Check out the official Batman v Superman Trailer just released. Let us know what you think.
Wow!! This Joker could give me nightmares!! This movie just got a lot more interesting!!! Jared Leto has some big shoes to fill! #Joker75 #SuicideSquad @WarnerBrosEnt @DCComics
We’re all familiar with the James Bond tropes before the current Daniel Craig outings. The typical plot line goes something like this: There’s an over the top threat to the world and James must save us by infiltrating, seducing and fighting his way across several exotic locations before a final showdown where he barely defeats the villain and is rewarded with copious amounts of sex as credits roll. Be assured that there are plenty of quips and double entendres along the way and that there is a diabolical henchman involved possessing some skill or physical attribute that makes it seem like our hero has no chance of victory.
Kingsman: The Secret Service takes these familiar plot lines and gives it a hard R twist with its violence. It is loosely based on comic titled The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. It is directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton , Samuel L. Jackson and Sophie Cookson.
The film opens in 1997, where we see 4 men interrogating a captured terrorist. The terrorist raises his head to reveal a grenade pin in his mouth. One of the interrogators throws himself on top of the terrorist, thus saving the others. Colin Firth’s character, Harry (codename Galahad), was in charge of that mission. Harry visits his fallen friend’s wife and attempts to give her a medal in her husband’s memory. There is a phone number on the back of the medal in case she needs a favor, and to say “Oxford’s not brogues” to confirm her identity. She rejects the medal and so Harry give the medal to her son, Gary.
17 years later, another Kingsman operative is attempting the rescue of a kidnapped Professor. The operative is almost successful until he is killed in over the top fashion by Gazelle, a female assassin with bladed prosthetic legs.
This opening sequence sets up the plot threads for the film. Harry takes the teen, Gary, under his wing and begins his training to become a member of the Kingsmen. The scenes trade off between Gary and other candidate’s training and those that further reveal the villainous intentions of Sam Jackson’s Mr. Valentine.
Kingsman entertains with action set pieces that defy physics and ramp up the budget for blood spatter. One of the highlights of the film is an extended sequence that takes place in a church. Mr. Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, speaking in only the 2nd most annoying voice this year, has created technology that uses cell phone signals to turn people into murderous hordes. His first test case of the mass murder network he created is in this church. We see an incredibly choreographed sequence of death and destruction in excruciating detail and slow motion that leaves Harry as the sole survivor. Upon emerging from the church, Harry regains his composure and has a fateful encounter with Mr. Valentine. This sets up the plot for the final act of the film.
Kingsman is a fun action movie for its demographic. My problem with the film is that I’m not sure how to take violence that is shown in such gleeful, glorious detail and I’m definitely uncomfortable with the notion of a female character offering sex as a reward for her freedom. (Admittedly a staple of the Roger Moore James Bond years, but at least it was inferred and not graphically described).
Should I take this as just a modern take on an old formula or should I take it as where we’ve come as a society because we are so desensitized to sex and violence in today’s cinema? I think the answer to this may unfortunately say more about us than it does about the film.
Kingsman: The Secret Service-B
The Battle of the 5 Armies is the final installment in Peter Jackson‘s adaption of The Hobbit, a beloved fantasy novel (perhaps THE beloved fantasy novel) by JRR Tolkien. It is also the culmination of a 13 year journey for Jackson, who has painstakingly and reverently brought The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy to life.
Every film that Jackson has made in the series has been nominated for Best Picture. The Return of the King actually won the Best Picture award in 2004 and was one of the most decorated films of that year. As each film was released, audiences expectations rose accordingly. Jackson and his team were truly innovators, developing cutting edge techniques in all aspects of film making, up to and including the development of higher film speed ratios to deliver some of the most beautiful, fully immersive cinematic experiences of all time. High standards indeed.
The Hobbit film trilogy has generally been regarded as a let down after the triumph of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Jackson has conceded that filming the Hobbit was more problematic simply because it is a relatively shorter story and is tonally different from LOTR. Portions of the novel are shifted in the film to form a better bridge to the tone of the LOTR movies. Evangeline Lilly’s character , Tauriel, was created by Jackson as a way to expand material introduced in the book. Such moves have caused discomfort among some of the novel’s most ardent fans.
If one sets aside those considerations and just watches the film for its own sake, we are still left with a film that succeeds more than it fails.
The film opens with the dragon, Smaug, unleashing his fiery wrath upon the people of Lake-Town. The scenes of Smaug’s attack and his subsequent death by Bard the Bowman of Esgaroth are outstanding and do much to create the atmosphere of despair and inevitability that permeates this film. Once Smaug is dispatched and the dwarves reclaim their treasure, we begin to see the downward tailspin that comes from the curse of greed and power as the armies of Dwarves, Men, Elves, Orcs and Eagles converge.
While the entire cast is topnotch, I feel it is important to note that Richard Armitage gives an Oscar worthy performance as Thorin Oakenshield. You can see and hear how one of the most important protagonists of the 1st two films is gradually corrupted and leads his people into an unnecessary war. A truly landmark performance.
Martin Freeman does a great job as Bilbo Baggins, the little Hobbit that serves as the moral conscience of the tale (yet with his own, Precious, secret) and helps inject the need to persevere agains all odds that gives us hope in this film.
Ian McKellan once again triumphs as Gandalf and it is an amazing feat to consider that he has played this character in every film since 2001.
Howard Shore has done another great job of building on his already iconic work on these film scores.
I think I’m going against the general consensus when I say that I believe this was my favorite of the 3 Hobbit movies. I felt it was successful in drawing this story to a satisfying conclusion and serving as a bridge to The Fellowship of the Ring. I feel like the biggest weakness of the film lies in 2 points. The unrequited love story between Tauriel and one of the dwarves feels contrived and unnecessary. The other thing that bothered me (and boy, is this a small quibble) is that in the battle scenes we see different types of giants and monsters used as WMD’s. Every time they wind up being comic relief. I think they went to that well too often as well as making me wonder why would any self respecting army commander put a giant idiot at the front of the attack?
My grade for The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies is A-.
Guardians of The Galaxy is another hit out of the ballpark for Marvel Studios. It is on track to have close to a 100 million dollar opening weekend in the US. This is even more amazing when you consider that this particular version of the Guardians (Yes, there have been more than one) has not been the subject of any significant story lines for Marvel in years. It is essentially a group of C and D list characters that Marvel rolled the dice on and won big time.
The story centers around 5 characters that are brought together through a strange series of events (are there any other kind?) and places the fate of the galaxy on their shoulders.
Chris Pratt is a surprisingly perfect choice as Peter Quill (Star-Lord). His charisma and delivery of smart ass remarks is spot on and endearing.
Zoe Saldana does a great job with the role of Gamora. Gamora is the deadliest woman in the universe and her fight scenes show that she did the training to get it right. (In fact she injured Chris Pratt when filming their encounter.
Bradley Cooper voices the character of Rocket. Rocket is a raccoon looking creature that has a lot of pent up anger coupled with a love of guns and explosives.
Vin Diesel gives voice to the character of Groot. Groot is a walking sentient tree like creature. His verbal communication is achieved through the inflection of the way he delivers the words “I am Groot.” Vin does a great job with what might seem to be an blow off part. He carries it off with grace, humor and lots of emotion.
Dave Bautista is a pleasant surprise. The former WWF champion is fantastic as Drax the Destroyer. Drax is an individual whose only purpose in life is to kill those responsible for the death of his family; namely, Ronan the Accuser and Thanos the mad Titan.
This film provides another puzzle piece to the long range plans of Marvel Studios. It is the third film to feature one of the Infinity Stones as the McGuffin of the film. Since it also features Thanos in a supporting role, I’m betting that Avengers 3 will deal with the famous Infinity Gauntlet storyline. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry; you’ve got plenty of time to catch up.).
Director James Gunn has created a fully fleshed out universe with a great balance of drama, humor, sci fi action and suspense. There are lots of Easter Eggs in the film for the true Marvel Fan. (You get 1000 points if you know the backstory of Cosmo, the space dog and can point out the Celestial in the film).
As always, stay through the very end of the credits to get a tag ending. It will mean nothing to the casual observer but will be a pleasant surprise for Marvel Zombies.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun, summer film that serves as a terrific first chapter to a classic space opera trilogy.