Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) movie poster

director Matthew Vaughn
viewed: 10/01/2017 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

My kids both wanted to see this so I complied.

None of us was overly impressed. We had watched and kind of enjoyed the first Kingsman movie, though the political reading of the film I’d read at the Guardian made me feel a little dirty.

I started to try to get my head around a political reading of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and it’s ripe for criticism and analysis. Matthew Vaughn is a talented action director, one of the few fairly conservative mainstream big Hollywood directors still pumping out A-list stuff.

I have to say this Kingsman is kind of interesting in its un-PC brashness, but it’s also kind of a flop as a successful action flick. The action is so over-the-top that from the opening car chase, we’re seeing wildly impossible flights of physical impossibility at such breakneck pace that even if you don’t have the time to question it, it’s impossible to pretend this isn’t anything but highly manipulated CGi.

I could go on but it’s not really all that worth it. A couple other thoughts:

  • Elton John was maybe the best part of the movie.
  • Channing Tatum was a bit of a bait-and-switch as he spends most of his time not doing anything.
  • I’ve got a feeling that this was more “cartoonish” than any of the comic books.

The Zero Boys (1986)

The Zero Boys (1986) VHS cover

director Nico Mastorakis
viewed: 09/18/2017

Kelli Maroney really nails it on the head when she tells Joe Estevez that his crew The Zero Boys are “all soon to be yuppies”. It’s not often a character in a movie speaks the mind of the audience so concretely.

Our heroes are automatic weapon-lugging paintballers, who went from worst (thus “The Zero Boys”) to first in their little play action weekend warrior fun. Not exactly the types of protagonists that I particularly identify with. Luckily Maroney joins the gang for their celebratory outing in the woods. I always liked Maroney.

Nico Mastorakis does put this together pretty well, though it’s nowhere as interesting our out-there are his Island of Death (1974).

The hillbilly snuff film crew thing, if that really was what was going on, was a little hard to decipher. For a while I thought maybe it’s a good ol’ slasher guy or even that this would turn out to be pranks played by the team that they had beaten with Maroney in on the gags.

A decent effort.

D’Wild Wild Weng (1982)

D'Wild Wild Weng (1982) movie poster

director Eddie Nicart
viewed: 08/27/2017

My first cinematic encounter with Weng Weng, the 2’9″ Filipino action superstar, wasn’t the esteemed For Y’ur Height Only (1981), but D’Wild Wild Weng. Since this is my first Weng Weng movie I cannot measure it against the others, but I was massively entertained.

Weng Weng was amazingly spry, doing a ton of stunts, some clearly cheap but some quite impressive.

That said, much of the enjoyment is intended and unintended humor. Whoever dubbed Weng Weng’s voice for this American release…brilliant.

I guess it’s kind of a Western? Some really floppy Filipino sombreros on some stock bad guys. And ninjas. And a tribe of little people American Indians? Weng Weng pal Gordon (Max Laurel?) are doing good where good is needed and of course Weng Weng is a total badass and polite and kind. He rescues anybody who needs it and then just says, “See ya!”

Apparently, Lupo the mute, whose tongue was cut out by the baddies, annoys a lot of people. Personally, I have him down as perhaps the best “mute guy” acting ever. Everything he says and does is loud and expressively nonsensical but Weng Weng and Gordon totally understand him.

Really, there is so much going on here worth noting, but I’ll just stop. I thought this movie was hilarious and entertaining. I look forward to my next meeting with Weng Weng.

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017) movie poster

director Edgar Wright
viewed: 07/02/2017 at AMC Dine-in Kabuki 8, SF, CA

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a pop confection heist car chase action flick comedy. It’s a genre picture, made of genre stuff, and interpreted through an array of popular music selections. There is verve here, quite a lot of it at times, and it’s fun. It’s inventiveness does not lie within pure originality, but rather through its remixing and comic play.

For all its buzz, the trailer didn’t really “sell” me on the picture. Star Ansel Elgort is better than he looks in the trailers, the driver with an endless collection of iPods and sunglasses. He’s “Baby” as Kevin Spacey is “Doc” and Jon Hamm is “Buddy” and Jamie Foxx is “Bats”. Everyone is a nickname and a derivative caricature, and it’s almost as if Wright is daring you to think there should be more to this whole thing.

It’s all surface and action and some decent humor, playing out to syncopation, tuned to the music. Honestly, I enjoyed it throughout.

That said, since watching it, the excitement and fun has diminished and further thoughts have sort of petered out on it. Some movies tend to grow as you contemplate them. Baby Driver has sort of sat there in Park since the viewing, not even idling, just with its engine gone cold.

I’ll see where I’m at with it by the end of the year. It may still be one of the better films of 2017. It may even be a genre classic, cult or otherwise. We’ll have to see.