Saturday, September 30, 2017

But I Digress... Kings, States, Comedy and Critics

Movie Name/Year: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Tagline: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 141 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Marv Films, Shangri-La Entertainment, TSG Entertainment
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons
Actors: Taron Egerton, Edward Holcroft, Mark Strong, Hanna Alstrom, Calvin Demba, Thomas Turgoose, Tobi Bakare, Julianne Moore, Keith Allen, Tom Benedict Knight, Colin Firth, Michael Gambon, Sophie Cookson, Bjorn Granath, Lena Endre, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Elton John, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Poppy Delevingne, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson, Mark Arnold
Stunt Doubles: Rick English, Aaron Gassor, Andy Lister, Casey Michaels, Justin Pearson, Tilly Powell, Michael Brian Rawlins, Douglas Robson, Luke Scott, Arran Topham, Joe Watts

Spoiler Free - Nothing outside of what the trailer shows has been mentioned.

If you read my Top 20 article for September, then you know just how much I loved the first Kingsman film. I adored it so much that I indicated I wanted to be married to it. Not an actor in it, the entire film.

Kingsman, as a series, is just so delightfully campy. It’s what the original Bond stories inspired to be… with characters like Jaws and Pussy Galore. We have a new Bond now, one that’s serious and all action all the time. Kingsman injects the humor back into the action.

Now, I’m the kind of person that believes any genre can be made better with a touch of humor.

Humor lightens the blow of dramatic moments, like in SLC Punk (1998). It can also take the bite out of gore, such as with The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Comedy doesn’t change the genre, however. Both those films were very much a drama and a horror, respectively. The laughter made them easier to swallow, but it also made them great and memorable.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) was the epitome of how an action film can utilize humor to elevate itself above the competition. The fight choreography was unforgettable and the story was made so much better by characters that weren’t flawless. There’s nothing I hate more than a flawless character. Who the fuck can relate to that?

Another thing the first film did right, was the antagonist.

Let me pull back the curtain a little bit and explain a writing rule to you. If you want to write a great antagonist, you have to remember that the bad guy doesn’t usually believe he’s a bad guy. In his mind, he’s doing the right thing. Maybe he knows that the “right thing” involves doing some morally repugnant things, but the ends justify the means. If you write a bad guy well enough, the reader/audience shouldn’t be confident that they don’t agree with him. It should be a difficult choice between the sides of good and bad.

I learned that rule the hard way. Through many editors with many red pens.

Kingsman did that right. At least, from my perspective.

In fact, Kingsman did so much right, that I was a little bit nervous to go out and see the second one. We’ve all been the victims of sequel-itis before. We see a great film, we shell out the money for the second, and we get The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).

Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust, X-Men: First Class) and Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, Stardust) did not succumb to the horrific sequel-itis.

I had so much fun watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I am absolutely sure that I made the right choice by buying a ticket.

It was still a wonderfully campy look at a Bond-like film. I think it was the perfect follow up. Not only do we see the Kingsmen again, but we learn that there are other organizations out there with similar goals.

I loved what they did with the Statesmen. You can clearly see, even better than before, what they were trying to do with stereotypes. The gentlemen of England represent the way the rest of the world looks at that country. Naturally, who was best to represent the US? Cowboys. It fit astonishingly well. That’s how the world views us – whether we’re from Texas or Maine. We’re all cowboys to them.

The idea of the Statesman opens up so much potential for future Kingsman films. It indicated that there could be other versions from other lands. If worked correctly, the series could turn into a tour of various cultures that speak to people who otherwise might not be interested.

That aside, the movie itself was fantastic.

I know it hasn’t gotten the best critic ratings… but I urge you to look a little closer at what those critics say.

I’ve spoken before about the difference between how a general audience member and a critic watch a film. Different things are going to affect them differently.

I did some reading before I sat down to write tonight. I found a lot of the complaints actual critics have against the second Kingsman was that it was too violent or too smug. Did… did they see the first one? That’s kind of the point. Neither of those things was a mistake… it’s part of the joke.

Still, because of that winking smugness, critics feel the film borders on parody and… well… critics don’t like parodies. Most parodies are badly rated by critics. Pull up Rotten Tomatoes and start searching. Hell, even Spaceballs (1987) only has a 57% rating.

I’ve talked about this parody issue before, but I’m not going to go further into it here, because regardless of what the critics think, the truth is very simple: Kingsman is not a parody. It’s an action/spy film with comedy injected into it. Yes, it’s campy, but not to a Scary Movie (2000) level.

When you look up the reviews take careful note of the difference between what the critics and what the audience thinks. Although the critics put Kingsman in a mediocre place, the audience vehemently disagrees.

That’s one of those reasons we here at Trust the Dice have labeled ourselves fan girls, not critics. We watch films because we love them. We may not like everything we see, but we still watch from an audience perspective. We’re not jaded enough to watch from the perspective of a critic.

My final thought on Kingsman: The Golden Circle is that it was so very worth seeing - even in theaters. I did enjoy the first one more, but the second one was still very much in the same feel and I was either laughing or cringing (in the best way) every single moment I was watching. I may even go out and watch it again. I’m definitely going to wind up purchasing it.

The third film in this franchise has been announced and I’ll be seeing that one in theaters, too.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 72%
Metascore - 44/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.9/10
IMDB Score – 7.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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