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?

John Carter (2012) dir: Andrew Stanton

Well I liked it – not great but not bad, could have benefited from being a bit longer with more character detail.

Should have kept the original title: ‘Princess of Mars’.

Alice in Wonderland 3D (2010) dir: Tim Burton

First of all I’m a huge Tim Burton fan.

But every now and again he screws up (remember Planet of the Apes? ‘Nuff said).

Sometimes I have to pay to see a movie, sometimes I don’t. My wife really wanted to see this at the Odeon Leicester Square (in London). It was the most expensive cinema ticket I have ever bought (£17.50 each or about $26 – and I bought the cheapest priced ticket – ok so I can be tight). And guess what? I want my money back!

It was not only dull and lifeless but it committed the ultimate movie crime. IT WAS BORING!!!!!!!

Pleasant eye candy for about 20 minutes. It had some great character design and it had a cool voice cast but you know, lets have a decent plot and some witty dialogue. All the best bits are in the trailer.

It was so disappointing… I don’t really want to say anything more.

Micmacs (2009) dir: Jean Pierre Jeunet

After a quiet period I’ve managed to get in 5 movies in the last week or so with a couple more planned for next week! Hurrah! ‘Micmacs’ (‘Shenanigans’ is apparently the best english translation) is, and I quote Jean Pierre Jeunet himself here, “a stupid comedy”. But it’s so much more.

It’s the story of Bazil (Dany Boon). As a child his father was killed by a landmine built by one particular arms company and 30 years later he himself is accidentally shot in the head by a bullet made by a different rival arms company. It all sounds a bit grim but it isn’t. Bazil loses his job but is adopted by a sort of quirky magnificent seven of unusual characters who include the contortionist, the human cannon ball, the human calculator and the super strong (but very old) clockwork toy maker. They help Bazil plot a series of daring escapades to take revenge on the bosses of the arms companies.

Bringing all his visual ‘joie de vivre’ to the table, Jeunet has created a film that is not only wonderful to watch but also great fun. There’s so much delight to be taken just from his distinct visual storytelling style. And so much of the story is told to the audience with just a sequence of images – no chit chat! It makes me want to cut half the dialogue out of the film I’m working on!

There are so few really cinematic directors out there who have such a unique visual style (Tim Burton comes to mind as one) that for full affect Micmacs really deserves to be seen on a big screen.

I’m sure some critics will call it sleight but they miss the point. Bollocks to them. Yes sometimes I occasionally had absolutely no idea what was going on but it didn’t matter one jot. Absolutely marvelous stuff that will leave you with a smile on your face even though there is a serious issue at the film’s heart.

BTW. Here’s something I learned today: Jeunet wrote ‘Amelie’ for Emily Watson and even started working on it with her in London before she pulled out due to ‘personal reasons’.

Avatar 3D dir: James Cameron (2009)

I’m going to be brief as this film will be everywhere.

My expectations were very high for this movie – it is after all from the man who has made some of my all time top films, Terminator 2, The Abyss, Aliens. In fact, in my opinion he hasn’t made a bad movie, and yes I did like Titanic. I went to a James Cameron interview about 6 years ago and he was talking about Avator then, apparently he mentioned it to Sigourney Weaver when they were doing Aliens – so he’s been gestating this baby for a long time. So what can I say?

Pretty bloody awesome. The film is often beautiful to watch, and thankfully avoids the usual Hollywood trip up; mixing astonishing visual fx and characters. The Na’vi are 100% believable and Pandora, the world that they inhabit, is astonishingly created.

A couple of things annoyed. I wasn’t bowled over by the 3D, I’m astigmatic so often the image was partly out of focus for me. Sam Worthington’s voice over, urgh, and James Cameron’s occasional squirm inducing dialogue. Pay a writer to tweak your dialogue James goddamnit!

However, I’d be more than delighted to see this again in 2D in a couple of weeks. James Cameron has raised the bar for blockbuster extravaganza to a new level once more. And the film is partly financed by the Brits. Hurrah!

Looking For Eric (2009) dir: Ken Loach

Well here’s a film from the UK’s most undervalued director that will hopefully appeal to a wider audience giving the director some much deserved mainstream success.

Eric (Steve Evets) is suffering from depression, his life is crap and he was last happy when he saw Eric Cantona play soccer for Manchester United. As he drowns in despair, he starts seeing Eric Cantona, his hero, who begins to give him advice on how to change his life around.

Like Ken Loach’s other films, this is still a story with a social aspect at its heart but here it is wrapped in some touching comedy.

It was a pleasure to watch the interaction between the two Erics. Ken Loach (unusually for a filmmaker) shoots his films in sequence and the actors are never given a full script –  they don’t know what’s coming next. So, when Eric first sees Eric Cantona his expression and reaction is priceless. The film is really good stuff.

Apparently, Eric Cantona originally approached Ken Loach with a slightly different idea, based around a Leeds United fan who had switched allegiance to Manchester United when Eric Cantona move there. The fan lost his job, his friends and family. From there screenwriter John Laverty developed a new idea which eventually turned into the screenplay for this film.

It’s worth noting that the film is not really about football, (I’m not a big fan of it), so if you hate football/soccer – don’t let the football aspect put you off.

The French love Ken Loach, the Brits love the French Eric Cantona, hopefully this is a marriage that will play to a wider audience.  It’s been picked up by IFC for America – so even you lot in the good old US of A have no excuses.

Watchmen (2009) dir: Zack Snyder

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.

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.