*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE REVIEW *NEW*

Manners maketh the ridiculous sequel

When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsmen’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Stupid, bonkers, OTT and yet . . . Still highly entertaining.

The Kingsman are back BUT better? Well . . .

It would help to watch the first one. BUT if you haven’t, it’s not the end of the world (Although YOU MUST! It’s rather bloody good) as quick plot points are skimmed over anyway.

I mean, my mind drew a blank in the opening sequence as Charlie (Who? Thankfully there was a quick flashback) ambushed Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in a mental cab chase punch up.

I was a little anxious with the frenetic opening. It was too chaotic and, dare I say, silly for my liking. The frantic camera work, the over-indulgent CGI, I feared the worst. The soundtrack was on point though as Eggsy and Charlie punched the living daylights out of each other to Prince. Nice.

BUT once the pace settled down and the humour kicked in, I was still happy to be caught up in this crazy mess.

Egerton ran the show yet again and carried the film (when it tragically dragged).

Julianne Moore had a tough act to follow after Ssssssamuel (One for the Kingsman fans) L Jackson’s stellar turn in Secret Service BUT she played the psycho Poppy really well. If anything, I was disappointed at how small her screen time was.

Beneath the smiley Desperate Housewives persona lied one twisted individual. Don’t eat a burger from her. That’s all I’m saying.

I liked the idea of the Statesmen. The Kingsman’s American cousin. All the satire ripe for the picking. BUT after a fun introduction and some punny wordplay on their operative names; Tatum, Berry and Bridges were all left watching from the side lines. By the end, I wondered why they even bothered. Shame.

Thank God for Pedro Pascal’s (Game of Thrones/Narcos) laser lasso throwing cowboy Whiskey.

Colin Firth was a welcome return. Even with his ridiculous (but surprisingly plausible in a “Kingsman” way) revival. A much needed presence. The camaraderie with Eggsy was the heart of the first movie.

His presence made up for some of the messier parts of the movie. The only problem was that once Harry was back, Merlin was designated to Q status. A shame as up until that point; Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby) had been on scene stealing form. Benched (with the majority of the Statesmen) right up until the explosive finale.

My main quibble with The Golden Circle was that where the original got away with poking fun at James Bond (and the spy genre in general); this really did take things up to 11. A bit like Kick Ass 2. Funny, messed up BUT pushing its luck.

The middle act dragged and a reconnaissance mission at Glastonbury took the biscuit for me as Eggsy “planted” a bug into a model’s (Poppy Delevigne – Yup Cara’s sis) orifice (Nope, you read that right).

Now don’t get me wrong, the original wasn’t perfect. And to say, this sequel was silly by comparison is . . . silly in itself.

Especially when you had Sofia Boutella’s lethal Pistorius blade combination, Jackson’s blood phobia and THAT church scene . . . (My God! Pardon the irony) I will never listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd  in the same way again!

I just wasn’t caught up in it as much this time around.

Bruce Greenwood’s cameo as the President of the United States was mental. He reminded me of a similar world leader (with no concept of empathy or thought. Make of that what you will). His unique hostage negotiating skills spoke volumes.

BUT the real scene stealer was Sir Elton John. The Rocketman was bloody hilarious. He really didn’t give a damn, wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself and was surprisingly agile for an ailing musician 😉

Despite the relentless CGI, the malingering pace and some mad plot holes, K: GC was still crazy fun with some entertaining and delightfully bloody and visceral action sequences.

A fun time filler if nothing else that won’t disappoint Kingsman fans too much.

3/5

*NEW* THE MUMMY REVIEW *NEW*

Oh Mumma, the horror, the horror!

Bring back Brendan Fraser!

An ancient Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Okay, it wasn’t that bad BUT it wasn’t that great either.

To be honest, the opening act didn’t mess about. It quickly set up the premise. Flicked back and forth from one ridiculous explosive set piece to another. Cruise’s cocky Indiana Jones just about got away with it. I mean, fair play to the 55 year old for still throwing himself about and jumping across rooftops.

I really hoped Cruise and Jake Johnson’s (New Girl) pairing would have worked better. Johnson’s incessant yelling did my head in. Especially in the frenetic opening Iraq shoot em up sequence.

I just wanted him to shut up. Thankfully his swift exit was a pleasant relief.

No scarab beetles?! No Omid Djalili screaming like a banshee? (What?) Camel spiders and rats? Really? Meh.

The tone was all over the place. Too stupid to be funny and NOT dark enough to be a real horror.

The 1999 Stephen Sommers blockbuster and The Mummy Returns were perfectly balanced. They played the right level of cheese, humour (John Hannah, come on!) and let’s not forget that tongue in cheek horror.

The less we say about Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the better. Let’s not forget there was a reason why the franchise got rebooted in the first place.

The problem with this reboot was that I couldn’t stop making comparisons to the Fraser flick. On paper, swapping the dynamic around (Making the Mummy female) and modernizing it actually had potential BUT it failed to offer anything new.

Arnold Vosloo was a sinister presence. A creepy adversary (And no, let’s not mention the horrifically CGI’d Scorpion King).

Ugh.

Boutella did her best with the role BUT her lines were dull and she spent too much time in the background.

Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders) was far too serious and annoying for her own good. Rachel Weisz (my first screen crush. Don’t know why I thought I’d share that) was irritating but had her charm.

Plus it helped that there was actual chemistry between her and Fraser. No matter how nauseating it got in the Mummy Returns (Fans, am I right?)

There was zero chemistry between Cruise and Wallis. Replacing smouldering tension and friction with playground insults and more yelling.

Ben Seresin’s cinematography was fantastic to look at. The visual effects were impressive BUT not memorable. It was going to be tough to top Imhotep’s smiling face in the sandstorm.

Still haunts me . . . Moving on . . .

There were some good points (Really?). The make-up and effects were impressive. The creepy zombie soldiers and their Dementor style death kiss was a nice touch. Soul kissing the life out of people in the background while Cruise and Wallis continued to bicker and highlight enormous plot holes.

Johnson worked at lot better when he popped up in Nick’s (Cruise) subconscious. The bathroom encounter had a creepy American Werewolf in London vibe to it.

Cruise’s comical crusty corpse church punch up had me in stitches. BUT it just didn’t quite have the fun of O’Connell’s crypt chase.

Despite the vacuum sized plot holes (Seriously who brings a hostile ancient evil right to the very thing she is seeking. Face palm. Duh!), the writers really missed an opportunity with Russell Crowe.

He lapped it up as Jekyll. He lifted every scene with the right level of flamboyance. The exact thing needed to keep a silly monster movie like this entertaining.

And he was only in it for 15 minutes. Sigh. Even if his Hyde impression was a little Ray Winstone incarnate with some messy panda eyes. Seriously, let’s make him Crowe look evil. Smear some runny mascara over his face. That’ll do it. Did they run out of money?

Normally you can bank on Cruise to deliver a big popcorn movie. And he makes this mess watchable. He was just lucky that Alex Kurtzmann threw enough chaotic smash em grab em to hide what a mess this really was. BUT I didn’t expect too much and I’ve seen a lot worse for the ratings this film has received.

A mess BUT a watchable one. At least. Fraser fans may be left fuming BUT if you want a frantic time filler with enough bang for your buck, it won’t do any harm. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

*NEW* ATOMIC BLONDE REVIEW *NEW*

Charlize Theron kicks just enough ass to make this a little more than a generic actioner.

An undercover MI6 agent (Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The slow opener didn’t build up high hopes as it flicked back and forth from bumping off obscure spies to Theron’s bruised bathing sessions.

I didn’t mind having to piece together this murky tale of deception and espionage. It just that it didn’t really amount to much by the closing credits.

The whole story was told in a series of flashbacks with Theron’s Agent Broughton recalling her mission in Berlin. And oh my God, was that John Goodman? Wow, the man is looking old.

The murky Berlin backdrop was a perfect political cesspool for treachery and backhanded deals.

James McAvoy was on scene stealing form as the eccentric David Percival. A rogue agent whose enjoyed a little too much freedom. A much needed presence in this super serious yarn. Or so I thought?

He worked well with CT. I just wish the pair were in it together more. They spent far too much time apart messing about with the cloak and dagger stuff.

I know a good portion of the film was spent trying to suss out whether the agents could trust one another BUT a lot of the fun and intrigue was lost in their separation.

The plot, for all its contrivances, was relatively straightforward and a little disappointing. The inevitable double crossing and back stabbing looming on the cards.

I was actually glad the film didn’t stick with the hum drum Cold War guff. It was getting dreadfully glum and boring.

The fight sequences were ridiculous. The set pieces took a similar style to The Bourne movies and cranked it to 11!

Kudos to Theron who did her own stunts. The punch ups were brilliantly choreographed (and redeemed a lumbering first act) as Broughton soon discovers that her cover was blown from the moment she landed on German soil.

The car chases were fast and furious. If full of continuity errors BUT I digress. All I’m saying is that one Jeep goes flying in the air, blocking the street and is miraculously gone in the next frame. Okayyyy thennnn . . .

The tone was a little mismatched BUT I enjoyed AB a lot more when it took itself less seriously.

The soundtrack was brilliant. Even with the umpteen variations and remixes of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons and New Order’s Blue Monday.

Jonathan Sela’s cinematography was brilliant and dull in the same frame. I know. Work that out. Murky and full of neon. And apparently in every room back in 1980s Germany.

I just wish more was made of the actual story line. There was a great cast at director David Leitch’s disposal comprising of the likes of John Goodman, Toby Jones (Captain America) and James Faulkner (Game of Thrones).

Sofia Boutella (The Mummy) didn’t fare too badly as the naive French ally Delphine. And no! Not just because of her raunchy rendezvous with Theron.

The pair had good chemistry and worked well together. In fact, she almost stole the limelight off McAvoy as he withered further into the background.

Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan) was completely wasted in his role as the defective agent Spyglass. Anyone could have played him.

The finale, with all the twists and turns, just didn’t do much for me. The pay off didn’t quite add up. And as I much as I love Theron, did anyone else find her accent a little muddled?

BUT by the end I wasn’t really that fussed.

A watchable actioner.

Thank God for Theron and that quick injection of high octane shoot-em-punch-em. Or else this feeble tirade would have been left out in the cold.

3/5 (just)

STAR TREK BEYOND 3D REVIEW

Star Trek be-yawwwnnneed.

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy (Ol’ Luther – I mean, Idris Elba) who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

I’m NOT the biggest Trekkie BUT I have really enjoyed the Abram reboots. Shaking up the cast, reworking the old story lines and tweaking the dynamic.

A breath of fresh air among the barrage of reboots, remakes and endless (and unnecessary) sequels. BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow Into Darkness.

A new outing that didn’t rely on past plots. My confidence was restored when I discovered that Beyond was penned by an avid Trekkie (Simon ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Pegg!). A man who relished the dream role of playing Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott made famous by James Doohan.

BUT this time around, I felt this lacklustre sequel only just delivered a watchable actioner. From the director of Fast and Furious, I knew I could expect big explosions AND good set pieces.

BUT it was a case of either being too fast and furious with the action or drawn out and repetitious with barely any exploration of the characters. Even the laughs were few and far between.

The opening act didn’t really give me much hope with the crew acting as intermediaries between some silly CGI dog things. Yikes. It seemed to go through the motions with Pine’s Kirk going through yet another existential crisis as he questioned his purpose on the Enterprise.

Quinto’s Spock received some grave news which made the normally unfeeling extraterrestrial contemplate life and death. I just wished it wasn’t so tedious and uninteresting.

That’s NOT to say there weren’t moments to be had. The special effects were impressive. BUT that was only when you could actually see the set pieces. There were several scenes where I actually struggled to see a majority of the action.

I could see the Phaser rays blasting through the darkness BUT only just gather that it was Kirk and Chekhov sliding down a spaceship hanging off a cliff. Ridiculous.

The 3D was a waste of time. It didn’t bring anything to the experience. When the Enterprise was attacked by Krall’s death ships, it was a sight to behold BUT after 15 minutes of explosions and carnage, I found myself fidgeting.

I liked the dynamic between Spock and Bones as the pair were reluctantly put together. Karl Urban (Dredd) was the main scene stealer and kept things light when the pace drudged along.

Once Big Ears got over his nihilistic sulk, he was back on fine form. The banter between the duo was a much needed tonic; “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewellery”.

The rest of the crew was a mixed bag. The late Anton Yelchin had quite a big involvement in the mix as he aided Kirk in the battle against Krall’s goons. His presence will be missed. Although rumours suggest that Abrams may try and do what they did with Walker in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Pegg’s muddled Scot accent really grated against me. And I was disappointed that his little green pal Wee Man (“Get down from there!”) was left on the sidelines.

There wasn’t any depth to the characters. Bar Dr Zulu’s sexuality. Hardly a revelation and thrown in without any exploration. Shame.

There might have even been a bad continuity error with the length of their journey to the age of Zulu’s child (For those who watched it – Did you notice this?).

Saldana’s Uhura was reduced to being Krall’s prisoner for the majority of the movie. If anything, her absence wasn’t missed. Disappointing, to say the least.

Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) was the best character in the piece as the feisty Jayla. I wanted to know about her origins and why she was the only alien to evade Krall’s capture.

However it wasn’t long before she was pushed into the background for more mindless exposition. Only to be brought back for the frantic finale.

More could have made out of her. A missed opportunity.

Idris Elba did his best with the creepy Krall. The make up was brilliant. He really looked the part BUT Luther’s lines and delivery made him too comical for my liking. You try listening to him with that silly voice pronouncing Captain Kirk. Good lord.

He couldn’t match Cumberbatch’s tenacity or Bana’s bad-assery and was quite a tame villain by comparison. A twist about Krall could have been so much more BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

Captain’s Log; Beyond was a bit of a misfire for me. It tried to deliver a bit of everything and failed on all fronts.

A watchable effort that killed the time BUT I think Scotty better beam up a better script for the next endeavour.

2.5/5

*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE REVIEW *NEW*

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From the people who brought you Kickass. You should know what to expect. A riotous action flick of ridiculous proportions. More please.

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

Kingsman hooked me from the get go with an explosive opener as we watch a Middle Eastern compound detonate to the beat of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing.

Taron Egerton will certainly be one to watch for the future. He delivered an impressive movie debut as the anti-social Eggsy. This is certainly one of the better films I’ve seen this year. Fun, frantic and relentless.

I always felt Colin Firth could have been a Bond. Now he’s get his chance. Sort of. He was superb. Didn’t do too bad in the fighting sequences either. Who said old dogs couldn’t learn new tricks? He was every bit as charming, charismatic and funny as the 007 counterpart. He worked well with Egerton and made the perfect mentor.

We follow the conniving chav as he endures the intensive but enthralling Kingsman program. The ‘test’ sequences were tense, action packed and flippin’ fun as Eggsy must fight tooth and nail against the more ‘acceptable’ candidates. The class wars in full flow and brilliantly personified in the ultra snobby spies.

For the first hour, it ticked all the boxes from the cracking soundtrack, the manic car chases to the adorable little pug JB.

You couldn’t pick a better villain. Sssssamuel L (The L stands for Motherf**ker) Jackson was brilliant as the maniacal music mogul hell bent on dealing with the Earth’s overpopulation. Even if he is afraid of the sight of blood.

He was the ultimate scene stealer (Isn’t he always?). You couldn’t help but smile at the speech impediment ridden sociopath. His tet-a-tet with Firth was worth watching alone.

A brilliant mockery of every confrontation that Bond ever had with a villain as the pair wined and dined on a McDonalds Happy Meal. You read that right. “Is this the part where I tell you my plan and you escape in a cool way with some gadget?”

I was impressed with the supporting cast. The alluring Sofia Boutella (Street Dance 2) was a perfect henchwoman as the amputee assassin Gazelle. Disposing of any threat with some killer moves.

It took me a while to realize that one of the red herrings was played by Luke Skywalker himself. Mark Hamill was almost unrecognizable with his trampy beard and posh Swede accent. Great to see him in something other than Star Wars.

Michael Caine nailed it yet again. BUT I was surprised at how little there was of him. However, I was happy to see more of the talented Mark Strong. Finally earning a bigger part as Eggsy’s trainer Merlin.

The plot was mental. If anything, it reminded me of a even more messed up take on the hit Channel Four TV series Utopia. The satire behind the influence of media and technology was spot on. The running gag of missing celebrities that refused to comply to Jackson’s demands was hilarious.

HOWEVER, as much as the cast and one liners were on fine form; Kingsman wasn’t perfect. The pace did dip in parts. Especially during the middle act. Some of the ‘revelations’ were far too predictable. That’s not to say that the writers weren’t afraid to take risks.

BUT even when the pace dragged, we were soon rewarded with another chaotic punch em up. The church sequence should offer enough carnage to cure anyone’s blood lust. Trust me.

BUT as the film drew to its ridiculous close, it soon became too much for me. It was too fast, too frantic and that delicate balance of silliness was soon tipped right over.

Despite its flaws, I came out smiling. It was manic, funny and highly watchable. If you loved Kickass, I’m sure you’ll love this.

BUT if you love Bond, I think it will be down to what sort of mood you’re in to see it ripped to pieces.

3.5/5