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- 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.

Review: Rush

Rush is a movie based on F1 and movies on F1 are a rare breed. In fact this is just the second movie to be based on F1 after critically acclaimed Senna, a British 2010 documentary film that depicts the life and death of Brazilian motor-racing champion, Ayrton Senna. The biggest positive about Rush is that unlike most other sports based movie, the director has ensured that the movie isn’t biased. No judgement is passed about anybody.

James Hunt is flamboyant, carefree and wants to enjoy every moment of his life while Niki Lauda is very calculated, meticulous and very blunt. The film is all about the clash of these two personalities and their beliefs.

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt is very convincing. But it is Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, who steals the show. The performance by other actors are also good. One of the fringe benefits of watching the movie is that you would get to see some old F1 cars.

The best part of the movie is right at the end when the two men agree to disagree and Niki Lauda admitting that James was one of the few friends he had and one among the fewer men he respected despite all the conflicts and issues they had!

Rush has right mix of drama, adventure, humour and inspiration. On the flip side, there are exaggerations in terms of death rates and crash probability during 1970’s in F1.

Let me admit it, I am a F1 fanatic. I have read a lot about 1976 F1 season and yet I had a thrill of a ride. Although Rush is not at the same level as Senna.This movie is a must watch for all F1 fans! In fact you don’t need to know anything about F1 to enjoy Rush. If you like a story which has drama and inspiration, you can watch Rush. Because at times it feels like this rivalry was always meant to be a movie!

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!

Rules of the Fight Club

Fight Club happens to be one of my favourite movie. Fight Club was named the 10th greatest movie of all time by Empire magazine in its issue of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. Rules of the Fight Club are legendary. So lets pay these rules a visit!

1st RULE: You do not talk about Fight Club.

2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

3rd RULE: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over.

4th RULE: Only two guys to a fight.

5th RULE: One fight at a time.

6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes.

7th RULE: Fights will go on as long as they have to.

8th RULE: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you HAVE to fight.

In Tyler Durden voice!

If you are a die-hard fan of the Fight Club you have to got through the list of Memorable quotes and Goof ups

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I went in 1 hour early to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. 9 am on a Christmas morning I was standing outside the Mall to get my tickets (Could have purchased the tickets online but it doesn’t feel the same!). 1 hour later I was inside the theater watching the movie I have been waiting for a long time!

I had my apprehensions about the movie ever since it was announced that Hobbits would be a trilogy like Lord of the rings and unlike LOTR trilogy, The Hobbits was a book written for kids. I have read the book couple of times. To be honest I have not enjoyed quite a few movies that were based on a book. Having seen directors like Chris Columbus ruin Harry Potter film series (And now he is ruining Percy Jackson and the Olympians series), I wasn’t sure whether Peter Jackson could do it right again. Few minutes into the movie and I knew I was in a for a very good treat. The magic of the Middle Earth for there for all to see.

In the book the dwarves came across as little greedy and very grumpy. There was no way you could like them, like you liked Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. The best thing about the movie is that Peter Jackson makes you feel sorry for dwarves and you tend to cheer for them. They are shown as normal people with loyalty, who are fighting for what they had lost.

As the movie goes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not based page by page on the Hobbits the book. There are lots of changes in the movie and that adds a bit of substance and meaning to the movie and makes it a more pleasurable experience to watch the movie.

Time for a short synopsis:

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

The focus is basically on three characters:

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey: Once again it almost looks like he was always meant to play Gandalf (Mithrandir). He looks complete natural like he did in LOTR.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins: Pulled out the role to perfection. There are two stages to Bilbo Baggins. One where Bilbo is scared and doesn’t want to be part of the quest and the other where he finds his courage and fights shoulder to shoulder along side dwarves. Having seen him play small supporting roles in movies like Ali G Indahouse, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I wasn’t sure whether he was a right guy to play Bilbo Baggins. But by the looks of it, he is just the right guy!

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield: looked good in his role as the angry leader of the Company of Dwarves and thanks to Peter Jackson’s script changes his anger was justifiable.


Best thing about watching movie in a theater is that you sense what other people felt about the movie. I can vividly remember few scenes in the movie.

1. The scene where Gandalf helps the dwarves escape from the Goblins led by the Great Goblin was truly epic!
2. Gollum paddling from his island (Slimy island) in his little raft.
3. The game of riddles played out between Gollum and Bilbo Baggins. Gollum had everyone watching the movie in splits of laughter. It is really sad Andy Serkis never got Academy Awards for playing Gollum. Brilliant actor!
4. Thorin Oakenshield swallows his pride and accepts to Bilbo Baggins that he had never been so wrong about anybody else and hugs him.

If you haven’t seen the movie, make it a point to watch it. You won’t be disappointed!