Tag Archives: Matthew Vaughn

Kick-Ass (2010) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains graphic violence, drug use and offensive language
Cast:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass
Mark Strong as Frank D’Amico
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D’Amico/Red Mist
Chloë Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl
Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready/Big Daddy
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero — despite a complete lack of special powers. Dave dons a costume, dubs himself “Kick-Ass,” and gets to work fighting crime. He joins forces with the father/daughter vigilante team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz), then befriends another fledgling crime-fighter called Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), but a scheming mobster (mark Strong) soon puts their alliance to the test.

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I remembered watching Kick-Ass years ago, from what I remember it really was a fun watch. Since it’s been a while, I decided to rewatch it and see how I thought about it now. It was even more entertaining than I remembered, everything from the cast, writing and the direction just worked really well. For what it was, it was great.

Kick-Ass is based off the comic of the same name by Mark Millar (not the first time that Matthew Vaughn would make movies based on Millar’s material). The script by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn sort of takes the piss out of superhero movies, but not to the point of obnoxious parody like how it seemed on paper. As someone who likes a lot of comic book movies, it was really funny and entertaining to watch. It is for sure dark and twisted, I mean this is the movie where a little girl stabs and slices people up in very violent ways. It is very darkly comedic, and as someone who likes a lot of dark comedy, it was really a movie that worked for me. You really can’t take this movie too seriously, with that said it does have some really serious and dark moments so that it’s not a full on cartoonish parody of a movie. The pacing was really good, at under 2 hours long it doesn’t give you a chance to be bored. I guess the movie isn’t quite perfect. The whole romantic subplot between Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave and Lyndsy Fonseca’s Katie, with Katie believing Dave to be gay and all that, it was kind of dumb. For the most part though, I had endless fun with the movie.

The cast all do a good job in their roles. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is perfect as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass. He was really good and convincing as a nerd trying to be a superhero but really out of his depth. The scene stealers of the movie were Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy and Chloe Grace-Moretz as Hit Girl. Nicolas Cage back in 2010 gave one of his best performances in a while with this movie. And of course, Chloe Grace-Moretz is great in her breakout role as Hit Girl, a profane and violent vigilante which generated controversy given that the role was performed by a 12 year old. She was really great and was the standout of the cast of characters in this movie (even though she wasn’t the main focus). It may be a bit too late now, but she could carry her own standalone movie. Mark Strong plays the main villain of Kick Ass as a mobster. Strong has played a lot of villains (even up to 2010) but here it seemed to be a much more comedic take on a villain, he really has fun here. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also works pretty well as the son of Mark Strong.

Matthew Vaughn’s direction is all around really great and works with this material. Vaughn seems very familiar with the Kick-Ass comics (and comic book movies in general), it’s very stylish and the editing was perfect. The action scenes are genuinely filmed really well, it’s very violent, bloody and gratifying. This movie really isn’t for the squeamish or easily offended. The soundtrack was all really good, from the music choices, to the score from Henry Jackman and John Murphy, making the action scenes even better. The uses of CGI can be a little iffy at times but it can be overlooked easily.

Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is darkly comedic, entertaining, the cast was really good, directed well, and as an almost parody of superhero movies, it’s really good. If you’re a big fan of comic book and superhero movies, this is definitely a movie that you need to check out, because it’s probably right up your alley. As for Kick-Ass 2, I remember liking it much more than most people, however it doesn’t even come close to what Vaughn did with the original movie.

Stardust (2007) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains frightening fanstasy scenes & violence
Cast:
Claire Danes as Yvaine
Charlie Cox as Tristan Thorn
Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia
Mark Strong as Prince Septimus
Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare of the Caspartine
Jason Flemyng as Prince Primus
Rupert Everett as Prince Secundus
Kate Magowan as Princess Una
Ricky Gervais as Ferdiland “Ferdy” the Fence
Sienna Miller as Victoria Forester
Peter O’Toole as the dying King of Stormhold
Director: Matthew Vaughn

To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm of fairies to retrieve a fallen star. What Tristan finds, however, is not a chunk of space rock, but a woman (Claire Danes) named Yvaine. Yvaine is in great danger, for the king’s sons need her powers to secure the throne, and an evil witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants to use her to achieve eternal youth and beauty.

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Stardust was the only Matthew Vaughn movie I hadn’t watched in it’s entirety yet, I’m pretty sure that I saw parts of this movie a while ago since moments of it look familiar. Going into it, I really didn’t know what to expect. A fantasy based movie is not something that I could see Vaughn of all directors do. However, this movie was quite surprising and much better than I thought it would be, I had a good time with it.

Stardust is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, throughout it’s a purely fantasy movie and really leans into that. Much of the movie is cheesy but in a good way, you can really have fun with the movie. You really can’t take this movie too seriously, and thankfully it doesn’t take itself seriously either. It has a bunch of fantasy adventure clichés and does very little to subvert them, so this isn’t necessarily something that you’ve never seen before. It’s also fairly predictable, you can generally see which direction the movie is moving towards. As a light, silly adventure fantasy movie however, I had a blast with it.

This movie has such a surprisingly large cast, young Henry Cavill and Ben Barnes appear in minor roles and even the legendary Peter O’Toole shows up for a brief appearance. On the whole the cast did very well. Claire Danes and Charlie Cox are the leads and they really worked. The interactions between the two characters were pretty typical of fantasy romances but Danes and Cox still had some good chemistry together. Michelle Pfeiffer is I guess the primary villain of the movie as one of a trio of witches looking to get Claire Danes. Pfeiffer really hams up her role at just the right level, and it really works for this movie. Mark Strong has played multiple villains and he also plays a villainous sort of character here, however there’s something about him here that’s just so entertaining to watch, he’s definitely having fun here. The MVP however was Robert De Niro who shows up in a supporting but memorable part here, definitely the standout from the whole cast. Other supporting players like Sienna Miller also play their roles well. Honestly the only one that didn’t really work was Ricky Gervais who appears briefly and even in that short time was really out of place.

This doesn’t actually feel like a Matthew Vaughn film and I don’t mean that in a bad way. He’s actually handled this movie very well. As I said with the writing and story, this movie really leans into the fantasy aspect and it’s done very well, the production design and costumes are on point. At times the visuals can look a little dated but you can look past it, because most of them are really nice to look at, even a decade later.

Matthew Vaughn’s take on a fantasy movie with Stardust was way better than I thought it would be. Even the cheese and the over the top elements were entertaining, it knew what it was, and the cast were really good here. There are for sure better fantasy movies and it’s by no means a classic, however I just really had a lot of fun with this movie. It’s worth a watch at least.

Layer Cake (2004) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes
Cast:
Daniel Craig as XXXX
Colm Meaney as Gene
Kenneth Cranham as Jimmy Price
George Harris as Morty
Jamie Foreman as the Duke
Michael Gambon as Eddie Temple
Marcel Iureş as Slavo
Tom Hardy as Clarkie
Tamer Hassan as Terry
Ben Whishaw as Sidney
Burn Gorman as Gazza
Sally Hawkins as Slasher
Sienna Miller as Tammy
Director: Matthew Vaughn

An unnamed mid-level cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) in London makes plans to step away from the criminal life. Before he can cut ties, the dealer’s supplier Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) draws him into a complicated pair of jobs involving kidnapping the teenage daughter of a rival gangster (Michael Gambon) and brokering the purchase of a large shipment of ecstasy pills from a dealer known as “the Duke” (Jamie Foreman), leading to a series of elaborate double-crosses from all corners.

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Layer Cake was Matthew Vaughn’s first movie, before then he produced some of Guy Ritchie’s movies. It was very well received and put him on the map as a director to watch, with him very nearly directing the third X-Men movie afterwards. Although I saw it already years ago, I wanted to check it out again, since I was already rewatching some of Matthew Vaughn’s movies recently. It’s even better than what I remembered it being from my first viewing.

Layer Cake is written by J.J. Connelly, adapting his book of the same name for the big screen. It’s a pretty standard British crime thriller, albeit a very good one with some twists and turns. One could compare this to Guy Ritchie’s crime movies (especially seeing as how Vaughn was involved with Ritchie’s early movies), although there are some similarities, there are plenty of distinct differences between them, especially when it comes to the tone. Vaughn’s other R rated movies generally has a lot of dark comedy to it, Layer Cake on the other hand is more serious, more like a crime thriller and doesn’t have as much comedy. It for sure has some brief dark comedy at points however. It’s actually pretty riveting over the hour and 45 minutes runtime. I think the main reason that this all works really well together though is because of the lead character, which I’ll get into in a bit.

As good as a bunch of all this is, Layer Cake wouldn’t have been as great without Daniel Craig, who honestly makes this movie. Craig is outstanding as the unnamed lead character (not exactly sure why his name is never revealed), who in this movie is more of a businessman than a gangster, in fact he hates gangsters and violence. He also shows a very wide range of emotions as he’s thrown into so many situations that he’s struggling to keep alive in, and through his performance you can really root for the lead character. You can definitely tell why Daniel Craig was picked for James Bond, there’s a lot of Bond that you can see in his performance here. One of Craig’s best, if not his best performance. The rest of the cast also played their parts really well. The rest of the cast including Colm Meaney, George Harris, Michael Gambon, Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw and Sienna Miller all play their roles very well. Gambon in particular was great as a ruthless and villainous sort of character, quite different from other roles that he’s had.

For a debut, Matthew Vaughn did a great job, it doesn’t look like his first movie at all. It’s all filmed and edited very well, the music choices were also perfect, he’s got a real great handle over the whole movie.

Layer Cake is an outstanding directorial debut from Matthew Vaughn, a well written and directed crime thriller, with Daniel Craig’s great lead performance really making the movie. It’s an underrated little flick that definitely deserves a lot more praise and really worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

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.