Tag Archives: Matthew Vaughn

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Kingsman 2

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

Plot:  When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organisation in the United States. These two elite secret organisations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Running Time: 2 Hours 21 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 53%    Audience 65%
Why I Watched It: Saw the first one and it was on for 2.99 on itunes so not my fault.

Random Thoughts: Matthew Vaughn is not one of my favourite directors,I know a lot of people love him and a ton of fanboys adore him cause he makes “movies” he doesn’t tell stories but makes high energy, highly stylised over the top movies and for me he’s a tad too much, all style really no real characters and no stakes, look he killed off Colin Firth in the first film and now he’s back.

What I Liked: The style is cool not going to lie, it’s loud and does provide the over the top action you would expect and yes it’s a sequel so it’s more of everything.  I might not be a huge fan of Vaugh’s but he does deliver on what he does best, be does do what it says on the label but I fear he does come close to being the British Michael Bay. He is loud for the sake of being loud and he pushes the limits just to see how far he can go it’s not in service of the characters or the story.

The sound design is great, the stunts are cool and all the actors are game and I will say most of them are engaged.

What I Didn’t Like: To put it very simple this is a bloated and very self indulgent movie, too many name actors with very little to do and for the love of film why is this film over 2 hours and 20 minutes, there’s not that much story to tell and boy does it drag and near the end you feel those extra minutes.

The story is about as cliched as you can get think a James Bond movie from the early 80′s, the villain here is played by Julianne Moore and yes she’s over the top and is fun at points but she’s not fleshed out at all and she has a diner where she kills people with a meat grinder, yes you read that right.  This film wants to be cheesy B-Movie fun but there’s too much money on the screen and the actors are way too good, wasted but still too good for it to work.

Also this film does through some very heavy handed social commentary that just seems out of place, this fill has a scene where our hero puts a tracking device inside a women, I don’t think I want to explain further.  So trying to be political just seems silly.  At the end of the day this film is just there, you could argue we needed a sequel but we got one and I wish they put some effort into the story and actually gave these very good actors something to do and yes Elton John plays himself, kind of sums up what this movie was going for.

Final Thoughts: Mindless, big budget popcorn movie if that’s what you’re looking for then that’s what you’ll get but it’s not a good or even fun popcorn movie.

Rating: 3/10

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Kick-Ass (2010) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KICKASS

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay),  Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson,  Nicolas Cage,  Chloë Grace Moretz

I can recall when ‘Kick Ass’ was announced to be made into a live action movie. If my memory serves me correctly it was around the same time as ‘Watchmen’ that was released the year previously.

I have never admitted to being a comic book fanatic. I’m more of a regular main stream fan who grew up on Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and The Incredible Hulk. Mostly through the live action television series was as far as it went for me.

Looking at the artwork at both Kick Ass and Watchmen I have to admit I was more drawn to the story of Laurie and Sally Jupiter, Dr. Manhatten, Rorschach, Edward ‘The Comedian’ Blake and Dan Dreilberg and the dark world of Super Heroes that Zack Snyder had created for the cinematic experience based on the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel in comparison to Dave Lizewski’s scrawny teenage superhero Kick Ass.

If I could go back 7 years ago, I would kick myself for my ignorance and into the realisation that this movie like it’s comic book creator Mark Millar was a force to be reckoned with.

The first movie I saw of director Matthew Vaughn was the 2004 hard hitting movie Layer Cake starring Bond to be Daniel Craig and although an enjoyable movie at the time, it never really stuck with me the name “Matthew Vaughn” but having experienced his movies post “Kick Ass” it is clear to see why his movies are very memorable and have a certain style. When you mix that with the graphic novel of Mark Millar you have a recipe for something unique, very special and unexpected.

My first viewing of Kick Ass back in 2010 has stayed with me since that day as going into the movie unassuming and not expecting too much from it, I can recall being blown away by the story, the acting, the characters and the visuals.

“Kick Ass” is the story of Dave Lizewski, an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so other than fed up being bullied and being a nobody.

Dave’s story up to the point of becoming a superhero is very similar to Spider-Man’s Peter Parker in every sense that like Peter, Dave wants a life of meaning, struggling with teen angst and up to this point, doesn’t really know what he wants from life. This is obviously where Dave Lizewski and Peter Parker’s lives stop and one lives in the real world and the other in comic book world.

Dave even questions to his two close friends Todd and Marty “why doesn’t someone become a superhero in real life” to which Marty explains because they wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the real world”

This is what I enjoy about the world of Kick Ass. Although in our real world Kick Ass is a comic Book hero, in Kick Ass the world is every bit as real.

With Dave hell bent on making a difference to the world. Things don’t go according to plan on his first outing as the green suited hero. In fact after confronting two thieves trying to jack a car. Kick Ass ends up being stabbed and if that’s not enough is then run over. It is at this point you realise how graphic this movie is going to be in its tone and more important it’s mature theme for a comic book hero. The scene also signifies the style of movie Vaughn is making here and it’s at this point I was hooked. It’s not that often you actually see the “Superhero” of the movie vulnerable, struggling with courage, scared and unsure of his decisions once committed to the confrontation.

Thankfully Dave survives (only just) and spends months recuperating from multiple operations in which metal plates are installed into his body and he has also lost a lot of feelings due to irreparable nerve endings, which sounds to me like the making of a superhero??? even Todd and Marty test Dave’s disabled nerve endings out and declare “You’re practically a superhero!”

With Dave now back to full health he sets up a website for victims to contact him to help them with an “any job, not to small” approach isn’t very successful until he helps a victim who is chased by five other guys and manages to fend them off, whilst all captured on mobile phones by the onlookers and downloaded on to YouTube where Kick Ass becomes an overnight internet sensation.

Up to this point I have to admit although I enjoyed the storyline but felt it may have peaked too soon. That is until Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hitgirl (Chloë Grace Moretz) enter the scene and notice this internet sensation and want to check him out to see if he is the real deal or not. In fact one of the most enjoyable lines comes from Cage who says after watching the YouTube video. “Maybe he should think about calling himself “Ass Kicked” Cage delivers this line in classic Adam West as Bruce Wayne fashion with an added snigger as to be pleased with his funny one liner.

Cage and Grace Moretz are perfect together as father and daughter fighting crime and I have to admit being shocked and amazed at Grace Moretz’s portrayal of the pint sized crime fighter. Her lines are delivered perfectly and up against the veteran actor there is natural chemistry between both of them and she really matches her on screen Dad in every scene they appear in. It’s a strange thing to say, considering the relationship but you would swear that Nick Cage is her real Dad, if that makes sense.

Also taking notice of the Kick Ass video is Dave’s classmate Chris D’Amico portrayed by the brilliant Christopher (McLovin) Mintz-Plasse. Chris is the son of big time gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and points out to his father the menace in his city who sets out to end Kick Ass’s rise to fame before he does any significant damage to the D’Amico Empire.

Both Mintz-Plasse and Strong appear to have a great relationship as far as acting goes although the characters appear to have little in common as Chris appears to be a disappointment to Frank in he seems to take after his mother rather than his father and Chris is aware of this and is desperate for his father’s approval convinces him to invest in a superhero costume and persona into luring Kick Ass into a trap. This sets up a brilliant climatic battle between our superheroes and the gangsters of the city and ends in once of my favourite onscreen moments involving a jet pack and An American Trilogy by Elvis Presley being played over this scene. It really is a great moment in the movie that will make the hairs on your arm stand up.

Overall Kick Ass is a stunning piece of work from all elements within the movie. The pacing is just right throughout the duration, the visuals are stunning and in particular the fighting sequences, the acting and casting is basically lightening in a bottle and with a great storyline and fantastic catchy soundtrack I found myself watching this movie over and over again. If you haven’t watched Kick Ass yet, where have you been? Highly recommend.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KINGSMAN

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay), Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Stars: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle coming out this September I thought I would go back and rewatch “The Secret Service” which is now 3 years old (where did the time go)

A quick recap sees Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin played by Taron Egerton being taken under the wing of Harry Hart played by Colin Firth who is a spy for the British Secret Service with assistance from Arthur (Michael Caine) and (Merlin) Mark Strong who up against the villainous lisping Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who although hates the sight of blood and gore holds a vision of mass biological warfare through…….SIM CARDS??? Stay with us.

Kingsman pays homage to the James Bond films rather than parodying it in the style of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Based on the Mark Millar comic book littered with hid creative quirkiness and with Vaughn’s film-making, has left a stylised-spectacle of ultra-violence much in the same fashion as their other successful franchise “Kick-Ass”.

Fans of Bond and Kick-Ass are certain to love it, as through rollercoasters of action, comedy and espionage. Just like the colourful, gadget ridden Bond films of the 1960’s (always the best bit about spy films are the gadgets) Kingsman is very fun to watch, with ‘wham, bam, thank-you ma’am’ style of mayhem, one- liners and a stylish soundtrack all over it.

Portraying the lead character of ‘Eggsy’, Taron Egerton  who proves to be an outstanding actor as he brings the character to life with an energising vibe of a comparing ethic of a housing estate lifestyle against the english gentleman’s class. I previously reviewed Egerton’s performance in the Eddie the Eagle movie and again for such a young actor oozes confidence in the role he portrays and isn’t fazed working alongside established actors like Firth, Jackson or Caine and was exactly the same in his screen time with Hugh Jackman in Eddie the Eagle movie.

Alongside, and tackling the mentor, come father type role, is Colin Firth, who based on previous filmography alone could easily be classed as the U.K.’s most typecast actor (well probably apart from Hugh Grant). Until now, Firth was at the top of every romantic film directors list and comes along Kingsmen: The Secret Service and the mould is broken as he is lethal with most weapons, his fighting style is convincing and his sharp wit shines throughout the movie. Not to sound negative towards Firth as credit must go to the writers and the choreographers for taking the “blandness” out of the actor. But it’s down to Firth at the end of the day on how he delivers the character and he absolutely nails every scene.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ contains some very memorable characters and the three standouts has to be Samuel L. Jackson, who is clearly having the time of his life as lisping villain Valentine and you can tell he is enjoying playing the villain once more with a very dark and nasty humour you can’t help even just for a moment you hope he wins the day (as if).

Michael Caine very much like ‘Now You See Me’ has very limited screen time and perhaps is correct for the role in the movie as Arthur who is overseeing the Secret Services missions but doesn’t have really much to do other than show his presence in some of the crucial moments as a somewhat ambiguous sort of character.

Mark Strong who comes across as a likeable guy plays Merlin who I think is attempting a Scottish Accent in the movie is basically Kingsman’s “Q” Strong who I thought did a terrific job in Kick-Ass as  Frank D’Amico and as Jim Prideaux in the 2011 remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) I felt was a little under used. Unlike Caine’s role that agreed with deserved the amount of screen time. I felt the character of Merlin could have been explored a little more and there appeared to be great chemistry in the limited screen time between Strong and Egerton. Although with the upcoming sequel “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” perhaps that is the reason Strong had limited screen time for the relationship between Harry and Gary to blossom and just maybe this film was just to set him up for a bigger role in the sequel.

Kingsman: The Secret Service marks the third film in a row that director Matthew Vaughn has adapted from a comic book background. His two previous being Kick-Ass (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011) that were both excellent films and in the case of the later is one of my favourite X-Men films. The thing about Kingsman is that the James Bond influence present and the graphic but yet stylishly shot violence that was also present in Vaughn’s previous movie Kick-Ass, this film not only pays respect to the old spy films of yesteryear and takes the spy genre, and mixes in the superhero and hi-tech elements with some east end of London elements from his earlier productions like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and with “Kingsman” actually managed to create something even more fantastic, but also comes into it’s own to become a classic for the future in my opinion and hope there is more Vaughn ‘Kingsman’ films coming.

Ultimately “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a good film and overall I think the makers of the movie thought very carefully with how each scene connected and flowed together and the fight scenes that were very well choreographed. Even though some scenes in particular were quite predictable I thought that the combination of the film makers trying not to hard to be too humorous but still being funny and the fluidity was just right. I’m looking forward to viewing the sequel later this year to see where we go with ‘Eggsy’ and no doubt like most sequels we will see Vaughn upping the ante. Highly recommend.