comedy

FILM REVIEW: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE

‘Kingman: The Secret Service’file_118522_1_kingsmanposterlarge

Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine

Story: An underground British spy organization recruits a young rough around the edges Londoner as their new agent.

When you review a film, you really have to think about who has made it and what they might be trying to say. With Kingsman, the truth is, this is a film by Matthew Vaughn. For any of us who have seen Kick-Ass or Layer Cake then maybe we should know what to expect: something gory, in your face, and hilarious.  Vaughn like to have fun and makes no excuses for that.

Unfortunately, Kingsman falls slightly short of his other feats and something feels somewhat amiss. 

Gory violence does not make a bad movie, and in fact it is frequently done quite well. Think of Kick-Ass, Machete, Kill Bill, or Zombieland: all great movies and extremely funny but with enough graphic violence to make you squirm in your seat. Kingman attempts this and you know, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. It is certainly not a reason to hate the film and it doesn’t take away from it. The real reason Kingsman is disappointing is because most of the jokes fall flat. This kind of violence should be accompanied by real, dark humour but we just don’t get it here.

There are some funny moments. Egerton does a fantastic job of playing the clueless young thug who is drawn into a world that he has only ever imagined. He has great ying&yang chemistry with Colin Firth who honestly seems to be doing the best with Kingsman_Firth3that he is given, but ends up seeming to be trying a little too hard to be dry. Samuel L Jackson is the real let down here: he is supposed to be the comic force in the film but it is far too obvious. Most of his jokes lack any sort of comedic timing and understanding, and just feel like they are lines read from a script (which they probably are). Comedy in this form, in this type of movie, is paramount. Kingsman tries very hard to bring it, but for some reason falls short.

That is not to say that it isn’t enjoyable. As an action movie it does the trick and provides and interesting enough storyline to keep us entertained. You can actually have a nice escape into action movie land for about two hours as long as you are not expecting a film along the same vein as Pulp Fiction or Get Smart.

Kingsman is fine. You won’t regret watching it, but it won’t go down in history as a great action comedy either

Rating: 6.5

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FILM REVIEW: ‘CHEF’

‘Chef’

Written by: Jon Favreau

Directed by: Jon Favreau download

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jnr

Story: After a breakdown in his restaurant job and a difficult divorce, Chef Carl Casper decides to start a food truck to try and revitalize his love of cooking. 

Isn’t Jon Favreau just everyone’s favourite guy?! If he wasn’t before, ‘Chef’ will make you think twice. Favreau commands pretty impressive attention at the credit roll: he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this feat which will leave you hungry for more!

It has been quite a while since we have seen something quite so uplifting without being ‘preachy’. The script is full bodied and delightful. Favreau is clever to stay away from cliches. Of course, many people have called this story boring and overly simple, but it strikes a really fine balance between internal and external struggle. Our protagonist is reliable and relatable, arguably one of the most realistic main characters we have had in a long time. The relationships he has with his son, friend, ex wife, and ‘kinda-sorta-girlfriend’ are unavoidable and dealt with in a true to life, no apologies sort of way. And of course, his biggest relationship, the one he has with food, is our quiet conflict. There is no big struggle in this film, and it actually plays out more in the structure of documentary that anything else. What we witness is a number of small struggles and small triumphs much like life for most of us out here in the real world.

Favreau gives us an incredibly likeable main character. He brings a lot of heart to the film and it is clear to see that this really was a passion project for him. Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jnr are in the film (nothing notable), and Scarlett Johansson appears and pouts for a while (also nothing noteable). Stand out performances after Favreau come from John Laguizamoand Emjay Anthony. Russell Peters provides a funny cameo, too. The real fault here is that the supporting cast are underdeveloped characters. There is no depth to Vergara’s role (does she have a job? Why was she ever married to this frumpy loser chef?) and Johansson was really quite pointless. With the film running for just under two hours, much of their screen time could of been cut to avoid confusion.

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The cinematography is stellar, and this is not a film that should be watched on an empty stomach! Countless meals are prepared to perfection and presented so delightfully that you might just find yourself salivating.

‘Chef’ is a warm fuzzy. It is perfect for a rainy afternoon with a hot cooked meal when you’re in the mood to smile (on the inside!). Does it have problems? Yes. Mainly in script and character development, but this doesn’t ruin the movie. It is still a whole hearted treat.

Rating: 8/10

FILM REVIEW: “RIDE ALONG” (2014)

“Ride Along”

Written by: Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Directed by: Tim Story
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart
Story: Security guard Ben goes on a ride-along with his future brother-in-law, tough guy cop James, in order to prove that he is worthy to be accepted into the family.

 

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It is hard to find the words to fully review a film like ‘Ride Along’. What springs to mind immediately after watching it is a room of Hollywood Executives rubbing their chins thinking: “You know what we haven’t made in a while? ‘Rush Hour’. Let’s make a movie similar to that but not nearly as funny…”

And so ‘Ride Along’ was born.

The most shocking part of this film is the fact that it took four people to write it. The story is simple. Fast talking annoying guy (Clearly Kevin Hart) spends the day with scowling tough guy who only ever utters threats of violence to get people around him to shut up. Hart is our modern day Chris Tucker, or Eddie Murphy in a ‘Shrek and Donkey’ style reluctant duo. What we have as a plot might of been a fairly intriguing crime saga 100 years ago before it had been done so many times before.

The camera darts and dashes to try and create the illusion that this incredibly slow movie is actually moving with any sort of inspired pace and quite frankly would be enough to make you car sick were it not for the fact that these sequences were so few and far between. The only attempt at making this film seem socially relevant and up to date is the relentless reference to video games (a WoW style game) which creates it’s own subplot.

This movie is a shame since Kevin Hart has become so widely acclaimed for his comedy. Paired with Ice Cube there could of been potential for this, had there been any semblance of comedy. The jokes are exhausted and so overdone it almost becomes unbearable. However, this is a great January money grab for the pair: ‘Ride Along’ has dominated the box office now for two weeks. People must be bored AND cold.

If you want to see two guys blow stuff up and have Kevin Hart make quips about it, then give this one a watch, but only if you don’t pay for it and you don’t have anything better to do.

If you have already seen ‘Bad Boys’ or ‘Rush Hour’ (or even ‘Shrek’!) then definitely don’t waste your time.

Rating 0.5/5

FILM REVIEW: “PHILOMENA” (2013)

“Philomena”

Written by: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (adapted from the book ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixsmith)

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

Story: Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) is a journalist pursuing a human interest piece based on Philomena Lee, who was induced into giving her first child up to Irish nuns.

Philomena

Directed by Stephen Frears, who has earned acclaim for films such as ‘The Queen’, ‘Philomena’ is a rich, witty drama which will resonate with anybody who has a social conscience.

When you take a book like ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ and attempt to turn it into a movie, it would be very easy to fall into a Nicholas Sparks type trap of creating something soaked in apathy and desperate for tears. This is not the case with Philomena, which draws brilliantly on the comedic talents of both Steve Coogan and Judi Dench to master the fine balance between laughing and crying.

The story is not too simple, but not complex enough to drown out the true emotion of the matter at hand. I have heard people say that this film serves to only bastardise the Catholic Church, however when one actually takes the time to watch this movie from start to finish, something different starts to permeate your mind.

Judi Dench plays the role of Philomena to absolute perfection, and one may indeed find themselves hanging on to every single word she says until the credits begin to roll. Joining on her journey to find her long lost son, who she finds was actually sold for adoption in the United States, Steve Coogan gives us Martin Sixsmith in all his glory. This totally mismatched pair have an incredible mother/son chemistry on screen and their opposing views provoke even more thought in the audience: Where Sixsmith builds increasing resentment towards the Catholic Church, Philomena possesses an impenetrable capacity to forgive and live on. It is impossible to take sides.

Frears is not fussy in his direction, instead choosing to play his part minimally and leave the rest to the script which was masterfully written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan. The movie plays out quickly, and doesn’t mess about with unnecessary characters or detail.

All in all, those who watch will find themselves captivated by an unavoidable “PhiloMania”: an attachment to this story which perhaps has different significance for each and every individual.

Rating: 5/5

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