Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Running time: 129 minutes

Director: Matthew Vaughn

The Secret Service KSS_JB_D01_00106.tifKingsman: The Secret Service was directed by Matthew Vaughn and the film has a similar style to one of the director’s previous works, Kick-Ass, which was also based on a graphic novel, though Kingsman has considerably less swearing (these guys are gentlemen!). But where in Kick.Ass he put his own spin on the superhero genre, here he does the same with the spy-action genre.

When one of his colleagues goes down, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), member of a secret spy organization called Kingsman, recruits the son of a former agent, Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), into the intense program after getting him out of jail. Meanwhile, the criminal tech mastermind, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plans to wipe out most of the world’s population.

kingsman-the-secret-service-taron-egerton-colin-firth“Manners make the man” these are words spoken by Colin Firth’s character, very appropriately as we are used to seeing him as the proper english gentleman either in rom-coms or dramas. He plays that card again here but portraying Harry with a violent spin on it. At 54, Colin Firth surprisingly passes as a believable and totally badass action hero with the iconic swag of 007 himself.

And even though Firth is the stand out of the film, Taron Egerton as the new recruit, Eggsy, holds his own in a cast that could have easily over-shadowed him. He brings likability to the character and a lot of charisma. I’m not familiar with any of his previous projects but he is a breakthrough star and is definitely going to stick around. He might have missed the Cyclops role but there is no wonder why his name has also been thrown around to be the next Spiderman.

kingsman-the-secret-service-official-trailer-000Every Bond villain has some distinctive feature that makes them memorable and Kingsman does no less. Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine, the villain who can’t stand the sight of blood and speaks with a lisp, could have easily been a disaster but somehow worked and he was hilarious. His deadly henchwoman, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), also sticks to that old-style of villains, as she has blades for legs.

The supporting cast is worth mentioning as they all help elevate the film even more. Michael Caine as Arthur, the head of the organization and Mark Strong as Merlin, the supervisor of the training. Sophie Cookson is Roxy, another recruit, and she is as badass as the rest. And lastly, let’s not forget Mark Hamill’s awesome cameo, he is unrecognizable.

hr_Kingsman-_The_Secret_Service_4The movie is extremely violent but, because is so cartoonish, towards the end becomes even artistic when everyone’s heads start literally exploding or when Colin Firth, in a crazy action sequence, kills every single person in a church while Free Bird plays in the background. Kingsman is a movie self-aware of the fact that it is a movie and makes fun of the typical action movies that are made today . If you decide to see this movie (and you should), remember: “This is not that kind of movie”.

By the way, who didn’t want to go to McDonalds afterwards?

8,5/10

2015 Oscar Predictions [Winners Updated]

1393865482_oscars-2014The Oscars are finally tonight, hosted by the amazing Neil Patrick Harris, and this has been a very controversial year for the Academy as these are “the whitest” nominees since 1998 and outside from the categories of Best Actress in Supporting and Leading Roles, there are not many women nominated, being Ava DuVernay, director of Selma, a big snub for everybody. But with any further adieu, these are some of the nominees and my picks for whom I think will and should win:

BEST PICTURE

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) WINNER
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Who will win: Birdman
Who should win: Whiplash

I’m pretty sure that the winners will either be Boyhood and Iñarritu or Birdman and Linklater to share the wealth between these two movie. Could we see some surprises in this category with Whiplash or even The Grand Hotel Budapest winning the big prize?

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) WINNER
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Who will win: Richard Linklater
Who should win: Richard Linklater

Even though I would love to see Wes Anderson being recognized one day by the Academy for his particular style, the race for Best Director this year is between Alejandro Iñarritu’s “one single take” and Richard Linklater’s twelve years of shooting. Among these two, I think Linklater deserves it the most for the great achievement in filmmaking that Boyhood is.

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood WINNER
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Who should win: Patricia Arquette

While some categories, like Best Actor in a Leading Role, had to leave out some really good performance, I feel like this one is probably the least tight. All these actresses are brilliant but Laura Dern was hardly in Wild and Meryl Streep is nominated because she is Meryl Streep. Patricia Arquette is the only one that clearly deserves it.

 

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash WINNER

Who will win: J.K. Simmons
Who should win: J.K. Simmons

I loved all of these performances but from the moment I saw Whiplash, J.K. Simmons was my front-runner and no one is going to be surprised when his name is called out tonight.

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice WINNER
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Who will win: Julianne Moore
Who should win: Rosamund Pike

This is another obvious lock as Julianne Moore has won every award and if she wins tonight it will be very well deserved. I just liked Rosamund Pike more. Amy Dunne was a cunning sociopath and manipulative and that was a great change from the “suffering woman” role that usually wins.

 

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything WINNER

Who will win: Michael Keaton or Eddie Redmayne
Who should win: Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne has won the Golden Globe, the SAG, the BAFTA and I’m still not entirely convinced he will win the Oscar to Michael Keaton. This is probably the category everyone is most looking forward to.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) WINNER
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

Who will win: Birdman
Who should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Jason Hall, American Sniper
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game WINNER
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

Who will win: Whiplash
Who should win: Whiplash

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Big Hero 6 WINNER
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Who will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

With The LEGO Movie being snubbed from this category, I think How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a big chance at winning though I haven’t seen Song of the Sea or The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which I have only heard great things about.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould, Guardians of the Galaxy
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher, Interstellar WINNER
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer, X-Men: Days of Future Past

Who will win: Interstellar
Who should win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I am not a big fan of Interstellar but the visual effects were impeccable so I wouldn’t be mad if it wins here. My personal choice would be Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for making the motion capture feel completely invisible.

Best & Worst (January 2015)

Best: Paddington

Director: 301097 Paul King
Cast: Ben Wishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters

A young Peruvian bear with a passion for marmalade travels to London in search of a new home. He is found in Paddington Station by the Brown family, who looks after him until he catches the eye of a museum taxidermist. I love how in this movie no one seems to see anything weird about a talking bear walking around London. The story is so charming. Even Nicole Kidman is great, her character is a bit over the top but fits the movie perfectly and she turned out to be quite a good villain. Funny and sweet, with a very subtle approach at mature themes like immigration and children refuges from the war, Paddington is a movie that not only kids will find absolutely enjoyable and lovely but also adults.

Worst: Mortdecai

mortdecai-poster-1Director: David Koepp
Cast: Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum

I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s a comedy, it’s suppose to be funny. It is not. Johnny Depp plays the excentric Charlie Mortdecai, who has just grown a mustache he is very proud of, but his wife despises. That idea is supposed to be funny. The execution is not. There’s also a painting missing, which no one cares about. This movie is embarrassingly horrible. At this point I don’t expect much more from Johnny Depp but I don’t understand how Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow or even Paul Bettany thought this could work. The few funny moments of the movie are thanks to these three when Johnny Depp is not on-screen. Seriously, of all the people involved in this movie, someone should have pointed out how bad it was.

Top 10 Films of 2014

Sin títuloWith the Academy Awards just around the corner I have finally been able to watch all the movies nominated for Best Picture to do my top 10 of the year. It was a tough list to put together and I still feel I have left out some really good ones, but these are my final top 10 favourite movies:

#10 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1a6c2f4dab2c00b532c924ad8013ad174dd6d82e Director: Matt Reeves Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell

Let’s be honest, Andy Serkis is the master of motion capture. This movie has taken to a whole new level the amount of emotion you can portray through a CGI character. But the outstanding special effects are not the only thing that make this movie a perfect sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The story itself has more social relevance and depth than you would initially expect to find in a movie like this, proving that not all summer blockbusters have to be mere pop-corn movies to be entertaining. Review.

  #9 The Grand Budapest Hotel GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL_c371.JPG Director: Wes Anderson Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton

Wes Anderson’s unique style flows from every single shot of this film. Charming and gorgeous, it not only has a spectacular cast, extravagant and quirky characters where even the cameos are a delight to watch, but it also tells a great story that doesn’t stick to one genre and the dialogue is in itself a masterpiece. The Grand Budapest Hotel and Wes Anderson’s vision are a breath of fresh air in today’s filmmaking. Review.

  #8 Guardians of the Galaxy Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Team-Photo-High-Res Director: James Gunn Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace

When this movie was first announced a lot of people started wondering if this could be the time Marvel bombed. Centering the story around a group of characters that hardly anyone had heard about, amongst which there were a talking raccoon and a walking tree, and making the BSO consist of 70’s hit songs, Marvel took the leap of faith and, with James Gunn’s corky style, made one of the most successful and funny movies of the year. At this point, can Marvel do anything wrong? Review.

  #7 How to Train your Dragon 2 how-to-train-your-dragon-2-toothless-hiccup Director: Dean DeBlois Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington

Another sequel that was a step up from an already fantastic movie. How to Train your Dragon 2 took a more mature approach than its predecessor and showed that animated movies can tell an epic story, with unforgettable characters, still having a lot of heart and not being afraid to get a bit dark, which makes them perfect, not only for kids, but for adults too. Hiccup and Toothless are a duo that I will never get tired of seeing on-screen. Review.

  #6 The Imitation Game THE IMITATION GAME Director: Morten Tyldun Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance

It might not be the most cinematic experience of the year but the story behind it is so fascinating and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing is excellent. The Oscar for Best Actor this year is clearly a two-horse race between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne but at least he, as well as Keira Knightley, are getting the recognition they deserve. Review.

  #5 The Theory of Everything x900 Director: James Marsh Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis

A beautiful love story that tells the story behind the myth that is Stephen Hawking and his ex-wife Jane, that is not afraid to show that their relationship in real life was complicated, challenging and full of self-sacrifice, but nonetheless inspiring. Just for Eddie Redmayne’s performance, this is a must-see film. It’s breath-taking watching the way he transformed himself into Stephen Hawking. Could he win the Oscar this week? Review.

  #4 X-Men: Days of Future Past X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Photos-4 Director: Bryan Singer Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart

The X-Men are back! This movie could have been a mess with so many characters and timelines but Bryan Singer handled it perfectly, mixing the old cast and new. The cast is amazing and so talented but Days of Future Past is not only an epic, fun adventure, it also got rid of the events in X-Men: The Last Stand and that alone is quite an achievement… Also, Quicksilver kills it. Review.

  #3 Gone Girl gone-girl-DF-01826cc_rgb.jpg Director: David Fincher Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens

I found this movie so mesmerizing. Full of twists and turns it keeps your attention during the two hours and a half and it’s impossible not to be constantly wondering what is going to happen next. Rosamund Pike gives one of the best performances of the year, portraying such a complex and disturbing character. It keeps the intrigue and the tension going until the very last second with a shocking ending. Review.

  #2 Captain America: The Winter Soldier captain-america-the-winter-soldier Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford

Comic book movies can also be great espionage thrillers and, without losing the spirit of who Captain America is, The Winter Soldier and The First Avenger couldn’t be more different.  Full of great action sequences, a major improvement from The Avengers in Steve Rogers, the movie also did a great job at focusing on characters that in previous Marvel films we haven’t seen much development for, like Black Widow, Nick Fury and Maria Hill. In addition, the introduction of the Falcon and an extraordinary “villain”, the Winter Soldier, make for a fantastic movie. Anything else? Yes, Robert Redford is in it. Review.

  #1 Whiplash Whiplash-5547.cr2 Director: Damien Chazelle Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser

No other movie has kept me in the edge of my sit like Whiplash did. The tension builds up throughout the whole movie to culminate in what probably is the best climatic ending scene of the year. The movie is elevated by its two main characters, a raw performance by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons who is so intimidating and demands your attention in every scene he is in. There is no doubt he will win a very well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor this year. Review.

  Honorable mentions Boyhood: Such an achievement in filmmaking and the story catches live perfectly. Chef: Food porn. Big Hero 6: Cute, funny and epic. It’s Marvel. Snowpiercer: Weird, horrific and beautiful at the same time. Wild: An inspiring story, a self-discovery journey and an amazing performance by Reese Witherspoone. Edge of Tomorrow: or All You Need is Kill or Live. Die. Repeat., or whatever is called now. Emily Blunt is a badass. Locke: 80 minutes of Tom Hardy driving a car and talking on the phone. Begin Again: Wonderful soundtrack. The LEGO Movie: It’s awesome. Only Lovers Left Alive: Don’t worry, these are not sparkly vampires and the chemistry between Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston is just brilliant.

Movie Review: Seventh Son (2015)

Running time: 120 minutes

Director: Serguéi Bodrov

seventh_son

Shot in 2012, Seventh Son (based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney) was initially scheduled to debut on February 2013. It was pushed back to October, then to January 2014 and finally to February 2015 due to the problems that the parting of Legendary and Warner Bros created. Though once you have seen the film, the problems don’t stop there. I am a huge fan of fantasy films, I loved Ben Barnes in The Chronicles of Narnia, so I really wanted to like this movie. It seems you can’t always get what you want.

After the witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) breaks free from the prison she was put in years ago, Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) has a few days to train his new apprentice,Tom (Ben Barnes), as the Blood Moon quickly approaches, an event that will restore Malkin and her kin their full strength. Tom, though, may not be on the same side as Gregory in his methods and beliefs regarding the creatures of the night and this loyalty will be put to a test when he falls in love with the mysterious Alice (Alicia Vikander).

seventh-son

You would think that being one of the big stars from Game of Thrones would have some kind of guarantee to land main roles, but Kit Harington has merely ten minutes of screen time as the Spook’s apprentice, Billy, before being quickly replaced by Ben Barnes, who plays Tom Ward. Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son and for some reason, that makes him special though we never truly see any manifestation of that power besides having some visions. His character development basically consists on meeting over and over again with Alice, played by Alicia Vikander, and their star-crossed romance.

Jeff Bridges, the witch-hunting Spook might be the most interesting thing about this movie. In a story that is quite predictable and doesn’t seem to go anywhere, at least he is fun to watch. In the role of his old-flame and the main villain Malkin, this year’s Academy Award nominee (and possibly winner), Julianne Moore can’t do much with what she is given and her performance is just awful.

Julianne Moore in a still from Seventh SonIn the end, Seventh Son is a watchable film but forgettable. The action is fine and the production design stunning but the story is too simple and there is not much character development for anyone. The end leaves open the possibility of a sequel but I highly doubt it will happen.

4,5/10

Movie Review: Big Eyes (2014)

Title: Big Eyes

Running time: 106 minutes

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp

Big-Eyes-Movie

A Tim Burton movie without Helena Boham-Carter, Johnny Depp or featuring some crazy looking stuff and let’s say, besides being gorgeous, Big Eyes is definitely his best film in many years.

Amy Adams brings beautifully the vulnerability but also the strength of the character, making the audience sympathize with Margaret even when some of the decisions she makes are very questionable. For example, not telling the truth to her daughter was pointless and it doesn’t make much sense.

Her performance though is completely different from that of his costar, Christoph Waltz, who feels more like a caricature than a real person. Now, this being based on a true story and the real Margaret Keane involved in the movie, it’s hard to say if Christoph Waltz was over the top or that’s how Margaret described her husband. The movie doesn’t do a lot to flesh him out and answer this question.

Maybe because the woman is still alive, Burton didn’t want to fictionalized the story too much to make it more compelling and this is the main problem the film presents. While Big Eyes tells a fascinating story, it feels restricted and every person involved in it, from the two actors to the director, seem to be working at different levels.

7,5/10