Kingsman: The Golden Circle

 

 

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Picture Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

 

A year has passed since the events of the first film and our lead, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has had to take the place of his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth).  Breaking a Kingsman rule and attempting to have a relationship, Eggsy attempts to balance the life of a secret agent while dating Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alstrom).  When confronted with a face from his past, a chain of events could mean the end of the Kingsman.  Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) as the only remaining agents of Kingsman activate the Doomsday Protocol sending them across the globe to a secret organization and potentially their only ali.

As with every good agent movie comes an evil villain in the form of sugar-coated drug lord Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore).  Poppy is the head of one of the largest drug cartels in the world, but in order to keep her business running smoothly, she must live in isolation.  Converting an undiscovered site of ancient ruins into a 50’s style town Poppy heads her operations with a smile on her face while indoctrinating her followers into her group known as the Golden Circle. Though nothing sweet about Poppy’s plans, she has released a virus throughout the globe and will only release the antidote if her demands are reached.  Poppy’s plan has the inadvertent effect of creating a secondary villain in an unexpected place.  Agents new and old band together to try to stop Poppy’s plans and save the ones they love.

The plot of the film at its core holds the simplest and probably the oldest agent and villain story right down to the secret antidote.  The simplicity of the story creates a perfect platform to the Kingsman style of mixing old and new in the best way possible.  Agents with style and class team up with technology and some badass skills with our new allies adding their own special twist.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle stays true to its brand while keeping things new and exciting.  While things may be a bit silly at times including full-on scenes starring Elton John in full costume and song,  the film has a way of not taking itself too seriously and adding fun to the action and adventure.

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A Christmas Prince

 

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Picture Courtesy of Netflix

 

A Netflix Original Christmas film was released on November 17, 2017, and while it appeared on our main screens few and far between have given this one a chance.  The Christmas selection on Netflix Canada is rather appalling so it shouldn’t take you long to skim through the available ones and happen upon this one.

A Christmas Prince is about your average American girl, Amber Moore (Rose McIver), living in New York City and trying to make it as a journalist.  When she is given the opportunity to take on her own story, she must leave her father alone for Christmas and travel to the make-believe nation of Aldovia.  Aldovia is a pictureque Christmas town with its very own castle and royal family who are even blessed with British accents.  With the King recently deceased, the role is left to Prince Richard who is currently M.I.A. and rumored to be a playboy/bad boy in addition to considering abdicating the throne.  Amber must cover the story as the world waits to see what the Prince will do and what the fate of Aldovia will be.

If you hadn’t already picked up on a few things, A Christmas Prince is rife with predictability, its fair helping of cheese and utter nonsense.  We’ve heard of such random monarchies and mystery royals with a flashback and nod to the Princess Diaries starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.  While A Christmas Prince does not compare there is one thing that remains, wholesome good-hearted family fun.

The movie is appallingly cheesy and predictable that it is laughable for much of the movie.  You have your basic clumsy every-girl, her random tight-knit friends which includes the token gay, a bad boy prince with a kind heart, a misunderstanding and a Christmas miracle.  We all knew the story before it even began and even their attempt to throw a curveball our way was easily spotted from a mile away.

A Christmas Prince is far from being award-worthy or a must-see film of the year, but it is a wholesome light-hearted movie for the whole family for the most wonderful time of the year.  Sometimes it is nice to escape to a place and time where people had manners and morals and where cheesy romance and Christmas miracles do exist before turning off our screens and stepping out into the burning flames of damnation that our world has become.  You are likely already more stuffed than a Christmas goose with all manner of foodstuffs floating around in a vat of Eggnog inside of you with Netflix playing in the background, curl up with the ones you love and enjoy some mindless comfort and joy.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

 

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Picture Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

 

 

In an attempt to Adult I managed to discard reading, writing and basically all things enjoyable.  Because of this I have fallen greatly behind in all three categories and there is no better way to correct this than to dive right in.  While watching the latest Pirates movie in theatres would have been something my old self would have done, my new self has sabotaged this to the nth degree.  I had the pleasure of viewing the preview for this movie in Disneyland earlier this year in one of their magically interactive theatres.  For those who have never experienced such things, not to fear I was one of you before this year.  Apparently, Disneyland has these magical preview viewings which include bench seats that thump you from behind and rumble during scenes and even hidden little holes that squirt water at you at the exact moment the movie preview splashes the audience.

Despite all these magical memories, they weren’t enough to shake me out of the funk of life and get me into the theatre seats to see this movie during its release.  I think we are all surprised that these movies are still being made, and even more surprising that there are original characters still in the films.  This element is very much appreciated.  Perhaps in an attempt to refire the Pirates franchise and phase out the originals we are introduced to a slightly younger generation of Pirate spawn in the form of Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan.  Young Henry has spent his years learning every myth and tale of the sea in an attempt to break the curse placed on his father.  Henry believes that such an item exists in the form of the Trident of Poseidon, though Henry is not the only one searching for the mythical object.

Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is a young astronomer and horologist (the art and science of studying time though the film takes advantage of the pronunciation of the word and makes some rather interesting jokes for what I would consider to be a kids movie.)  Unfortunately for Carina, she lives in a time women with such knowledge are marked as a witches and face prosecution and execution.  Though a woman of science, Carina’s only possession that she was left with when she was dropped off at an orphanage as a baby is a notebook.  Inside the notebook it is believed that she holds the key to finding the Trident of Poseidon.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is the pinnacle of all the films and I don’t think anyone could imagine the series continuing without Jack.  Five movies in and there are still mysteries to be solved about our drunken sailor, one who has crossed paths with many pirates in his life including the familiar face of Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and those not so familiar like Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) our latest villain in the series.

Dead Men Tell No Tales has a great mix of the old and new, though the overall effect has become a bit convoluted.  Depending on their intentions, one could simply see this as an attempt to ignite the series again and get a few minor details out of the way before kicking off a new adventure.  It was by no means as good as the original film, though perhaps a step up from some of the in-between Pirates.  This will always be one of my favourite rides at the Disney parks and the franchise will always have a place in my heart.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

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Picture Courtesy of Focus Features

Based on the true story and the novel of the same name by Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the story of Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain), two polish zoo workers who helped save around 300 Jewish lives during WWII.  I imagine working and living inside the zoo itself, the Zabinki’s would have had no shortage of tales to tell.  When war came to Warsaw during WWII, their zoo was taken over by German soldiers and many of their animals heartbreakingly killed.  With friends being round up and taken to the ghetto, the Zabinski’s took a risk by hiding a dear friend within a cramped space of their home.  Their zoo being damaged by the German bombs and their animals killed, the Zabinki’s managed to convince their acquaintance and zoologist to Hitler himself, Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl) to allow them to raise pigs at the zoo.  Under the guise of raising the pigs to keep their zoo running and to feed the Germans, the Zabinski’s took an even greater risk by smuggling as many Jewish people from the ghetto as they could and into their home.  With the help of resistance fighters and friends, they were able to funnel people out of the ghetto and out of danger.

The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the amazing story of the brave Zabinski family and those who risked their lives to save others.  The details of the story may be unknown to you, but you have a general idea of the plot based on history.  This does not; however, take away from the story.  There are many endearing moments that any movie with animals brings, though it was quite difficult to watch any scenes where they were killed.  Film versions of events usually embellish things for effect, but after watching the movie I can’t help but think of how much more of the story we likely missed.  Because of this I would be more inclined to read the book, but the likelihood of this happening does seem rather slim.

WWII has a way of peeking my interest though I can’t say it is for any specific reason.  This unique true story set during WWII and in a zoo no less tells a story the likes of which many of us could never have imagined.  The struggles and atrocities that occurred during WWII were widespread and boundless leaving no shortage of stories and unsung heroes.  Any chance to acknowledge these heroes and hear their stories is well worth the time and effort.

Pet

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Picture Courtesy of Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films

 

Pet is a psychological thriller starring Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo.  Monaghan plays Seth who is a loner who works at a veterinary dog shelter.  One day during his long commute to work Seth sees Holly (Ksenia Solo) and creates a backstory that they knew each other from school.  Knowing details of her life, Holly assumes that he is telling the truth that they may have gone to the same school together but she does not remember him at all.  When Seth approaches Holly at her job as a waitress and tries to ask her out, she politely declines stating that she has a boyfriend.  Having stalked her online, Seth absentmindedly replies that she does not.  Creeped out by the situation, Holly shuts him down and asks him to leave.  Seth is persistent in his attempts and begins the creation of a cage and a plan to kidnap Holly.  Holly is determined to survive at all costs and uses Seth’s love for her in the hopes of escaping.

Not what you would have expected going in to the movie and things just get more and more strange as they progress.  While I can appreciate the work done to create the psychological aspects of the film I don’t think it was really worth the wait.  Fond memories of Dominic Monaghan from the Shire are long gone in this creepy attempt to disturb us, yet disturbed we are.  Make a u-turn and head back to the Shire, somewhere more pleasant and more entertaining.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

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Picture Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Courtesy of my prediction for July 2016 movies NOT to see:

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8)

“Let’s just casually skip over the fact that it is the worst attempt at naming a movie.  There are going to be some good laughs and a lot of stupid stuff.  Everyone is going to go to this movie and laugh and in the end it will just be okay and no one will ever talk about it again, as it should be.  Also… Anna Kendrick’s hair.”

Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle are liquor salesmen, somehow, and just so happen to ruin every family occasion with their idiot antics.  As their little sisters wedding looms as the next big family function, their parents give them the task of finding nice girls to bring as their dates to keep them out of trouble.  The two put out an ad on Craigslist looking for nice girls to bring as their dates to their sisters wedding in an all expense paid trip to Hawaii.  Their ad goes viral as every type and age of girl (and guy) come out to try and win the two lucky spots.

Alice and Tatiana are best friends and co-workers.  After Alice’s finance left her at the alter she has been a complete mess getting drunk at work and high when she can and generally just being a crying mess.  When Tatiana sees Mike and Dave on TV talking about their hunt for nice girls. Tatiana hatches a plan to get her and Alice to Hawaii.  As most girls respond to the ad looking to set up a meeting, Tatiana decides to bring the meeting to the boys.  Tatiana and Alice create cover stories while Tatiana does most of the work and Alice awkwardly makes a series of bad lies until people look the other way.

The girls are a hit with the Stangle family and are so impressed that Mike and Dave were able to find such nice girls as their dates.  It doesn’t take long for them to discover that these girls aren’t so nice after all as all out chaos ensues threatening to ruin yet another family function.

Not only was there little thought put into naming the movie, there was probably about as much thought put into the plot of the movie.  The characters actions are all over the place, but when you create a film so ridiculous you know that your characters or the plot do not have to make sense.  You just need to make sure you can please your target audience.  Adolescent boys and their girlfriends both high off their rockers.

One could possibly applause Anna Kendrick’s acting in this movie for portraying such an annoying whiny pot head, but I can honestly say that her role in the first Twilight film was better done and much more believable.  Also, as a mentioned in my prediction, her hair.  I couldn’t stop staring at it and it just made things all the worse.  Aubrey Plaza plays the leader of the duo and pulls off her bad ass sex kitten role well though I could have done without the heart to heart.

When it comes to Adam Devine, he can sing and he can do the funny guy bit, but there has to be more to him than his signature funny face, right?  And lastly, lets all just admit that we will watch any movie with Zac Efron no matter how crappy it is.  That boy could sell an STI off a hooker and we would still buy it.

Well can’t say we are surprised by the outcome of this movie.  It delivers in its ridiculousness and we have already forgotten anything positive about the movie because of all the negatives that went along with it.

The BFG

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Picture Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

 

It always surprises me how many stories of Roald Dahl’s I have not actually read.  We have all seen many of the film versions of his stories but I have not taken the tire to read the tales that have become such beloved movies.  This was no more obvious to me than the very long few moments that I sat and tried to work out what BFG stood for.  Naturally, my mind went for the four letter words category for $400 truly never coming to the correct conclusion.  The answer alluded me until one day someone mentioned it in passing and the lightbulb connected and my inner voice cautioned me to not say out loud what I thought it was all along.  I don’t know where that voice is today but there is such a colourful title of one of Dahl’s other books that would be willing to support my initial theory.  While the four letter word was my first choice I knew it was not the correct answer for the obvious fact that it was being created by Disney.

As many of you knew before me, our story is about a Big Friendly Giant.  Our main character, Sophie, lives at an orphanage.  From the beginning we can tell the she is smart, independent, and unique.  I can’t know for sure because I have not read the book, but I like to think that the book goes into more detail about Sophie and the type of person she is.  Sophie is played by Ruby Barnhill and whether her character matches the book or not I absolutely loved her in this role.  Sophie is taken from the orphanage by a giant who she has seen lurking around at night.  Because she now knows of their existence he tells her that she can never leave giant country, where he has taken her.  He is certainly seen as a friendly giant when we are introduced to some of the other giants who go by names such as the Blood Bottler.  Sophie, with the help of BFG and his dream skills, work up a plan to get rid of the giants with the help of the Queen of England.

The characters, the visual and that extra twist of all things Dahl create a magical setting for this charming story.  Things are going so delightfully well until Sophie hatches this rather odd plan of getting the aid of the Queen of England to assist them in ridding the world of these bad giants.  The film falls apart rather quickly from this point on including some absolutely ludicrous scenes made to make children laugh.  I suppose you cannot really berate the film or story for doing what it had initially set out to do, it is a children’s story after all.  Still, if the film only held on for a little longer I think it could have easily fit in with the other greats such as James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches and of course Matilda.  Sadly it doesn’t quite cut it making it a delightful escape, though one place I would rather not go as often as these other great titles.