Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen several movies with the guys of my house – my husband and my two sons (aged 22 and 16). The movies we watch together tend to be superhero or adventure movies, some in the theatre and some at home. With our lives keeping pretty busy, the watching has moved way ahead of the writing, so I am doing a couple of catch-up posts (with movies in no particular order).
The Dark Tower (2017):
You know, sometimes you should really believe the critics when they say a movie is bad. But my husband had read some of the books in the (non-horror) series by Stephen King and thought it could be fun. Unfortunately, even though it stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, this is really a terrible movie.
It’s a western sci-fi fantasy about an ongoing battle between good and evil in the form of the Last Gunslinger (Elba) and the Man in Black (McConaughey). The latter is trying to bring down the Dark Tower, which is essential to the world’s well-being, through the use and abuse of powerfully psychic children. Meanwhile, in our plane of existence, a seemingly troubled teenaged boy (but unknowingly a powerful psychic) is being haunted by images of the Gunslinger and the Man in Black. The story could be interesting, but the acting is extremely wooden and unbelievable, even by these well-respected actors. (By the way, when did McConaughey start looking like Christopher Walken?)
The one bright spot is now sixteen-year-old Tom Taylor, whose acting as the troubled teen is really good, for the most part. Taylor has been fantastic in the second season of the BBC series Doctor Foster. (Incidentally, he also played young Uhtred in The Last Kingdom series, which I haven’t seen yet.) If you were thinking of watching The Dark Tower, I’d strongly suggest giving it a miss.
Star Wars – The Last Jedi (2017):
Confession right up front — I am not the biggest Star Wars fan. But I really liked the prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (which we re-watched on New Year’s Eve) and also Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the latter movie, we were first introduced to heroes Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn and to the opposing force in the form of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. We also saw the nostalgic return of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and of course Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. I enjoyed seeing all three of them and thought that Harrison Ford did a great job. That movie had some real tension, explored relationships, and promised good things from the next two in the series.
However, while I did find The Last Jedi entertaining, I was not quite as impressed as I had been with The Force Awakens. I did enjoy the roles of Rey and Poe (Oscar Isaac), but I found the movie seemed a bit too long at 2 hours, 35 minutes. Mark Hamill’s acting style was cute when he was young, but to me he does not bring anything special to the role here (except being the original Luke Skywalker). Adam Driver’s acting in some of the key scenes is a bit overwrought. In addition to Rey and Poe, my favourite characters in this movie are the porgs, the bird-like creatures who are so funny, especially alongside the wookie. Overall, the movie is not my favourite but I was glad I saw this next instalment in the series and saw Carrie Fisher’s regal performance in her final movie. I’m curious now to see how the third movie will come together, given that apparently Carrie Fisher was supposed to have a central part.
Kinsgman: The Golden Circle (2017):
The first movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was such a lot of fun and had a unique take on the spy genre. In it, a suave and expert spy (Colin Firth) takes a young guy (Taron Egerton) going down the wrong path under his wing and brings him into spy school to ultimately help save the world.
I was a bit worried about whether this second movie would have the same charm, as they moved most of the action from London to Kentucky and brought in Channing Tatum with a broad put-on Kentucky accent. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as it is still action-packed with lots of cool gadgets and is quite funny, as long as you keep in mind that the American affiliate spies are really caricatures. They own a distillery and have code names like Tequila (Tatum), Champagne (Jeff Bridges), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal, seemingly styled after Burt Reynolds).
Somehow, the hair, make-up and costuming manage to make the beautiful Halle Berry disappear into her role as Ginger Ale, the underappreciated behind-the-scenes expert. And Elton John even has a funny role, playing himself! Colin Firth gets to show how he can play two different types of character really well. And Julianne Moore has a central role as a wonderfully insane genius of a villain, who provides the reason for the spies to save the world once again. Looks like they are setting up for a third movie, which seems like it might be back in London.
My one complaint about this otherwise fun movie is the “bathroom humour” and the few bits of sexist humour that are really unnecessary and that exist in so many comic movies nowadays. **Small Spoiler** Prime example of the latter is when they have to plant a bug that can only be placed where there is a mucus membrane… well you can imagine where. To me, not funny and for sure not necessary.
(First image from Amazon; remainder from IMDb.)