So I decided to take a break from my White Collar binge-watching and catch up on a couple of movies. One out of three isn’t very good, but at least I get to rant about it here =)

kingsmanFirst up, Kingsman: The Secret Service.

If a movie is an intentional rip-off, is it supposed to be called an homage? If so, then this is an homage to Bond movies, with a bit of Kick-Ass thrown in, and a hell of a lot more violence. I’m immediately sold on anything featuring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson; but Samuel as a super-villain with a lisp, plus an double-amputee badass brunette whose prosthetic blade legs shoot actual blades during fights? Brilliant! Add in Michael Caine, and you’ve got a sure-fire hit on your hands.

The story is pretty simple: a covert spy organization recruits a young man and trains him to save the world from mad millionaire Valentine. Instead of your typical Bond suave manners and appearance, the young recruit is street kid Eggsy, who nevertheless seems to be cut out for the job.

Okay, so the movie isn’t going to win an Oscar race any time soon, but it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: fun and entertaining. It’s got an interesting, outrageous plot, it is faithful to the Bond-esque spy genre without appearing to mock it, it’s fast-paced, the lead character is likable, the references are clever, a sense of humor shines through, the costume design is phenomenal,  the various gadgets used throughout the movie are pretty cool, and the fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed, if a bit too bloody. (Then again, I like splatter flicks, so this was pretty tame, considering.)

All in all, I’d definitely recommend it.

the final girlsMoving on to feature #2: The Final Girls

I wasn’t expecting much when I started watching, so I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but overall I’d categorize this as a massive waste of time. Maybe it could have been better as a group watching experience if plenty of weed booze was involved.

The plot is very thin to begin with: Max and her friends go to the movies for a tribute to an 80’s splatter flick unimaginatively called Camp Bloodbath (ring any bells?), starring the girl’s mother, three years after she died in a car crash. A fire breaks out in the movie theater, because apparently people don’t only sneak booze in, but even light up cigars. The girl leads her friends to an escape route by slashing the movie screen with a machete (also conveniently snuck into the theater) and they get magically transported into the movie, where they have to try and kill the demented serial killer.

The movie-within-a-movie very clumsily attempts at combining classic horror elements such as the masked villain and, of course, the bloodbath, with unfunny comedy, especially when it comes to requisite horndog Kurt and his horrible lines. Add the sentimental element of Max reuniting with her dead mother, and not even Thomas Middleditch, basically replicating the role of Scream’s horror-movie-expert Randy, can save this horrible mishmash.

In addition, casting Malin Akerman as the sweet, virginal scream queen (which, as a theme, seems to be all the rage this year) might seem like a good idea at first, but, at 37, she’s marginally old enough to have a teenage daughter, and she’s definitely not old enough to have played a camp counselor in the 80’s. The rest of the cast is… eh. Nina Dobrev is fine as a mean girl, Angela Trimbur’s performance is way too over the top, but her improvised dance was at least funny. I haven’t enjoyed Alia Shawkat in anything since Arrested Development, but at least it was nice to see Alexander Ludwig play the good guy for a change.

That’s not the worst part though: the ‘twist’ at the end is ludicrous. I don’t want to spoil this for you – if you still think this movie is worth checking out, that is – so feel free to skip ahead, but a slasher flick where all the protagonists make it in the end despite having suffered horrible deaths in the movie-within-the-movie? Please.

i spit on your grave 3Movie # 3: I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine

The third and final feature was the worst of the bunch, so only keep reading if you have a strange fascination with splatter revenge movies. When did this become a thing, really? First there was torture porn, then revenge porn, now we’ve done away with the torture for the most part, and we’re just focusing on the revenge bit.

If you’re unfamiliar with this franchise, the over-the-top title owes its cheesiness to the fact that the first installment was a remake of a 1978 movie of the same name. Although far from a cult classic, it’s heavy on violence and gore, and at least the original and the remake have a plausible revenge plot: a young woman is gang-raped and then exacts revenge on her attackers, torturing and slowly killing them one at a time. If movies like Saw and Hostel aren’t your thing, it’s not worth checking out.

The second movie featured a completely different heroine but ran along the same motif: revenge killing of two-dimensional rapists.

This third (and hopefully final) part, however, is just… bizarre. Sarah Butler reprises her role as Jennifer Hills, who may have gotten vengeance on her rapists but is nowhere near closure. When urged by her therapist to join a support group, she forms a bond with wild girl Marla, who seems to share her own ideas on fighting back. The first part of the movie features some of the most idiotic dialogue ever between the two girls, paired with ridiculous fight-scene simulations with hardware store items that could double as castration/torture weapons.

Anyway, when Marla’s abusive ex boyfriend kills her, Jennifer unravels and seeks revenge on every man who’s hurt other members of her support group. A couple of these torture/murder scenes are incredibly vile, so I’ll spare you a detailed description, but if you need to satisfy your morbid curiosity, you can watch one here. If you’re of the male persuasion, do not click on the link. 

The entire movie is a mess: the man-hating heroine quickly becomes unlikable, as she perceives every man who crosses her path as an enemy; the gratuitous violence is off-putting, the ending is anticlimactic and probably written for the sole purpose of leaving it open-ended for possible sequels (please God no), and the therapist treating Jennifer is obviously the most incompetent movie shrink in the history of film.

As a side note, not only was the actual movie horrible, but I kept getting distracted by trying to think of who Sarah Butler reminds me of. By the end of the movie, I had the a-ha moment: she looks exactly like Maureen from Center Stage!


Maybe finding the celebrity look-alikes makes this movie not a complete waste of time? Hey, I’m trying to see the glass half-full here!