Category Archives: Comedy

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

4.5

kingsman

A spy organisation recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. (IMDB)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past), co-written with Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, The Woman in Black). It stars Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson, Mark Hamill, Michael Caine and Jack Davenport.

The agency is fashioned after King Arthur and the Knights of the not-so-round table, including a Merlin. All the agents’ code names are derived from the knights, like Lancelot and Galahad, and Michael Caine is Arthur. Styled after old school spy films with its personality, gadgets, and gentlemen super agents, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy action comedy film based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

Matthew Vaughn has created a film with a personality. An absurd, quirky, nostalgic and violent personality. It takes after classic spy movies with its style, lightness, the colourful characterisation and the even more colourful supervillain. And yet it’s like the new brand of thrillers and spy films which lean towards realism. With its gritty violence and expertly choreographed, lengthy action sequences it’s more like the Bourne, Bond, and other recent, action films.

It also seems to make fun of the very spy films of which it speaks and, subsequently, itself. The humour is satirical, tongue-in-cheek and often crass. But it manages to not take itself too seriously, and neither should the viewer. Instead it becomes an extravagant yet down to earth source of entertainment.

The plot is typical yet it surprises one at many turns. Other than the excessive, often dispensible swearing, the writing is good.

The casting is spot on. Taron Egerton, playing the role of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, was refreshingly good. A very well written, three dimensional character for a change who was more than just a typical street smart guy.  Egerton stood out and held his own very well among the rest of the distinguished cast. Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine was a good villain but not effective at being a scary, “genius megalomaniac”. His partner in crime Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), so called for her razor sharp prosthetic legs I’m sure, was much more impressive in that regard. Mark Strong (Merlin) was super as the dignified agent and trainer, especially in the second half.

Colin Firth as Harry “Galahad” Hart broke away from his popular image and pulled off the action sequences better than most. The standout church scene was simultaneously the most awesome and revolting piece of cinema I may have ever scene. I was gaping throughout because of the unapologetic violence and the sheer amazingness of the action, choreography and camera work. It’s a prime example of many scenes which were darkly humorous in both tone and subject matter.

Technically the film is quite perfect. During the quicker movements of the fight scenes the camera was never too close or wide, and there wasn’t much of the incomprehensive blurring seen in most action movies in scenes of hand-to-hand combat. The effects, the editing, and the music – everything is superb. If not for the effective direction I don’t think the movie would have been as good. And yet, none of these elements overpowered the story or rose above it. All of it only served to heighten the comic book/spy thriller aspects of the film and served to compliment the story.

Morality issues such as excessive violence are not present, particularly after the major fight scenes. The heroes are bold and do what is necessary. In that regard the story maintains a lightheartedness and is not meant to be taken seriously. Whilst some deaths are (mostly) meaningful, no character becomes bogged down by them. Lack of emotional melodrama sees characters moving on to the next problem at hand.

Kingsman is a bizarre, head-spinning movie with memorable characters. Its essence and attitude rub off for a while. I left the hall with a smile on my face which stayed for some time, and the film spun around in my head for longer. It’s a multiple time watcher for me and I give it an extra half star for its novelty. However the film may not be to everyone’s taste, and those who dislike violence and outlandish films may want to skip it.

Advertisements

Book Review: Love on the Boardwalk by Christi Barth

3.5 gems

love the boardwalk

***I was provided an e-ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.***

Summing up this book in one word is quite easy. Sweet. Love on a Boardwalk  was a sweet, light-hearted and fun read that left me feeling all happy and gooey. There was no unnecessary drama whatsoever in this book and that just endeared it me more. Not to mention Trina Trimble. For me Trina was the essence and the center of this book. It is so so hard not to love her. She is the kind of person who you look at and start smiling for no reason. She is the kind of person who makes you happy and good about yourself. An independent, and self-sufficient woman, Trina was the best part of this book for me. She can easily crack you up and show you a gala time. A true happy-go-luck chica. She lives life king-size with no regrets.

“I try things and fail at them all the time. It’s called living with no regrets.”

Trina flits from career to career. She changes careers as frequently as women change shoes. She has done it all from being a dog walker to being a shoe designer. And she’s loved every moment of it. Currently she is a private-eye in training. And of course she’s having the time of her life here too chasing bad guys and donning different disguises. While working undercover in a strip club, Trina runs into the-hottie-who-could-have-a-been-a-summer-fling, Brad Hudson. Brad is celebrating his “un-honeymoon” with some cold bears and fake boobs. What else is a man supposed to do when his fiancee has dumped him for a JOB. Though even the bountiful breasts and asses hanging out of their underwear are not enough to get Brad out of his funk. But in walk a exuberant girl with a 1000 watt smile, a girl he actually knows, Brad’d mood soars. What ensues is a whole lot of fun.

The book never gets too serious. Ever. It’s all fun and games. There are a couple of conversations that are serious in nature, but Trina makes it a lot of fun. Trina is a very intuitive and observant woman. She easily picks up on Brad’s mood and cajoles him into talking his heart out. Brad on his part too, being the great cop that he is, knows how to wheedle her secrets. Their chemistry is good and with the entry of their friends Cooper and Darcy, things get a lot more fun. There is a conversation between Bradley and Cooper (oohh Bradley Cooper) that I very much enjoyed. Cooper tells Brad outright, that he should get over his ex and that the blame at least part of it, of his failed relationship lies with Brad too. Brad does try to keep that in mind and looks back at everything he did wrong, and everything he wants to do right, now, with Trina.

Brad does get a bit patronizing with Trina, but largely he supports her and understands her and even helps her. Trina on her part doe get pissed off at Brad, but the next day she comes back with a big smile on her face. I love the way Brad describes Trina:

“You take ordinary things and turn them rainbow bright. It’s what makes you so special.”

I also loved how easily Brad could pick up on Trina’s insecurities and help her get rid of them, not just with her career, but her relationships too. Trina is a bit insecure about her looks. She believes that she is just a rebound fling for Brad. The way Brad just tells her it’s not so is beautiful.

“I’ve been thinking about what this would be like, too. Ever since that night I almost kissed you on the beach back in June. Say you’re right. Say I can have any woman I want. The woman I want is you. Because you’re perky and fun. Because you’re adorable and you make me laugh all the time. And because you’re far more beautiful than you give yourself credit for. I want you, Trina. You’ve got adaptability and smarts that can’t be measured by essays and bubbled answer sheets. I don’t want a distraction. I don’t want a random hook-up. I want you.”

Trina is a very optimistic person who lets bygones be bygones. Her philosophy in life is very simple:

“If you try, you’ve got a chance at succeeding. Failure isn’t guaranteed. If you don’t even try at all, you’ve already failed.”

And that’s a lesson Brad learns from her. On the surface Love on a Boardwalk is a fun and  fluffy romance, but there are a couple of things like the aforementioned quote that we can very well imbibe in our day-to-day life.

Seeing Cooper and Darcy together made me want to read their book too. And the best part Trina and Brad are a part of that too. One of the best things I liked about Brad other than him being a total sweetheart and accepting Trina as she is, was *shhh it’s a secret*, Brad is a dancer! The way he confesses that to Trina is so sweet, not to mention the naked tango. I would’ve loved to see them dance together. Trina being Trina manages to turn Brad’s insecurities into dust and accepts him as he is. In fact she loves that he is a dancer. She even wants to enter a dance competition with him. She is like a dream come true for Brad. The perfect woman.

Over all the book was engaging a a complete roller-coaster ride of laughter. It was so hard not to smile or laugh at all times reading this book. Trina’s sarcastic and witty humor and Brad’s funny nature stole the show. With the addition of Cooper and Darcy things only became more fun. A great read. Now I know where to go when I want to laugh my heart out. Christi Barth you are an absolute winner for me!


Movie Review: Now You See Me

3.5

Now You See Me

Now You See Me is a 2013 movie, directed by Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans).

The opening of the movie introduces us to 4 magicians performing solo acts: an arrogant street magician J.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), an escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), a mentalist Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), a sleight-of-hand artist and when needed, a pickpocket. While these four are busy performing their acts, a man in a hooded jacket observes and later drops tarot cards with invitations for the four on them. They are intrigued and take up the invitations.

Fast forwarding to a year later, the four magicians are now a team, called The Four Horsemen. They are riding the big waves. For their final act on a stage performance in Las Vegas, they teleport a man and rob a bank in France. Then, they shower their audience with the same money. When the robbery is disclosed, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), FBI and Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), Interpol get involved.

The Four Horsemen are a team; arrogant to the bone, and impossible to shake down. And they promise that more of such acts (or robberies) are yet to come. Without any evidence, and since magic is obviously not a viable explanation for robbery, they cannot be put in prison. Even so, FBI is hot on their trail, and to make things easier, they consult Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Bradley used to be a magician, but now makes a living exposing the secrets behind famous illusions.

The cops are constantly a step behind, but it is not because they are slacking. They suspect a mole – a Fifth Horseman. The mastermind who created this team of magicians. But there is a large suspect pool, and no evidence regarding the man behind the plans. Meanwhile, there are two more acts to come, and each act is always better than the previous one.

After the second act, The Four Horsemen go on the run, which culminates into a man-to-man fight, some action-filled car chase, a deadly accident and finally, a very public finale.

The story-line is good, though slightly misleading at times. There is a string connecting all the events, and this connection goes farther than expected, which is a good thing. Some events aren’t very impactful, because you can guess the reality behind the illusions, which makes the movie foreseeable to a small degree.

The movie has a good beginning, and the acts are astonishing . The explanations for their tricks and the heists don’t take away the charm because of the simple mechanisms behind the tricks. And though the movie revolves around the heist, the actual question is: who is the mole?  Morgan Freeman partially works as a narrator, and some good part has been put in by Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler (the benefactor of The Four Horsemen). Needless to say, the movie has a nice cast and crew.

At times the glitz is a bit too much and on a few occasions, it’s hard to follow the story line, but it can be overlooked. What cannot be overlooked however, is the finale. I was slightly put down.

Many people have classified this movie as belonging to the genre of Ocean’s Eleven, but though the genre remains similar, the two movies simply cannot be compared. Ocean’s Eleven had its own subtle charm, while Now You see Me relies heavily on loud glamour. The former is expected deception, with no cover ups. The same cannot be said regarding the latter.

There is a small romantic development, but it is kept at the back, for the better. The story is good. And the depiction made me chuckle and laugh. I found the mastermind plan behind the whole scheme genius in its modesty. The credit of course goes to the writers: Boaz Yakin( Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Ed Soloman(Men in Black), and Edward Ricourt.

Did I like the movie? Yes! I watched this movie with no expectations and enjoyed it thoroughly. Overall, it’s a really good choice for a one-time watch.


Movie Review: The Croods

2.5gem

croods_movieposter

Released in 2013, The Croods is a 3D computer animated film set in a fictional prehistoric era. It features the voices of Nicholas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, it’s directed and written by Kirk DeMicco (Racing Stripes, Space Chimps) and Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch, How To Train Your Dragon)

The Croods are a family of cavemen who spend all their time either fighting for survival or holed up in a cave. All their neighbours fell prey to some predator or equally unfortunate incident, leaving them the sole survivors. The family consists of Dad, Mom, their three kids and Dad’s mother in law. Dad is the natural leader, a superstitious, overprotective man who’s obsessed with his family’s safety. Everything new and different, curiosity and fun are BAD and result in death. On the other hand you have the eldest daughter Eep, who’s desperate to explore, experience new things, and live as opposed to existing. The Croods’ lives are turned upside down when their cave is destroyed due to massive natural changes (Pangaea splitting into different continents). Here enters a new character in their life, Guy, an intelligent but lonely nomad who’s a little ahead on the evolutionary scale in terms of brain power; and his pet sloth cum pants holder Belt, who has a flair for the dramatic. The rest of the movie is about this motley group’s search for a new safe haven and the experiences of life along the way.

Visually the movie is stunning. There are a new range of animals in this historic world, an imaginative mix of present day species. The action sequences are wonderful, especially the hunting scene at the very beginning is fantastic.

Story wise the movie is weak and a mash up of other animated films, with average dialogues. Not the most remarkable work from DreamWorks. The humour is slapstick which eventually becomes boring and annoying. The movie is filled with stereotypes and clichés, like the Father/Protective Parent and the rebellious daughter angle. It also underperforms in the emotional department. Though the creatures are imaginative, some were ill conceived and discomforting.

The movie has three good points: the first being the animation. The second is the well captured struggle and discovery of new things – the father’s wariness, Eep’s fascination and everyone’s uncertainty. Thirdly, the scene of Eep’s discovery of fire, and the way she tries to understand it is portrayed beautifully.

********SPOILER********

Eep’s infatuation with Guy, though predictable, was not respectable, since initially she proved to be a strong, independent girl who wanted to learn new things and explore the world she lives in, instead of living in fear, in a cave, for days at a time. That part was pushed to the side-lines as she turned into an obsessed, teenage fan to the rock star like Guy.

*******SPOILER END********

The beginning of the movie is good, the ending is ridiculous and stupid. It’s a film only kids can enjoy; adults would, at the most, find it amusing. If not for the ending, I would’ve given it three gems.