REVIEW: “KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017) 20th Century Fox

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“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” picks us up after the events of the first film where we were left ‘Firthless’ with the demise of Harry (Colin Firth). Or were we? Kicking off with an extremely high-paced opening scene with Charlie (Edward Holfcroft) whom we thought had met his end as well as one of the blown-up henchmen for Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), pops up in a “Let’s Go Crazy” taxi-car fight scene with Eggsy (Taron Egerton). Eggsy, now a full fledged Kingsman after the death of Harry, is called into action after a deadly missile strike rocks the organization and leaves him and Merlin (Mark Strong), as the last men standing. With little to no resources to seek retribution and in clear need of assistance, they find a ‘drunken’ clue which leads them to find and turn to “The Statesman,” whom are essentially the American verion of the Kingsman and are based where else, but in the good ol’ whiskey-making state of Kentucky. The Statesman come off as good ol’ country boys who love good whiskey, country music and all things America. Channing Tatum does a spin at cowboy here playing Tequila, Jeff Bridges as the main honcho Champ (short for Champagne), Halle Berry is none other than Ginger as in Ginger Ale and Pedro Pascal is – you guessed it – Whiskey. Together, they must stop Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), our drug lord villianess du’jour, who has formed an organization called ‘The Golden Circle’ from which she is planning to unleash a deadly disease called the ‘Blue Rash’ thru all kinda of recreational drugs. Holding millions of lives for ransom, Poppy wants to negotiate a deal from the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood), who is pretending to acquiesce to the demands, but is secretly not going to follow thru as he feels he will then be rid of the scourage of these people. (Doesn’t that last part almost sound as if it could be true…)

There are many twists and turns here with the plot and while maybe everything doesn’t hit the nail on the head – most do. The film itself seems to know at times, how ridiculous it can be and how like the first one, walks a fine line of going over the top or not. One too many fight scenes or one ridiculous gagdet to many, can throw a wrench in all of it. As a result, the jokes land very well for the most part. And while it might not hit the benchmark as much the first Kingsman did, it does well with how it sets up each character. For instance, Julianne Moore simply knocks her villian role out of the park, coming off as both creepy and yet downright sweetly psychotic. With her love of 1950’s memorabilia set-up of the middle-of-the-jungle, Poppyland is complete with 50’s diner, movie theatre includes a kidnapping of Elton John, in a fun spin here, whose only purpose is to play & sing what Poppy wants. The only thing that is not modern about her operation is her use of robots (Including robot dogs) because she claims they obey orders better than humans do.

Egerton and Strong along with Holcroft do very well once again as the main leads. Some of the bigger name supporting cast such as Berry, Tatum and Bridges, are relegated to smaller roles giving them less screentime than I expected. Hanna Alström as Princess Tilde is now Eggy’s girlfriend and this gives her a bit more to do here also. But alas – it is Pedro Pascal and his lasso that steal the show here. In a “Manners Maketh Man” bar scene that rivals any so far, he whips his way through a bar with the best of them.

Overall, Matthew Vaughn gives us yet another crowd pleaser with “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and crossing my fingers we will get another one …eventually.

Spoiler – at the end of the film, the POTUS is impeached.. showing us anything is possible! 😉

Grade:B-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening ~ Thursday, September 14, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE will be released in theaters on Friday, September 22, 2017

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REVIEW: “EVEREST” (2015) Universal Pictures

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CourageFearPainStrength – all the words used in the trailer to describe this film based on a true story. Though after watching this movie I can’t help but think they might have skipped a word – Insanity – because truly one must have a bit of this to even attempt to climb this mountain. To know going in that there is a 60/40 percent chance you might not come down..would and does deter most.

In ‘Everest’ we get brought back to 1996 when the big mountain had been actually been conquered enough times that it was no longer the specter it once had been. That didn’t stop people from wanting to climb it, instead it ended up turning it into a business. Leader of the trend is the New Zealand business team “Adventure Consultants” with partners Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) & Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). The teams that head to the summit are a mix of seasoned pros and moneyed amateurs, forking over fortunes to earn both killer views they get momentarily and probably most importantly thing of course, the bragging rights. On one team you have the clients – ‘average’ guy, mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), the big Texan, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and the one small Asian woman, a 47 yr old climber of 6 of the tallest peaks in the world, Yasuko Namba (Naoki Mori) along with guides Hall, Andy “Harold” Harris (Martin Henderson) & Michael Groom (Thomas M. Wright) – on the other team “Mountain Madness” you have the college frat guy guide Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who refuses to use oxygen even though they will be at a level noted by Hall as ‘Humans aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747’
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Having reached the summit and literally touched the peak — their moment of triumph – though problematic as issues with roping and lateness of the afternoon make the timetable of descent turn into a dire situation. A storm sweeps in before certain climbers have turned back. What follows is a brutal waiting game. Among those stranded in the inhospitable climate is Hansen, Harris & Hall – who finds himself curled up in a nook, patiently, almost inhumanly biding his time as numerous attempts to save him come and pass him by due to more storms.
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Having years ago read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” I hadn’t realized this was going to be that story told so vividly so I recommend you go in with little knowledge of the body count as Everest plays a bit in the vein of Apollo 13, as you know the story history wise – but in this one there’s only a slim chance the ones in trouble will make it.

The film truly focuses on the brutality of this type of climbing and what we now know was the beginnings of what the business end of this all is. All these climbs-for-hire have literally created a trash bin of Everest as what goes up, doesn’t always come down. And of course the body count of those left up on the mountain has also increased exponentially since this first tragic event. And let’s not ever forget all the sherpas with whom without them, most of these climbs could never be done.
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So what’s good about this movie? The 3-D is very good. Throughout most of the film you can’t discern between what is the real on-location shots and what is sound-staged. Brolin & Clarke really have the lead acting roles here and both do well. Sam Worthington also comes on well more towards the end as Guy Cotter. Overall it will prove to be a rough watch with it’s ending for some, but it’s a good film nonetheless.

Grade: C+
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Screening: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, September 18, 2015

“LITTLE BOY” – PREMIERE REVIEW (2015) Open Road Films

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“Little Boy” is one of those ‘feel good’ films in which deals with the story of a 8-year-old boy trying to bring World War II to an end so that he can see his father again.
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It follows the story of “Pepper Flynt Busbee” (Jakob Salvanti) having a crisis of life that children can have, after his father, “James” (Michael Rapaport), is drafted to war after his brother “London” (David Henrie) is deemed unfit for being flat-footed. While his mother “Emma” (Emily Watson) can only stand by as the local priest “Father Oliver” (Tom Wilkinson) gets the unusually small boy, who is given the nickname “Little Boy” by all the townspeople of O’Hare, which is one of those picturesque little towns that you only see in postcards, to think that he can actually ‘will’ his father back home if he follows a list of good deeds to do.

While the film does capture the magic-obsessed boy trying in trying to navigate the fine line between the reality of his life with the delusion of his fantasies because of his love for his father, it’s also very predictable and a bit dangerous in stating that all the boy has to do is wish it, and it will happen. Add in our country’s anti-Japanese resentment during the war, depicted in a bit too cartoonish strokes at times, as once Pepper befriends the only Japanese man in town, “Hashimoto” (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), in part as its one of the things on said list, and of course changing the way he thinks about the prejudices of the times. The little town is full of racists, including his own brother, who so readily buying into the delusion as Little Boy is part of a magic trick that really sends his imagination, and theirs over the top. In one scene, at the precise moment the boy’s attempt to ‘move a mountain’ coincides with an earthquake striking the area with the towns newspaper then reporting the boy has done it.

All in all, I think it might be trying to be a well-meaning film but is quite manipulative on a very misguided scale. In this case, Little Boy is the rare faith-based type film that many viewers may find legitimately offensive because of what it suggests is just too much. By telling kids to just ‘wish’ for something to make it happen by doing a few good deeds, is truly not a good thing. They should’ve stuck to just doing good things for all the right reasons, not the one depicted here.
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David Henrie

David Henrie


On a side note, I did enjoy meeting the cast and director of the film. All very nice people and of all the oddities of this premiere I sat next to Tara Reid and the Jedward Twins, whom I had no idea who they were until I got home and researched Irish twins. ha! They were sweet and nice as anything, told me I would cry during the film, I didn’t. And Tara for all her bad press, was so nice and fun. Kind of went in tone for the film for me, Don’t always believe everything you see or read.

Premiere: Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at Regal Cinemas DTLA – Film is now playing nationwide
Grade: ‘D’
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++REVIEW: “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” (2014) Universal U.K. & Focus Features U.S.

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“The Theory of Everything” is the story of genius, of vision, and the determination and courage of “Stephen Hawking” (Eddie Redmayne), along with the woman who stood by him through most all of it “Jane Hawking” (Felicity Jones)and on whose memoir, “Travelling to Infinity ~ My Life with Stephen” this film is based.

First of all this is a love story, if a rather special one as it’s a beautiful, poignant and quite incredible story of Stephen and Jane Hawking’s life, including all the trials and tribulations that they endure during their time together. While it maybe not be the best movie of the year, I think it is destined to be one of the most remembered. It’s a sweet, touching portrait of the complicated life of both it’s main characters, along with all their imperfections. It is something to be seen by all as it sells itself and, if not altogether realistic, it’s smart considering its main character, anyway, is considered one of the greatest minds of all time. the theory 1

I will admit that while I’m no genius, hate math with a passion and still secretly count on my fingers at times for quick addition, I completely understand Stephen Hawking theologies as they are could be taken for some of my own ideas/thoughts/beliefs regarding the universe. Not that what I believe in has anything to do with this movie, but I honestly didn’t know much about Stephen’s life before he was incapacitated at all.. In my lifetime, I’ve only ever known about a man who though one of the most brilliant minds to ever exist, couldn’t speak except through a machine due to the fact he had Lou Gehrigs disease.
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But this story is Jane’s, or rather her version of it, and so it begins at where else..the beginning..with them meeting at a party at Cambridge. The film’s early scenes show charming 1950’s England, which makes the way the pair are immediately attracted to each other all the more touching. They both come from St. Albans, but with major other differences. She’s in lit, focused on Spanish medieval poetry and a devout member of the Church of England. He’s an atheist and a burgeoning cosmologist, which he explains to her as someone who works out a “theory of everything.” In another wonderful little early period touch, Stephen picks her up in an adorable little multi-colored car in which the two go to a dance and fall in love.
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Following we see the quite lazy albeit super-smart Stephen, who was one of those who could goof off with best friend “Brian” (Harry Lloyd), study about an hour a day while at Oxford, where he was a cox on the rowing team, and hardly needs to do more at Cambridge, while still being able to be held high in the estimation of the leading Cambridge physicist mentor “Dennis Sciama” (David Thewlis). This is the beginning though of him starting to stumble and drop things. Then he falls, hard, on his face, is tested, and is diagnosed with motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig’s disease, now, but not then, known as ALS), and given two years to live. Thinking he had only this predicted time frame to live, Stephen set out to prove mathematically the black hole theory of his thesis. As he went on with his bold thinking and was able to more than defy that life sentence prediction to an extraordinary extent as he could’ve just sat back and let the predictable happen, but he didn’t and his clearly difficult but courageous story, is what is told here.
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This is also where Redmayne’s physical performance really kicks in mimicking as he does the strange walk, the curled hands and the slump, the struggle up and down stairs, the first fall into a “provisional” wheelchair, the progressively declining ability to speak. In an almost iconic sequence, Stephen walks on his own with two canes to defend his Ph.D. thesis, and stands up for his triumphant acceptance as one of his last times being able to do so. Many of his ideas here are simplified for us as again, most probably wouldn’t be able to decipher his math equations. Mind you they are not dumbing it down so to speak, but it helps as we even see years later, even though Jane doesn’t switch over to science, we find her explaining his concepts in detail that again, we all can understand.
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A huge turning point comes on Stephen’s trip to CERN, in Switzerland, in 1985, when he falls ill with pneumonia and he can only be kept alive and allowed to return home by having a tracheotomy, which Jane fights for. As heart-wrenching as it is to watch as all I could think of was that Stephen himself had no say in whether he wanted this procedure done or not. And Eddie Redmayne’s truly remarkable imitation of Hawking’s increasingly hard-to-follow speech ends here, because Stephen can no longer speak at all. At first, he’s given a board of coded letters to communicate with by blinking an eye and stubbornly refuses to do so. As we all know, the computer-driven speech system Hawking’s associated with soon arrives and in a lighter moment they all show shock that the machine speaks with an American accent, but no matter as it still makes him easier to understand than he had been for many years. It’s almost inevitable here that Stephen and what he goes on to do begins to somewhat take the place of the love story.
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The film here turns to more about how Stephen’s disease, his growing fame, and raising their three children made life complicated for his wife, till she became strongly attracted to a male friend, “Jonathan Jones” (Charlie Cox), a recent widower and her choir director, who helps care for Stephen and whose constant presence makes Stephen’s parents, family & friends wrongly suspect he fathered the Hawkings’ third child, Timothy. Then we watch as an especially strong and enthusiastic female caretaker, “Elaine Mason” (Maxine Peake) takes over his care, winning Stephen’s affections, as she is the one whom he leaves Jane for, and in 1995, Jane and Stephen are finally divorced though still it seems on friendly working terms at least.
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Having lived almost 48 years longer then he was expected to by doctors and seemly to have lived it to the fullest that we find perhaps the man himself is and was more of a prick and a narcissist than he appears in this film though from past footage it does always seem as though he has kept a sense of humour.

British physicist Stephen Hawking sits in the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games
With a strong supporting cast that helps move the film along, it is Eddie Redmayne’s fantastic winning performance here is truly one awards are made to be given to for. Felicity Jones is also quite deserving here as daunting as Redmayne’s role is as Hawking, hers is almost equally tough portraying the hardships that a spouse also has to go through both mentally & physically, in signing on for the life with a severely disabled person. The only thing I would maybe have liked to have seen touched on more is his children. We never really learn how impossibly hard it must have been to not only grow up with one disabled parent, but also to be in the shadow of the genius mind of Stephen Hawking. Was anything expected of them etc.. I’d be curious to know.

Grade: B-

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