Tag Archives: Colin Firth

The King’s Speech (2010) Review

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The King's Speech

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language
Cast:
Colin Firth as King George VI
Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII
Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill
Derek Jacobi as Cosmo Gordon Lang
Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue
Michael Gambon as King George V
Director: Tom Hooper

King George VI (Colin Firth) tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and makes himself worthy enough to lead his country through World War II.

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Despite being an Oscar winning film, The King’s Speech has been given quite the bad rap, ironically it’s because of that. It earned many of the Oscars, including Best Picture, over so many other movies like The Social Network, Inception and Black Swan. Many weren’t happy that this was the movie that won over those films. While I understand many of these reactions, The King’s Speech on its own is pretty good.

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To keep it simple and straightforward, I’ll treat this movie outside of the fact that it won Best Picture, or mention The Social Network, Inception or Black Swan for the duration of this review, which is something that reviews of this movie nowadays can’t stop doing. The King’s Speech is a historical biopic, and the summary of the movie looked pretty boring at first, but thankfully it has a pretty good script. Now part the story is more than likely fictionalised and isn’t completely true, but that’s pretty typical of movies like this, and I don’t think that the inaccuracies would be particularly egregious. This movie is more focussed on George’s speech impediment and him trying to work through it with his speech therapist, rather than the royal family and his role in it, and that is actually to its own benefit. It does have its particularly ‘Oscar moments’, mainly towards the last act, but didn’t take away too much from the rest of the movie. The story plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to, but it had enough going on and enough energy to keep me reasonably interested for the duration of the runtime.

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The acting in this movie is amongst the best part of the movie, if not the main reason to see it. Colin Firth is really great as King George VI, and it’s not just a baity or showy performance like it could’ve been. Firth’s stutter could’ve easily been a gimmick or have been a caricature of people with stammers, but he and the film pulls it off perfectly, and he makes it feel genuine. As good as the rest of the cast and movie is, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without Colin Firth’s outstanding performance at the centre of it. Geoffrey Rush is also good as the speech therapist that George sees to help with his stutter. Firth and Rush are great together on screen, and their interactions are ultimately the driving force of the movie. Other supporting actors like Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce also play their roles as well.

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Tom Hooper directed this reasonably well, and on a technical level is pretty solid. It’s well shot, the score by Alexandre Desplat is pretty good, and the production and costume designs reflect the time period and location appropriately. However it’s very clear that this wasn’t going to be the highlight of the movie, and so I didn’t pay it that much attention.

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I wouldn’t say that The King’s Speech is great, but it is a pretty good movie for what it is. It is definitely better than how it sounds at first, but not enough to make it that memorable. However it’s a solid enough movie, with some great acting, particularly a career best performance from Colin Firth. I do think that it is worth watching, just make sure to not going into it seeing it as a Best Picture winner or anything like that.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Review

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Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Gary Oldman as George Smiley (“Beggarman”)
Colin Firth as Bill Haydon (“Tailor”)
Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland (“Soldier”)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
David Dencik as Toby Esterhase (“Poorman”)
Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
Toby Jones as Percy Alleline (“Tinker”)
John Hurt as Control
Director: Tomas Alfredson

A retired spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is summoned by the Government to investigate a furtive case. With a secret Soviet agent assumed to be working within their system, will George be able to unveil his identity?

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I remember watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy many years ago, and it’s always been one of those movies I’ve been meaning to rewatch for some time. I remember finding it to be a good movie, but it was really slow and I didn’t understand completely everything that was going on, it was a really complicated movie. I finally saw it a second time, and I got all the acclaim this time round, it’s a very well made movie, even though I can understand why it might not work for some people.

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For those who don’t know much about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although it’s classed as a spy movie, this isn’t the James Bond or Jason Bourne kind of spy movie. It’s an investigative and truly espionage spy movie, with complex and shifty characters in a morally grey and bleak world. There aren’t many gunshots, and there isn’t anything even close to resembling action scenes. It’s also a very slowly paced movie, and this will definitely turn off a lot of people, I will admit that there were moments where it got a little too slow for my liking. It’s more than just that it’s a slow paced movie, it’s really complicated too, and maybe even hard to follow at times. You really have to pay close attention to from start to finish, otherwise you’ll probably miss some vital details. It’s not so much that it’s bad at crafting the story for the big screen, in fact I heard that it was well done considering the source material was apparently extremely hard to follow as it was. There are just a lot of moving parts, plotlines and characters that you have to pay attention to. Even having known much of the plot from the last viewing, after my second viewing I still had to look up a couple of things about the plot to clarify a few things I wasn’t certain about. As I was, I was invested in what was going on, even if it dragged in parts and I was lost in moments. The writing is quite strong, and the dialogue quite layered, with intimate character moments and subtext carefully placed throughout. Now having quite a good understanding of what happened, I think I’ll get this movie even more on a further 3rd viewing.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has such a great ensemble cast, and all of them worked well together. Gary Oldman plays the lead character of George Smiley, and he absolutely transforms into the role. Smiley is calm and collected, yet captivating in every scene. He’s quite effectively subtle, conveying so much without having to say much. The rest of the cast are at the top of their game, with Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt all giving great performances. The highlights out of all of them for me were Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy doing so much in their screentime.

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Tomas Alfredson directed this movie quite well, he really set it well in the time period of the Cold War. The cinematography was by Hoyte Van Hotema, who shot the movie very well. It’s a very grey looking movie, yet it somehow still manages to be visually stunning and stylish. Tomas also does well at building up an effective atmosphere. The score by Alberto Iglesias is also great and fits the movie quite a bit.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re expecting a fast paced movie, it might even test the most patient of viewers. From the second viewing however, I found it to be a complex, deeply layered story, directed very well and features outstanding performances from its ensemble cast. I liked it a lot more on a second viewing, and I think that I will like it even more the more I come back to it.

1917 (2019) Review

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1917

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Depicts graphic & realistic war scenes
Cast:
George MacKay as Lance Corporal Will Schofield
Dean-Charles Chapman as Lance Corporal Tom Blake
Mark Strong as Captain Smith
Andrew Scott as Lieutenant Leslie
Richard Madden as Lieutenant Joseph Blake
Claire Duburcq as Lauri
Colin Firth as General Erinmore
Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Mackenzie
Director: Sam Mendes

During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother.

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I’ve heard about 1917 for a while now. I knew that it was a World War 1 movie being directed by Sam Mendes, and was being shot by Roger Deakins, with much of the movie made to look like it’s shot in one continuous take. With awards season ramping up and it getting some attention, there was much talk about the movie. While narratively 1917 isn’t great, it’s pretty much outstanding on every other level.

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1917 is a simple story, our protagonists have to get to a particular place with not a lot of time to spare, and a lot of danger along the way. It’s also not contemplative about the nature of war or the like (closer to Black Hawk Down than Apocalypse Now), this is intended as an tense, action war thriller, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you aren’t immersed in what’s going on and don’t feel somewhat tense at least once within the first half hour, you might be a little bored throughout, because most of the movie is the main characters going from place to place, and occasionally getting shot at. There are already plenty of comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, another war movie released a couple years ago. I’m not going to talk about which is better, but to illustrate my next point I’ll compare them briefly. Dunkirk is a pure war movie experience, and although there are many characters throughout, there’s not really any focus about their journey and you don’t learn anything about them, it’s more them trying desperately to survive and succeed at what they had to do, and that worked for the movie. 1917 isn’t a character study or anything but it does have a little more characterisation, mostly with the lead characters. This is mostly shown during the downtime scenes, which is usually when they’re out of danger and are talking about things. Unfortunately, these scenes don’t work quite as well. They seem to grind the pacing to a halt, which I’m fine with, but in order for them to work you actually have to care about what’s going on beyond the basic level of them being human beings and our main characters. While you’re on board and wanting the lead characters to succeed in their task, you aren’t invested enough in them, so during these moments you don’t really feel much and you’re mostly just waiting for the next exciting thing to happen. While I wouldn’t trade these scenes for more scenes of tensions or action and the scenes aren’t bad by any means, this movie might’ve been fantastic if these scenes were handled better. With all that being said, the emotional payoff at the end is surprisingly effective.

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As seen in the trailer, there are many big names in this movie, with the like of Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and others involved. They are good in the movie, but they are pretty much one scene cameos playing notable supporting characters along the way. Instead the leads of the movie are George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, and both give great emotional and physical performances throughout. While the character work doesn’t exactly great (as I said up above), the acting from both more than made up for it. MacKay in particular is great, and in a less stacked year would be getting awards consideration.

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While I’m not sure that I’d call 1917 Sam Mendes’s best movie, his work here is undeniably fantastic. His task was incredibly ambitious on a technical level, and he managed to pull it off. Let’s talk about the one take shooting. Roger Deakins is great as a cinematographer, but this ranks amongst some of his best work. As mentioned earlier, much of the movie is made to look like it’s filmed in one continuous take. There are moments where you can probably guess where they made a cut between two takes (like when entering a location of darkness or when something is blocking the camera), and there is one very distinct cut to black at one point, but otherwise everything else is made to look like it’s in one shot. Some people have called this a gimmick understandably, but I don’t think it’s a gimmick. It immerses you into what’s going on with the lead characters as they struggle to navigate their environment. There are some truly stunning sequences, both with the camera movements, and the actual visuals themselves. The environment, production design, costumes, and the like are also well handled, and the one take shooting shows them off in how much attention to detail it all is. It’s dark, grimy and unpleasant, like it should be made to look. Outside of the very clear downtime scenes, you don’t feel safe in the rest of the scenes, and there’s a level of tension throughout. Thomas Newman composed the score, and it does very well to ramp up the tension.

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When I say that 1917 is a pure cinematic experience that works best when watching it on a big screen in a cinema, I mean it as a double edged sword. It’ll very likely be one of the best cinema going experiences you’ll have from a 2019 film, however I don’t know how well it’s going to hold up after it leaves cinemas. So I implore you to go watch 1917 on the biggest screen possible. As that, it’s a fantastic thrill ride (despite some complaints I had with the characterisation and narrative), and it’s really worth seeing. Even if it doesn’t fare that well after it leaves cinemas, Sam Mendes’s work here is absolutely masterful, and the acclaim on that front is deserved.

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack
Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks
Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks
Pixie Davies as Annabel Banks
Nathanael Saleh as John Banks
Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks
Julie Walters as Ellen
Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr.
Angela Lansbury as The Balloon Lady
Colin Firth as William “Weatherall” Wilkins
Meryl Streep as Topsy
Director: Rob Marshall

Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw) learns that his house will be repossessed in five days unless he can pay back a loan. His only hope is to find a missing certificate that shows proof of valuable shares that his father left him years earlier. Just as all seems lost, Michael and his sister (Emily Mortimer) receive the surprise of a lifetime when Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) — the beloved nanny from their childhood — arrives to save the day and take the Banks family on a magical, fun-filled adventure.

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Although I didn’t really grow up with it and really only first saw it when I was 13/14 years old, I really do like Mary Poppins, it’s a classic for a reason. When I heard about there being another Mary Poppins movie, I didn’t really think much of it. The director was Rob Marshall, who made Chicago (which is apparently good, I haven’t seen it yet) but also Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Into the Woods, both movies I wasn’t huge fans of. Not to mention I just didn’t feel the need for another Mary Poppins movie, thankfully it’s a sequel instead of yet another Disney remake. The only thing that somewhat interested me was Emily Blunt playing Mary Poppins, with Blunt being one of the best actresses working today. Mary Poppins Returns didn’t all completely work and was a bit of a mixed bag, with some elements working alright and others not working at all. Despite this, I do maintain that it is more than worth watching for Emily Blunt’s wonderful performance as Mary Poppins alone.

I’m going to get this out of the way: if you don’t like the original Mary Poppins, there’s pretty much no reason to watch this movie, because its very unlikely that you’ll like this one either. The movie is very derivative of the original, following somewhat similar story beats extremely closely, way too closely. I’ll just say that if you had problems with The Force Awakens being similar to A New Hope, you are probably going to have a field day with Mary Poppins Returns. At times it does similar things to the original but doesn’t do it as well oddly enough. For example, the original movie did have moments where Mary Poppins and the kids would go into different worlds or be part of a song and it would work seamlessly with the story and with what is going on. While Mary Poppins Returns have some moments like that, other moments feel really out of place and don’t work seamlessly with the story, some of them even feel like they could’ve been cut from the movie entirely. The biggest example is the Meryl Streep section which was basically a song routine that really didn’t need to be in the movie. To be fair to the movie, they do make nods to the first Mary Poppins movie but none of them were cringe worthy like they could’ve easily been. It’s rather odd that despite the movie being too similar to the original, every time it tried to do something different (which is something that I wished they did more), they really didn’t work. For example there’s a long sequence in a different world that was pretty good but it ends with this darkly lit carriage chase scene. While I get what that last bit is supposed to represent, I’m sure they could’ve found a way to illustrate that without this really intense chase scene which didn’t belong in the rest of the movie. That’s just one scene though, one of the long term problems was the fact that this movie has a villain played by Colin Firth. While I get given the story there’s a need for an antagonistic presence, instead of giving him like one or two scenes and not focussing much on him, they made him a full on character that’s in like 5 scenes. Honestly its like they couldn’t decide whether to be a minor part or a full on present antagonist and just settled for somewhere in between, which was honestly the worst decision to go with. There really was no reason for a villain, but even if it could’ve worked, they didn’t exactly give him much reason to be there. Although I was following the movie fine enough, I wasn’t really drawn into the magic or the world, or even much cared about the characters or the story. I just really wasn’t that all invested in what was going on.

As much as I bag on this movie for some of the things it does, Emily Blunt’s performance is ‘practically perfect in every way’. Everything from the voice, accent, acting, dancing and singing were absolutely on point every single scene she’s in. Blunt’s performance and the way that she’s portrayed is in line with the character but it doesn’t feel like its trying to be like Julie Andrews’s version. It’s a bit of an updated version of the character that works extremely well. Every time she was on screen, everything lit up and you forget the problems that are present. When she’s not present in the scene, you really start to notice the quality of the movie dipping and then pick right back up when she re-appears. The rest of the cast are actually alright but aren’t able to hold the movie up without Blunt. To be fair to Lin-Manuel Miranda, he does add quite a bit of energy to this movie. His character of Jack basically plays the stand in for Dick van Dyke’s Bert from the original, except instead of being a chimney sweep he’s a lamp lighter with a slightly better Cockney accent. He doesn’t quite equal the same amount of boundless energy that van Dyke brought but he was good. Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer are reasonably good as Michael and Jane Banks but don’t really leave that much of a lasting impression. Jane is present throughout the movie but its weird how they use her. There’s some mentions of her as a labour organiser quite frequently but it doesn’t really have any payoff by the end. There’s also some hints at a romance between her and Jack but that’s only shown in a few scenes and doesn’t really amount to anything. Her inclusion in the movie almost just felt obligatory since she was in the first movie. The kids played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson were good, they were at about the level of actors who played Michael and Jane in the original movie. Meryl Streep has one scene here and is basically the star of the aforementioned unnecessary song routine. Despite my problems with the scene being there, Streep gives a lot of energy in her one scene, so I guess credits should go to her for that. The problem wasn’t her, it was more the fact that the scene even exists. Colin Firth as I said plays the villain and you know how I feel about the use of a villain in the movie. It is nice seeing him in a more villainous role and does partially ham it up but unfortunately wasn’t even memorable. If his character was featured more, went more hammy or even had his own song routine (yes I know, Colin Firth doing a song routine doesn’t sound that appealing), he might’ve given a lasting impression given that the movie wants the antagonistic presence to be a character and have the audience to somewhat remember him given that they cast an A list actor in the part.

As I said earlier, wasn’t a huge fan of Rob Marshall or his Into the Woods, but his direction of the movie was actually pretty good. His direction of Mary Poppins Returns was also quite good. Mary Poppins Returns has a mix of modern day visual effects along with some classic looking animation ripped straight from the Julie Andrews original movie, giving it that nostalgic feeling that actually worked quite well. Now a big part of Mary Poppins is the music. I don’t envy anyone having to create the music for a sequel to a movie with some incredibly iconic songs. So I don’t exactly blame them for creating songs that weren’t all that memorable. All that said, while I don’t remember all the songs, I at least remember the set up, location and the visuals of the scene. The choreography and some of the creativity done were really strong. The most memorable song was ‘The Cover is Not the Book’, and there are some other songs which I could remember parts of. The ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’ section was really too long though and dragged on.

Mary Poppins Returns really doesn’t all work and I feel like it might’ve worked a little more if it was released maybe 2 decades or 3 after the original movie. While the cast is generally alright and there are aspects of the direction which work well, there’s a lot which don’t work and just wasn’t all that memorable. With all that said, there are some alright bits to it and you pretty much need to watch it for Emily Blunt, who is the saving grace of the movie and holds everything together. Again though if you don’t like Mary Poppins, you aren’t going to like this one either.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Lily James as Young Donna
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Young Tanya
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Alexa Davies as Young Rosie
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Jeremy Irvine as Young Sam
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Hugh Skinner as Young Harry
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Josh Dylan as Young Bill
Cher as Ruby Sheridan
Andy García as Fernando Cienfuegos
Director: Ol Parker

In 1979 young Donna (Lily James), Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from Oxford University — leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) — the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

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I watched the original Mamma Mia about a week ago and although I was entertained by it, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of it, I didn’t really consider it to be a good movie but I had fun with it. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the pre-sequel to the first movie 10 years in the making. So I just expected a dumb and over the top with a bunch of great ABBA songs. However, it actually surprised me quite a lot. Basically all the issues I had with the first movie were fixed here, with a stronger story, better use of songs and some surprising emotion. And like the first movie it is really campy and entertaining.

Something that occurred to me over the course of my viewing was that it seemed that Mamma Mia 2 fixed all my problems with the first movie. First of all, Mamma Mia 2 has more of a story. The first movie felt really like talented actors doing drunk karaoke – ABBA edition. Mamma Mia 2 has much more of a plot, half of it focussing on Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie in present day and the other half on Lily James’s younger Donna in flashbacks. The first movie jammed a whole lot of ABBA songs into moments where they didn’t really need it, and almost felt like padding to extend the movie. With the sequel though, there are enough breathing moments and it didn’t feel like they were just shoving ABBA songs into the movie just for the sake of it and all the song segments seem to work appropriately for the story and movie. Whereas the first movie had some humour which didn’t really land (most of the comedy I found in that movie was unintentional), the sequel is genuinely funny. Last but not least, there are genuinely solid emotional scenes. I wasn’t emotional myself during the movie (most movies don’t really get me to be that way) but the emotional scenes were earned and were well done, and I’m not exaggerating when there were some people in the cinema that I was in that were legit crying in some scenes particularly near the end. The movie like the first is over the top and campy. If you were fine with how absolutely silly the first Mamma Mia was, you’ll have no problem with how silly the sequel can get. Whether it be some of the dialogue, the song transitions and segments, and just some of the goofy things that these characters do, for me it was just really fun to watch. I think I should also mention that you really shouldn’t expect much of Meryl Streep here. The film made a really weird decision considering that she was part of what made the first movie so successful. What I can say that it was a risky move that paid off in the end, the story did actually work well for it.

Most of the original cast returns with Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranaski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominmic Cooper. It is a little jarring how much older all of them are now (10 years older to be exact) but they are good. One of the highlights of the original movie was that everyone there looked like they loved being there and are having a good time, thankfully that’s the same with the sequel. The younger cast also do well, whether it be the younger Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters played by Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies, or whether it’s the younger Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively. They all feel like younger versions of the actors/characters. In terms of stands outs however, it’s really Lily James, she is really believable as a young Meryl/Donna and really leaves an impression. The other people in the cast is also pretty good. Cher is in the movie plays Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother and while she’s good, she really doesn’t end up living up to the hype that the movie was building her up to be, and no I’m not just referring to the trailers or the fact that they got Cher for the part. The problem is that despite the fact that she was built up from the very first scene, when she finally arrives, she doesn’t really do much or leave that much of an impact. It ultimately feels like they could’ve gotten any half decent singer and actress for the part and so in that aspect it felt a little underwhelming after all that build up (or they could’ve cut the character from the movie). With that said, Cher is good in the role. The singing is also generally good. Once again, the women do fare much better than the men, but the men were okay enough for the most part. And yes, Pierce Brosnan does do some singing in this movie but he is actually somewhat okay, then again most of his singing time is spent with dozens of other singers. The one moment when he did some singing on his own actually worked for the scene.

This first Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whereas the sequel is directed by Ol Parker, both movies are actually pretty well directed for what they are. Like with the original movie, Mamma Mia 2 takes advantage of its locations, it’s a really good looking movie. The song segments are all entertaining and wonderfully goofy when it needs to be. It’s also always great hearing ABBA songs.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again honestly surprised me, it was a little bit better than just being a dumb and goofy movie (though it very much is a dumb and goofy movie). It fixed the issues that I had with the first movie and I was able to enjoy the movie both ironically and unironically. Speaking as someone who was entertained by but wasn’t a massive fan of the first movie, I really think the second movie is a significant improvement. If you love the first movie and haven’t seen this one, you’ll definitely love the sequel, especially in a packed cinema. If you disliked the first movie, I highly doubt that the second movie would change things for you.

Mamma Mia! (2008) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter’s (Amanda Seyfried) wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile Sophie, the spirited bride, has a plan. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past in hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her big day.

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Mamma Mia was a movie I heard a lot about every since it’s release in 2008. Although I watched some bits of the movie, I hadn’t ever gotten around to watching it in it’s entirety. With the sequel coming soon, I decided to watch the original movie to see how I felt about it… and I’m not entirely sure how I felt about it. It’s not really that good of a movie, but it’s so campy and over the top that I was entertained by it.

Now I think I should mention I’m not familiar with the musical of the same name (although I’m familiar with a lot of the ABBA songs). There is a plot to Mamma Mia but honestly it feels really quite small, and the only reason it is like an hour and 50 minutes long is because of the songs shoved in. It’s like you get 5 to 10 minutes of the story and then it cuts to another ABBA song. The vast majority of the time, there was no reason for the songs used. Sometimes it has nothing to do with anything, and by removing certain song segments, it wouldn’t feel like any part of the movie was missing. I thought that Moulin Rouge used way too many songs for no reason, but Mamma Mia takes it to a completely different level. It does its fair share of songs that worked in certain moments to be fair, and most of the song segments were entertaining enough. It’s just that when they come out of nowhere they can feel really jarring. Outside of the songs, the reason I was somewhat entertained by the movie was how bizarre it was. A lot of the time I didn’t know what was going on, whether that be the absurdity of some of the singing segments, the sudden song segments that come out of nowhere for no reason, some of the bad singing, some of the insane decisions made by some characters, it felt very strange to me. There was a lot of camp to it as well. I think a lot of the intentional humour didn’t really land with me, and those moments where it did, it’s because of how bizarre the concept was. I think the best way to enjoy Mamma Mia is that if you have an issue with something, try to just go with it. That’s not that strong of a compliment but that’s what I did, and I did have a fun time with it. It doesn’t have a particularly strong plot, characters or anything like that, but it was entertaining, it was an entertaining movie.

This movie has a big cast with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters and others. While they aren’t by any means giving performances that would rank among the best in their careers, they all look like they are having the time of their lives. They don’t seem to be taking it too seriously as well, they sort of know what kind of movie they are in. When it comes to singing, the women fare much better than the men. Pierce Brosnan was infamous in this movie for sounding atrocious, and yes, his singing does in fact sound like a wounded dog. To be fair, props to him, Firth and Skarsgard for at least trying to sing, and Brosnan’s singing was one of the highlights of the film (just not in the way he intended), I’m lowkey hoping it makes a return for the second film. Meryl Streep’s singing wasn’t great (her singing would improve in Into the Woods) but it was actually pretty decent here. In fact most of the singing was fine enough, I don’t really have much to comment about them.

A lot of the musical segments are actually pretty well directed, no matter how crazy it gets a lot of the time. It’s also a pretty good looking movie as well, though most of that is because of the location of the movie, which takes place in the Greek Islands. Also I really like ABBA so I enjoyed the musical segments, and most of the singing was okay enough so I could get into it. Direction-wise, it’s a competently made movie.

I’m still not sure what to say about Mamma Mia. It just seems like a bunch of famous actors and actresses got together to do drunk ABBA karaoke. I can’t say that I was bored. It’s so batshit insane and it does have some entertaining moments (whether it is genuine or just how bizarre everything is). Even though its not good, I had some fun with it (and it feels like everyone involved had fun with it), and not in a ‘so bad it’s good way’. So I guess I might be able to call it okay, I think. If you’re going to watch it for the first time, just know that you can’t take any of it seriously. I’m not expecting much from the sequel, I’m not sure why Mamma Mia is even getting a sequel (especially 10 years after the original) but if it’s at least as half as batshit insane as the first movie, it might be entertaining at the very least.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language, drug use & sex scenes
Cast
Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad
Julianne Moore as Poppy Adams
Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin/Galahad
Mark Strong as Merlin
Halle Berry as Ginger
Elton John as himself
Channing Tatum as Tequila
Jeff Bridges as Champagne “Champ”
Pedro Pascal as Whiskey
Edward Holcroft as Charles “Charlie” Hesketh
Director: Matthew Vaughn

With their headquarters destroyed and the world held hostage, members of Kingsman find new allies when they discover a spy organization in the United States known as Statesman. In an adventure that tests their strength and wits, the elite secret agents from both sides of the pond band together to battle a ruthless enemy and save the day, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy (Taron Egerton).

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. I’m a huge fan of the original Kingsman, it was fun, violent, different, and was well executed by director Matthew Vaughn. With the sequel introducing the American equivalent of the Kingsman (Statesman) and including some top notch actors, of course I was excited to see it. Having finally seen it I can say that I liked The Golden Circle… but I was slightly disappointed. On its own, it is a fun movie with actors having a lot of fun in their roles and some entertaining action sequences. However, there were some odd choices made with story and character, and at times is a little too over the top for its own good.

I was consistently entertained throughout the 2 hours and 20 minute runningtime of The Golden Circle, I was interested in the plot or entertained in what was going on. This movie does have one of my concerns in the lead up to its release, which was that it would feel a little too much like the original Kingsman. Not that its bad, if it aint broke don’t fix it, its just that I would’ve liked some more differences. There were some differences that were for the worst. The original Kingsman was both good at poking fun at the spy genre, while still being its own thing. The sequel however falls into self parody at times, going so over the top that its borderline Austin Powers territory, and not necessarily in a good way. There is also a sequence with Poppy Delevingne’s character which was just completely random and pointless, and it is definitely the worst part of the whole movie. Think of Kingsman 2 as being Kingsman, just not done as great. However, I almost have to give credit to Matthew Vaughn ‘s willingness just go out there and make whatever he wanted to do, despite how bonkers it can get. Silliness aside I didn’t have too many problems with the plot, there were some decisions with some of the characters that were rather questionable however (and I can’t go into that too much because that’s spoiler territory).

Taron Egerton returns once again as Eggsy, who’s now a Kingsman agent. Taron is flawlessly charismatic and likable as ever. Usually I wouldn’t mention this up because it may be a spoiler but since the marketing seemed to show it, so I guess we can talk about Colin Firth returning. As usual, Firth is effortless as Harry Hart in both his action and non action scenes. I’m not a fan of characters in big franchises being brought back from the dead, but I have to admit it’s nice seeing Colin again. Also, the explanation for Harry returning is fairly good. Mark Strong also returns as Merlin, getting even more to work with than in the original.

One of the reasons I was so hyped for Kingsman 2 was the talented actors involved with Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal. I wouldn’t say that they are used to their fullest potential in this movie but they do very well to leave an impression in their scenes. Don’t let their talent fool you, in the film they are very much supporting characters, some only appearing in a few scenes. With that said, apparently the original running time of The Golden Circle was 3 hours and 40 minutes, so who knows, maybe they originally had bigger parts to play. The standout of the newer cast to me was Pedro Pascal, there is something that they do with his character at a point though which still kind of irks me. I also think Sophie Cookson’s Roxy (who was in the original Kingsman) should’ve been used a lot more. Julianne Moore is the villain as Poppy Adams, a drug lord. Moore is a fantastic actress but for whatever reason, her character really didn’t do anything for me. Samuel L. Jackson’s villain in the original film was silly and not threatening but he actually seemed to work for the movie. Moore’s character… not so much. She was crazy while acting all sweet and I get that’s what they were going for, but she didn’t really leave an impression on me at all. I didn’t find her entertaining or interesting, not to mention Poppy has some very weak motivations. Moore definitely did as well as she could with the role and she looked like she was having some fun, but overall her villain felt quite underwhelming, though I wouldn’t call her bad. Also Elton John is in this movie, I am feeling quite mixed about him. At times he was fine and even funny, but at times he was given way too much screentime and became just rather distracting.

Matthew Vaughn’s direction and style really worked in the original Kingsman and he thankfully returns here, in fact its his first attempt at a sequel. The action like in the previous Kingsman was pretty good and entertaining. The action with Pedro Pascal’s Agent Whiskey character is particularly great, including a scene in a bar. If you remember from the original Kingsman, there was this sort of hypercam that was used in the church scene. Well it appears here many times, and it really wasn’t always utilized the best. A good example is the opening action sequence, the action is good but the way it was filmed was rather distracting. It wasn’t terrible but it did take me out of the movie a bit. The CGI like in the original Kingsman is a little fake at times. The score from Henry Jackman like in the original Kingsman was great.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not as good as the original. It’s decent, has some good performances, its enjoyable if silly but it has some issues with regards to the plot and some of the characters. However it is so much fun to watch that I’m willing to overlook some of the issues. If you don’t like the original Kingsman, I don’t see this one being any different for you. For everyone else, give it a go and see it for yourself whether it does it for you, I know it did it for me. I’m perfectly willing to give Kingsman 3 a shot, despite some issues in this instalment of the surprise franchise.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) Review

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Kingsman The Secret Service

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin
Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad
Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine
Mark Strong as Merlin
Michael Caine as Chester King/Arthur
Sophie Cookson as Roxy Morton
Sofia Boutella as Gazelle
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is the head of an elite secret spy organization called the Kingsman: The Secret Service. When he finds a regular street kid named Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Edgerton) down on his luck, he recruits him into the ultra-intense training program. Meanwhile, criminal tech mastermind Richard Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is planning a mass genocide to wipe out certain DNA codes. When the Kingsman learn about the crime, Hart and Eggsy have to spring into action, track down the mastermind and his weapon and sift through a web of traitors to stop his plot.

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Who better to bring to the big screen an adaptation of classic comic book series The Secret Service other than Matthew Vaughn? With movies like Kick Ass and X: Men First Class among his list of successes, he’s the right person to direct this kind of film. Once again, Vaughn brings us another great movie filled with great action, hilarious moments and is all around entertaining. It has been one of the most fun times I’ve had at the movies this year.

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The film is entertaining from start to finish with never a dull moment. One thing I like is how the film is self-aware and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Kingsman is both a throwback to old spy flicks as well as parody of those movies. It also knows what tone to use each scene, sometimes it uses comedy and sometimes there really is drama, and they are used at the most suitable times and done greatly. The dialogue is also quite well written for each character, witty, snappy and funny. The final act of the movie delivers a great climax and like the rest of the movie, its well set up and written. I won’t spoil it but my favourite scene in the whole movie happens in the climax has the music of Pomp and Circumstance. That scene alone could basically sum up everyone I love about Kingsman.

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Colin Firth is excellent in this movie and it shows how versatile of an actor he is. He even did 80% of his own stunts and it really pays off here, and a good example is in the church fighting scene. Samuel L. Jackson was also entertaining as the villain, whether it be his lisp or his fear of blood, he was well cast. The cast also consists of Mark Strong and Michael Caine who are also great in their scenes. Early actors, Taron Edgerton, Sophie Cookson and Sofia Boutella are great in their roles and after watching this movie, I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing them in more movies pretty soon.

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The film is also great on a technical level. The action was very well done, and all of it so well-choreographed. One of the best action scenes takes place inside a church and it’s very well filmed. It has a lot of tracking shots, which would sound hard to pull off but Matthew Vaughn somehow succeeds in doing this. The soundtrack was well chosen, the score was well composed by Henry Jackman but the other music picks were well chosen. From the beginning with Dire Straits’s Money for Nothing to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, all the songs fitted perfectly to what was going on. The film is quite violent, but like with Kick Ass, Matthew Vaughn puts the violence on screen brilliantly and often times, it is quite funny. The editing is also noteworthy and puts everything together perfectly.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service is overall a very entertaining movie, if you like having a good time at the movies, this is for you. Just know that this film may not be for everyone’s tastes. I hear that it may be getting a sequel and I do hope that it is the case, I can see a new and great franchise emerging from this movie. Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of my favourite movies of 2015.