not be (or most probably are not) in sync with what western tourists expect in their own countries, that it is a little hard to understand how this could have ended the way it did.
But then, drinking and drug use to extremes has probably never ended very well. Add to that mix a healthy dose of self-loathing and, as I did, sit back and watch the train wreck that is inevitable.
Will he be able to live with himself? Would I/you?
An Oldie But a Goodie
Having been released in 1990, some may find the subject matter dated. "Been there, seen that." In addition, this movie may not appeal to someone that does not want to be reminded of unpleasant facts. For instance, there is a line in the movie that goes something like, 'we took a bite from the apple and now won't be happy until we have destroyed every part of paradise.'
It seems at the start of this film, that it is going to be about an adventure in the jungle. An adventure like Indiana Jones or something like that. But the real adventure is in the transformation that takes place int the central character's life.
It is a slow-paced movie, but riveting. Slow-paced in a dreamlike way. Sort of like having a fever and being conscious of what's going on around you but it all seems like a dream. (The previous is a very inadequate description, but the best I can do with the words I have.)
But it wasn't all wonderful, and there may be things that will stand out so much, many won't be able to look past them to enjoy the film.
There are disjointed parts, unexplained occurrences, and some glaring inconsistencies. The one that bothered me most was hair. These people were out in the Amazon jungle, hundreds of miles from anything resembling a city, yet the main characters hair was always salon cut. One of the girls started out with short hair in Finland, and her hair length never changed, even when they were living in what was little more than a slave labor camp. It would have been different if their hair looked choppy or like bed-head, but wherever they were or no matter how much time passed, everyone's hair always looked freshly cut. For the detail inclined, this will be distracting.
Despite any negatives listed here, I truly enjoyed this film.
Vindication After Reading Other Reviews.
I really wanted to like this movie for a number of reasons. First of all, I really like natural disaster movies; if the scenery or CGI is even adequate, I am satisfied. Secondly, there is always the human element whether it is the "villains" that caused the disaster or refused to admit that there was a problem or the "heroic" people whose stories are told as part of the overall disaster. And finally, it takes place in London - I don't think I have seen another disaster movie that takes place there. Therefore, it would be a refreshing change to the typical destruction of New York, L.A., or Japan.
But, no matter how many times I watch it, I always wind up doing something else at the same time. I just can not warm up to this movie. Another review I read finally made me realize why. It is like a low budget, poorly made-for-TV movie. There is so much disjointed editing and so many poorly connected scenes that I eventually just lose interest. The CGI is at times fine, but for the most part unbelievable. That is a shame because great walls of water wiping out structures can be awesome to watch if done competently.
And the acting. Robert Carlye chews the scenery every time he is on screen. The other primary actors are equally unbelievable, although Joanne Whalley does seem to be trying. The only performances I actually found credible were the two barrier workers (Tom Hardy and Angus Barnett I believe.) At least I think they were barrier workers. Not being from London I didn't know if they were somewhere in the barrier or in the Underground. There were a few things that weren't explained, taking for granted anyone watching would know exactly where and what was going on.
I have watched Haeundae (2009) which is entirely in Korean and kind of goofy at times and felt more interest and connection than I ever did watching Flood, a movie that was entirely in English.
I Don't Even Really Know Why
To say that none of the main characters in this movie is really likable is an understatement to me. Yet, I have watched this film, many times. It moves me and I don't know why. Is it because it confirms a conclusion I hold about love, about romance? Maybe. Well, maybe that is the reason I like the film so much - it confirms my innermost viewpoint.
No one seems to be setting out to be a liar, a cheat. Do these people wake up one morning and decide to be deceitful little buggers? Doubtful. Sure, Buster is kind of weak and weaselly, Larry is kind of crude and maybe something of a manipulative bully. Alice and Anna are less well defined, their characters seem to be foils or opposites, but really not. That reads as garbled, but is meant to read as enigmatic. Because they are. But accepting. Enigmatic, but accepting.
Somehow, the paths they choose, the decisions they make, just creates a mess. To paraphrase a review I read somewhere, beautiful people behaving badly.
The Tree of Life (2011)
"watching the play of memories, that weren't even mine"
I am contrary in that I will not go see a film just because it is critically acclaimed. But, I have enjoyed movies that Brad Pitt or Sean Penn have been in, in the past, so it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the curiosity of seeing them work together.
Did I like this movie? What an insipid word to use - "like" - in connection with this film. Instead, I will say I "felt" this movie. I got it. Like life, it was disquieting, disturbing, thought provoking, painful at times, joyous at others. Beautiful, confusing, glorious, tragic, scary, mesmerizing and drawing me in. I felt apprehension, fear, wonder, awe and I was spellbound.
Trying to describe it to a friend: My red shoes at 5; the red buttons on my shirt on my first date at 15; the blood when I cut my finger at 11; my fingertip is not gone, the metal lid just came down and squeezed it painfully (26); the wooden piano lid makes a funny sound when dropped (3); dropping pebbles down the pipe well at 8; skating over the pipes in the dam jars my teeth (11); my knees and hands are all skinned up from trying to go into a spin while backward skating (24); accidentally winding up skiing downhill backwards and falling into the trees off the side on a run much too difficult for my skill level (19); snowflakes falling and melting on my face and tongue (9); sunlight sparkling through the rain drops on my eyelashes (14); ripples in the water as I try to catch tadpoles in the creek, in the woods, during a light, summer rain (11); watching my secret love, stand in the woods and look up at my bedroom window (16); staring out the kitchen window while washing dishes, wishing there were woods to look at (26); and so on.
Seeing this movie was like lying in a hammock on a lazy summer day, eyes closed, watching the play of memories, that weren't even mine, flicker across my sunlit eyelids.
Nice, little action/suspense flick
Not so much an action but a suspense movie. Suspense. Why isn't that description used more often for movies? If it were, maybe more movies of this type would have a larger audience than they receive in the theater world. I did not see it in a movie theater. It wasn't until it came out on DVD, and I was looking for something different/interesting to watch, that I gave it a viewing.
This movie is an edge of the seat, clenching your hands, what is the ending going to be movie. Sure there is some explosive activity, but what really happens is I slowly came to care about the characters, both seen and unseen, I knew what the possible outcomes could be and if there was a twist to the ending, it might be heartbreaking. Or not. The suspense of what was to happen, the subtle character development, and dynamic visuals keep this movie on the rotation here on the planet.