Tag Archives: Taron Egerton

“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.

“Sing”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Oh, what “Sing” could have been if only the filmmakers had cared enough to fully flesh out their characters and the story. The idea of an animated musical set in the animal world and filled with aspiring vocal performers is a fun enough idea for a movie, and one that could’ve (and should’ve) been at least mildly entertaining. Too bad almost everything is so poorly executed that this dull, uninspired film has zero emotional impact.

The movie tells the story of Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) a down-on-his luck koala bear whose theater falls on hard times. In order to raise funds to keep his performing arts palace afloat, Buster devises an American Idol style singing competition. The final five contestants include a frazzled homemaker pig (Reese Witherspoon), a punk rocker porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), a gorilla born into a life of crime (Taron Egerton), a crooner mouse (Seth MacFarlane), and a shy elephant (Tori Kelly).

The animation is colorful and the characters forgettable, mostly due to the lackluster vocal talent (Kelly is absolutely abysmal here and is by far the worst of the bunch; McConaughey gave a much better performance in this year’s far better animated film, “Kubo and the Two Strings“). Instead of a compelling, touching or even engaging story, we just get a bunch of singing animals going through the motions.

The movie comes across as a junky mishmash of lame, poorly thought out ideas. I can imagine the writer’s room right now: “hey guys, let’s just throw a bunch of scenarios out there and whether they stick or not, let’s incorporate them into a movie.” Everything about this movie and its story is predictable, and in keeping with tradition of other craptacular Hollywood animated movies, there’s the requisite unfunny slang and unnecessary fart joke.

“Sing” is the same as watching some outdated, dumbed down reality t.v. singing competition show. The film is jammed with recognizable Top 40 pop songs to appease parents and the musical numbers are mildly enjoyable, but there’s not enough quality material to warrant a positive review.

“Eddie the Eagle”

LOUISA:   4 STARS   MATT: 4.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“Eddie the Eagle” is loosely based on the inspirational true story of the real-life British ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a bespectacled nerdy weirdo who fulfills his childhood dream and makes it to the 1988 Olympics. This sweet and endearing movie tells a classic underdog sports story in the most formulaic way possible, as if director Dexter Fletcher went down a checklist and marked all the required boxes when making this biopic. The film is overflowing with inspirational clichés about never giving up, always doing your best, and never ceasing to believe in yourself. It’s cinematic fluff, no doubt. But it’s fluff that’s endearing, captivating, and an all-around feel good crowd pleaser.

Taron Egerton proves that he is truly a chameleon when it comes to acting; he can play just about any character and make them completely plausible. He makes Eddie instantly loveable from the moment he appears onscreen. (This role is night-and-day different from Egerton’s previous work, my favorite being his role as Eggsy in my #1 movie of 2015 “Kingsman: The Secret Service”). Hugh Jackman plays the perfect American cowboy who becomes an ally, coach and friend (and he has a really funny scene that rivals Meg Ryan’s diner ‘performance’ in “When Harry Met Sally”).

Egerton and Jackman have a natural chemistry and rapport that I found 100% believable. Their charisma made the movie very enjoyable, and they were extremely convincing in their student and coach relationship. You could tell that these two were friends off-screen and had a great time making this movie.

Another standout was the enthusiastically rousing, triumphant original musical score by Gary Barlow as well as some carefully curated classic rock tracks. The music helped set the jubilant tone of the story and served to set the timeline of events (the early 80s scenes were scored with synthesizer-heavy pieces).

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and this is no exception. Eddie remains optimistic even in the worst of situations and refuses to give up on his dream. It was hard not to find myself cheering him on, even when he was dangerously risking life and limb to simply prove that he could be an Olympian. Even if you think you’ll be bored by a movie about the sport of ski jumping, I guarantee you’ll be won over in the end by the film’s undeniable charm.

MATT SAYS:

In the grand tradition of sports underdog movies comes “Eddie the Eagle,” the true story of an unlikely hero who was able to represent his country in the Olympics through sheer determination and force of will.

“Eddie” stands on the strength of the charisma of its two leads, Taron Egerton (a standout from last year’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service“) and Hugh Jackman. It’s not necessarily that these are great performances; it’s that these actors bring to their characters such affection that it’s impossible not to root for them. I get the sense that “Eddie the Eagle” was a passion project for all involved, starting with Producer (and Screen Zealots Supreme Deity) Matthew Vaughn right down the line to the actors, cinematographer, composer and crew.

It’s easy to empathize with Eddie. He’s socially awkward, he’s inexperienced with women, and his best friend is his mom. He’s obsessed with going to the Olympics, a goal that seems out of reach. He experiences setback after setback, disappointment after disappointment, but he never gives up. Through focus and dogged determination, he wins over his detractors and accomplishes what everyone has always told him is impossible. He’s basically a walking, talking version of those inspirational posters hanging in your office breakroom. And he’s the real deal.

It would have been easy to make a hokey, emotionally false version of this movie, but that’s not what we have here. The character struggles seem real, as does the relationship between Eddie and his coach Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). Jackman is clearly enjoying himself in the Mr. Miyagi role and he’s a pleasure to watch. Even the cynical among us may find it a challenge to detach from this story.

Is it a perfect movie? No. Are there plot points where we know the filmmakers must be taking massive liberties with the truth? Sure. But those are minor quibbles when compared to how effective the movie is at telling a genuinely inspiring story about a couple of guys that the world wrote off beating the odds and proving everyone else wrong.