No Secret that this is a Good Movie!

Kingsman

When you think of Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad you most likely refer to the knights of the round table lore. Well this weekend, director Matthew Vaughn brings to the screen another variation of the classical names in the form of Kingsman: The Secret Service. After seeing the cardboard standees for months before the first trailer I pondered what was in store.

So when the trailer came a calling this is what I, and maybe you, might expect: Insane Action, Samuel L Jackson being himself, Comedic dialog, and hopefully an engaging plot. Probably more, but I have a word limit.

What you get:

  1. The team delivered on their promise of action, as Kingsman is loaded with high adrenaline scenes. From the get go things start off with a bang, and quickly transition into shootouts that are custom to the Bond film franchise. However, shootouts in this day and age can’t be like the days of wild west, but require some extra edge. Again this movie succeeds, integrating both hand to hand and gunplay into well choreographed bouts of destruction where both villain and hero make their moves. Now you might be thinking, oh great another movie like the expendables, just what the world needs. Not the case my friends. You see, Kingsman does something that is rare these days in which there is a purpose for the action. All the exciting scenes have a purpose in this film and each one is pertinent to the plot instead of just there to add some boom to the mix. Even better is that the action is not restricted to just shoot outs as well. No you’re not having an auditory hallucination, the action extends beyond the bullets and bombs. The first half of the film is all about the interview, detailing training without going too extreme. However, just because our recruits are training doesn’t mean the world stops, and the rest of the agents are out progressing the story as they try to solve the crime at hand. Regardless, the action is well done and proof that you can still have a decent story with action to support.
  2. Samuel L Jackson is still the same man we have always seen: dark and funny. Once again he steps into his bad boy role, only this time dropping the forlorn intimidation for a charismatic homeboy trying to change the world. His delivery of his explanations are hilarious, playful and straight to the point, yet still carrying that edge he is famous for. Adding the lisp to the lines was also a great move, and his role was one of the more enjoyable villains I’ve seen in a while.
  3. Outside of Jackson though, the comedy was strong throughout the whole movie and performed in a variety of ways. The dialog is very clever and quick witted making fun of a variety of cultural trends and themes. Big macs, sex jokes, even clichéd spy movie references, nothing was left untouched by this film. Yet lines can only do so much. Fortunately with the cast they assembled the delivery of the screenplay was executed well. Colin Firth’s sarcasm and prestige were excellent media to execute insults and observations. Taron Eggerton’s bad boy, hard knocked life approach was perfect for the spy in training and carried a different type of edge that mixed well with the fray. Even the environmental comedy was fantastic, with multiple crashes, punches, and other acts of violence carrying a humor filled twist that had my roommate and I rolling in our chairs. However, the biggest laughs for me come from some of the darker jokes of the film, in particular one event that will have your head exploding with laughter.
  4. This brings me to my next point of the movie; you get a lot of darkness to this tale. Audience members will be subjected to people being cut in half, bullets flying out of heads, extreme violence, and racist antics, and I’m still not covering everything. Now you might think this ruins a good movie, but it doesn’t, as the darker nature of this film brought suspense into the movie. How you ask? Simple, they are not afraid to push their characters to the limit, even pulling a few surprises like the Walking Dead that may just have you saying “What the f&(*”. The darker aspects of this movie help round out the film and provide some valuable story plots and action, that a lighter hearted tone might have limited. Nevertheless, I caution for squeamish and younger audience members to check themselves before seeing this film, or they might become haunted or sickened by the inhumane (and sometimes ridiculous) moments.

As my buddy said, Kingsman is a movie that has a lot of qualities and all blended together in a manner that is balanced. The story is laid out quite well, the plot itself engaging and organized to allow for action and comedy to take its place. All of the action had a purpose and was dynamic as opposed to other films of the genre. Comedy wise, again the dynamic nature of it allows lots of jokes and bashing on just about every culture. Vaughn and his team have made a great film that was well shot, well edited, and packed with enough excitement to make the two hours fly by. Yes, the darker themes were not quite expected, and the cursing/ cultural insults were a little much for me at times. However, both my buddy and I strongly recommend hitting this film in the theaters, especially with the dry spell coming up.

My score for this film:

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 9.5

Movie Overall: 8.5-9.0

50 Shades of Okay

50 Shades of Grey

Books are a powerful medium for expressing ideas, and also a foundation to which many movies are based on. Perhaps one book that stands as a powerful influence is unfortunately 50 shades of grey. This “love” book is supposed to be one of dominance, submission, supposed romance, and traveling into the unknown. However, most think of the graphic portrayal of sex when they hear the title. So when a movie was being thrown together I wondered just what was in store for the cinematic world. Upon seeing the trailers, here is what you might….

Expect: Graphic sex scenes, a true adaptation to the book, seductively powerful music, and a simplistic story.

What you get:

  1. Graphic sex scenes are indeed one of the selling points of this series, and this movie brings those scenes to life… well mostly. A simple make out scene in the elevator quickly transcends into more risqué moves, fully equipped with the moans, gasps, and winces of pain, (from both me and the movie). The punishment and passion are all caught on camera, and fans will get to see their imagination unfold into acts of weird copulation. For the guys, plenty of female booty and booby to go around as Dakota Johnson strips down to her birthday suit more than once. As for Jamie Dornan, girls get to see a stand out six pack and well built body, but sorry no penises for you to be enthralled by. Disappointed? Well be assured you get a lot of the dominating factors in the film, but if you want the really raunchy stuff, then wait for the director’s cut or hit the internet. Yes, I admit that there is some taste in the film installment that is suitable for the R rating, though with a series like this, it is not hard to do. Will the sex scenes live up to your expectations? Only you can be the judge, but this reviewer was relieved with the direction.
  2. Raunchy parts aside, both my friend and I agree that they stuck to the elements of the book. The set up and characters remain true, with Christian Grey still being a tormented soul that comes off as a pompous ass. Dornan knows how to pout, scream, negotiate, and did I mention smack ass. He plays the obsessed part well, especially those creepy stalker eyes, almost as if he is that obsessive in real life.   Miss Anastasia still has her wits about her, manipulating the man who has it all and doing it surprisingly with some pep in her step. Dakota plays the character very wispy, sort of fragile and pathetic, yet also strong as the movie unfolds, despite the mess she is getting herself in.   Nonetheless, the structure is there for you to grab hold of and fall back into the world you may have fallen for.
  3. By far the best part of the movie is the solid soundtrack to go with the visuals. Whoever was in charge of the music had a knack for matching each passionate moment with the right song. The remix of Beyonce’s song in particular had power as the first pleasure of Anastasia comes to life, the raw animalistic heat matching the seductiveness of the song. My roommate in particular found the track list to be well selected. I agree that despite the common theme, there was some variety to the mix. However, if you are not a fan of the sultry, suave soundtrack then again you’ll have to suffer through it, but fortunately it is not that bad.
  4. As for the story, well movie goers when it comes to the fine art of screenplays… this one is not one of my favorites. How a tale of dominance becomes one of the most popular tales I don’t know. Even more so, how has this not had almost every female getting upset at the demeaning behavior in this series? Getting off of the soap box, 50 shades has the typical drama/romance elements with a girl finding a guy, falling for the guy, and obstacles hindering their progress. The dominance twist is nice for those that like that kind of stuff, but the details bored me and the shallow characters that compose the tale did little for me. Anastasia was really the only thing quality keeping me in the film, mostly due to the semi realistic character she is. For this reviewer though, the drama, sass, and “love” lacked any real meaning an edge and left me laughing more than gasping. Even the dialog had me chuckling at the cheesy innuendos and literature references that were delivered in a very humorous manner. Whether it was on purpose or not, I’m not certain. However, what I am certain about is that the audience was laughing like this film was a comedy.

Despite all the hype and skepticism, the team of 50 shades of grey did a half decent job at keeping this pornographic drama classy. Fans of the book should be okay with the “story” aspects of the movie, but will most likely feel cheated of the sex scenes. While the acting is not the best I have seen, the cast does a decent job with the characters they have been given. I stress you go into this film with low expectations and friends who can make some jokes, because that might have been the best part of the whole experience. This movie is by far no masterpiece, but it is also not the worst thing I have seen either. Worth a trip to the theater? Not really, unless you want to hear the soundtrack in high definition glory.

My scores are:

Drama/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5-6.0

An Extended, well animated Spongebob episode

Spongebob 2

What do you feel when you hear the familiar lines of “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” Is it annoyance, or is it a sense of joy at singing the happy go lucky tune? Do you cringe from the gruffness of the sailor’s voice, or do you turn up the volume to the theme song you know and love? No matter what your reaction, you can expect it to get stuck in your head if you go to see the latest movie about the yellow sponge. That’s right, the next SpongeBob movie has landed in theaters and here is …

What you might expect: Childish Humor, A basic SpongeBob plot, interesting animation choices, and Antonio Banderas making a fool of himself.

What you get:

  1. Childish humor is the staple of the Nickelodeon series, and this movie is no exception to the rule. Little kids will enjoy the familiar bouts of our yellow hero, as Tom Kenny brings his energetic, ADHD mannerisms to the silver screen. SpongeBob doesn’t pull any punches in this film, starting over the top with a war against plankton using condiments and spanning across familiar plot elements like time traveling and super powers. Like most episodes he still is a gullible, optimistic boob, who seems to be naïve to all the bad things in life. His ear splitting laugh comes at you in full surround sound and his repetitive jokes will crash in an epic tidal wave of either enjoyment or annoyance. Helping tow the line of jokes is the chubby pink starfish Patrick, whose idiotic tendencies are stronger than ever. Like his yellow chum, the pink buffoon acts as the medium for stereotypical fat jokes that revolve around starving to death, licking pictures of food, and controlling ice cream cones to battle evil. He has a few idiotic quirks, but there isn’t anything special in this movie. Despite all the familiar antics though, the humor will entertain your young ones, my theater in particular filling with the gleeful squeals of the numerous kids. I myself laughed at a few of the well timed puns, enjoying references to some of the earlier episodes and the clever jokes hidden within. If you’re not a fan of this humor though, then sorry parents, but this movie doesn’t have as much hidden adult humor as you might like. You might find watching your kids laugh, enough of a reward to go see the movie in the film.
  1. As for the plot of the movie, no surprise here that it is the same simplistic tale that we have seen in the hundreds of SpongeBob episodes, just extended. Again the tale is centered on the golden sandwich of artery clogging goodness the Krabby Patty. We’ve seen the countless renditions of its theft, but this time we surprisingly get a new twist on its disappearance, which is poorly explained in the tale perhaps to keep the “mystery” going. Regardless in the effort to find the delightful treat, we learn just how much the denizens of Bikini Bottom depend on the burger, with the whole town evolving into anarchy due to its absence. Along the way we get SpongeBob teaming, or TE-AMing, up with an unlikely ally and leading to random story points aiding their journey. A running gag with a dolphin got a little weird for me, and his “porpoise” to the plot was a bit of a stretch for me. In a movie like this though, I don’t think a conducive story is what you are going for, but just be ready from some pretty trippy stuff to happen.
  1. Animation wise the movie is solid. Though not as fluid as the animation in the earlier season, SpongeBob’s team has done their work once more. A little over half the film is in 2-D cartoon format, with brighter colors and some computer assistance to bring the more exciting scenes to life. However, the one area that most of you are wondering about is the computer generated 3-D effects that the trailer promises. Ignoring the die-hard cartoon purists rants; the CGI work is impressive and fun as the team transverses from sea to land. For me the animation was even better, and was the more “unique” aspect of the movie as the team moves about the real life environment. In addition this scene quickly put the petal to the metal, and quickly jumps into the action frame as they don their super powers. The superhero scenes are still funny and simplistic, but fans again will like the antics to be had as they fight against the evil burger beard.
  1. Speaking of burger beard, poor Antonio has stepped into one of his more ridiculous roles. The once suave swordfighter is reduced to a rather lame pirate who spends his days talking to animated seagulls, finding an all powerful book, and luring the masses to his burger stand. Banderas is simply silly in this tale, and does over the top gestures and screaming to make everyone laugh. I myself didn’t laugh much at the lines, but I give him props for entertaining the kiddies. Not much more to say about this one, so let’s wrap things up.

This movie was fun and a great choice for taking your kids to the movies. While I like the first movie much better, Sponge Out of Water has a plenty of silly fun to enjoy. With decent animation and voice work to support our merry band of heroes, one will feel they have landed in an extra long episode of the show. Worth a trip to the theater? Not really, but if your kids are dying to go to the movies then by all means give it a shot. Again be ready for anything to happen, even a rap battle between dolphin and seagulls.

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

Why was it delayed for so long?

Almost a year ago we were promised an exciting tale from the Wachowski brothers, the creators of the Matrix, in the form of Jupiter Ascending. However, for some reason we had multiple postpones that left me angry, frustrated, and expecting a lot from the extra work involved. So in case you haven’t seen the numerous editions of the trailer let me lay down what you might expect from the trailer:

What you expect: Weird world/characters, CGI action, a weird romance/sci-fi story, and lots of Channing Tatum.

What you get:

1.If you think Wachowski you get weird, and Jupiter Ascending brings plenty of their unique perspectives to full force. The galaxy of this movie contains a variety of colorful environments, that will remind you a lot of the Star Wars prequel worlds (Coruscant, Naboo, and Mustafar anyone?). Nevertheless, the brothers have added their twists and tweaks to the artificial settings, and have constructed some interesting puppets to play in their kingdoms. The computer generated creatures are perhaps the best of the bunch, the watchers and flying lizard gargoyles well detailed to bring out their desired qualities. Freaky alien stalkers and imposing winged warriors aside, the rest of the “alien” warriors were interesting. Caine (Tatum) and Stinger (Sean Bean), had the better makeups of the craft, blended to look like a splice between man and beast, and with some cool armor to boot. As for the royalty well they are pretty much fancy humans, dressed in elaborate costumes that are knockoffs from other science fiction stories. Sure the aging looks good, but they lack any big alien qualities that impose terror, awe, or even excitement for that matter. The bounty hunters are a little ridiculous though, some looking like anime characters and others as stereotypical grunts.

  1. To this reviewer it seems that a lot of the budget went to the action scenes. Jupiter Ascending is packed with enough action for all you adrenaline junkies. Fans will get their fill of blaster fights, with Tatum skating about the field lighting up bad guys left and right. Unlike traditional films the bad guys do have some accuracy, but thanks to a shield that seems impenetrable, the stalwart pretty boy can go toe to toe with them. I’m not kidding, this shield can take blaster fire from troops, assault bikes, and ships twice its size and not once fizzle out, where can I get one of those. Cheesy shield and air skating aside, there are a few space ship fights that I really enjoyed. Althought dizzying, the scenes with Caine piloting some awesome mechanical cruiser are fast and thrilling, with unique ship technology I haven’t seen in quite some time. You’ll see some matrix inspiration, and may find one scene a little stupid when you see the epically lame defense they present. While certainly not the most relevant fights, the Wachowskis have brought some excitement to the silver screen.
  1. Perhaps the biggest thing you associate with the Wachowski brothers is their complex and often odd stories that they present. This movie is no exception as a rather convoluted turf war spans across the galaxy all in the name of… genetic birth right. You heard me right, this movie is all about complicated genetics and how they are linked/manipulated like currency in a rather odd market setting. Throw in reincarnation and a deception/backstabbing network of lies and you get even more complicated explanations that at first may be difficult to follow. For some reason, the story writing team decided to jump right into the action and leave out some important concepts. Even worse is that a lot of details mentioned are abruptly dropped, mostly due to the hastened plot to again get to the next battle scene. Yes I like action, but I don’t want plot holes to form just to cram more battles in. Perhaps the holes were also there to put in a rather simplistic and rushed love story, that really wasn’t well develop.
  1. As for point 4, you get to see lots of Channing Tatum. Again the man surprised me with some of his moves, especially with his ability to skate as if floating on air. Tatum’s stage combat training has evolved a little from his previous movies, though they still pail in comparison to many action stars. As for acting, he has the stoic, somber, loose canon figure down and nothing has really changed. His smolder is still there, his pouty lips, and his bulging muscles will take a lot of screen time. When it comes to showing other emotions, he has anger and grunting mastered, but that made me laugh more than anything. Of course as many fans seem to prove, you don’t have to act the best to be considered good. Tatum takes his shirt off for a substantial amount of time, and the ladies were moaning in delight. Maybe this is a preview of what the next Magic Mike has in store, but the timing of the shirtless scene was humorous since it was in the heat of battle. I guess his pecks were there to distract. Regardless Kunis’ role is simplified for this movie, and while she doesn’t get shirtless, she wears some tight garments to give the guys a little treat. Her acting isn’t bad, but not my favorite character I have seen her play.

Jupiter Ascending is not the greatest sci-fi movie I have seen, but it offers that weird factor I so very much like. The exciting action and colorful worlds are my highlights, though I wish there had been a stronger story to support it. I can say though that I was disappointed with the work after having multiple delays to its release. If it was for 3-D, then shame on the studio. My overall scores for this film are:

Action/Adventure/Fantasy: 6.0

Overall: 5.0