When I sat down to watch Happy Death Day, I was hoping for the best. After all the recurring day trope has provided some interesting and entertaining movies and several brilliant episodes of otherwise not so great TV shows.
What I wasn’t expecting was a genuinely clever series of variations on a theme that yielded some wildly divergent variations and a few really subtle ones. Also, plenty of wit and some great laughs.
The Kingsman: Golden Circle was one of the best times I had at movies all year long. The movie is over the top, frenetic, and at times funny as hell. If you asked me, and the studio did, I would have said it’s one of my favorite films of 2017. Damn being a critic, I had to think about it for a few days before writing my review and the issues that I had with the movie kind of sucks away some of my, from the gut, enjoyment of it. Long story short, go see it and enjoy it for what it is – a fun, bombastic take on the spy movie genre. If you want to nitpick it to death, read on.
There are a handful of sequels that are as good as (or better than) their progenitors – The Godfather 2, Superman II, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Dark Knight come to mind – and now Kingsman: The Golden Circle joins that elite list.
Following the heavy expositional load of the thoroughly entertaining first film, The Golden Circle expands character development (of Eggsy, at least) and introduces a delightfully pragmatic villain who has the best of intentions (and hopes to profit handsomely from them, too).
American Assassin is based on the book of the same title by the late Vince Flynn, and introduces us to Mitch Rapp – a wounded young man who saw his fiancée killed by terrorists and decides to go after them himself.
It could have been a pedestrian thriller by committed performances by Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch – and a very grounded script (and muscular direction) keep it from descending to that level.
The seemingly bucolic town of Derry looks like a place you could settle down – if only it weren’t its high statistics for people going missing (with adults it’s 6% higher than the average; with kids it’s ‘much higher’).
When kids start to go missing, for the rest of the town that means missing posters on telephone posts and in shop windows – for Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), it’s barely noticeable until his younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes disappears while floating a waxed paper boat in the gutter.
Post-grad student Lucy is on her way home to introduce her boyfriend to her grandmother while on a break. As they head for the train, they realize that it’s unusually quiet – then in the empty subway station, the silence is broken by a man on fire.
We’re entering the dog days of summer and the last of the summer blockbusters has opened (or maybe closed – it’s been that kind of summer). Into that void comes The Hitman’s Bodyguard – a movie that would be a B-movie if not for its high powered leads.
After his Triple-A rated protection agency goes ‘Pffft!’ following losing a client, Michael Bryce (the world’s top bodyguard) gets a major gig shepherding Darius Kincaid (the world’s top hitman) to the World Court in The Hague. Things do not go smoothly.
Full disclosure: I have not seen any of the films from The Conjuring universe and it doesn’t matter, because Annabelle: Creation is, in terms of the series’ mythology, is the origin story that kicks off the events of all the others.
That said, Annabelle takes some stock ideas, dresses them up with carefully modulated pacing, light and sound – and a very game cast – and kicks out the jams!