Posts Tagged ‘taron edgerton’

Kingsman

Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) is firmly ensconced as a member of the Kingsman.  He is being chased by Charlie (Edward Holcroft) who is a disgruntled Kingsman trainee, with a robotic arm.  Charlie fails to take down  Eggsy, but his robotic arm hacks Eggsy’s profile and gains valuable information on the Kingsmen.  Charlie works for an organization called the Golden Circle, a secret organization, headed by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) which wants to destroy the  Kingsmen.  With the information Poppy gets from Charlie’s robotic arm, she destroys the Kingmen locations throughout the country.  Only Merlin (Mark Strong) and Eggsy survive, what do the two remaining Kingsmen do with no  headquarters and only two agents?  Who is Poppy Adams, and why is she bent on destruction?

The Golden Circle starts out like many action films often do, with a high octane action sequence.  The movie lags when the exposition begins .  It is shamelessly sentimental, on many fronts, including Harry, Merlin, and   Princess Tilde.  The romance between Tilde and Eggy is so forced and unnatural, that it reminds me of how the two lovers first met, which was the worst part of the first movie.  The movie has a thinly veiled feminist justification for Poppy’s villainy, but it’s poorly thought out and realized. The writing anti-drug-in a passive aggressive way.  There are also more of the stereotypical dumb redneck characters in minor roles and major roles, therefore reinforcing a tired movie trope. Add to that that the movie is too long and way too violent, and the result is a truly boring, often redundant sequel to a passable spy flick.

Taron Edgerton is a good young actor, too good to be trapped in a crap soufflé such as this.  He was excellent in the first Kingsmen movie, as well as Eddie the Eagle, and Sing.  Hopefully he can return to more versatile roles, and can quickly erase this mistake from his resume.  Mark Strong is an established veteran actor, but he is someone who can move from role to role with little damage to his career, so hopefully he too can leave this role in the rearview mirror. I guess Colin Firth ran out of Bridget Jones sequels to make.  Julianne Moore doesn’t exude the kind of joy that is required to play a real evil villain, she seems to be going through the motions.  Channing Tatum cannot act, that doesn’t change by adding a badly executed Southern accent.  Jeff Bridges is misused, and Halle Berry is badly underused. A great cast is badly sabotaged by criminally bad writing.

The director does a good job with the action sequences, but the pacing is really slow in the scenes between, which makes a 2 hour, 20 minute movie into what seems like a never-ending dud.  The overreliance on violence is telling, violence is often a filler in a story when the writers can’t think of actual plot, and this movie is no exception. The choice of music is odd, “Take Me Home Country Roads” is an odd choice for music because it refers to West Virginia, and the American part of the movie is in Kentucky.  There is also another John Denver song in this movie, and a John Denver reference, I don’t really understand the reason for these 1970’s references in a movie almost 50 years later.

Kingsmen:  The Golden Circle.  A royal pain.

sing movie

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear music promotor who fell in love with live musical shows at a very young age.  Buster’s father worked very hard to buy Buster a theater, and now the theater has fallen into disrepair.  Buster has an idea, to put on a live musical competition and offer 1,000 dollars as the prize money to the winner.  But his secretary, Miss Crawley, (Garth Jennings) an elderly glass-eyed lizard misprints the fliers for the show and offers 100,000 dollars for the prize without Buster’s knowledge.  All the finalists have talent, but they also have issues.  Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) is a pig songstress with 25 piglet children and an overworked husband.  Mike (Seth McFarland)  is a mouse with the voice of Frank Sinatra, who also has a gambling problem.  He’s being chased by bear gangsters.  Ash (Scarlet Johansson) is a porcupine teenage rock guitarist, whose boyfriend is cheating on her.  Johnny (Taron Edgerton) is a gorilla with a beautiful voice, but he’s part of a gang, headed up by his dad, Big Daddy, (Peter Serafinowicz) the gang robs banks, and has one last big job coming.  Meena is an elephant with a powerful voice, who is too shy to sing.

Buster has a bigger problem, he doesn’t have the prize money, but he has an idea, impress Nana Noodleman, (Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson) grandmother of his assistant, Eddie, (John C. Reilly) and Buster can have the prize money for the concert to save the theater.  So Buster makes some ill-advised repairs to the theater to impress Nana, does Buster’s plan work?  Do the performers overcome their problems in order to perform?

Sing is a movie with a lot of promise, but the script has its fair share of issues with negative racial and ethnic stereotypes   When one of the main characters is a gorilla, and a gang member, that’s got a lot of negative racial baggage attached to it.  Also the relentlessly happy Japanese J-pop group is also a stereotype, also why is the elderly secretary portrayed as a screw-up always searching for her glass eye?  Is it ok to teach kids ageism also?  Despite these stumbles, the theme of music helping people rise above their particular circumstance is a good one.  Music is the perfect vehicle to illustrate this theme because a good song can lift people emotionally, spiritually and even physically if the song is done well enough.  Great acting by all the leads, and great singing by the lead actors makes this movie better than its script.

Matthew McConaughey loses most of his Texas twang for this role and makes Buster a multi-dimensional character.  Buster loves music, he loves the theater, because the theater is symbolic of his love of music and his love of his father.  So it’s a complex performance, and McConaughey pulls it off. Thankfully, he doesn’t sing. Reese Witherspoon also does an outstanding job as a haggard wife and mother who finds a release in singing and she does do her own singing, as she did in I Walk The Line, and she has a great voice.  Her acting skills also make the overworked mom who nonetheless loves her kids convincing. Scarlet Johansson plays a rebellious teen guitarist, who has to cope with a cheating boyfriend. Johansson also has a good singing voice, and amply conveys the pain of being cheated on.  Taron Edgerton is torn between his love of singing and his love for his criminal father, and illustrates the anguish well.  Who knew he had such a good voice? Not me. Seth McFarland hams it up as the Sinatra sound alike mouse, but his voice is better than his acting.

The animation in this movie is beautiful, the first scene of the original theater is so true to life that the viewers will believe that he or she is going into a real theater.  The pacing is good, the director, Gareth Jennings is also the writer.  I would say he gets good performances from the cast, but this is an all-star cast, but this cast doesn’t need any director to shape their performances.

Sing: A few sour notes can’t spoil this film.

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie Edwards (Tom Costello, Jack Costello, Taron Edgerton) is born with knee problems that forced him to wear a knee brace until he was 15 years old.  He has one dream as a child, and that is to become an Olympian. Eddie soon realized that he could not make the Summer Olympics, so he wants to try out for the Winter Olympics in 1988.  He takes up skiing and then ski jumping.  Eddie learns that the best ski jumpers train in Germany , so he leaves England, and goes to Germany, much to the chagrin of his father, Terry, (Keith Allen) who wants to teach Eddie the fine art of plastering ceilings.

In Germany, Eddie meets Matti Nykanen (Edwin Endre) the Finnish ski jumping Olympic champion, and he also meets a washed-up alcoholic American who’s plowing the ski runs.  What Eddie soon understands that the washed-up American is Bronson Peary, (Hugh Jackman) who was on the U.S. ski jumping team, and blew his chance at a medal because of his big ego.  When Eddie ends up in the hospital after a jump, Bronson realizes that Eddie is serious about ski jumping.  Bronson simply teaches Eddie how to land. Eddie learns that because the British ski jumping team is non-existent, all he has to do is make a jump in a qualifying tournament and he is on the British Olympic ski jumping team, he makes the jump, and lands, but then British Olympic officials change the rules and now Eddie has to jump 61 meters, twice the length he jumped to qualify for the team.  What does Eddie do next?  Are his Olympic dreams dashed?

I loved this movie!  It certainly helps that I remember the story from the 1988 Olympics, but I didn’t know Eddie’s backstory, and that is what makes this movie fun to watch.  It’s easy to make a movie about a legendary sports star, like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, but it’s sometime more interesting and emotionally fulfilling to watch a movie about a person who doesn’t care about receiving any accolades, who just want to participate, and by doing so, fulfills a lifelong dream.  That’s another reason this movie succeeds, Eddie is an everyman, doing what few men could, and by watching this movie, the viewer may think that he or she could achieve a goal that seemed impossible.  This movie does have flaws, the story and characters especially Peary seem clichéd.  I’m sure Eddie’s story was changed and the events condensed to make the story more audience friendly.  But it is a heartwarming, funny and charming film, and it made me feel good, and sometimes that’s all a movie needs to do.

Much of the charm and humor of this film are exuded by the film’s two stars.  Taron Edgerton plays Eddie as a shy, awkward, slightly overweight, mama’s boy, who never gives up on his dream, despite injury and embarrassment, Eddie persists.  Edgerton shows the grit, as well as the joy in Eddie, it was a great performance.  Edgerton was also very good in Kingsman, playing a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who yearns to become a secret agent. Hugh Jackman can bring charm and humor to any character he plays he is supremely talented.  He takes a character that’s been played a million times, and makes the story about Bronson Peary’s redemption as well as Eddie’s dream. Christopher Walken has a small role as Jackman’s coach, and doesn’t do much with it.

Director Dexter Fletcher is mostly known for acting, his visual direction is off and on, the scenery looks spectacular at times, but at other times the ski jumps look absolutely like a greenscreen nightmare. The pacing is good and he gets good performances from Edgerton and Jackman, and the lesser known actors as well, so all in all he does a good job.

Eddie The Eagle: Soars high, lands gracefully.

Kingsmen

Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) is a member of an elite group of British clandestine spies called the Kingsmen.  Harry feels responsible for the death of Lee (Jonno Davies) one of his agents, in a mission gone wrong.  17 years later, a scientist named Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by an internet billionaire named Valentine. (Samuel L. Jackson) Another agent named Lancelot (Jack Davenport  is killed in trying to rescue Professor Arnold.  Harry, still feeling indebted for Lee’s death, gets Lee’s son Eggsy out of trouble with the police. Harry recruits Eggsy (Alex Nikolov, Taron Egerton) to join the Kiingsmen.  Despite his plebian background and his inability to finish school or military service, Eggsy has potential, according to Harry.

Eggsy has to compete with several recruits including a female recruit named Roxy (Sophie Cookson), and get through the training alive.  All the while, Valentine, who seems like an innocuous internet dweeb, who believes in global warming, has a devious plot afoot to end global warming.  Along with his beautiful, homicidal sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) Valentine hatches a plan that is well underway before Harry fully grasps the scope of it. Can Harry stop Valentine and Gazelle before their plan comes to fruition?  Can Eggsy survive the training, and beat out the other candidates to become a Kingsman?

This is quite an enjoyable action spy movie.  My first thought was why does Marvel need to update the spy movie when James Bond is still roaring away?  Well, this is more an homage to the Bond films, and it even acknowledges the Bond films several times, a Kingsmen martini, there’s even a scene were Harry shows Eggsy his spy gadgets..  There are several plot twists, and lots of humor, a lot of action, an interesting plot, and enough exposition to keep the storyline clear, so there’s nothing wrong with another set of spies based in England as long as it’s well done.  And for the most part it is.

But despite all the good, and there is a lot of good, this movie does have shortcomings, these comics turned movies have developed a habit of editorializing on politics and sometimes rewriting history.  Sometimes it works, like X-Men, sometimes not, like the Watchmen. In this movie it does not, the politics are all over the map, so everyone, whatever your political beliefs, will be angry at some point. This is also, even by Hollywood standards, a very violent movie, including a disturbing scene of violence inside a church. Most of the violence was gratuitous and unnecessary, but this movie not only displays numerous acts of violence, it seems to revel in them..  There was also sexism that went beyond the requisite 1960’s spy movie sexism. Roxy, the female recruit is squeamish to jump out of a plane,  until she gets reassurance from Eggsy, she’s the top female recruit in the program,and she won’t jump out of a plane?  There is also a very crude proposal from someone who’s supposed to be a Swedish princess, I know that’s another homage to Bond, but the writers could have toned down the language, and cut the nudity out completely. These sexist lapses are odd considering one of the writers is a woman.  Oh and by the way, if Valentine’s tech savvy enough to have fingerprint recognition security, he’s not using a mainframe. Just a little tech tip for the next movie. There’s also shameless product placement, a low-point for any movie.

The acting is top notch, Colin Firth plays Harry less like Bond and more like Patrick McNee of the tv show The Avengers he’s smooth and uses his umbrella as a weapon.  Firth just exuded charm, wit and grace, and was very believable as Harry.  Samuel L. Jackson excels as the nerdy villain Valentine, given him a lisp, so he sounded like an evil Mike Tyson.  Michael Caine is Michael Kane, and he puts in a solid performance as an elder statesman of the Kingsmen.  Taron Egerton was very good as Eggsy, and gave the role a real sense of flair for a young actor. And Sofia Boutella was a standout as the villain Gazelle, she was the take no prisoners type character Roxy should have been.  Gazelle sort of reminded me of Jaws, played by Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Instead of using metal teeth, Gazelle uses metal prosthetics on her legs to attack her foes. Mark Strong is also very good as Merlin. He was last in the Imitation Game, in which he gave another outstanding performance.

The direction is good, the pacing is fast, Matthew Vaughn is a veteran action movie director, who’s directed films like Kick Ass, and X-Men First Class, he gets good performances from the younger actors, like Egerton and Boutella, and creates a very stylish look for the film.

Kingsmen:  Leaves its audience shaken and stirred.