Tag Archives: Colin Firth

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

From the moment I first saw “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I knew it was something truly special. It topped my Top 10 Best Movies of 2015 list in the coveted number one slot and after multiple viewings, cemented itself among my favorite movies of all time. To say my expectations for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” were high is something of an understatement. The original film was a rare one that begged for a sequel and I’m glad we’ve been handed one, but I really wish it was better than it turned out to be.

I want to be clear that while this film is disappointing and mostly lacking in intelligence, charm and wit, it still has its moments and the glorious, hyper violent end action sequence is a ton of fun. But it’s impossible to overlook what amounts to a relentless dumbing down of the entire “Kingsman” franchise in a lame attempt of desperation to outdo its predecessor.

When the Kingsman HQ is blown up by missiles launched by the drug peddling super villain Poppy (a delightfully psycho, hammy performance from Julianne Moore), our hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton), back-from-the-dead Harry (Colin Firth), and loyal sidekick Merlin (Mark Strong) join up with their American counterpart, the Statesman. Champ (Jeff Bridges) runs the secret organization and heads the team, including Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Ginger (Halle Berry). With their exaggerated Southern accents, ten gallon cowboy hats, and bloated swagger, the filmmakers seem to have mistaken Kentucky with Texas. The Statesman crew is enjoyable (although Tatum is completely wasted), but Pascale becomes the scene stealer with his 1970s macho Burt Reynolds bravado.

The film confuses a string of stunt casting with meaningful humor, and overall the project lacks creativity and the pulsing mean streak that made the first movie feel so original. Instead of another smart and snarky send-up of James Bond movies, audiences are forced into two and a half hours of aggressively tiresome repetition (we see characters dumped into a meat grinder twice and an extended, distracting celebrity cameo that quickly wears out its welcome as it balloons into a supporting role) and callbacks to the first film that serve as reminders of the sequel’s role as a pale imitator. Worst of all, the film is missing its clever, subversive humor. The smart satire is tossed out the window in favor of more slam-bang action sequences and animated spy weapons like an electric lasso. It’s violent fun, but it’s missing that spark that made the original film so beloved by film nerds.

Most disappointing is the film’s opening car chase scene, an awkward, CGI mess through London’s streets. I’m so disappointed that real stunt drivers and practical effects weren’t used, making this the second most frustrating animated car sequence this year since “The Fate of the Furious” and the awful looking parking garage bit. Perhaps I should refer to my disappointment as the “Baby Driver” effect: if you’re going to have cars in your movie, then put actual cars in the frame and talented drivers behind the wheel.

Once the plot delves into a truly irrelevant and weird message about the stigma of drug use, it skids off the rails in a spectacular fashion. Instead of steering itself back on track with a trademark crackerjack smugness, director Matthew Vaughn visually says “screw it” and goes full blown overkill, making the film feel like he was hell bent on trying to outdo himself rather than making a quality film. This sequel tries too hard and the film suffers for it. This doesn’t necessarily make “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” a total dud, but it is very disappointing to those of us who are super fans of the original.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS MATT: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I was skeptical about reviewing “Bridget Jones’s Baby” because it seemed like it would be another obnoxious R-rated ode to mommyhood like the lazy “Bad Moms,” an unwelcome sequel that, twelve years later, would run the characters into the ground and stomp on all that was good about the series. Everything about this movie sounded simply awful (guess I’m not alone in this perception because there was nobody else in the theater). I’m happy to report that the movie is not only good but it stays loyal and true to the characters that we all love.

In this third installment, Bridget (Renée Zellweger) finds herself celebrating her 43rd birthday alone and refers to herself as a “spinster.” She’s surrounded at work by thirtysomethings and her dear friends are too busy to hang out because they have all become parents. When surprised with a trip to a music festival by younger friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani), Bridget meets handsome and chivalrous stranger Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and has a one night stand. A few days later, she runs into her lovably uptight ex Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and the two have “similar relations.” Soon Bridget has a big surprise on her hands — she’s pregnant — and she has no idea which man is the father.

There’s quite a bit of funny material and I laughed out loud (and for extended periods of time) more than I can count. This isn’t mom-centric humor either, it’s something everyone can enjoy. There’s barely any sappiness in the story (which I appreciated). Instead of going the dreaded ‘wow aren’t babies a miracle‘ route, the film focuses on Bridget still living and loving life while going back and forth on which fella she wants to be the daddy. Not everything is as funny as it attempts to be, but there are two particularly amusing supporting performances from Gemma Jones as Bridget’s slightly clueless mom and Emma Thompson (who knew she had such impeccable comic timing?) as an OBGYN.

Mixed in with the laughs is a truly charming and wildly romantic story. Jim Broadbent has only a few minor scenes as Bridget’s dad but they are authentic and genuinely touching. The three leads have tremendous chemistry, with Firth and Dempsey particularly playing well off each other as romantic rivals with contrasting personalities. Each guy has his own flaws as well as strengths, and there’s no doubt you’ll be rooting for one man over the other (of course I’m on Team Darcy). And not to worry, in the end the film does answer the big question.

Seeing Bridget again after all these years feels like running into an old friend, and much like its titular character, the film is good-natured, slightly clumsy, and simply delightful. Welcome back, Bridget.

MATT SAYS:

Bridget (Renee Zellweger), Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Mum (Gemma Jones), Dad (Jim Broadbent) and Bridget’s friends are all back twelve years later for “Bridget Jones’s Baby.”

Bridget is a successful television news producer in her early forties who is (to her frustration) still single. Her friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani) urges Bridget to join her on a quick getaway where she hooks up with bachelor Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Soon thereafter, she gets back together for a night with her former flame Mark. Much to her surprise, she becomes pregnant but learns that either of the two men could be the father. Both vying for Bridget’s affections, Mark and Jack become ultra-competitive with one another as they work to remain involved in her pregnancy.

While not as charming as the first movie in this series, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” at least feels authentic and true to the character — unlike the tonally odd and slightly unpleasant sequel “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.” Consequently, it works well as a fairly standard love triangle rom-com featuring characters that you remember fondly. It’s pretty funny, too, at least during the first act. While the plot weighs down the second and third acts, it remains just pleasant, light, and truthful enough to be entertaining. While it can, at times, feel a little too referential to the first film — not only with dialogue but with some out-and-out flashback sequences — it never feels desperate. This is its own story, and it’s a fairly enjoyable one at that.

Thirty- and forty-something fans of the character and the first film will probably enjoy this one, too. I liked it well enough to mildly recommend.

Save