Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is based on the comic book The Secret Service written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

Plot:
The movie starts off with an undercover mission in some Middle eastern country, Harry Hart, a.k.a. “Galahad“‘s (Colin Firth) mistake puts the life of entire team at risk. A probationary agent sacrifices himself to save his team. Riddled by guilt Galahad personally delivers a bravery medal to the agent’s widow and his young son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. The protocols don’t allow Galahad to explain the event which led to the death of the agents, so Galahad offers a favor that if they ever need help, they should call the phone number on the back of the medal and deliver a coded message.

Seventeen years later, Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by unknown assailants, led by billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a amputee with bladed prosthetic legs. One of Galahad’s colleague, “Lancelot” attempts to stage a rescue, but he is murdered by Gazelle.

Back in London Eggsy(Taron Egerton) has grown up to be unemployed young adult living with his mother, infant half-sister and an abusive stepfather. After being arrested for stealing a car and facing a jail term of 18 months, Eggsy calls the number on the back of the medal to claim the favor. Not knowing what would happen, Eggsy is surprised when he is released from prison.

With the death of Lancelot, the agency has a vacancy, based on tradition the current members have to recommend one candidate each. Galahad tries to convince Eggsy to be his candidate but Eggsy refuses the offer and returns home only to be abused by his stepfather. Galahad rescues Eggsy and Eggsy decides to apply for the post left vacant by Lancelot. He joins a group of other candidates who were nominated by other officers of Kingsman. Eggsy quickly befriends Roxy (Sophie Cookson). Their training is supervised by Merlin (Mark Strong), a kingsman.

Meanwhile Arthur (Michael Caine) hands over Lancelot’s mission assigned to Galahad. While Galahad investigates the case, the newly recruited trainees vie for the spot left behind by Lancelot.

What works out right:
Right from the moment I heard Dire Straits song Money for Nothing (which is at the beginning) till the end, the movie is fast paced. It has right mixture of action, comedy, gadgets and emotions. Kingsman: The Secret Service pays a tongue in check homage to lots of movie. Based on the movies I could recognize there were homages to James Bond movies, Star Trek, The Recruit and Dog Soldiers.

Acting wise Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad and Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, a billionaire philanthropist who speaks with a lisp and has a weak stomach for blood and violence steal the job. Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin and Mark Strong as Merlin are steady. Michael Caine as King/Arthur and Sophie Cookson as Roxy don’t have much to do, but it was nice to see Michael Caine try something different.

The action scenes are pretty interested, some times they are fast and some times the scenes are slow giving user a detailed look at the action. This blending of fast and slow fights really adds value to the movie. Most of the funny moments in the movie had people laughing and there were even people clapping for few of the dialogues.

All in all, Kingsman: The Secret Service will end up being one of the must watch movies of this year. I am also pretty sure it will remain in the list of “Highest-grossing films of 2015“. There is a hint in the movie that there could be sequels. I have my finger crossed and am hoping for a sequel.

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Review: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is based on the book A Captain’s Duty which in turn is based on real life incident of Maersk Alabama hijacking.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) takes command of the MV Maersk Alabama at port in Oman, with orders to sail its cargo through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa. Wary of pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, he orders security precautions on the vessel. During one training exercise, Phillips notices two skiffs attempting to hijacking the ship but he succeeds in outrunning the pirates.

Four pirates return again the next day led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) in a faster skiff, carrying a ladder they had welded the previous night. Despite Phillips and his crew’s best efforts, the pirates are able to board and take control of the Maersk Alabama, capturing the captain while most of his crew hides in the ship’s engine room.

The rest of the story is about how the drama unfolds. The story is very good but it’s the execution and performance of actors which steals the show. After the first 5 mins I was on the edge of my seat. I remember coming out at interval with a big smile on my face and telling my brother “It’s an excellent movie.” That is without watching the complete movie.

Performance wise Tom Hanks is as good as always. I can’t say it is his best performance till date because I have seen him do better. His acting towards the end of the movie is truly outstanding. I was pleasantly surprised by performance of Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse. This is his first movie and his performance was excellent. I don’t know anything about the real Captain Richard Phillips. There is news that the crew members of Phillips accused the film of being grossly inaccurate in facts and the portrayal of Phillips. But irrespective of the fact that the movie is based on real life events or not it is a good movie.

The movie doesn’t show the pirates in completely bad light. There are times when you realize that they are being used by somebody else. Their poverty forces them to pursue a career in piracy. I couldn’t find much to criticize in the movie, It follows steady pace and doesn’t get boring. All in all a very good you wouldn’t regret watching it.

Review- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The movie briefly explains, Thalia’s sacrifice and Zeus taking pity on her and transforming her into a pine tree, creating a magical border around the camp so that no other half-blood would suffer from a fate as she did. In present day, Chiron and Mr. D investigate a Cyclops that has somehow passed through the border, and the cyclops is revealed to be Tyson, Percy’s half-brother. The camp is suddenly attacked by a Colchis Bull, who breaks through the border and ravages Camp Half-Blood. Percy finally defeats it with the help of Tyson, Annabeth, and Clarisse. Luke Castellan suddenly appears and confronts Percy, trying to convert him to his cause. When Percy refuses, Luke disappears.

The campers soon realize that Thalia’s tree has been poisoned and that they have been left vulnerable to attacks. Annabeth and Grover then find a way to save the tree as they learn about the Golden Fleece which has the power to heal almost anything and they then propose a quest to Mr. D, where they retrieve the Fleece from Polyphemus‘ Lair in CirceLand in the Sea of Monsters and use it to heal Thalia’s tree. Mr. D then announces the quest, but chooses Clarisse to lead the quest instead, much to Annabeth’s and Percy’s dismay.

Percy then convinces Grover and Annabeth to accompany him on the quest, and Tyson joins them against the groups’ wishes.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6aYjbpBm-E%5D

Firstly let me admit that I have read all the books in Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. So I could be a little biased against the movie. One of the scenes in the movie, looked like frame to frame rip from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (The taxi scene). The story of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief had deviated a lot from the book. Thor Freudenthal (Director) has made this movie closer to the book.

The special effects are good but it could have been much better especially since Percy and his friends were sailing through the sea of monster. Sadly quite a few monsters from the book are missing. In the sea of monster, we see only one monster: Charybdis which was a bit of let down.

There are lots of plot holes like Percy talking to the lake and expecting Poseidon to respond. Unfortunately for Percy, Poseidon is the “God of the Sea” and not lake! The conclusion of the movie is absolutely pathetic. The final fight sequence kind of shows that Titans are easy to deal with!

Personally I don’t know which movie is worse Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters or Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Watch it only if you are a fan of the series, even then you might be disappointed (like me)

Review: Prisoners

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is a deeply religious man with two children and a loving wife Grace Dover (Maria Bello). He runs a struggling carpentry business. He attends a Thanksgiving dinner with his family at the house of their neighbors, the Birches. After dinner, the families’ young daughters, Anna Dover and Joy Birch, go missing. Previously an RV was seen parked in the neighborhood which is later found outside a gas station next to a wooded area. When Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) confronts Alex Jones (Paul Dano), the RV’s driver, Jones tries to speed away but crashes into the trees.

Alex is revealed during his interrogation to have the approximate I.Q. of a ten-year-old and is released due to lack of evidence. With no other leads to follow and his daughter missing for days Keller Dover decides to take the matter into his hands.

Hugh Jackman is very convincing playing an angry father, dealing with kidnapping of his daughter and the conflict with his faith. In fact this performance of Hugh Jackman’s is the best I have seen from him till date. Jake Gyllenhaal effortlessly essays the role of a detective struggling to crack the case. Jake Gyllenhaal performance comes a close second to that of Hugh Jackman’s.

There are numerous twist and turns in the movie and most of which are totally unexpected and adds to the mystery. There are no mindless action scenes to pull the movie back. Prisoners‘ asks too many uncomfortable questions like is it fair to do bad things to others because you have been wronged?.

There have been movies with similar theme, before Prisoners. But it is the execution that makes Prisoners watchable. That combined with the performances of the lead actors takes the movie to higher ground. Prisoners is a good movie to watch. But it is not a movie meant for everybody, you need to be patient and wait for the dots to connect and after that all your questions will be answered. My suggestion is simple don’t miss it!

Little Trivia from IMDB
Hugh Jackman portrays a father whose daughter is kidnapped and missing in this film. He was originally attached to play a similar role in The Lovely Bones, but dropped out. That role was filled by ‘Mark Wahlberg‘, who at one point was attached to play the lead role in this film.

World War Z

Another zombie movie, if we ever have a zombie infestation we should know by now, exactly how to control the infestation or else we don’t deserve to survive!Aim for the head silly“! World War Z is planned to be a trilogy and it has been confirmed that the sequel will be in the offering.

Plot
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a former United Nations employee, he and his family is stuck in a traffic jam, when zombies attack people and those bitten by the zombies turn into zombie and attack people (nothing new here). Gerry Lane contacts his former UN colleague Thierry Umutoni and requests him to airlift his family.

They are rescued and brought to a U.S. Navy vessel in the Atlantic ocean. There a virologist, Dr. Andrew Fassbach, argues that the plague is caused by a virus, whose origin must be found in order for a vaccine to be developed. The naval commander tells Gerry that, because of his previous experience with UN in different conflict zones, he has to accompany Dr. Fassbach to outbreak’s source (which is in South Korea) or else he and his family will be evicted from the Vessel to fend for themselves.

With no other choice Gerry decides to travel to South Korea with Dr. Fassbach and few other soldiers. The team is attacked by the zombies and Dr. Fassbach accidentally kills himself. With Dr. Fassbach dead Gerry has to continue his investigation.

Some of the scenes involving zombies are really breathtaking but there are times during which I was reminded of the disaster movie named 2012. The movie revolves completely around Brad Pitt and he does a decent job of carrying the movie.

Unfortunately the zombies are not scary and it actually feels like watching an action movie rather than a horror movie. There are quite a few holes in the scripts. The ending also was a little abrupt for my liking.

As I said, this is not a horror movie. It looks more at human aspect of the infection (similar to 28 days later). Best part of the movie is that there is no let-up in the intensity.

Despite being a good movie 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead continue to be my favourite zombie movies.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

In short G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a badly written and directed movie. From the beginning I got a feeling that the writer/s had worked very hard on connecting the plots of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation with disastrous results. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra wasn’t a great movie and G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t any better.

There are mindless action sequences one after another, by the time the movie ends you would be taking a sigh of relief. Now coming back to the plot. The Prime minister of Pakistan is assassinated, the President of United States orders the G.I. Joe’s to secure the nuclear warheads which incidentally is under the control of Pakistani extremist. After the nuclear warheads are secured Zartan who is impersonating the President of the United States gets the entire team eliminated and the Cobra gets the nuclear warheads. Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) are the only survivors. President of the United States (Zartan) further goes on to blame G.I. Joe’s for stealing nuclear warheads from Pakistan.

Unfortunately Dwayne Johnson can’t act. His scenes of camaraderie with Duke (Channing Tatum) are real drag. An attempt is made to create a romantic angle between Flint and Lady Jaye but uninterrupted action doesn’t provide any scope for any story to develop.

Bruce Willis sleep walks through his role of General Joseph Colton. The ending is even more appalling with world leaders parading their suitcases and nuclear bombs being thrown around like a game of Dodge-ball. Only saving grace in the movie is Jonathan Pryce playing the President of America. The movie also introduces Ray Stevenson as a Cobra mercenary Firefly.

This movie was banned in Pakistan and I can see why it was banned. But if you enjoy Pak-Bashing or for that matter North Korea bashing, it is a good movie to watch!

Thankfully I didn’t have to pay to watch this movie. If you happen to miss out on watching this movie, you haven’t actually missed anything!