Category Archives: Movie

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service



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.


Movie Review: Gone Girl



Gone Girl is a 2014 mystery thriller based on a 2012 novel of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and stars Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Carrie Coon.

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behaviour have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Not having read the book, I cannot judge how well this movie has been adapted to the screen, but, having seen it and knowing that the author herself wrote the screenplay, I found it to be one hell of a film.

Gone Girl is a dark, abstract, psychological thriller. It deals with issues like how we perceive the people we love, and how much we understand them, media frenzy, the economy and its effect on marriages. It’s a film exploring the dysfunctionality of the modern world. It’s a well-paced film that maintains its quite suspense as you journey through the investigation of Amy’s disappearance, and the flashbacks of Nick and Amy’s relationship.

The sharp dialogues and the affected, highbrow exchanges keep you focused, and yet, for me, also managed to keep the characters at a distance, so you never invest in one emotionally. However, it’s this affected distance that makes the twists and reveals that much more powerful. The beauty of the story lies in the fact that, despite having predicted some plot advancements and turns, the way they happen still manages to surprise you.

The actors do a wonderful job with a unique pair of unlikable main characters. Ben Affleck successfully portrays the ambiguous husband. You don’t know whether to sympathise with him or be suspicious of him; as in the movie, he swings from being hated, to not, repeatedly. Rosamund Pike gives a strong, powerful performance which packs a punch. Her apathetic expressions contrast with the emotive, candid narration and, generate intrigue and anticipation. She stole the show.

The film is strong, well constructed and the direction detailed. And despite the sinister mood it manages to be quite funny. The weakest part was the ending which could’ve been shorter and seemed wanting. Like the rest of the movie it was too, a surprise, however, it was somewhat unsatisfying.

Gone Girl is a twisted tale of a haunting character. A story that will linger with you. It’s best suited for those who enjoy dark thrillers.

Even though I wanted to read the book before the film came, I couldn’t manage it. But after watching this movie, I’m definitely going to read it and update this review with that of the book (I hope).


Movie Review: Now You See Me


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 Grand Budapest Hotel




A comedy drama film inspired by the writings of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. The director and writer is Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr Fox, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom), and the ensemble cast features Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and many others.

In the present day, a teenage girl visits the monument of a nameless author in a cemetery, then begins reading his memoir. The author starts narrating from his home in 1985 and recounts his only visit to The Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968, set in the fictitious Republic of Zubrowka, and his meeting with the elderly owner of the hotel. Over dinner one evening, the owner Mr. Moustafa shares his story of how he came to acquire ownership of the once famous hotel. Further back in time, in 1932, the hotel is at the peak of its popularity while the country is on the verge of war. The first concierge of the hotel is Monsieur Gustave H., unashamedly frank and promiscuous, who provides all manner of services for his guests, especially the rich and old ladies. He embodies moral and behavioural perfection, and runs a tight ship. Gustave’s life takes a turn when one of his closest lady guests, Madame D, dies. And so begins a series of adventures for Gustave and his new lobby boy, Zero, whom he takes under his wing.

Falsely accused of murdering the old lady, chased by her sinister son Dmitri and his uproariously forbidding assassin Jopling, and the considerably gentler inspector of the Lutz Military Police, Gustave must prove his innocence with Zero’s help. The movie follows the development of their friendship, along with the imminent threat of war that shadows everything.

Visually stunning, the film is creatively shot and meticulously directed. The exquisite camera work, the attention to details, and the technical finesse make this movie a marvel in itself. The timing and structure of the story-line, with the shifts in narratives, and story within a story approach, is perfection.

There are subtle humanistic socio-political themes in the movie, which seem to critique the 19th century culture of nobility (greed) and warfare (fascism). There is also a sense of nostalgia for an older time. The juxtaposition of these themes is reflected in Gustave’s old-fashioned notions of honour contrasted by the homicidal menace of Dmitri and Jopling and the two train incidents.

The story primarily centres on the friendship of Gustave, with an undercurrent of melancholia beneath his air of confidence, optimism and cheerful wit, and Zero; his unquestioning loyalty to, inherent understanding of, and rapport with, his mentor.

The sublime performance of Ralph Fiennes as the charming and waggish concierge (“a man out of time”), with a perfect balance of gravity and lightness steals the show. He is accompanied by Toni Revolori as the wide-eyed and wonderfully earnest Zero, and a stellar ensemble cast with their straightforward and mostly deadpan acting, which adds to the humour and makes for memorable characters (with a few exceptions).

Usually all Hollywood movies which have a huge star-cast are tedious and fall flat, mostly because the actors are employed to bring weight and attention to thin, banal characters and movies. But here, the point seems to be, to simply be a part of a charming but poignant story, regardless of the role; evident in the barely there screen times of most of the actors. And that’s the beauty. You don’t care that you barely see them, because the story itself does not give it importance. The sense of reality and accessibility heightens.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is an entertaining, zany film with droll dialogues; fastidious, loving direction and filmography and a fantastic performance by Fiennes. Not much of a laugh-out-loud film, but I was chuckling through most of it. It makes you travel through a different time, and lingers with you for a while. Must watch for those who enjoy quirky movies.