In the movies The Kingsmen are a secret spy organization whose members have manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy. They’ve been the subject of two movies, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now, three movies into director Matthew Vaughn’s spy franchise comes an origin story that takes us back to the early part of the 20th century and the confusing beginnings of these modern-day knights.
“The King’s Man,” now playing in theatres, begins with a tragedy that makes the wealthy and powerful Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) reject the Colonialism and violence that is the bedrock of his family’s fortune. He questions why he was killing people who were trying to protect their own land. “With every man I killed,” he said, “I killed a piece of myself.”
Meanwhile, as World War I approaches, an assembly of the world’s most despicable tyrants and villains, working for an evil mastermind with plans for world domination, are hatching a plan that could lead to genocide.
With the lives of millions at stake, and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) off to war, the Duke realizes he can’t rely on politicians to do the right thing. In an effort to save the world, he abandons his pacifist ways. With the help of his most trusted colleagues, swordsman Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and sharp shooter Polly (Gemma Arterton), he goes into the fray and sews the seeds for the formation of The Kingsmen, an organization that uses violence to attain peace.
The first two Kingsmen movies were overstuffed, but had a certain lightness of touch. Unfortunately, “The King’s Man” lands with a thud. A mix of fact (well, almost true stuff) and fiction—real life characters like Rasputin, the mad Russian monk (Rhys Ifans) are woven into the fanciful story—the movie is all over the place. It’s a spy story, a tale of duty, a slapstick comedy, an action film, a fractured fairy tale of world events.
Some of the action scenes are quite fun and Ifans eats so much scenery it feels like he’ll never go hungry again, but the story takes far too long to get going.
“The King’s Man” feels as though it is splintering off in all directions, like it’s three movies spliced-and-diced into one, bloated, messy sequel-ready story.
These days journalists aren’t just reporting the stories, often they are the story. Just ask Jim Acosta. A new film, “A Private War,” places the journalist front-and-centre while detailing a story from our recent past.
Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin, long serving war correspondent for The Sunday Times. For three decades she put herself in harm’s way, covering conflicts the world over. “I care enough to go to these places,” she says, “and write about it in a way that makes people want to care about it as much as I do.” While on assignment in Sri Lanka she loses an eye in a bomb blast. Later, when accused of being “stupid“ for going into that war zone she says “I think stupid is writing about the dinner party you went to last night.“
Years of witnessing bloodshed have taken a toll. “You’ve seen more war than most soldiers,” says her photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan). Plagued by nightmares, she would drink a quart of vodka to calm herself. Her PTSD didn’t keep her from the job, in fact it may have been the engine that kept her going.
In 2012 she, along with Conroy, embarked on her most dangerous assignment, covering the siege of Homs in Syria. Her reporting revealed the Syrian government was targeting civilians in an effort to quell the Arab Spring uprising. “I see it,” she says of the horrors of war, “so you don’t have to.”
As the title suggests “A Private War” is about the push and pull inside Colvin. The battle between her life in England with boyfriend Tony Shaw (Stanley Tucci) and the adrenaline rush provided by her work in the field. “Maybe I would have liked a normal life,” she says, “or maybe I don’t know how. Or maybe this is where I feel most comfortable.”
Pike brings passion and fire to the role, although while on duty in Sri Lanka she looks like she’s part of a “Vogue” fashion spread, not a reporter in the field. Emotionally raw, it’s a portrait of a single-minded person who always put her work first. Unfortunately we don’t learn much more than that. It’s a jittery performance that effectively portrays Covin’s state of mind but by the film’s second half it feels one note.
“A Private War” comes at an interesting time for journalism. With the profession under fire from Fake-Newsers it’s important to discover the stories of the people who report on “the rough draft of history.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Disney holiday fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the horror remake “Suspiria.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the “Ho Ho Hums” of the Disney holiday fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the horror remake “Suspiria.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Disney “It must be Christmas!” movie “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the horror remake “Suspiria.”
Richard has a look at the Disney holiday fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the horror remake “Suspiria” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
I have very fond memories of Queen. They were one of the biggest bands in the world when I was in my early teens and their brand of pomp rock appealed to my young ears. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the band’s best-known song and masterpiece, isn’t a dance song by any stretch of the imagination but that didn’t stop my classmates and me from giving it a go in the school gym.
The slower introduction and the rockin’ last part are fairly easy to move around the room to, it’s the operatic middle section that would have caused less determined kids to abandon the dance floor. But, in a moment I have never forgotten, my school chums spontaneously came together like a roomful of Maria Callases and Luciano Pavarottis to sing lines like, “Scaramouch, Scaramouch will you do the fandango?” at the top of their lungs.
That song brought us all together, the romantics, the head bangers, the nerds; everyone stood up and was heard. It was fantastic. Magnifico even. I wish I could say the same about the new film “Bohemian Rhapsody” starring Rami Malek as the late, great Freddie Mercury.
Mercury was not a subtle performer and that spirit has rubbed off on the film, for better but mostly for worse. The performance scenes are fun, over-the-top and enjoyable. It’s when Mercury doesn’t have a microphone in his hand that the movie suffers. “We need to get experimental,” he says to EMI executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers). Too bad screenwriter Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour,” “The Theory of Everything”) only wrote the line and didn’t take it to heart.
With a script researched by Wikipedia the film zips through the band’s career and singer’s personal life, focussing on the high points—the writing of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Live Aid—while giving the truly dramatic details a boilerplate treatment.
Mercury’s homosexuality is addressed but not deeply explored. He has relationships with two men, Paul Prenter (Allen Leech) and Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker), and we see him visit a fetish club but not until the movie is half over. Before then it spends a great deal of time establishing the bond with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), a woman he called the love of his life.
In the film’s best dramatic scene he comes out of the closet, admitting to her that while he loves her he also thinks he may be bisexual. She disabuses him of the notion, admitting she knows he is gay. It’s a tender scene that sheds light on their connection more than anything that comes before or after.
As for the band, if not for their brightly coloured wardrobe, Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and John Deacon (Joe Mazzello) would barely make an impression. They are there to stand behind Mercury and start the occasional argument so he can whip out a bon mot, smirk and flit away.
Mercury, of course, is the most compelling character. Overcome with father issues and a desire to perform both on stage and off he’s also a man who allows himself to be manipulated by a lover who clearly does not have his best interest in mind. Malek, fake teeth and all, does a good imitation of Mercury. He can strut and swagger but it feels like an impression, a very good one, but one that never goes beyond skin deep. To paraphrase one of Mercury’s most famous lyrics, “it never feels like real life, it feels like fantasy.”
Brian May and Roger Taylor were directly involved with the making of the movie so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the story has an “authorized” feel to it, but it is puzzling how the timeline has been twisted to fit the narrative. The montage of their first tour of America is set to “Fat Bottom Girls,” a tune they wouldn’t write for another four years and the writing of “We Will Rock You” is off by three years.
Those are fan details and easily forgiven narratively. What’s more troubling is the film’s handling of Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis. The movie portrays Mercury telling his band mates, three men he calls “his family,” about his illness a week before Live Aid in July 1985. Jim Hutton, Mercury’s boyfriend at the time of his death, says the singer was diagnosed in late April 1987, years after the events in the film. Moving a song or two through time is one thing. Playing around with the life-and-death details of Mercury’s illness for dramatic effect is quite another.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” ends with a rousing recreation of the band’s legendary twenty-minute Live Aid set. Cut back to four songs (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Hammer to Fall” and “We Are the Champions”) it captures their fist-pumping triumph on the Wembley stage. It also sends audiences out of the theatre with some of Queen’s biggest hits ringing in their ears. It’s the Principle of Recency, wherein the thing you experience last is the thing you remember most, like a delicious, sugary dessert at the end of a bland meal. The “Live Aid” impersonation is an effective and memorable way to end a by-the-book movie.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the Disney fantasy “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” the Freddie Mercury bio “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the horror remake “Suspiria.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Andrew Garfield’s romantic medical drama “Breathe,” the ice cold crime drama “The Snowman” and the controversial “Una.”