Friday, September 29, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Manners maketh man!

Kingsman:  The Golden Circle – 4 out of 5

I’ll never forget seeing Kingsman:  The Secret Service in the theaters for the first time.  I just had an absolute blast because the movie was just incredibly fun with its amazing cast and it provided some awesome and brutal action.  I was very excited when it was announced they were doing a sequel and when I saw the first trailer for it, I was bursting with anticipation.  Now that I finally found some time to get to the theater and check out Kingsman:  The Golden Circle, I found the sequel was pretty damn entertaining but, like most sequels, not quite living up to its predecessor.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
I wish I was half as cool as this man.

After the events of the previous film, secret spy Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has taken over the title of Galahad and is living the sweet life as he saves the world and comes home to his Princess of Sweden girlfriend; Tilde (Hanna Alström).  However, after an attack leaves the Kingsman in ruins, Eggsy and the only other remaining agent left; Merlin (Mark Strong), are forced to travel to America and enlist the help of the Statesman, the Kingsman’s American counterpart.  With the help of their agents; tech and field support agent; Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), hot shot agents Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and their head honcho Champ (Jeff Bridges), the team uncovers a nefarious plot from a bubbly drug lord named Poppy (Julianne Moore).  With the help of a failed Kingsman candidate; Charlie (Edward Holcroft), she has poisoned the world’s illicit drug supply and she’s the only one with the antidote.  Now it’s up to the remnants of Kingsman and the Statesman to stop her…and alongside a little help after Eggsy and Merlin learn that their American friends saved Harry (Colin Firth) and he’s now alive and ready to educate some people on manners.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
That's a lot of badass in one photo.

Most sequels can’t quite match or exceed what came before them, especially if the first film is amazing and one holds it in high regard—like I do with Kingsman.  Sure, there’s some moments here and there where you have a sequel that you enjoy more or even equally but I’m not going to sit here and try to claim that I liked The Golden Circle as much or greater than I did The Secret Service.  That being said, I didn’t hate this film (as you can see from my score) and I actually found it to be very fun.  Director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn wasn’t able to capture lightning in a bottle a second time but he was able to throw out some of the core essence that made the first one enjoyable.

                                                                                                         20th Century Fox
Stay out of Malibu, Lebowski.

I really enjoyed the cast in this one, both the returning members and the new faces.  Egerton really shows off how good of an actor he really is as we see Eggsy as a full-fledge member of Kingsman.  Strong is still very fun as Merlin and Firth just has that special magic about him that makes him undeniably charming.  The new members like Tatum, Pascal, Bridges, and Berry were all very good in their roles and made their characters very entertaining.  However, I would have liked to see more from Berry because I felt like her character and the arc they sorta tacked on for her towards the end was overlooked.  Special mention has to be made for Julianne Moore as the villain Poopy.  I really found her very amusing as she was able to take a character that is both threatening and bubbly and make it work.  Finally, I have to mention the outrageous cameo from Elton John as he played a fictitious version of himself.  I’m a big fan of John and his music and his role was so entertaining and brought in a lot of laughs.

                                                                                                           20th Century Fox
She was a fun villain...and thorough.  (If you're keeping track, that's two
references to The Big Lebowski in this review!)

Story-wise, I really enjoyed this one.  Granted, if you boil this one down enough you can say it is just the same thing as the last one as it involves a megalomaniac who is on a course that will kill an insane amount of the world’s population but I never really felt like I was watching the same story all over again.  I won’t deny the similarities but I don’t feel like it was just a rehash either.  There are some minor elements, however, to the story that I wasn’t a fan of.  For example, there are a lot of factors at play here with the return of Harry and the establishment of new heroes, a new villain and a new evil plan to thwart.  A lot of character backstory gets lost in the mix as they add in a needless character twist that comes out of nowhere at the end and, even though it resulted in a great action scene, it felt superfluous, and there’s also the sloppy handling of Eggsy relationship with Tilde. For the most part, their evolution is fine and there’s some decent development from Eggsy as a responsible partner but because the story has so much packed into it, it felt slightly lost amongst everything else.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
You know what else got lost?  Having Tatum in more of the movie.
I love that guy!

From an action perspective, this one was a mix bag and didn’t even come close to the first one.  Most of the fight scenes were really hard to see what was occurring because Vaughn had the camera directly in the action.  It’s possible that on a smaller screen at home these sequences might be easier to see but for most of the fights, it was hard to process what was happening and who it was happening to.  However, this problem felt completely rectified during the film’s climax as a big shoot out and a battle is done excellently.  I had no problem seeing that action and Vaughn was still able to present it in a slick and very fun way.

All-in-all, I had a lot of fun watching this movie and found some small, very minor issues here and there but none of them were really that bad.  However, there was one thing about the story that really bothered me and it was horribly uncomfortable to watch.  During the course of their investigation to find the antidote, Eggsy and Whiskey have to go to a music festival in order to compromise the girlfriend of Charlie and get information out of her.  Because this series likes to lampoon James Bond, some seduction is in order and that’s fine in and of itself but this part kinda went a step too far.  I won’t go into the finer details of what this mission involved but it was very uncomfortable and felt completely out of place when compared to the rest of the film.  It kinda felt juvenile and perverted, to be honest.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
I'll be honest, when I first saw Pascal in the trailer
I thought he was Justin Timberlake.

I realize I sound like a prude and this complaint shows my social justice warrior side but I couldn’t escape how uncomfortable this scene made me.  Granted, Eggsy having to…um…do things with another woman did set up some conflict between him and Tilde and this event would later have an impact on the character of Charlie but a big part of it felt less like it was mocking the themes that James Bond always employs as that property has a habit of treating its women like sex toys and more like it was just giving in to the Bond treatment and just embracing treating women like sex toys and nothing else.  The anal sex joke in first film ruffled some feathers from some viewers but I was behind (no pun intended) that one because it felt like Vaughn was actively making fun of the ridiculous nature of Bond’s sexual themes but this scene that involve sexual activity with a female character in order to advance the plot just felt…well…gross.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
Still avoiding those awful Spoilers but the scene involves this young

There are some definite issues I had with Kingsman:  The Golden Circle (and one really big one that made me feel like I needed a shower) but the overall experience was a fun one.  I will also admit that the film kinda felt a bit long and like it was tacking on a second ending after the first initial ending didn’t come to a very satisfying conclusion but, once again, I still found the whole experience to be enjoyable.  Sequels are a difficult thing and it’s too easy for them to just try and repeat what’s already been done but The Golden Circle, I feel, delivered something that felt similar but also like it was its own animal in a newly growing franchise.  I didn’t go in with hopes that I’d see something better than what I saw before (because I think the first film is damn near perfect) but I went in hoping for something that gave me the same fun characters, wild and exciting action, and some wicked humor and that’s what it gave me.

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