Archive for the ‘Matthew Vaughn’ Category

Fortune Favours the Bold

The King’s Man

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Tom Hollander, Alison Steadman, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Topping the two previous Kingsman films, this highly anticipated prequel simply titled The King’s Man follows the adventures of Orlando Oxford, or the Duke of Oxford wonderfully played with a nuanced panache by Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) as we track his valiant attempt to protect his son Conrad Oxford from harm.

The King’s Man fortunately is steeped in historical references and is set between 1902 and 1918. Director Matthew Vaughn places the story between the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa whereby the British were brutally confining Afrikaners in concentration camps to the outbreak of the 1st World War in Europe which was sparked off by the untimely assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

Orlando Oxford is ably assisted by Shola played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) and Polly played by Gemma Arterton (The Quantum of Solace).

As World War I breaks out, the Duke’s son Conrad played by Harris Dickinson who was brilliant as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in Danny Boyle’s excellent TV series Trust, is desperate to fight in the front line. The Duke of Oxford in the meantime is trying to find a way of ending World War One, this atrociously bloody conflict as started by 3 first Cousins, all grandchildren of Queen Victoria: King George of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia all of whom are dexterously played by Tom Hollander (Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice).

In a particularly bizarre scene at a Russian ball, The Duke of Oxford and his son battle the outrageous Grigori Rasputin expertly played with sinister flamboyance by Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Anonymous).

As the action shifts around the world and director Matthew Vaughn efficiently cuts through all the historical cobwebs to reignite the story of The King’s Man with some stylishly entertaining action scenes, it is Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford who becomes the action hero in a role which he clearly delighted in playing.

Audiences should look out for some great cameo roles, particularly veteran British actor Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, White Mischief) as Kitchener, Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, A Single Man) as Morton and German actor Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Inglorious Basterds) as the shady Erik Jan Hanussen a malignant advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.

Historically, The King’s Man is an intriguing action film, thoroughly entertaining and as a prequel it is sophisticated without taking itself too seriously.

If audiences enjoy a dazzling swashbuckler then The King’s Man which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is far better than the other two Kings Men films Kingsman: The Secret Service and the outlandish Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

This time director Matthew Vaughn does this franchise justice and reiterates the motto that Manners Maketh Man.

The Doomsday Protocol

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holcroft, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Michael Gambon, Sophie Cookson

Director Matthew Vaughn follows up his 2015 comic book spy debut Kingsman: The Secret Service with a more robust and intensely invested sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle with a bigger cast and lavish sets reuniting Oscar winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) with his A Single Man co-star fellow Oscar winner Julianne Moore (Still Alice) who plays the delusional and garish villain Poppy.

Hot young star Taron Egerton reprises his role of Eggsy, street boy turned bespoke spy, joined by Mark Strong as Merlin who go on an international mission to discover who is destroying The Kingsman headed up by a briefly glimpsed Michael Gambon.

The Kingsman soon join forces with their American counterparts including Channing Tatum as Tequila and Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall) as Whiskey who make up the Statesmen an independent espionage agency housed in a whiskey distillery in Tennessee who come to their aid in tracking down Poppy and her evil plan of causing all drug users in the world to die through lacing their fix with a lethal concoction which causes purple veins, paralysis and death.

As Kingsman adopt the Doomsday Protocol, Eggsy and Merlin embark on a dangerous mission with the help of Whiskey as they travel to the Italian Alps to retrieve an antidote in an action packed ski cable car sequence which is clearly a skit on the 007 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Even Poppy’s drug liar deep in the Cambodian jungle, aptly named Poppyland is a skit on another Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

While the action in Kingsman: The Golden Circle is clearly hyper-visualized and the plot is completely outlandish, it’s the sort of Saturday afternoon popcorn film which is pure escapism even though its subliminal messages are morally questionable.

With Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) as Statesman tech genius Ginger, The Kingsman: Golden Circle is a clear skit on the 007 franchise with a more lurid twist making our dapper hero Eggsy appealing to the millennial’s and definitely is more successful as a cleverly cast spy caper.

If audiences enjoyed the first Kingsman, then they will enjoy this extravagant and better orchestrated sequel. Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets a Film Rating 7 out of 10.

Comic Book Moonraker

Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman_the_secret_service_ver7

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Jack Davenport, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill, Lily Travers, Edward Holcroft

X-Men First Class director Matthew Vaughn’s glossy Kingsman: The Secret Service although has some great finishing touching is certainly no diamond in the rough. Although from the outset, the film inspired by a Comic book series and despite the casting of Oscar winners Michael Caine and Colin Firth fails to successfully make fun of the spy genre and its plot falls flat in the face of some glamorous production design, Kingsman actually is not as good as the trailer makes out to be. Which is a pity.

kingsman_the_secret_service

Whilst the storyline of a youngster, Eggsy played by Taron Egerton is a sort of male version of Pygmalion as he is plucked out of trouble and brought to the finishing school for spies, The Kingsman: The Secret Service with the elegant assistance of Harry Hart wonderfully played by Colin Firth, the overall effect of the film is absurd to the point of making it nothing more than a comic book version of the Bond classic Moonraker. The eloquent Hart’s best line is manners maketh man, otherwise the plot itself is disjointed coming off as a schizophrenic spoof of the usually intriguing spy genre essentially aimed at the teenage market.

The villain is an American tech giant, Richmond Valentine bizarrely played by Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained) in one of his least compelling roles. Whilst the storyline follows the classic megalomaniac aiming to take over the world and cull the downtrodden, while only saving a few politically connected elite, Kingsman: The Secret Service follows the traditional spy genre but then at some point during the film subverts this venerated genre, probably the moment when bigots are attacking each in a rural church in Kentucky, making the whole storyline utterly farcical.

Given the production values and the casting of such British acting talents as Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules, The Dark Knight) as Arthur a traditional figurehead of The Secret Service and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) as a sort of style master to the fatherless ruffian Eggsy, whose own father codenamed Lancelot met a gory end in a snow villa in Argentina, Kingsman: The Secret Service could have been so much slicker, better edited and infinitely smarter than what the finished product is.

Look out for a guest appearance by reclusive actor Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker in Star Wars as the mad Professor Arnold.

There are some wonderful moments when Firth takes out a gang of hoodlums in a pub aptly called the Black Prince with a very lethal umbrella, Kingsman: The Secret Service is overly long, with a plot which becomes more ludicrous as the film progresses and eventually does little justice to the original Spy thrillers the film is aiming to emulate: The Bourne Series, the iconic James Bond films and even the action TV show 24.

The action sequences are beyond credible and the first part of the film involving the training of the potential Kingsman has a sort of British upper class Hunger Games feel about it, the rest of the film could have been edited. All the great actors like Caine, Firth and even Mark Strong recently seen in The Imitation Game should stay clear of trying to star in films based on comic books and stick to more serious subject matter where at least their acting talents as actors are properly utilized.

Twenty six year old Welsh actor Taron Egerton is energetic in the role of Gary (Eggsy) Unwin, a juvenile delinquent transformed into a gentleman, yet given a more illuminating script, his true potential as an actor could have shone brighter. Recommended for viewers that enjoyed Get Smart or even some of the earlier X-Men films, but diehard spy fans should keep clear of Kingsman: The Secret Service – as its mainly poppycock!

 

 

 

Sixties take on Superheros

X-Men: First Class

Mutants Rule in the Sexy Sixties

James Mc Avoy (Wanted) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion) star as the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr known as Magneto respectively in the prequel X-Men: First Class , director Matthew Vaughn’s stylish version of the origins of the mutants set in the early sixties and placed within the dramatic historical context of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, a homage to the earlier Bond films like Goldfinger and Dr No.

Complete with fabulous costumes and flitting between exotic locations from Vegas to Moscow to Argentina, X-Men: First Class is a superb reinvention of the X-Men franchise which was growing slightly weary after the 2009 film Wolverine. Featuring a varied and talented cast from Jennifer Lawrence, hot young star of Winters Bone, January Jones of the Mad Men series, Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Kevin Bacon as the irrepressibly stylish villain Sebastian Shaw who pits the Americans and Russians against each other in a bid to start another nuclear war.

The alliance and subsequent friendship of Charles and Erik is the basis for this X-Men story before they became arch enemies. Charles Xavier has had a privileged upbringing in England and studied genetic mutations at Oxford University while the down-trodden Lenshir was subjected to Nazi horrors in a Polish prisoner of War camp, where his powers over metallic objects catches the eye of the immortal mutant Shaw, who realizes that the are many more mutants on the planet, owing at least in this film to the vast amount of radiation used during World War II culminating in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Xavier has the power to read minds and soon with the assistance of a covert CIA unit is able to form a band of young and untrained mutants as they are employed along with Lensherr to stop Shaw from extracting more nuclear energy by starting another world war. January Jones recreating her Mad Men look plays a diamond mutant, Frost with elegance and grace a lethal sidekick to the evil Shaw, played with relish by Kevin Bacon who seems to be getting younger in every film.

X-Men: First Class is a designer sequel with a positively retro feel, made all the more spectacular by fast-paced action and breathtaking CGI. McAvoy and Fassbender compliment each other as Xavier and Magneto a younger version of the rivalry so beautifully created in the X-Men trilogy by veteran actors Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan, capturing a slight homoerotic love for each other which in a superhero universe can naturally never be fulfilled.

Watch out for a cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romjin as the older version of Raven, known in the earlier films as Mystique. There is no Cyclops or Storm, but younger and sexier mutants Angel played by Zoe Kravitz and Havok played by Lucas Till more than make up for their absence. If viewers enjoyed the X-Men trilogy then this will surely go down well as an original, stylish and very retro prequel explaining a lot about the origins of mutants and the passionate rivalry between Xavier and Magneto which is the crux of the earlier blockbusters.

 

 

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