Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-AssReleased: April 16, 2010. Directed by: Matthew Vaughn. Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloë Grace Moretz. Runtime: 117 min.

The superhero niche genre is a prominent one in Hollywood these days. Whether it follows a big name hero like Batman or Superman, or if it’s a critical disaster like something akin to “Green Lantern,” they usually make awesome money. It’s always refreshing to see a superhero movie made with a low budget.

The story follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who wonders one day, why has no one ever decided to become a super hero? He’s an unnoticed student and comic book fan who buys a suit and becomes a super hero, even though he is powerless, has no preliminary training or any true reason to do so.

“Kick-Ass” makes me happy for the future of R-rated super hero movies. This has a satirical edge and meta way about it. I love all the homages to super hero movies and the general universe comic books create. I think people who read comic books can respect it a bit more, but this is such an entertaining piece of cinema. The action sequences are tons of fun, and the comedy is just as impressive. The characters are colourful and this is probably my favourite movie based on a comic book. It gives audiences an interesting look into the world of super heroes without any powers. It does raise the question: Why hasn’t anyone put on the cape before and fought crime?

Probably because they’d get their asses kicked. And when they begin to be threatened by the mafia, things don’t get better – they get worse, obviously. That is thanks to Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) who are planning a revenge plot on mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), after D’Amico framed Big Daddy, former police officer, and put him in jail for a very long time. (Hit Girl is going along with it because those are the values she was taught. This might disturb some audience members.)

The action is deriously entertaining. Director Matthew Vaughn balances the satirical humour with dark violence, that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Quentin Tarantino picture. One particular scene is hard on the eyes – but so well-done, and it’s a testament to the movie’s visual style and charm. This is a memorable experience, with a great cast.

Nicolas Cage was practically born to play the role of Big Daddy, a darker version of Batman. Some might question a little girl playing the role of a vulgar killing machine, but she (Moretz as Hit Girl) gets some of the biggest laughs and is included in some of the coolest sequences. Moretz has a great career ahead of her. Lyndsey Fonseca is there to up the sexiness of the movie. The film’s finale is astounding and the entertainment rarely dies down throughout. Blood and gore hardly looked so nice in a super hero flick. Vaughn expertly balances the action and the comedy, and I can’t decide which is better.

You care about the characters. The universe created here is magnificent. Aaron Tayl0r-Johnson fits the character of Dave well because, initially, he’s a huge geek. We get to see his process of becoming a character that can really kick ass without the help of spider bites or fancy gadgets. With no power comes no responsibility.

Action, crime, comedy, great characterization, blood, superheroes. This movie’s got it all.

Score95/100

Advertisements

The Croods (2013)

The Croods

 

The Croods
Release Date: March 22, 2013
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Stars (voices): Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
Runtime: 98 min
Tagline: The Journey Begins

Meet the Croods, the world’s first family who live strictly in routine thanks to a strict father, Grug (voiced by Nicolas Cage). There’s also the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), who has a very curious mind, much to her father’s dismay. Ugga (Catherine Keener) is Grug’s wife, Gran (Cloris Leachman) is Ugga’s mother, Thunk (Clarke Duke) is the eldest son, and Sandy (Randy Thom) is the speedy little baby.

Whenever the coast is clear, the family runs out of the cave and hunt for whatever food they can find. The family is usually okay with this, though the eldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), has a more curious mind and wants to explore the world.

One night, she spots a light glooming outside of her cave and she follows it, where she meets a slightly more advanced human, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his adorable sloth buddy, Belt, who holds his pants up. Belt has a love for being theatrical at any suspenseful moment, as when they come around, he just loves to say “Da-da-daaaaaaaa!”

When Grug comes to find her the next morning, the family is on the way back to the cave when their world begins to collapse around them. Their cave is destroyed, and they must travel across a spectacular landscape and a new world, and with the help of Guy and Belt, discover their only hope of survival might just be a large mountain in the distance. Since Grug has been one of the only reasons the family has survived so well (believing that curiosity, new things and just about everything else equals death), his and Guy’s beliefs collide when he realizes he isn’t the only one who’s able to protect them.

The Croods is an incredibly simplistic journey. The message is also rather straight-forward, that sometimes letting your children have a life of their own is good for them. The film isn’t too imaginative either, with the journey consisting of a fast-paced trip where they discover the wonder of fire, shoes, jokes and, of course, a whole new world and strange new creatures none of these neanderthals have encountered before. Grug has the hardest time adapting, as the new world seems to be much for him to handle. Where the movie lacks in sheer imagination, it makes up for it with the fast-paced plot, heart, charm and beauty. It’s also cool to see that the family dynamics back in this time aren’t too different from what they are today. Though, you shouldn’t educate yourself from an amusing movie like this.

The norm for animated films these days are to appeal on some level to adults, as well as kids. Just look at Wreck-It Ralph, a film that was filled with video game easter eggs that actually made it more enjoyable for adults. The Croods is really more for the kids to enjoy, with childish humour like an adorable sloth, the family biting each other, or them not being able to extinguish a fire. I still did think it was hilarious, but I’m eighteen, and it might not make all people over 30 years of age find a ton of hilarity in this.

The real appeal for adults, if any, is that it’s made relatable for fathers, especially. Grug is a strict father who is most worried about Eep, and he just doesn’t want to see her grow up and not need him anymore. It is made relatable for fathers because some are afraid of losing their little girl and it might be be stressful for many to see them leave the nest, or in Grug’s case, the cave. Now, I’m not near a father yet, so I’m not speaking from personal experience — but it seems that is the emotional appeal of this feature, and it makes the characters easier to care about. One other way it is made appealing for fathers is that there’s a running gag at roll call where Grug is almost always disappointed when Gran shows up. It is really funny and it is made appealing for fathers because, really, how rarely does one find a person who loves their in-laws?

The fast-paced plot is exciting and there is hardly a dull moment. It’s an adequete plot, but it isn’t top-tier. The only things that really have room for improvement is the plot, the voicework and the imagination. The voicework is good at best, with most of the voice actors being funny and The Cage only sometimes bringing some craziness to Grug. The voicework is good during, but none of it notable or extremely memorable. It’s one of the weaker aspects of the film, sure, but the film has strong aspects in its amount of heart, childish hilarity, and charm and great replay value.

While those aspects are all fine and dandy, the real notable part is the gorgeous animation (oh, and the adorable belt). The creature animation is fantastic and everything just looks stunning, with vibrant colours and amazing palaeolithic landscape. This also has some of the most beautiful water you ever will see in animation, and you’ll just want to swim in it.

83/100

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

MV5BMTkwNDM5MDEzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDEyNTUxNw@@._V1._SY317_Release Date: February 17, 2012. Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds. Runtime: 95 min.

The Ghost Rider rides again in this not completely horrid, but not a very good sequel.

Johnny Blaze is hiding away in a remote part of Europe in an attempt to keep his inner Rider hidden away. When he’s seeked out to help a boy from the Devil, and who’s being chased after by a group of criminals, he has to decide whether to help or not. After some thought, he realizes that if he helps this child, he may be able to be rid of his curse for good.

While Blaze was much better in the first film, he still has some charisma; but he can get really silly. The film made me laugh a few times though. The characters got to be silly, and the acting wasn’t very stellar (Cage and Hinds were the only mediocre ones).

I was able to get through the thing without getting bored, but sometimes I only had little interest for it. I like the character of Johnny Blaze, so that helped me get through it. I didn’t really care for the plot, it seemed really average.

I respected the film for one thing though: its cinematography and film editing. I didn’t exactly care for it, but it was refreshing to see something different.

The film stars Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth and Fergus Riordan.

It isn’t a very good film, but it isn’t horrible; and it isn’t a great sequel. I didn’t really have any expectations for this film after all of the bad buzz, so in a way I was moderately satisfied.

Score: 50 out of 100

World Trade Center – A film review by Daniel Prinn – In memory of 9/11 and those who died that day.

World Trade Center

Release Date: August 9, 2006

Director: Oliver Stone

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, Maria Bello

Runtime: 129 min

Tagline: A True Story of Courage and Survival

 World Trade Center follows the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 9, 2001; and the two men (John McLoughlin [Nicolas Cage] and Will Jimeno [Michael Peña]) from the Port Authority Police Department who got trapped under rubble while trying to rescue any survivors. Whilst being trapped, their families (John’s wife is played by Maria Bello; and Will’s by Maggie Gyllenhaal) are in separate towns and the effects these events have on them are shown.

It isn’t a film that I loved because of its slow-pacing, but it is a great triumphant true story filled with powerful emotional content. The performances are also very good, they all play their parts well. Though, there is just a bit too much going on here. There are the multiple subplots with it going from McLoughlin and Jimeno stuck underneath the rubble; to the emotional wrecks that are the McLoughlin and the Jimeno families.

The film is full of hope and seems like a solid examination of what happened on that day. I do prefer this over United 93, as this is all very interesting and has some great scenes; but is a bit forgettable for an Oliver Stone picture and has its fair share of boring sequences.

For a film that depicts that event, it’s great, and for a biography it’s also pretty great. It’s a film that knows its purpose, to raise awareness of a story of hope depicting two police officers’ will to survive.

It’s a pretty interesting experience, but not thoroughly entertaining. Check it out if you like history flicks and great stories of survival.

70/100