Tiny Beam of Light

Shining a tiny beam of light on some great films you might not know existed (and the odd blockbuster too).

Kick-Ass 2 (2013) dir: Jeff Wadlow

I loved Kick-Ass (see my original Kick-Ass write up!) and thought it truly great.

Or to put it in perspective: my wife hates comic book movies.  Her verdicts:

The Dark Knight: “Boring.” She’s watched it three times, but only the first 10 minutes on each occasion.

Watchman: “Fuck off.  It’s a little boys film.”

Spider-man 2:  Fell asleep. I remember this was on my birthday – a day when I can choose to do anything (it’s my BIRTHDAY for CHRISSAKE!) We went to see it after 3 hours of arguing about my choice.

Avengers Assemble? Don’t even go there…she’d been ruined by the first two Hulk movies.

And she is not at all keen on extreme movie violence either.

Double whammy.  So I dragged her kicking and screaming to see the original Kick-Ass . At the end of the movie, as the credits rolled, she turned to me and said: “I’d see that again”.

And we have. Loads! So she was dead keen to see the sequel as well! Hurrah!

I know Kick-Ass 2 has had some shoddy reviews but that doesn’t always reflect the enjoyment that you can get from watching a movie. So…

Dave (Kick-Ass) and Mindy (Hit-Girl) are now at high school, Chris (Red-Mist) wants revenge on Kick-Ass for the death of his Dad in Kick-Ass the Original and to become the worlds first super-villain. Dave wants to train to be a real superhero, Mindy decides to quit as Hit-Girl and to become accepted amongst her bitchy high school peers, so Dave/Kick-Ass teams up with some other superheroes.

It all goes pear-shaped. As does the film.

First 30 minutes in and I’m wondering… what the fuck has happened? Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Chloë Grace Moretz. Christopher Mintz-Plasse. All great actors. But they’re delivering lines flat and gurning away in their close-ups – they’re just…bad. Did the director not turn up, just go home early or what? I found it painful to watch.  Thank heavens for John Leguizamo and Morris Chestnut in their roles.

Then Colonel Star & Stripes (Jim Carey) arrives. We start to get a few good lines, however now we’re getting some odd edits and the fight scenes are choppy.  But at least the movie is finally becoming entertaining – super villain side-kick Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina) makes use of a lawnmower in a pretty novel way – and the story is picking up… and it stays “entertaining” all the way to the end.

Hell there is even a particularly nice action sequence with Hit Girl atop a moving  van as she’s being shot at.  She clambers all over it as it speeds along (what looks like very British countryside) and takes out the bad guys – knocking them under and over the other traffic . Unfortunately it didn’t half remind me of the good (or bad) days of the Sir Roger Moore James Bond movies:  great action, brilliant stunt work, nice humour, cut to actor – shit fake background – sequence ruined.

And I think that is the problem. It’s a fake Kick-Ass movie. Pretending to be Kick-Ass the Original. Photocopying all that was great about the Kick-Ass the Original but really only a faded and skewiff two dimensional Xerox.

So ultimately “entertaining” but a major disappointment.  My wife agrees.

I wonder if they’ll let me direct Kick-Ass 3?

Filed under: action, comic book, fantasy, film, martial arts, Must Read, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kick-Ass (2010) dir: Matthew Vaughn

So busy trying to get my own film up and running that it’s taken me over a week to write this up. And yes it’s not really a small movie as it cost $30m, but it’s an indie movie made to look and compete with Hollywood fair.

Arron Johnson is a high school kid who loves comic books. He poses this question. Why aren’t there any real super heroes? So he buys a wet suit and mask and decides to fight crime as ‘Kick-Ass’. And immediately finds out why there aren’t real crime fighting super heroes. However, he becomes a youtube sensation and comes to the attention of Father and Daughter crime fighting team ‘Big Daddy’ (aka Damon Macready aka Nic Cage) and ‘Hitgirl’ (aka Mindy Macready aka Chloë Grace Moretz). ‘Nuff said.

It’s these last two characters and their relationship that really elevates an already good movie to greatness. This is also easily Nic Cage’s best film in ages – it’s almost like his character here is an older, slightly more domesticated ‘Sailor Ripley ‘ (his character in Wild at Heart) – you can imagine ‘Hit Girl’ being his offspring. And Chloë Grace Moretz, a seasoned actress already at 13, is, to put it bluntly, amazing.

Sure it is going to upset some members of the audience, what with a little girl killing and maiming the bad guys as expletives roll off her tongue. But this is a comic book movie, made by comic book fans, and in conjunction with, the great comic book writer Mark Millar. Often laugh out loud and jaw dropping. The script by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn just zings with energy and although there is plenty of action it’s often the small scenes that are so memorable. My favourite is a quiet little interlude where dad Damon and his little girl Mindy are sitting in a diner eating ice cream sodas together, and she’s telling him what she wants for her birthday. And she asking for (I think!) a puppy dog and all sorts of girly fluffy toys – all the while her dad’s face is drooping with disappointment and sadness. Then Mindy looks into her dad’s eyes and goes. “I’m just fucking with you Daddy!” and then describes the lethal weaponry that she’d really like and his face lights up with pride and happiness!

Matthew Vaughn directs with utter control as the film could have easily have been terrible. His best work yet.

I loved it and can’t wait to see it again. Even my wife who pretty much hates comic book related films (she was bored by The Dark Knight for goodness sake and refused to come to Watchmen) was converted and has stated that she would be happy to accompany me! All is well in my household.

Filed under: action, comic book, film, martial arts, , , , , ,

Watchmen (2009) dir: Zack Snyder

This is (obviously) not a small movie, but I’m making an exception. It’s my blog.

First off lets put some credentials up. It was ‘2000AD’ that got me properly into comic books.  I first read ‘Watchmen’ in 1987. My favourite Alan Moore characters are ‘D.R. and Quinch’ (created with Alan Davis) and ‘John Constantine’.

My favourite comic book of all time is ‘Preacher’ (I’ve been following the development of this from a film to be directed by Rachel Talalay with Johnny Depp and Robert Carlisle 10 years ago to now, maybe a tv mini-series written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson (director of DareDevil through to Ghostrider).

I thought ‘Y: The Last Man’ was great (now maybe a movie with Shia LaBeouf) and I’m currently reading ‘DMZ’. I know everyone loves it but I was a bit disappointed by Garth Ennis’ ‘Dan Dare’. There’s more but this blogs about film not comic books.

Right then. So the movie world continues to adapt comic books to movies – hoping to mine that creative seam of gold.

This is surprisingly faithful to the comic book and loads of scenes actually match Dave Gibbons’ panels. The characters are spot on and Jackie Earle Haley is Rorschach – right off the page. In fact they’re all good, though Adrian Veidt could have done with some more screen time.  And there aren’t that many compromises either – like the comic book it’s dark, dirty and violent.  So Paramount, I think, has been pretty brave in doing this movie – you can’t take the kids to see it – which is kind of bizarre as I first read ‘Watchmen’ as a kid.

I was actually pretty amazed at how much of the original story Zack Snyder and his team managed to pack in with all the intricacies and character details. And it really works as a film –  though the ending seemed a bit rushed and there were a couple of plot points from the book that I personally think don’t quite work on the big screen (the Comedian confessing to Moloch for example). Then again the movie is already just shy of 3 hours and I could have happily sat through another hour.

The fight scenes have a nasty (in a cool filmic way) crunch to them and though I’m generally not a fan of slow-mo it actually works within the style of the film.  There’s the odd dodgy fx near the end in a film that has some fantastic visual moments but I’m not complaining.  I’m delighted. ‘Watchmen’ could have been god awful.  The best Alan Moore film adaptation so far.  All in all I’m a very satisfied customer. And the soundtrack was pretty good as well.

There’s no ‘Tales of the Black Freighter’ – apparently that will be on the DVD with a longer version of the film.

I’m going to see it again in a couple of weeks.

Filed under: action, comic book, fantasy, film, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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