Kingsman – The Secret Service: a billionaire entrepreneur tries to combat global warming his own way; by inciting a mass population cull. If there’s one thing that Millar, Vaughn, and Goldman are good at; it’s giving their ‘fanboy’ section of the public what they want – action and LOLz. At the beginning you don’t really know what to expect, but once it starts gaining momentum it slowly transforms into something akin to a more mature and relevant Austin Powers film. Kingsman is rarely less than entertaining, especially seeing Firth actually enjoying being A Single Man as the caricatured dapper gent that gets to hand out a copious amount of ass-kicking; it’s also always good to see Mark Strong, even with a bizarre Scottish/Edinburgh accent. More generally, all characters are split between either being an ASBO Chav, or a posh-boy – but the very broad and thick ‘London Geezer‘ / ‘Landahn Geeza’ accents may require subtitles outside the UK. As you’d expect from the minds of Kick-Ass, Layer Cake, Lock Stock, and Snatch it’s a bloody and violent affair – but why would you assume anything else? The action is solid throughout, although one scene in a church is jaw-droppingly executed – easily the highlight of the movie. Despite a couple of missteps in tone – like a cheap bumsex joke – Kingsman is a funny and entertaining send-up of the ‘classic’ spy TV Shows and Bond Films… adults only though.
Before I Go to Sleep [Mild Spoilers]: after severe head injuries a woman wakes up every day with a blank memory and has to piece the last ten years back together. The biggest boob is that this is a super-tight three-hander, about one of the people, so there’s only two potential characters you can’t trust, and one can be ruled out fairly quickly, which makes the majority of the film – especially the ending – a bit of a damp squib. Despite a couple of short pieces of tension the film takes its time, and the story warms up very slowly. The whole project has a feel of being entirely driven by Firth & Kidman (and Strong) – if this was 3 unknowns nobody would have touched this. All three actors are solid, but Kidman‘s on top, looking dowdy and showing a better range than usual. Firth also gets to flex his muscles, and does well with what he’s given – which is a testament to him more than the writing. Otherwise, and disappointingly, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this other than it looks very televisual and drab, which doesn’t help either. Before I Go to Sleep is a fairly slow paced story, with a single twist that works well – but for the majority plays like a depressing version of 50 First Dates
A Single Man: [Blu Ray] – Follows an over-educated, depressed homosexual suicidal lecturer! The role could have been totally melodramatic Oscar Bait, but was played realistically by Firth. Stunning performance, well-earned gongs. He’s simply great to watch, and is the intense focus of every scene. The colouring / sound mix playfully tweaks with what you see and hear for around the first hour, but by the end it’s overused with some ridiculous gray = sad / colour = happy scenes. For being such an intense story, it’s very slow burning – with a few dramatic peaks to keep staleness at bay – I feel the drama could have been milked a little more. It’s undoubtedly well directed; every shot is stylish and looks cinematic, even scenes like a man on the toilet! The Blu Ray isn’t very watchable: much of the film has a stylistic (read as: shitty) diffusion / grain to the picture to set the era and tone. Overall, it’s quite a plain non-eventful story, boosted by a brilliant central performance.
The King’s Speech: after becoming King by default George VI must overcome a vicious stammer and his fear of public speaking. I was really looking forward to writing up an “It’s not perfect” review, but read Colin’s one at (Pick ‘n’ Mix Flix) covers all my points and reads better too – I feel redundant! Anyway, here goes… I can’t believe all the hype is focused on Firth when Rush absolutely blows him – and everyone else – out the water; his performance is criminally overlooked and under-publicised. Not to take anything away from Colin however, as he was still really good. Guy Pearce on the other hand easily walks away with worst actor in this picture. For such a grand, big film it seemed to lack a cinematic feel, landing in big budget TV territory for me (Hooper is a TV director after all). It was surprisingly funny given the somewhat mundane subject matter too. My biggest gripe was that this is 100% unashamedly Oscar bait, what with someone overcoming an affliction, an unlikely friendship, fly on the wall Royalty insight, and being an Historic piece… It’s a good film, but everything is way too safe and it plays to the crowd a little bit too much.