Kick Ass 2 – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Kick Ass 2 – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review (Revisited)

Quick Review

The Review: First let me say this. I wasn’t a massive fan of Kick Ass. I didn’t hate it but much like Scott Pilgrim, Sin City & Watchman I found it to be more style than substance. Too aware of it’s own geek cool and not afraid to point it out at every moment.

Yes Mortez was great, no I didn’t care she said ‘Cunt’ at the tender age of 11 and yes the action was brutal, but nothing I hadn’t seen a million times before. I liked the central idea of an everybody becoming a superhero but overall I walked out think “that was okay” and haven’t revisited the film since.\

With this in mind I pretty much stayed away from the hype and promotion for KickAss 2, fully aware that I’d probably see the film but didn’t need that geek cool to be rammed down my throat once again.

With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy but when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she’s forced to retire. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes. Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world’s first super villain assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad.

Looking at the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes this morning I was shock to see this film sitting at a paltry 28%. That’s less than the critically mauled Lone Ranger. Especially surprising as I thought, overall, this was a much more enjoyable film that the original Kick Ass, less concerned about looking cool, shocking for shock’s sake and shouting ‘I Was Based on a Really Cool Comic Book Don’t You Know’ and more about just interesting characters in even more interesting situations.

In fact, as much as I loved Iron Man 3, for me Kick Ass 2 is the best superhero film of 2013. Cool in it’s own way, with people I actually cared about. Okay so apparently it’s toned down from the comic (I’m not sure we really needed the gang rape of a main character) but as I’m not a fan of the source material that doesn’t really bother me. In fact more over the fact that it doesn’t just set out to shock is for me what stands out about it’s predecessor.

Kick Ass 2 also has some strong action sequences, not least a Good Guys Vs Bad Guys battle that looses the now standard CGI monsters vs Monsters stick of the studio Marvel films and goes with something a little… different. And is FAR more entertaining because of it. Hit Girl vs Mother Russia is for sure the fight of the year to date.

On the subject of Hit Girl, Props go to Chloe Grace Mortez who once again shines and shows that, as long as she doesn’t go all Lohan, she has an amazing and probably award winning career in front of her. Also a massive shout out for Jim Carey who delivers the best performance of his twilight career, even if he was too much of an arse to promote the film (even though his winging actually created even more publicity of the movie… ). Mintz-Plasse is also great as the self titled Mother Fucker, even if he does just deliver the TradeMarked Mintz-Plasse performance.

With assured but not overly showy direction, some social commentary about what it is to fit in, a host of solid action sequences and characters you actually care for, Kick Ass 2 is that rare beast of both a sequel that ends up being more enjoyable that the original and a superhero film that didn’t feel the need to collapse into a CGI want fest.

In short: Fuck the critics, fuck the source material. Just go make up your own mind. You may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Rating:

 


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Avengers Week: Thor The Dark World : A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Avengers Week: Thor The Dark World : A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

With Avengers: Infinity War opening this week, Phil’s Quick Capsule Review will be rerunning the reviews of some of our favourite Marvel Films!

The Review: For me the original Thor film was my second , least favourite Marvel adaptation after Captain America (sorry Capt.).  It wasn’t bad but it always felt like it was missing something special.  Now, two years later and bolstered by an appearance alongside his Avengers buddies, the Blonde, buff god returns in what is a far more well rounded and successful movie.

The Story: Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Firstly let’s get this out the way.  Thor 2 is actually really good.  Excellent in fact.  Of all the Avengers films, it’s probably the most ‘together ‘ .  It has a simple story, which moves at pace, with action and drama but keeping it tight enough to come in at under 2 hours.  It even manages to get around (at least MOSTLY get around) the standard CGI monster fighting CGI good guy trope that has hobbled the end of every Avengers film since Iron Man.

A large reason why the film works so well is the sublime decision to once again sit an unlikely candidate in the director’s chair.   Be it Jon Favreau for Iron Man or James Gunn for the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy, Marvel have a knack of picking the right man for the job.  This time out respected TV and Game Of Thrones director Alan Taylor brings a more even vision to the film, much more suited to the material than Kenneth Branagh, and obviously revels in having a larger that his usual budget to play with.   The action is clean and well shot, and best of all you can see every punch, every explosion and every insane flying spaceship moment.

Oh and talking of flying Spaceship moments… director Taylor is obviously a fan of 80’s cheese fest Flash Gordon, being that he borrows a considerable part of the films finale for the attack on Asgard.  Not that I’m complaining as the mix of sci-fi, Norse legend, super hero and action make for a pleasant change form the usual Earth bound Marvel world.

Hemsworth once again proves he is a man of considerable talent, delivering action alongside comedy and the occasional pathos.  Naturally Natalie Portman has little to do (as is the female role generally in a Marvel film) but she remains a welcome addition, as does the returning Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston (once again a stand out as Loki) and Anthony Hopkins (as his most gravelly).  Rene Russo even gets to kick arse, which is nice.  As for former Dr Who and professional grump Christopher Eccleston he does good with his limited bad guy role, but in reality with the added make up and FX it could have been anyone as Dark Elf leader Malekif.

In truth the film has little against it, other than maybe an element of familiarity, and ends up being one of the best blockbusters of the year.  Maybe not as good overall as Iron Man 3, but certainly more fun. For the most part.

So overall a good script, great characters and some snappy dialogue alongside standout action sequences and a fast pace mean that deservedly Thor The Dark World will be another hit for Marvel.  Truly a studio that cant seem to get it wrong.

Rating:

 

 

Review: Escape Plan (DVD/BR)

Review: Escape Plan (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review:  Former prosecutor Ray Breslin (Stallone) makes a living breaking out of maximum-security prisons and exposing any weaknesses in the buildings and operations. The CIA offers him a lucrative, hush-hush assignment to break out of a top-secret government prison, and Breslin takes the job against his better judgment. Breslin stages a mock arrest that veers off the rails when his captors destroy a hidden communications link to Breslin’s associates (Ryan and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). He awakens in a glass cell inside a windowless super-max prison, where warden Willard Hobbes (Caviezel) informs him that he will stay for the rest of his life. As planned, Breslin stages a fight and ends up in solitary, where he studies the prison structure. He befriends fellow inmates Javed (Faran Tahir) and Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) and begins planning his escape.

I can’t say I was particularly surprised by the narrative’s twists and turns, as the film practically labels its characters “Villain” or “Hero” in neon lights. Nevertheless, there is plenty of entertainment to be had watching Stallone, who has the most screen time, work his magic inside the prison. Breslin has done this for years and is quite infamous for breaking down procedures and seemingly inescapable security systems, much to the chagrin of those who paid big bucks to put them in place. He quickly notices seams around his mysterious cage, but must rely on Javed and Emil to move his jailbreak plans forward. The interior of the prison is nicely realized, and is a combination of sleek glass lines and futuristic S.W.A.T. gear.
The big action pieces are fairly generic, but Stallone and Schwarzenegger sell the man-to-man combat. Schwarzenegger’s character is used as comic relief, and the actor clearly enjoys hamming it up to scam his captors. The supporting cast does thankless work, but it’s always nice to see familiar faces in modest roles. Escape Plan never threatens to recreate Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s glory days, but it’s a definite improvement over their recent films.
In summary if you like a good action movie, with a 80s feel this is for you. For me this is worth a watch and Stallone and Schwarzenegger will have at worst al least entertained for the two hour duration.

 

Reviewed By: Julian Connelly

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Review: Lone Survivor (Cinema)

Review: Lone Survivor (Cinema)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review:  UGH! You know, this probably would have been deserving of a higher grade if it weren’t for that flippin’ epilogue lasting about seven minutes, chronicling all the real life counterparts of the rather wonderful dramatization that preceded it.

Oh, please don’t get me wrong – these brave, sincere soldiers stationed in Fuckknowswhere, Afghanistan, are braver than I’ll ever be, and clearly what they went through was a massive ordeal, but you really don’t have to pummel me with a blow-by-blow account on what they looked like. I don’t need to see them with their loved ones, with accompanying captions telling us just how awesome they were and what most of them are clearly not doing now. The heart-tugging score and overblown sincerity of it all is frustratingly at odds with the remainder of the film.

I’ve pretty much summed up the contents of the movie in the above paragraph – and it’s called Lone Survivor, you figure it out – as a handful of mercenaries led by Mark Whalberg lead the charge to find and kill Ahmed Bahhndrarrbdhad Snr and friends. Lone Survivor, without beating too much about the bush, is Predator without the predator. I love that idea. They fly in, highly charged, super-stoked and land on the ground and get on with finding the bad guy. They do find him, and spy on him for a bit. This time, though, there’s no “Knock Knock!” as they find themselves in a rather complex moral quandary; should they execute or free a bunch of passing bad guys? Of course, the film sees fit to supply us with the meatheaded tool with guns for a vote to kill them and sod the consequences. Whalberg (Catholic, as we know) advocates letting them go and racing up to a nearby mountain to call air support and nix the whole venture. The others sort of stand around taking sides.

I won’t spoil what the decision was. Needless to say, in fact, that either of those routes would have precipitates what follows – Call of Duty: The Movie.

Now, I love Call of Duty (I’m especially fond of the Modern Warfare series) and fuck me backwards, diagonally and inside out if Lone Survivor wasn’t story boarded and photographed by those at Infinity Ward. It wasn’t, but you get my point. Bullets aplenty are fired. Squibs go off. The red stuff sprays everywhere; in exploded fragments of skull, torsos (mainly) and deep, vicious cuts and bruising.

Thanks to Peter “I’ll Always be Jonathan Parker out of ‘Shocker’” Berg’s direction, it’s easy to follow and immensely entertaining. Thanks to Peter Berg’s writing, it’s (Alert: backhanded Compliment Incoming) extremely easy to follow and not too deep, despite its ethical dilemma at the forty-five minute mark. Berg is to cinema, what Michael Bay is to toys – appropriate. Both these guys have the visual restoration, but barely the faintest idea of how to successfully embed anything more than the Lett side notes of actual morality or emotion. And it’s just as well. I don’t want my Call of Duty: The Movie to be full of that nonsense. I want guns. I want one guy (yeah, it’s him) to end up being the Lone Survivor and spend the next few days in Hell and try to figure out how to survive.

In short – Lone Survivor is a lot of fun. It’s two hours… at least, that’s what that closing epilogue feels like. It’s just a shame it was based on “a true story” so we could have been spared that saccharine-soaked closer. I gather the yanks are lapping up this exceptionally fun and jingoistic, macho toss at the US Box Office right now. Good on ‘em.

A recent Instagram picture showed a notice up on the movie theatre boards saying they had pulled all the other movies to accommodate the pressing demand for this movie. It’s easy to see why. “Her” was one of the movies they pulled. Those damn southerners; they may be easily distracting by guns and ammo, but at least they have taste

 

Reviewed By: Andrew Mackay

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Review: Vendetta (DVD/BR)

Review: Vendetta (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review: Danny Dyer does Death Wish? You must be having a bubble you facking mug!

Well it’s true, Dyer plays Jimmy Vickers, a rogue SAS operative who has gone AWOL from his regiment in Afghanistan to find the people responsible for the brutal murders of his parents. Tracking them down one by one he exacts swift merciless revenge while staying one step ahead of the police who want him locked up and his army superiors who want him back.

With an attractive solid script that fizzes along it is easy to see why Richwater Films stable of actors all wanted to be on display here with the likes of as Nick Nevern, Tony Denham, Ricci Harnett and Vincent Regan all making appearances alongside Game of Thrones Josef Altin, Dynasty’s Emma Samms and Passenger 57’s legendary bad guy Bruce Payne.

The film itself is beautifully shot and lit, Director of Photography Haider Zafar does a superb job of bringing the bright lights and grittiness of London to life on a budget and the finished product can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of The Sweeney and the more recent Hummingbird on production value alone.

Vendetta will rightly draw comparisons to Death Wish and Harry Brown and is easily the best British thriller in recent years, what the film will be remembered for though is the performance given by its leading man, the days of Danny Dyer cockney geezer have long gone, this is a complete character re-invention and a controlled staunch performance showing his critics and audience alike why he was Harold Pinter’s favourite actor. There is tension and trauma bubbling under the cool dangerous exterior with Dyers stone killer only giving glimpses of his former self with darkly comical wisecracks before dispatching the next victim in a more violent and inventive way than the last.

Vendetta is released in the Cinema 22nd November, Blu ray and DVD 23rd December

The Vendetta novelisation is available now

Reviewed By:

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Review: Vendetta (Cinema)

Review: Vendetta (Cinema)

Uncategorized

The Review: Danny Dyer does Death Wish? You must be having a bubble you facking mug!

Well it’s true, Dyer plays Jimmy Vickers, a rogue SAS operative who has gone AWOL from his regiment in Afghanistan to find the people responsible for the brutal murders of his parents. Tracking them down one by one he exacts swift merciless revenge while staying one step ahead of the police who want him locked up and his army superiors who want him back.

With an attractive solid script that fizzes along it is easy to see why Richwater Films stable of actors all wanted to be on display here with the likes of as Nick Nevern, Tony Denham, Ricci Harnett and Vincent Regan all making appearances alongside Game of Thrones Josef Altin, Dynasty’s Emma Samms and Passenger 57’s legendary bad guy Bruce Payne.

The film itself is beautifully shot and lit, Director of Photography Haider Zafar does a superb job of bringing the bright lights and grittiness of London to life on a budget and the finished product can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of The Sweeney and the more recent Hummingbird on production value alone.

Vendetta will rightly draw comparisons to Death Wish and Harry Brown and is easily the best British thriller in recent years, what the film will be remembered for though is the performance given by its leading man, the days of Danny Dyer cockney geezer have long gone, this is a complete character re-invention and a controlled staunch performance showing his critics and audience alike why he was Harold Pinter’s favourite actor. There is tension and trauma bubbling under the cool dangerous exterior with Dyers stone killer only giving glimpses of his former self with darkly comical wisecracks before dispatching the next victim in a more violent and inventive way than the last.

Vendetta is released in the Cinema 22nd November, Blu ray and DVD 23rd December

The Vendetta novelisation is available now

Reviewed By:

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Review: Thor The Dark World (Cinema)

Review: Thor The Dark World (Cinema)

Uncategorized

The Review: For me the original Thor film was my second , least favourite Marvel adaptation after Captain America (sorry Capt.).  It wasn’t bad but it always felt like it was missing something special.  Now, two years later and bolstered by an appearance alongside his Avengers buddies, the Blonde, buff god returns in what is a far more well rounded and successful movie.

The Story: Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Firstly let’s get this out the way.  Thor 2 is actually really good.  Excellent in fact.  Of all the Avengers films, it’s probably the most ‘together ‘ .  It has a simple story, which moves at pace, with action and drama but keeping it tight enough to come in at under 2 hours.  It even manages to get around (at least MOSTLY get around) the standard CGI monster fighting CGI good guy trope that has hobbled the end of every Avengers film since Iron Man.

A large reason why the film works so well is the sublime decision to once again sit an unlikely candidate in the director’s chair.   Be it Jon Favreau for Iron Man or James Gunn for the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy, Marvel have a knack of picking the right man for the job.  This time out respected TV and Game Of Thrones director Alan Taylor brings a more even vision to the film, much more suited to the material than Kenneth Branagh, and obviously revels in having a larger that his usual budget to play with.   The action is clean and well shot, and best of all you can see every punch, every explosion and every insane flying spaceship moment.

Oh and talking of flying Spaceship moments… director Taylor is obviously a fan of 80’s cheese fest Flash Gordon, being that he borrows a considerable part of the films finale for the attack on Asgard.  Not that I’m complaining as the mix of sci-fi, Norse legend, super hero and action make for a pleasant change form the usual Earth bound Marvel world.

Hemsworth once again proves he is a man of considerable talent, delivering action alongside comedy and the occasional pathos.  Naturally Natalie Portman has little to do (as is the female role generally in a Marvel film) but she remains a welcome addition, as does the returning Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston (once again a stand out as Loki) and Anthony Hopkins (as his most gravelly).  Rene Russo even gets to kick arse, which is nice.  As for former Dr Who and professional grump Christopher Eccleston he does good with his limited bad guy role, but in reality with the added make up and FX it could have been anyone as Dark Elf leader Malekif.

In truth the film has little against it, other than maybe an element of familiarity, and ends up being one of the best blockbusters of the year.  Maybe not as good overall as Iron Man 3, but certainly more fun. For the most part.

So overall a good script, great characters and some snappy dialogue alongside standout action sequences and a fast pace mean that deservedly Thor The Dark World will be another hit for Marvel.  Truly a studio that cant seem to get it wrong.

Reviewed By: Phil Hobden

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Snitch: A Quick Capsule Review

Snitch: A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Snitch is a real surprise of a movie.  More drama than action (despite what the trailers suggest), this story of a up against it regular Joe pushed to violent extremes is well acted, well made and showcases Dwayne The Rock Johnson as more than muscle bound action man. Able support from Walking Dead alumni John Bernthal and Susan Sarandon give this real life story even further gravitas, but it’s The Rock’s movie and he carries it admirably.

Best Bit: The Rock

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Buy

IMDB Rating: 

If you liked this try: Walking Tall (8/10); Fast 6 (8/10); Pain & Gain (4/10)

Review: Escape Plan (Cinema)

Review: Escape Plan (Cinema)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review:  It’s the movie we’ve all been waiting for! Schwarzenegger and Stallone finally go head to head in an action-fest, mile-a-minute smack down set inside a prison!

Only they’re not going head-to-head. And it’s not mile-a-minute. And it’s not exactly what I would call action-packed. And last year they were in Expendables 2. And in 20101, Expendables.

Trapped in Prison (erroneously referred to as “Escape Plan” at the multiplex) is to Schwarzenegger and Stallone, as Righteous Kill was to DeNiro and Pacino – i.e. ‘not at all much’. Curiously enough, both men are upstaged by one Jim Caviezel – who plays the prison head of department in this massive maximum superplex prison thing where Stallone has been plonked into to try to escape from. Caviezel steals the show by bringing just the right amount of gravitas to the role, ending each of his sentences with a Christian Bale-type smirk; wisely resisting all temptation to chew the limited, greying scenery. I had no idea our own Vinnie Jones was in the film as second-in-command – and it’s every bit as tiresome and head-slappingly groan-worthy as this implies; particularly if you didn’t know this information going in. He’s fucking terrible. And he’s 15 years older than he was in Lock Stock. And it shows.

I don’t plan spending much time talking about Stallone and Schwarzenegger because it is frankly a waste of time. They’re older (except Stallone) and a lot of their 80s throwaway humour falls flat with deafening silence. A packed Saturday cinema clearly has no memory of Predator and Rocky and the like.

Now to director Mikael Hafstrom, whose last film I saw was 2007’s 1408 – the Stephen king horror movie. I liked that movie. But when planning a crime caper with two of yesteryear’s hottest action properties becomes a real option, Hafstrom wouldn’t be my first choice for helming it. Or thirtieth choice, if I’m honest.

The direction lets Trapped in Prison down. You’ll spot this with your own eyes within the first three minutes of the film; it tries to up the ante and the title slumps onto the screen with all the grace of a dingbat trying to take a free kick. From then on, this yawn-inducing, liberty-taking scientific endurance test is precisely that; a bonafide patience tester. 50 Cent pops up for twelve seconds in glasses as a techie whizz kid. No. Sorry, no.

And it just this moment strikes me that 50 Cent was in Righteous Kill, as well. 50 Cent, there – the hallmark of shitty reunion movies. Thank fuck Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh are dead. I’m not sure I could sit through 50 Cent filling in for Hattie McDaniel as their maid. Obviously the Gable/Leigh reunion film would be half as long as their 1939 masterpiece, but I’m 99% sure it’d feel twice as long.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

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Review: Hummingbird (DVD/BR)

Review: Hummingbird (DVD/BR)

Uncategorized

The Review: Jason Statham plays Joey Jones, a former soldier now AWOL and living on the streets of London. When the opportunity to “borrow” a plush house and identity presents itself to him, Joey grabs it with both hands. His tough reputation on the streets gets him recruited by the Chinese mafia as an enforcer and human trafficer.

Joey, however has a softer side and uses his illicit income to provide for a homeless shelter and the Nun who runs it. Over the course of a summer, Joey tries to clean up the squalid streets of London in an attempt to repent for his sins.

This is not your usual Statham film, while it has him cracking heads and putting up a good fight, the main focus is on his tortured soul looking to cleanse itself after the attrocities of war. The film is very well written and is a slow burning observation of London life, if you enjoyed Dirty Pretty Things or Eastern Promises this is the film for you.

Reviewed By: Matt Duddy


Hunmmingbird is out on Home release now.  Join the debate on our Facebook group…http://www.facebook.com/groups/filmsploitationpodcast/