Avengers: Endgame: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #57

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but it’s been a year since it came out, so I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen it by now!

22 movies. 11 years. One epic final movie. With an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner, and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo comes the epic blockbuster that is Avengers: Endgame. Set five years later after Infinity War, the universe is still suffering from the fallout from Thanos’ snap and the Avengers have admitted defeat and are dispersed around the universe. There is no hope, but that is until Scott Lang is ejected out of the Quantum Realm. Instead of being stuck there for 5 years, he was only in there for 5 hours. This discovery is enough to spark hope in the Avengers and they go back in time and retrieve the Infinity Stones before Thanos ever got them, so they can reverse the Snap and bring back their fallen foes.

Robert Downey Jr returns to play Iron Man/Tony Stark. Like in all previous movies, Downey Jr proves he really is irreplaceable as Tony Stark. His performance in Endgame was impeccable. I was not expecting Stark to die in Endgame, and his death had me shocked. I think that this film fulfilled his character arc, showing him as a more paternal figure like we had a glimpse of in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Endgame builds on this, in a way that’s more emotionally complex and was demonstrated through the relationship between Tony and his daughter, Morgan, which was so brilliantly orchestrated. It was built up in the course of one movie, and the final ‘I love you 3000’ from Tony’s hologram brought tears to my eyes. Captain America was played brilliantly by Chris Evans. It was so great to see more of Cap in this film, especially as Infinity War didn’t feature enough of him. Evans’s portrayal of Steve Rogers was one of his best, as we saw the completion of his character arc too; not everything that’s special about him came out of a bottle (as he’s worthy of wielding Mjolnir) and he got to spend his life with Peggy. Evans brought a depth and complexity to Captain America which made his last hurrah as the First Avenger even more remarkable and enjoyable. Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, and I must admit, my opinions on Bro Thor were split. I personally felt it did ruin some of what was created in Thor: Ragnarok, which started a new arc for Thor that I was really loving but on the other hand, the idea of having a Thor who’s been hugely impacted by his failure to kill Thanos in Infinity War and suffering from his failure is something rarely seen in movie sequels. I found the way that Hemsworth immersed himself in this new side of Thor was incredibly well done on his part, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Thor in the future. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow, and in my opinion, this was one of her best performances in the role. Her character had depth and, similarly to Cap, it was great to see more of her in this film. With more of Black Widow in the film, we gained an insight into how she had been affected by Decimation, as she had taken on the role of trying to prevent other catastrophic events from happening, even if it was an earthquake under the ocean. Romanoff takes on a larger role and Johannson’s execution of the role was fantastic. The death of Black Widow was a surprise and I look forward to seeing what happens in her solo film. We also meet Professor Hulk in Endgame, played by Mark Ruffalo. Professor Hulk combined the brains of Bruce Banner with Hulk’s strength, and as cool as it was to see him on screen, I found myself agreeing with Valkyrie, where I would have preferred him either of the other ways. Additionally, I would have liked to have seen more from his character, as it’s something quite interesting to look into, but there may be more of him in the future. One of my favourite characters in Endgame was Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, as it was great to see him in action again after so long. I liked the new Ronin arc for Clint and it’s something that was not only fun to watch on screen but I would like to be explored in the future. Renner’s acting ability was something that shone throughout the film, as he demonstrated his range of emotions perfectly, whether it be his heart torn to pieces over the dusting of family and Natasha sacrificing herself for the Soul Stone, or to the joy of his family coming back to life when he picks up that phone call from Laura. Josh Brolin returns to play Thanos, the villain who’s been building up in the background for the past 10 years. I loved the portrayal of Thanos in Endgame, though I would have liked to have seen more from him. He was the main character who was one of the MCU’s best villains, but I felt that he was somewhat lacking in this film. However, this is understandable seeing as Infinity War focussed on Thanos on acquiring the Infinity Stones to destroy half the universe, whereas Endgame focussed on the Avengers reassembling to undo the damage done.

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Captain America proves himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir

The music in Endgame was absolutely amazing. Alan Silvestri, the composer for The Avengers, Infinity War, and Endgame, was able to intricately compose the soundtrack for the film with beautiful scores that were perfectly suited the movie. One of my favourite scores from the film (and perhaps of all time) has to be ‘Portals’. I remember sitting in awe as Falcon swooped in with Black Panther through a portal, and as more of our dusted heroes appeared through portals to the final showdown, the score ‘Portals’ played, perfectly matched to the jaw-dropping scene.

The story followed neatly on from Infinity War and concluded the Infinity Saga with a satisfying ending that also left the audience excited for the future of the MCU. What will happen with Thor and the Guardians? What will happen now that Falcon is Captain America? Who will be the next big villain in the MCU? You’ve also got to hand it to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote the screenplay for the film. It had the comic book feel which, combined with the acting and music, created a spectacular movie as a whole.

Before I come on to my favourite scenes, there were admittedly parts that I didn’t like, some of it being general stuff and others being nitpicking. Firstly, Nebula maybe could’ve told the Avengers that going to Vormir meant that someone had to die for the Soul Stone. She also could’ve traveled back to the present time after failing to alert Nat and Clint of Thanos knowing their plan. Another thing that kind of annoyed me was how Scott escaped from the Quantum Realm. I understand it’s the 1 in 14 million realities that the Avengers win, but the chances of a rat tapping on the correct buttons to pull him out was crazy. Given that it’s Pym Tech suggests that the machinery behind the Quantum Realm is complicated, but not basic enough to the point that a rat can just walk on across the pad and let Scott out. There’s also a fine line between the perfect amount of comedy and too much, and for me, Endgame tiptoed over it. Some jokes were brilliant, like America’s ass, but in other places, the humour was forced in unnecessarily such as with Professor Hulk dabbing or War Machine saying that Thor has “Cheez Whiz” running through his veins during one of the film’s most intense scenes. Another problem for me was the sheer amount of characters being shoe-horned into the film. While some characters got the screentime they deserved, such as Iron Man and Captain America, I felt some other characters didn’t get enough, such as Professor Hulk. I also think the time travel itself was a little confusing to understand. It made sense later on in the film, but it wasn’t clear at first how the time travel worked.  

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Tony prepares to snap away Thanos and his army while sacrificing himself in the process.

Now onto my favourite scenes. It was a small moment, but the opening of Hawkeye losing his family was the perfect start. It not only allowed us to reconnect with one of our heroes but also picked up exactly where we left off; in the middle of Thanos’ snap. The next best moment for me was the team-up against Thanos in his retirement Garden. The early twist of Thor beheading Thanos was unexpected and left me wondering where the film would go from there. My favourite part of the “updating the audience where everyone was 5 years later” section was definitely seeing where Stark was. We’ve seen Tony evolve through these films from a cocky playboy into a more caring, paternalistic character. Endgame introduces us to Tony’s daughter, Morgan, and for the short time they spent together on screen, a sweet and loving relationship is shown that is one of the highlights of the film.  The montage of the surviving Avengers tracking down the Stones locations in the past was another favourite scene of mine, as it wrapped the timeline of the Stones and the MCU up in a way that has you reflecting on the past 10 years on movies. It’s all built up and comes together to this; the epic conclusion. The whole time travel sequence was such great fun to watch as it built on what I mentioned previously about reflecting on the past 10 years. We are taken back to 3 Marvel movies that the Stones have all been a part of and you can’t but brim with enjoyment as this all plays out. I remember sitting in the cinema just blown away by how far we’ve come and where we are now.  The highlights of this sequence were the battle of New York with Cap vs Cap, and traveling back to the ’70s to get the Tesseract, with Steve seeing Peggy and Tony finally giving his father a proper farewell. To me, these scenes were either just really awesome to watch or served a strong purpose. For Steve, I think him seeing Peggy again reminds him of a life he could have had, and this silent interaction is why he chose to stay back in time with her. For Tony, he’s always had that tension with his father, but now that he’s had that final moment of saying goodbye, we can goodbye to Tony because his character arc is complete.

One of the best scenes in the whole movie was Cap wielding Mjolnir. The dramatic reveal was amazing, with the tension that had built up with the high stakes of the moment and the epic swelling music in the background. The fact that Cap was worthy was teased back in Age of Ultron in 2015, and the payoff was awesome, especially with Cap using Mjolnir and his shield together. The whole end battle for me was perfect. From the portals and Falcon swooping in with the iconic “on your left” line to Spider-Man taking the Infinity Gauntlet from Black Panther and riding on a Pegasus with Valkyrie, ending with Stark’s final words, “I am Iron Man”, there was nothing I would change about this entire sequence. I was on the edge of my seat in awe throughout the whole of this sequence. This had been 10 years in making and it’s payoff made it worth every second.

Avengers: Endgame gets an 8.6/10 from me. The fantastic screenplay combined with great acting made it the perfect ending to 10 years of cinematic build-up. Upon rewatching (and re-rewatching), I’m still amazed at how this was pulled off, and it’s no surprise that Endgame is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Marvel have completely changed both the superhero genre and cinema itself in the past decade, and I can’t wait to see what happens to the MCU in the future.

Thanks for reading this review. I’m undecided on what to review next, but it’ll either be The Mandalorian, my favourite sitcom, or a classic movie. I hope you are all well in these difficult times and I’ll see you in a couple weeks.

Jojo Rabbit: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #56

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes and spoilers for Jojo Rabbit. I highly recommend this film as it certainly surprised me (in a good way) and may be one of my favourite films of all time.

Directed by and starring  Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), and also starring Roman Griffith Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johannson, Jojo Rabbit takes place in World War 2 and follows Jojo Betzler, a young Nazi living with his mother. Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the walls and turns to his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler, for advice.

Roman Griffith Davis played Jojo Beltzer and gave a brilliant performance. For a 12-year-old actor just starting off his career, he was able to display a wide range of emotions that allowed us to connect with Jojo’s character. The lead in most movies is usually able to do connect with audiences, but what’s remarkable about this in Jojo Rabbit is that this is all from a young actor. Griffith Davis has been nominated for a number of awards (including the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice) and after watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. Thomasin McKenzie played Elsa, a Jewish teenager who Jojo’s mother is hiding in the walls. McKenzie was perfectly selected to play Elsa and, for a young actress, delivered a strong and compelling representation of the Jewish experience in hiding in Nazi Germany. Taika Waititi took on the task of playing Adolf Hitler, or more accurately, Jojo’s image of Hitler. It’s important to remember that the film is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old Nazi, and Hitler in Jojo’s mind is someone he admires (Hitler is Jojo’s imaginary best friend after all).  Waititi wrote, directed and starred in Jojo Rabbit and took on the tough role of playing Hitler and for me, his portrayal was fantastic. He was witty and played the character in a different and memorable way. Jojo’s mother, Rosie Beltzer, was played by Scarlett Johansson. For me, Johannson wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Rosie but she was surprisingly well suited to the role. I would’ve liked to have seen more of her, but for the time she was on-screen, there was a strong and sweet relationship built up between Rosie and Jojo, despite the relationship build-up being a little rushed in my eyes. The dramatic reveal of Jojo coming across his mother’s hanging body by bumping into her shoes was so perfectly and subtlety built up and it’s all down to Waititi’s direction throughout the film. The build-up to this moment is sneakily intertwined with the film, first showing Jojo being unable to tie his shoes and the close-up shots of Rosie’s shoes, then Rosie talking to Jojo about butterflies in the stomach. This emotional climax of the film was unexpected, perfectly orchestrated and brought tears to my eyes in the cinema. It’s also worth mentioning one of the side characters who helped to make the film better; Captain Klenzendorf. Sam Rockwell played Captain K, and I loved the zaniness of his character, as well as his redemption at the end of the film. Together, the character chemistry was brought to life on screen wonderfully, particularly with the development of relationships throughout the film. One notable character relationship development that I thought was worth mentioning is the friendship between Jojo and Adolf. It starts off strong but as the film goes on, the relationship deteriorates to the point where Jojo tells Hitler to “f**k off” and kicks him out a window, showing that Jojo has no relationship with him or the Nazis anymore. Again, this is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old and the way the whole film plays out because of this is something we rarely get to see and was fantastically  done.

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Jojo and Adolf question Rosie’s loyalty to the Third Reich.

The music composed by Michael Giacchino was well constructed as it allowed us to not only connect with the characters’ emotions but also with the time period that the film is set in. I quite liked the German renditions of pop songs, even though there were only two of them. Nonetheless, the final scene of Elsa and Jojo dancing in the streets upon hearing the war is over to the German rendition of ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie will go down in my mind as one of the most powerful and iconic movie endings of all time. My only complaint is that I found the music was sometimes used unnecessarily to accompany a scene.

The story is actually an adapted screenplay, based on the book ‘Caging Skies’ by Christine Leunens. It was brought to life with a hint of Waititi’s quirky filmmaking style which gave us an interesting story told in a whimsical way that made for a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic experience. It was a little fast-paced in some places, but this pacing was better suited to the film rather than a slower pace. A question some of you may be wondering is whether Jojo Rabbit deserved to win Best Adapted Picture at the Oscars, and even if it should have been nominated for Best Picture itself. If I haven’t made it obvious enough, yes to both those questions. When people look back at 2019 as a year in film, there will be so many legendary films mentioned. Joker, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Avengers: Endgame to name a few. Now add Jojo Rabbit to that list. It had humour and heart and was able to turn one of history’s darkest times into a deep film about love, family and defeating the hatred of the world.

Overall, Jojo Rabbit gets an 8.5/10 from me. It came out as a surprisingly fantastic film, brought to life by an amazing cast and crew and teaching us all an important lesson throughout; no matter what happens, just keep going. No feeling is final. It’s one of those films that’s a hidden gem and I can’t wait to see what Taika Waititi goes on to do next.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this review to come out. Now that I’ve had time to settle in my new life both at work and working from home what with the corona-crisis, I’ve been able to adapt to a new schedule. I hope that you are all keeping well during these difficult and challenging times.

Further to the above, I’m currently working my way through reviewing the movie event of last year. I’m of course talking about Avengers: Endgame and aim to have the review out on April 25th (though that does seem a little ambitious). Anyways, I’ll have a review for Avengers: Endgame out soon, so I’ll see you then!

 

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #54

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

In a sea of reboots, remakes, sequels, and prequels, it’s becoming difficult to find original movies that stay true to the art of film. Enter Quentin Tarantino, who’s been in the game for 27 years and has arguably mastered this talent. His films are so unique and iconic that the word ‘Tarantinoesque’ has been added to the Oxford Dictionary. It’s with this that anything he makes is almost guaranteed to be something different and legendary, and film fanatics from around the world are always excited when he announces a new project. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is no exception from this.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is the tenth film (ninth if you count the Kill Bills as one movie) to be written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in 1969, the film follows Rick Dalton, a TV actor and Cliff Booth, his stunt double. Rick finds himself down on his luck as the Hollywood he knows and loves is now changing and he’s on his way to becoming a has-been. It just so happens that his neighbour is one of the new actresses in Hollywood who’s on the up and up to becoming something big; Sharon Tate.

Rick Dalton was played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s already in early Oscar talk for his role. It’s obvious to see why, as DiCaprio delivers an amazing performance as Rick Dalton. DiCaprio playing an actor is great fun to watch, as you see Rick with a stutter, but then without one when he’s in a movie or TV show. One of the best scenes that demonstrates DiCaprio’s fantastic acting ability is when Rick is filming on Lancer and we see him switching between in real life (with the stutter) and his villainous character in Lancer, who speaks without a stutter and more of a stern voice. Whenever DiCaprio takes on a role, he fully immerses himself in it, and this allows the audience to take more of an interest in his character and the film; Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is no exception to this. As superb as Leonardo DiCaprio was, I couldn’t help but feel that Brad Pitt stole the show. Brad Pitt played Rick’s stunt double, Cliff Booth, a war veteran who’s somewhat frowned upon in the film industry for the alleged murder of his wife. Pitt maybe wasn’t the obvious choice to play Cliff Booth, but certainly was the perfect actor for the role. He was excellent as Cliff, bringing an edge to the character and making him one of the standout best parts of this movie. There has also been Oscar talk for Brad Pitt’s performance as Cliff Booth, and personally, I’d say he’s more deserving of the Oscar than DiCaprio. Brad brought a lovability to Cliff’s character which, despite the slow pacing of the film, stood out as an exceptional performance that helped to make the film better. Margot Robbie played Sharon Tate, and she was marvellous in the role, but there wasn’t much of her character, or at least as much as I was expecting from advertisements. The film mainly focused on Rick and Cliff and their relationship (which, I must say, was just shy of impeccable), but the lack of Sharon Tate and other characters did make the film suffer slightly.

The music, like in most of Tarantino’s films, was perfectly selected. It captured the essence of a defining era in Hollywood as well as adding to scenes, by either building tension or excitement, or by making the scenes more enjoyable to engage in.

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Cliff and Rick on the set of their Western TV show, ‘Bounty Law’

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is Tarantino at his most playful. It’s not Tarantino’s most iconic or quotable film, but instead, the director proves that he has mastered the art of film-making. I’ll admit, at times it feels like the film is just the studio giving Tarantino money to make a movie because they know his name will bring them more money in return. While this certainly feels true for parts of the film, it’s more than this. It’s bringing together some of the best talents in Hollywood. It’s more than having Tarantino direct and write, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star. It’s having your cinematography from Robert Richardson (who also cinematographed for Hugo, Inglourious Basterds, and Shutter Island), and a talented Visual Effects department, including the likes of Brian Adler (who also did visual effects for Avengers: Endgame and Logan). With some of the talents of the industry coming together to produce a film like this, it’s evident to see that people really enjoy working on different, creative films within Hollywood and the end product is something undeniably awesome. 

I couldn’t do this review without talking about four memorable and standout scenes for me. The first was filming Lancer, with the interaction of resetting the cameras and breaking the fourth wall, then Rick breaking down before returning to set and delivering a tense and career-defining performance (for Rick). The way this whole scene was creatively crafted and fantastically executed, especially from Leonardo DiCaprio. I loved Cliff’s flashback to the Green Hornet set where he fought Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh, who did a great job). It was such a pleasure to watch, as the scene was made playful and fun by the camera work, and it was Tarantino at his pinnacle, as we’ve seen him in other films. The next scene was when Cliff revisited Spahn Ranch. In this scene and the previous (Cliff fights Bruce Lee), Brad Pitt was at his best, bringing an edge of hardness and badassery to Cliff’s character. From meeting Squeaky and George Spahn to beating up Clem, throughout this scene and the previous, Pitt certainly delivered one of his greatest performances ever in this film. The final scene should be fairly obvious, but I’m of course going to have to talk about that final scene with Rick and Cliff fighting the hippies who attacked Rick’s house. The song (Tarantino’s edit of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Vanilla Fudge) was so perfect for the scene that it both added to my enjoyment and helped build tension and excitement. The action was the most Tarantinoesque imaginable. With heads smashed into telephone hooks, people being burnt to a crisp with a flamethrower and a dog tearing into limbs, I couldn’t help but smile in awe, realising again in this film that in his unique style, Tarantino is a directorial master.

It’s also worth talking about the film’s ending too. After Rick and Cliff have killed the hippies who attacked Rick’s house, Rick meets Jay Sebring who invites Rick to meet his neighbour, Sharon Tate. As the camera pulls away, the film’s title appears with a somewhat twinkly theme playing. This was all a fairy tale. This was not what happened in reality. This was Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. This ending was slightly unexpected but nonetheless still brilliantly done, allowing the audience to reflect on the awesomeness of the film they’d just watched and bringing them back to the reality in which Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger were fatally murdered by members of the Manson Family.

Overall, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood was a cinematic blast, and was one of those films where the more I thought back over it, the better it was, and as such gets an 8.6/10 from me. I can’t wait to rewatch Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. In a sea of CGI superheroes and animated remakes, Tarantino proves once again that authentic cinema is still not only unbeatable but truly amazing.

Thanks for reading this review. What did you think of Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood? Let me know in the comments below!

To celebrate 25 years since the release of Pulp Fiction (my favourite film and arguably Tarantino’s best), I’ll be posting my rankings of Tarantino’s movies and asking the question, has Pulp Fiction aged well? See you then!

Taxi Driver: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #53

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes.

You may remember that earlier in the year in my review of Whiplash I said that I’d try to watch 52 of IMDb’s Top 250 movies that I hadn’t seen. Since then, I’ve watched some, like American Beauty and Prisoners, but haven’t fully tackled the list. I recently watched Taxi Driver, the 1976 classic from Martin Scorsese. I fell in love with the film, admiring it for being one of Scorsese’s earliest films in his career that was so beautifully made. I just had to review Taxi Driver, making it this week’s review.

Starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Cybil Shepherd and directed by Martin Scorsese is Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle is lonely, living in New York as an honourably discharged Marine. He takes a night job as a taxi driver but slips into insomnia, and his shift becomes a round the clock job. Travis eventually dreams of cleaning up the city by ridding of its filth. As Travis explores more of the city, he meets Betsy, an attractive political worker and becomes committed to saving the world by plotting to assassinate Charles Palantine, a presidential candidate, before attempting to rescue Iris, a 12-year-old prostitute and saving the day in his eyes.

If you search up Robert De Niro on IMDb or Google, you’ll see that Taxi Driver is one of his most notorious roles. After watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. De Niro’s role of Travis was something that he clearly immersed himself in, and he had such a strong character presence that it is widely considered to be a role that fully cemented De Niro as one of the greats, particularly as the film was released after De Niro’s Oscar success in 1974 for The Godfather Part II. Taxi Driver further demonstrates De Niro’s exceptional acting ability and his character development throughout the film allows the viewer to build a bond with Travis and stay hooked on what is an already brilliant film. Taxi Driver also stars 14-year-old Jodie Foster as Iris, a 12-year-old child prostitute. For such a young actress at the time, Foster’s performance was incredible as she was able to bring great range to Iris’ character. I would have liked to have seen more of Iris in the film, but that didn’t bother me too much. Cybil Shepherd plays Betsy, an attractive political worker who Travis becomes infatuated with. Admittedly, I didn’t like Betsy’s character too much, Shepherd was well cast as Betsy, but I felt she lacked a little something, that I can’t quite exactly put my finger on. Harvey Keitel played Matthew/”Sport”, a pimp who ran the prostitution service that Iris worked for. Matthew was an interesting character, and I liked how he was played by an actor as fantastic as Keitel, but I would’ve loved to have seen more of his character in the film.

The music from Bernard Herrmann was wonderfully orchestrated and suited the film’s tone well. The main theme for Taxi Driver was slightly overplayed in the film but it may be one of the greatest movie themes ever in my opinion. The theme is one of the most powerful themes in a movie as it has a dark undertone that is accompanied by the merrier, lighter side with the saxophone from Tom Scott. The deeper ‘dark’ undertones represent the scum Travis sees over New York while the lighter parts from the saxophone represent the better sides of society to Travis, like how he views Betsy.

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The infamous ‘You talking to me?’ scene.

The storyline and plot were quite unexpected and while the film was certainly ahead of its time, it did seem rather random for Travis to want to kill Palantine. However, after reflecting on the film, it makes sense as Travis could be jealous of Palantine, or have opposing political views to him. Additionally, Scorsese is notorious for ambiguous endings in his films, so this would just be part of his directorial trademark.

Now for my favourite moments. The opening with Herrmann’s brilliant main theme sets up an interesting premise, particularly with the use of darkness with only the use of traffic lights to illuminate faces and places creating an intriguing atmosphere about what the film could be about. I liked the scene with the passenger and a prostitute, with the passenger asking Travis to hurry up, and Travis having to clean blood and semen off his seats as this emphasises Travis’ want to clean up the scum around him and allows the viewer to sympathise with our protagonist. This is subtly supported by another scene which I enjoyed more over time, which is where Iris enters Travis’ cab, trying to escape Matthew. Matthew quickly intervenes and captures Iris before handing Travis a crumpled $20 bill, that acts as a reminder to Travis of the filth surrounding him. The training montage of Travis preparing to kill Palantine was something enjoyable and somewhat exciting to watch as it shows how prepared Travis is to do what he feels so strongly about in. In this montage is one of my favourite movie scenes of all time. The infamous ‘you talking to me’ scene. Here, De Niro shows off his phenomenal acting ability, delivering one of the most memorable monologues in movie history. The assassination attempt on Palantine was brilliantly done. We see a new side of Travis here with his mohawk and fully turned to his idea of cleaning up the filth. It was a great scene to watch and the twist of Travis being unable to carry out the assassination. The sequence of Travis going to rescue Iris was one of my favourite parts as it shows Travis still committed to cleaning the scum and saving the day. This brought out a violent side of the film which was great to see and was a good payoff for what the film was trying to show throughout. The ending was so awesome to watch as it was left somewhat open. We see Travis complete a taxi job for Betsy, driving away after giving her a free ride. He drives off and we see his eyes in the reflection of the rear-view mirror and Travis notices something that agitates him. The film ends here, leaving open to interpretation of what happens next. What was in the mirror? Is Travis about to get killed? Is Travis about to go on a rampage?

Taxi Driver is one of my favourite movies and gets an 8.5/10 from me. It had superb acting and a different story that was new and enjoyable to watch. Robert De Niro helps this film to shine and as a result, Travis Bickle earns a spot on my favourite characters list.

Thanks for reading this review. Join me in a few weeks time for the review of a movie about Hollywood in 1969, and I’ll also be reviewing a sitcom about a school soon too!  See you then!

Toy Story 4: Ryans Movie Reviews #52

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain spoilers for Toy Story 4.

Back in 1995, Pixar released their first feature film and the first-ever computer-animated feature film with Toy Story, which soon became one of the most iconic movies to date. 24 years later, and Pixar are back with their 21st film, expanding the Toy Story franchise with Toy Story 4.

Directed by Josh Cooley and with voices from Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Key and Peele and Annie Potts comes Toy Story 4. Two years after Andy has given Bonnie his old toys, she is about to begin kindergarten and continues to play with all her toys, except Woody. On Kindergarten Orientation Day, Woody sneaks into her bag to accompany her, and she returns home with a new friend she literally made, Forky, who soon becomes Bonnie’s favourite toy. Bonnie and her family then embark on a road trip where midway through, Forky jumps out of a window because he doesn’t believe he is a toy. It’s down to Woody with the help of old friends, like Buzz and Bo Peep, and new friends, like Duke Caboom‚ and Ducky and Bunny to help reunite Bonnie with her favourite toy and save the day.

The way I judged the characters in Toy Story 4 was by the emotion conveyed by their voice actor and the relationship that the character had with others in the film. Woody is once again voiced by Tom Hanks who brings a lovable charm to the character. Hanks nailed the emotion within Woody’s voice, whether it be in the joy of finding Bo Peep again or the sadness in leaving his old friends behind to live with Bo Peep and her friends. Tim Allen is also back to voice Buzz Lightyear, who, like Hanks, did an excellent job in voicing his character. Though it wasn’t liked by some, I quite enjoyed the ‘inner voice’ aspect of Buzz. It not only conveyed a nice message for the audience about following your heart but was also a good addition to Buzz’s character that we could see in future Toy Story films. Annie Potts has returned to voice Bo Peep, 20 years after Toy Story 2. It was brilliant to have her reunited with the gang and her voice for Bo Peep was something that added to the film in a way that, with other characters, added to its enjoyability. I’ve mentioned Hanks, Allen and Potts as they are arguably the main characters in the film, but the relationship between each and every character was done fantastically, both by the voice actors and the animators. If you think about relationships between certain characters, like Bo Peep and Buzz or Woody and Duke Caboom, they have been orchestrated expertly with the tone from the voice actors and the body language from the animators. For me, this has improved massively over time for Pixar and made Toy Story 4 a better movie. I felt that though he was advertised as a main character, we could’ve seen more of Tony Hale’s Forky. Majority of his lines were screaming ‘gah’ and I would’ve liked to have more from a character that was heavily advertised in trailers and posters. It’s also worth noting how much I loved the new additions to the Toy Story family. Without Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky, Jordan Peele as Bunny and Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom, the film wouldn’t have been as funny or as good as it was, but then again, it wasn’t one of the better Toy Story movies.

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Woody and Bo Peep enlist the help of Duke Caboom to help save Forky

The animation in Toy Story was gorgeous and it really added to my enjoyment of the film. Recently, Pixar released a series of individual character posters for Toy Story 4 (found here) which, if you look closely, shows the spectacular amount of detail put into the animation and design of these characters, my favourite being the scuff marks on Woody’s hat and the material used to make Bullseye. Compare this to the animation from 1995’s Toy Story and it’s evident to see the incredible strides made by Pixar in their animation over this time.

As fun as a sequel that Toy Story 4 was, it did feel rather unnecessary. The story could’ve been left at Toy Story 3, but Toy Story 4 did open the door for the potential of more Toy Story sequels in the future. I also felt that in Toy Story 4 some of the “older” characters like Rex or Jessie were ignored to make way for the newer characters who could carry the franchise forward, like Duke Caboom or Ducky and Bunny. Even though some of the “older” characters were sidelined in Toy Story 4, I really loved that Pixar was able to integrate the enjoyability from previous films and their characters with the newer characters. I found myself wanting more from Ducky and Bunny and Duke Caboom and their adventures with Woody and Bo Peep and Giggle McDimples.

Though it wasn’t the best film of all time either, especially not in the Toy Story series, Toy Story 4 was still a good movie. Perhaps I’ve grown up which may be why the film didn’t meet my hopes for it, but regardless, there is certainly a message for all in Toy Story 4; you may be “lost” in your life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are “lost”. Take Woody’s storyline over the movies. He was Andy’s favourite toy who’d seen competition through Buzz, the loss of friends like Bo Peep and Wheezy, but gained new friends like Jessie and Buzz, and has also suffered the terrors of daycare and losing your owner. By Toy Story 4, Woody is done. Bonnie doesn’t play with him and he’s abandoned, as he feels that his job of making a child happy is over. But he reunites with Bo Peep, one of his best friends who’s now shown him a new way of life. A new way to bring happiness to children. His life has meaning again and he is fulfilling his purpose as a toy. Though he has no owner and is classified as a lost toy, he has actually found himself. 

Toy Story 4 gets a 7.2/10. It’s not the best movie in the Toy Story series but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad movie. Toy Story 4 carries a sweet story that made me reminiscent of my childhood. The voice acting, particularly from Hanks, Potts and Allen, combined with Pixar’s gorgeous animation, helped to make the film more enjoyable in a movie that leaves open the possibility for future Toy Story sequels.

Thanks for reading this review. I’m sorry I haven’t published a review in such a long time, it’s been a hectic couple of months, but I’m back with some more reviews coming soon. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews when they are published.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m off on holiday for some time, so join me in a few weeks for the review of a Martin Scorsese classic. See you then!

The Silence of the Lambs: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #47

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One of the most notorious movies of all time is the Silence of the Lambs. It’s got brilliant acting, iconic quotes and brought something new to cinema screens. It even won the Big Five at the 1992 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay). I’d heard so much about it and finally got the chance to watch it (and check it off my watchlist). This week’s review is the Silence of the Lambs.

Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, the Silence of the Lambs is based on the book of the same title. It follows Clarice Starling, a young student at the FBI’s training academy. As she is a top student, Jack Crawford enlists her help to interview Dr Hannibal Lecter, one of the craftiest and violent psychopaths. Lecter is currently serving lifetime behind bars for his acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford needs Clarice to interrogate Lecter as he may hold information about a new psychopathic murderer on the rise, Buffalo Bill. Clarice holds the key to extracting the information out of Lecter and stopping the graphic murders.

Anthony Hopkins played the criminally insane and psychopathic Dr Hannibal Lecter, who is admittedly one of the best movie characters ever. Hopkins portrayal of a creepy, cannibalistic psychopath was so brilliantly and perfectly executed that Anthony Hopkins rightfully earnt his Oscar award for Best Male Actor. The role of Clarice Starling was played by Jodie Foster. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic performance, and it was definitely award-worthy, but maybe not Oscar-worthy. She was well suited to play Clarice, and there aren’t many people who could have delivered a better performance than Foster, but I couldn’t help but feel that her delivery was lacking ever so slightly in a couple of areas. One was her vocal delivery, as I found it quite monotone at parts. I can’t quite put my finger on the other area. Having said that, the way Foster and Hopkins portrayed their characters when Clarice and Lecter were interacting with each other was so amazingly done. Buffalo Bill was the main antagonist and was played by Ted Levine. I thought the way Levine played Buffalo Bill was very well done on his part but would have liked to have seen more of his character.

The way the film came to life from the book was well done on Demme’s part. It created mystery and suspense in a way that left me intrigued by the film. The storyline is quite straightforward and, with the help of good music and acting, is produced into a film that kept me interested throughout and on the edge of my seat. The film also tended not to suffer from giving too much away via exposition but it did happen in a few places.

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Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter have a dramatic encounter.

Now for my favourite parts. I loved the opening of the film. It had dramatic music that left us in suspense and immediately got me thinking ‘who is the girl, why is she running through the woods?’. It used no exposition to give this away and was done smoothly in a way that I enjoyed. Then the joint best scene was up next, and it was the first meeting between Clarice and Lecter. It was such a perfect introduction to Lecter’s creepily psychopathic cannibalistic character and the interaction between the two was something brilliant to watch. The film dies down for a while but is still interesting. The next scene I enjoyed most when Lecter was being held at the cage prison cell in Tennessee and he attacks the guards and escapes his cell. This entire scene (including the reveal of Lecter wearing one of the guards faces as a mask) was so crazy and exciting to watch and was perfectly delivered in terms of its visual depiction on screen. I liked the whole system of figuring out which order the victims were in, but what really got me was the plot twist of Clarice knocking on Buffalo Bill’s door when it was set up to be the FBI at Buffalo Bill’s house. The entire scene of Clarice fighting against Bill was fantastic and was made even better by the night vision fight. Lastly, the film’s end was the perfect ending to the Silence of the Lambs. It saw Hannibal Lecter having escaped prison phoning Clarice from Bimini. The camera cuts over to Frederick Chilton (Dr Lecter’s nemesis) walking through Bimini before Dr Lecter ominously tells Clarice that he’s ‘having an old friend for dinner’ before hanging up the phone and stalking Chilton through a crowd of people.

Overall, I’m giving the Silence of the Lambs an 8.4/10. Jonathan Demme’s great directorial skills were combined with some of the best acting I’ve seen from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster (whose admittedly was not as good as Hopkins, but was brilliant nonetheless) and an interesting story from Thomas Harris made for a fantastically enjoyable and awesome movie.

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Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for the review of a comedy movie, and while the film may not be the best, it sure is hilarious. See you then!

American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

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One of my favourite types of movies are those based on true stories. These feature Goodfellas, Selma, BlackKklansman, Hidden Figures and, most recently, American Animals. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting. I was lucky enough to attend a screening in London followed by a Q&A with director Bart Layton. It was a fantastic experience and I had an amazing time. Here is my review of American Animals.

Directed by Bart Layton and starring Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters is a cinematic depiction of a true crime caper. When Spencer Reinhard begins studying at the University of Transylvania, he discovers a book in the library that is worth $12 million. He tells his best friend, Warren Lipka, who decides the pair, accompanied by Lipka’s other friends, will steal the book and make their millions. However, unforeseen circumstances play their part and the heist goes horribly wrong.

Evan Peters took on the role of Warren Lipka, the brains behind the heist. Evan Peters was very well suited to play Warren Lipka and he was great in this film. Peters acting ability is so brilliant and his talent shone throughout this film, particularly when he was expressing his feelings, like the desire to steal the book or the anger when it all falls apart. Warren’s primary partner in crime was Spencer Reinhard, played by Barry Keoghan. I preferred Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here), but Keoghan doesn’t have much range. His voice is quite monotonous and depressing and, while that suited the latter part of the film, the half of Spencer being happy and actually kind of enjoying life was just mismatched to Keoghan’s acting ability.  Jared Abrahamson played Eric Borsuk, a quiet and reluctant member of the heist. He was well played, especially for being a quiet and shy crew member, but I felt there could have been more of his character. The final heist member was Chas Allen, played brilliantly by Blake Jenner. Allen’s character was reluctant to join and was the most vocal member of the group when it came to not doing the heist. I loved the way that Jenner played Chas as he immersed himself in the role and delivered a good performance.

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Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) plans out the heist and getaway.

The music was brilliant throughout the movie. Though it was a little cliché in places (Using ‘A Little Less Conversation’ for the dream heist scene), it overall used good music that was suited to the movie and made it more enjoyable to watch. The best use was ‘Who By Fire’ by Leonard Cohen, for when the police come to arrest the guys for their crimes. It beautifully juxtaposed what was happening in the movie and made for a great scene.

Since the story is something that happened in real life, you can’t really critique it, but you can discuss how it was portrayed on the screen. Honestly, Bart Layton did such a brilliant job with the direction of the film. The opening was so stylish and created a tone of mystery that had me hooked for what would be shown throughout the film. The use of cutting between the men in real life in the present after the crime (with the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen in the film) and them describing what happened with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan playing the younger versions of the men who carried out the heist. The scene transitions were sleek and carried the film nicely, leaving me more invested into what the film was showing. The film showed how the boy’s memory was unreliable and it had the same scene but with different little details in places that made the film more interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the film was seeing how the heist was planned out and how it took place. It was also great to see a Reservoir Dogs reference by code names like Mr Pink (and Chas getting mad about it like Steve Buscemi did). When asked yesterday, Layton explained that one of his biggest influences for the style of his direction in American Animals came from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino. In Dog Day Afternoon, a bank robbery goes horribly wrong from the start. You can see how Layton draws inspiration from Dog Day Afternoon to bring the story of American Animals to life.

Overall, American Animals gets an 8.2/10 from me. I actually cannot wait to watch this film again. It may have been a little dull in places and could have had more development but makes for a brilliant movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

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Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a Black Mirror episode review. See you then!

Elf: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #43

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As it’s Christmas very soon, I decided to review one of the most festive movies around. Usually, when you say Christmas movies, the first films that pop into people’s minds are Die Hard (review here), Home Alone and Elf. Seeing as I reviewed Die Hard last week, Elf was next in line to be reviewed.

Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man and next year’s The Lion King), Elf tells the story of Buddy, a human who is accidentally taken to the North Pole as a baby and raised as an elf. When Buddy grows up, it is revealed to him that he is actually a human. Buddy’s decides to travel to New York to meet his father, Walter Hobbs, who is a grinch. What follows is a sweet and hilarious story about family and Christmas.

Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf and one of Ferrell’s most notorious roles to date. He brings a sweet charm and enthusiasm combined with a childlike naivety to Buddy’s character that makes him lovable and a hilarious character. It does reach a point of Buddy being a bit of a nuisance in places, but nonetheless, Buddy is a great character who is brilliantly played by Will Ferrell. Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s grinchy father, is played wonderfully by James Caan. Though Walter Hobbs was the main antagonist in Elf, the way that Caan played Hobbs was done well and his acting ability was put to good use in the film. Of course, there was a love interest in this film, and it was Jovie, a shop assistant at Gimbels, who was played by Zooey Deschanel. Jovie was a good character and all, but I felt she was just put in to lengthen the run-time and create a few more comedic moments in the film. Elf also featured Peter Dinklage, who played Miles Finch. Honestly, I’ve seen Elf about 10 times and can’t remember who he has. All I can remember is Buddy chasing him and mistaking him for an elf. Dinklage did a great job playing Miles Finch, but he was just a forgettable character.

The music was classic Christmas stuff (Let it Snow, Rocking Around the Christmas tree, Sleigh ride and so forth) which was well suited to the film. I liked the song choices throughout the film as it made the movie more enjoyable to watch. There’s nothing to criticise here.

ELF, Will Ferrell and Artie Lange, 2003 (screen grab)CR: New Line Cinema

Buddy discovers​ that the Gimbel’s Santa is not the real Santa.

Elf’s storyline is one that is quite smart and straightforward, a human who is raised as an elf is sent to reconnect with his human family but his dad is a grinch. The human tries to convince his dad to enjoy Christmas time and hijinks occur. It’s where additional parts are thrown into the film that it starts to deteriorate. You have so many subplots squeezed in to get more laughs out of the audience, and it worked in some places but flopped in others. It’s evident that Will Ferrell really enjoyed making this film and he really put everything into making this a great film, but I felt that too much was packed into what was an already good film. The comedy was well done by Ferrell, and it’s clear that he’s mastered the art of making people laugh. It was mainly the additional subplots that ruined the film.

Overall, Elf gets a 7.2/10 from me. It was a good movie that featured great comedy from Will Ferrell but threw too much into the film to make it longer. Admittedly, Elf is not Jon Favreau’s greatest work but nonetheless is a good film. To get you in the festive feeling, Elf is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Also, follow my blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I hope you all have a merry Christmas and join me next week for a yearly look at the best movies and TV shows we were treated to in 2018. See you then!

The Shining: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #37

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Seeing as it’s Halloween soon, I thought I’d review a horror movie. If you know me in real life, you’ll know I hate horror movies. I don’t see the point. Why pay money to be scared? When it comes to horror movies, I’m out. However, there’s no point reviewing movies if you avoid one genre. So I put my hate of horror aside and watched one of the most notorious and classic horror movies, The Shining. Here is my review of it.

Based on Stephen King’s novel and from director Stanley Kubrick is The Shining. Writer Jack Torrance becomes a winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in an attempt to get over his writer’s block and moves in with his family. There, his son, Danny experiences demonic visions. While Jack’s still stuck in writer’s block, Danny’s visions only become more disturbing. Jack begins to explore the hotel and uncovers more of its dark secrets, causing him to go down the path of insanity and leading him to terrorise his family.

Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance, the normal-turned-psychotic author. The Shining is easily Nicholson’s famous role. His acting in this film was brilliant, as you can see the slight but eventual slip into insanity. Nicholson captures the true essence of a disturbed, murderous man and his portrayal of this is not only iconic but also what makes The Shining so good. Danny Lloyd played Danny Torrance, Jack’s son who experiences the telepathic ability of ‘shining’, where someone who can shine is able to telepathically communicate with others and also see into the past and future. Danny Lloyd played Danny when he was six/seven years old, and for such a young actor performing in this role, he did such a brilliant and commendable job. Lloyd made the film more engaging and allowed the viewer to connect with his character, experiencing fear and horror just as he did. Shelley Duvall played Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife. Wendy experiences her husbands slip into insanity first hand and the way Duvall depicts this on the big screen is wonderfully done. I felt her performance was lacking in a few areas, but generally, I liked what she did with Wendy’s character.

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Another classic scene from cinematic history, the Grady twins in the hotel corridor.

The music was absolutely brilliant. It was hauntingly beautiful and chilling, adding to the eerieness of the movie. The best scene for music is when Jack escapes from the pantry and hacking his way through the hotel on a murderous rampage against his family. The music is at a spine-chilling theme which is almost in sync with your heart rate and BAM! Jack bursts through the bathroom door in the iconic ‘Here’s Johnny!’ scene. True movie magic from a brilliant actor.

The Shining has become one of the most iconic movies of all time. It’s because it takes something so simple and does rely on an ancient backstory of some sort to create a story. All you need is a family, a hotel, winter and just a brief summary of the ability to shine. From there, just have some brilliant acting, some surprising twists and turns and create an atmosphere that leaves people on the edge of their seats and that’s how you make a great horror movie. The Shining has all of this but was one of the first horror movies that actually earned a name for itself. From the bloody elevator to Room 237, not forgetting the twins, The Shining uses chilling music combined with an uneasy silence to scare viewers in a way that is unforgettable and sticks with them for life.

For someone who’s a hater of horror movies, The Shining was a good film and gets an 8.2/10 from me. It doesn’t play into the typical field of having killer clowns and creepy toys with jump scares to frighten the audience. It’s a psychological horror, that constantly plays with your mind through music and the uncertainty of what could happen next.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Self-five to me for getting through a horror movie! (🙏🏽) Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes and more! Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews!

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m in China for the next eight days on a school trip so there won’t be a review next week. But join me in two weeks time when I review a movie related to China somehow. Zai Jian!

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #30

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

Something that is becoming (and is still growing) increasingly popular in terms of movies is taking a film in a genre and putting a twist of some sort on it to help it appeal to a wider audience. I took the two earliest and most notorious examples of this, a spy movie and a buddy cop movie and pitted them against each other in a poll on Instagram (@ryans.movie.reviews, give us a follow please). Kingsman: The Secret Service beat 21 Jump Street with 56% of the vote, making it this weeks review.

From director Matthew Vaughn (also known for X-Men: First Class and Kickass) and with a fantastic cast including Taron Egerton and Samuel L Jackson is the story of  the Kingsmen, a British secret service group. The Kingsmen are a group of elite gentlemanly spies who are looking for a new recruit. Among the applicants is Eggsy, a young man from a tough background, who is up against privately educated for the job spot. Eggsy has to battle it out against the other applicants to secure his spot at the best secret agency in the world. At the same time, a new threat in the form of an eco-terrorist who wants to kill half the world rises (sounds like Thanos) and it’s down to the Kingsmen to bring him down.

Let me start by saying how enormously fun and awesome this movie was. It came out of nowhere and was instantly loved by people all over the world, and it’s rare that something like this happens. The most recent example that I can think of for this is Baby Driver. Our protagonist is Gary Unwin, nicknamed and referred to as Eggsy (for some reason) throughout the film. Played by Taron Egerton, Eggsy is your average London tough guy, who has a less than decent home life. The way that Egerton combines a rough gangster-like attitude with a softer and more delicate side was highly commendable. Supposing that Egerton was only 23 when he did this, it was quite a terrific performance. Egerton makes Eggsy a relatable and awesome character, and is part of the reason why myself and audiences aroun the world loved this film so much. The villain in this film is Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L Jackson. And it’s fair to say that he was one of the best parts of Kingsman. Valentine in an internet billionaire who wants to cure the world by eradicating as many people as possible to stop the destruction of mother Earth. He gives out free SIM cards (or cellphone chips) to the world, but programs them so that he can trigger a series of neurological brain waves that make people go on a murderous rampage. It was fun to see Jackson play a villain, but also evident to tell that he had a blast playing Valentine. His lisp was spot on and he had reasoning, and he was a good villain that made the film really good. Assisting Valentine is his sidekick, Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella. She was a great character and her action scenes were fantastic, but I would have liked to have seen more from her. In his fight against Valentine and Gazelle, Eggsy is not alone. He is supported by Merlin, Harry Hart and Roxy. Merlin was played by Mark Strong, who was one of my favourite characters in this film. He provided a fair amount of humour that made this film more enjoyable. Colin Firth played Harry Hart, Eggsy’s mentor and a Kingsman spy. He was an amazing character, and his action scenes were stunning. Lastly, we had Roxy who was played by Sophie Cookson. Again, she was a good character and I liked her, but she too could have been used more in the film. I feel like we were kind of just forced to like her. With Eggsy, that love came somewhat more naturally. I felt that some of the characters were a little wasted, particularly Gazelle. I’d have honestly liked to have seen more about the history of Kingsmen, but if Matthew Vaughn is going to/might make a sequel-prequel about it, then that’d be much better.

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Chaos breaks out in the unforgettably amazing church scene.

The music in Kingsman had mixed reactions from me. The songs were smartly selected so that they fit the scenes perfectly. From Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal to Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the songs where something that I wouldn’t change. However, the music soundtrack composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson could have been better. It was good but honestly overused and reached a point of irritation. It was just the same dramatic Kingsman theme repeated over and over again with maybe a change in pitch or tone to suit the mood.

The plot idea of Kingsman was smart. It took a classic spy cliché of all spies being gentlemen and put a nice little twist on it, by showing that the common man is just as capable of being a spy, as well as a woman being able to do it as well. There were a few potholes, like if Valentine was trying to use someone elses satellite to make the connection for his V-Day plan, it would surely be a longer process then something that took like 30 seconds in the film.

There were admittedly a lot of scenes that I loved from Kingsman, despite it being a little dull in places. The opening to Dire Strait’s ‘Money for Nothing’ was a perfect introduction to the film and set the tone immediately. I loved the scene with Eggsy stealing Dean’s car and driving backwards with it as it was just so much fun to watch but also served as a secret character development scene for us to learn about Eggsy’s skills. The next best scene easily goes to the famous ‘manners maketh man’ scene, where Colin Firth shines in a fantastic (yet shakey cam) fight that makes audiences even more excited for what’s to come. Then we had the underwater escape room, which was pretty cool to watch. The next few things were bit boring, but I love the sky-diving scene. We had a cool scene with Gazelle fighting some guards but she should have been used more in the film. After that, the next best scene was a scene that is one of my all-time favourite scenes in cinema history. The iconic church scene to Free Bird’s epic rock guitar was gory, bloody, adrenaline pumping, awesome and just so incredible that you have to rewatch that scene again and again and again to fully appreciate its awesomeness. Rewatch it again here to fully appreciate truly how amazing the scene is. I guess the ending fight between Eggsy and Gazelle was pretty good, but I would have liked it to have had a bit more action to it. The fights between the people on the streets were really cool and fun to watch, especially with ‘Give It Up’ as the background music, but I would have loved to have seen more of it. The music kept getting cut off with some of the same dramatic music and the scene kept being cut to Valentine getting angry about his tech not working. Vaughn, you got something great here and I loved it, but you kept ruining it!

I think it’s worth mentioning my thoughts on the sequel too, seeing as it’s part of the Kingsman-verse. The Golden Circle ripped off its predecessor and was worse than the original. The original was good, I loved it, but the Golden Circle was just copying and pasting what the first film did but a new villain, a higher budget and more stars.

Overall, Kingsman: The Secret Service gets an 8.1/10. Though it lacked in some areas, it had a great villain, the right amount of humour and incredible action, putting a twist on a classic movie genre.

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Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review, and I’ll see you next week when I review a new drama/crime film that’s actually based on a true story. See you then!