Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Sequels are hard; sequels to surprise hits are even harder. You weren’t expecting to knock it out the park, so now you have to look carefully at your first outing and try to find what made it so successful. The Kingsman crew looked hard, found the formula and delivered pretty much the same movie with a different cast. Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoyed it, but it did follow the same old comic-spy plot that you found in the original Casino Royale (not the Daniel Craig one; the other one … with Peter Sellers and David Niven). The car chases are outlandish, the villains are as mad as box of frogs, and the fight scenes are breathlessly over the top. I don’t think I’ll be giving too much a way if I do a bit of scene setting:
So, a year after our hero, Eggsy (ably played by Aaron Egerton), joined the Kingsman Agency, the whole outfit is wiped out by a psychopathic drug lord (well, she would be, wouldn’t she). Eggsy and the only other survivor, Merlin, seek the help of the their American counterparts, the Statesman organisation (same idea, different hats) to bring down the drug lord and save the world from … well, you’ll work it out when you see it.
As a “raining all bloody Saturday” kind of a movie, it works. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think it’s what you’d call a bit of a romp. The plot was predictable, the acting was up to scratch, though no one’s going to get an oscar out of it. I think that Julianne Moore gave a creditable performance as the villain, so it’s a shame she didn’t get more screen time; likewise, Halle Berry was woefully underused. They should have at least got her out of the office once in a while. And I am glad they found a way to resurrect Colin Firth.

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The whole Statesmen thing didn’t really seem to go anywhere though, and I did wonder why they were there.
Still, what made the film (and this was probably the plan) was the action sequences. The choreography was flawless and they were fantastically unbelievable. Well, worth seeing if you like that sort of thing (which I do).
But aside from that, I don’t think there was too much here to write home about.
I’m going to give it six and half out of ten. The action sequences saved it.

Film review: The Dark Tower

I’m not much of a horror lit fan, so I don’t read much Stephen King, but now that I’ve seen The Dark Tower, that’s going to change.  I mean, it’s not as if he doesn’t write other stuff.

The movie is a bit difficult to lump into one particular genre: it’s sort of like High Noon, Lord of the Rings, Excalibur and Stargate all rolled into one; quite a feat considering it’s a shade over two hours long. Idris Elba plays Roland, the last of a band of gunslingers charged with protecting the Dark Tower, a rarely-seen edifice that stands at the centre of the universe and protects it from the evils that lie beyond. Matthew McConaughey plays Walter (yes, you read that right), the despicable and sharply-dressed sorcerer who wants to destroy the Dark Tower and so release untold horrors into the cosmos. Into this eternal struggle comes Jake, a boy with vast psychic powers, more than enough to destroy the Dark Tower, or save it.

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Get the gist? Good; it’s not that different from a lot of things you’ve seen before, so it’s not so much the story as the way it’s told, and this film tells it brilliantly.

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Book review: Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

This was one of my holiday reads, and in that regard it's absolutely perfect: just the thing to take with you for a few hours spent on the beach. (I picked up a humdinger of a mosquito bite, but I can't blame the book for that).
The story is straightforward enough: Paul Morris, an author who's light faded after his first novel, finds himself in need of someone new to sponge from. He hooks up with Alice, a woman he barely remembers from his university days, and begins the rather tawdry process of ingratiating himself so deeply into her affections that she'll let him move into her house. (Having had to leave his rent-free digs, Paul is living with his mother).


Part of this plan involves romancing Alice during the yearly vacation she takes with friends and family on the island of Pyros.
Unfortunately, Paul doesn't realise that many of Alice's friends remember him from the last time they met on Pyros ten years ago, the same time that a fourteen-year-old girl vanished from a house close to where they were staying…
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