Kingsmen: The Secret Service

five cigars

Five cigars

 

It has been awhile since I went to see a movie and enjoyed it as much as I did this one. From the previews, this looked rather silly and I went in expecting to be bored. Not so.

This is a spoof on the classic spy movie, yet is a seriously well written, well acted film on its own.  All the elements of a good story are here.  Good guys, bad guys, action, humor, underdog, tension, emotion, and puppies.  Even though you know the good guys will triumph, the film takes you on quite a ride to reach that point. There is quite a bit of humor, both subtle and vulgar.  Based on the reaction of those around me, some of the subtle was lost on them.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the bad guy and like any film he is in, it is fun to watch him act.  Michael Caine is the head of the Kingsmen  and like Jackson, brings great talent to the film.  Interestingly, I did not recognize Mark Hamill who plays Professor Arnold.

Be sure and stay past what appears to be the last scene, the real last scene makes you say, “Yes!”.

This gets five cigars, and I may just have to see this one again.

 

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Gone Girl

one cigar

One cigar

This film is based on the book by Gillian Flynn, and oddly enough she wrote the screen play.  Hopefully, you will read the book and skip the movie.

The book was good because it was suspenseful, the movie is not.  The book was good because a major portion of it was from the main characters perspective, Amy, through her journal.  The movie left most of this out.  The book was good because the husband, Nick, had a minor role, not so in the movie.  Ben Affleck plays Nick and was probably the worse choice for the part.  The book has his mistress constantly bugging him about their relationship, the movie left this out. In the book, Amy’s parents are extremely weird, not so much in the movie. In the book the tension is immense when Amy is robbed at the cabin she is staying in, the movie falls flat on this point.

The fact that Flynn wrote the screenplay confuses me because you would think she would want the film to honor the book, it does not. This one gets one cigar and again, if you haven’t seen the film, skip it, just read the book.

Lucy

one cigar

One cigar

On the surface, this sounded like a good premise.  A woman exposed to a substance that expands the amount of brain power she has until it reaches 100%.  The possibilities for a good story are endless.  Unfortunately, the writer decided on the lamest one.

The director had an easy job. Take two great actors give them simple directions and start filming.  In Morgan Freeman’s case, just stand and look dumbfounded.  For Scarlett Johansson, just walk around looking perplexed.  Throw in a car chase, machine guns in a confined space where no one is injured, and some footage from National Geographic and the film is complete.

In the film the character Lucy says, “Time is the only true unit of measure”.  True, and I just wasted 89 minutes of mine.  This gets one cigar, make that one short cigar.

Speaking of Murder by Jonathon Black

spkgof murder

A roller coaster ride worth the ticket…   ***

 

The prologue of this book grabbed me, making me want to read it.  The set up was intriguing.  After that the first four chapters were an information dump.  In giving the background of characters the explanations were long and somewhat boring.  Then the book picks up again and, for the most part, held my interest. The ending was rushed which was a surprise as the majority of the book is rather detailed.

The story is about a has-been reporter who finds himself investigating the death of motivational speakers after his, somewhat, close friend is killed.  He is helped, and encouraged, by a female student from a journalism class he teaches.  The beleaguered protagonist and the female who needs saving is cliche, but Black gives enough twists to make this a fairly good read.

There is a surprise at the end, which I am not sure really works, but that is why I felt the ending was rushed. This one gets three stars for keeping me turning the pages.

 

In Shining Armor: Talitha Cumi (Book One) by T. C. Leonard

Inshining armor

 

A bumpy ride that could be enjoyable…..   *

 

One of the joys of discovering a new author is finding a fresh voice that pulls you in and takes you for a ride.  This book does exactly that.  The author hooks you in the beginning and sets up a storyline that you want to follow and know more about.  The problem is, that like a kid sitting in the back seat on a long trip, I kept asking myself, “are we there yet?”.

Leonard is a good writer.  He creates images that make you feel the ocean, taste the sea air, hear the whack of a tennis racket hitting a ball and sense the emotion of his characters.  He sometimes gets a little carried away with metaphor, but so does Dean Koontz.

The problem is the fact that this is a serial in the complete sense of the word.  I am old enough to remember going to Saturday morning matinees and seeing the likes of Flash Gordon, Rocket Man, or Zorro.  All of which would end in a cliffhanger and I couldn’t wait until the next week to find out how the hero would survive.  This novel just stops.  No cliffhanger, although I do want to know what happens.  While I knew this was book one, there was no indication that none of the storylines would get wrapped up.

The novel has great potential.  It needs a good editor to trim it down and eliminate the parts that drag. It needs a good pass by a copy editor to fix the typos and missing words.  The story is a good one, just not sure why it is broken up into parts.

This, unfortunately, gets one star.  it should have been four.