Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Well this movie shows you that you can be, it’s just that it isn’t recommending you to be one. Dave Lizewski (Portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leads the movie as a teenager who wants to be a superhero in his home of New York City. His love for comics and heroes is what encourages him to make a stand for those who can’t defend themselves. He decides to make his own outfit and goes out to fight crime in his city armed with two batons, only to be stabbed and run over within minutes. Unwilling to let that stop him, once recovered, Dave then sets out again to become a crime-fighter (which is helped by the metal plates in his body and his damaged nerve endings helping him now take a lot more pain than before). After he intervenes during a gang attack, Kick-Ass becomes a star online and begins to operate through a Myspace page (Myspace, how we miss thee. Wait, it’s still going? Oh. Ok) so people can contact him for help. One person who asks for help is his long-term crush Katie Deauxma. Dave goes to fight a drug-dealer and ends up overpowered by his gang, but then help comes from two true crime-fighters.
Hit-Girl (the talented Chloe Grace Moretz) comes to save Kick-Ass and executes the gang in gory style. The 11 year old and her father, Big Daddy, (Nicolas Cage looking suspiciously like Batman in that outfit) then leave the scene, only to find Kick-Ass later. The three form a truce of sorts. Big Daddy and Hit Girl are attempting to take down the empire run by Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, because only Mark Strong can play Mark Strong). Damon Macready was framed as a drug dealer by D’Amico and this lead to him being imprisoned and his wife committing suicide shortly after giving birth to their daughter Mindy or “Hit Girl” as she is known in costume. The mafia boss is aware that heroes are around and suspect that Kick-Ass is the person taking him down. Frank’s son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse or McLovin if you prefer!), who is also a fan of comics, is given the help from his Dad to make himself into the hero Red Mist in order to trap Kick-Ass and take him down. When Damon “Big Daddy” Macready is killed by D’Amico’s thugs, Hit Girl swears vengeance on her father’s murderers and Kick-Ass finally realises that he needs to be a hero more than ever to overcome this enemy. Some great fight sequences, lots of bullets, a jet-pack and a bazooka all feature in the thrilling finale. Plus a quote lifted from Tim Burton’s 1989 ‘Batman’ film bring the movie to a strong (Not Mark Strong, but strong) conclusion as Dave gets the girl, Mindy gets revenge and Red Mist gets to become The Mutherfucker (But that is more in Kick-Ass 2, which is still a good film too).
When I saw this first advertised, I didn’t know what to think. The advert which had young Chloe Grace Moretz saying “Okay you c**ts, let’s see what you can do now” was enough to tell me this film was not gonna be clean cut. The humour throughout is rather fun and at times can be dark. The outfits all stand out and at no time look too cheesy or out of place. The concept, though maybe not the most original, helps to bring out one of the strongest movies that 2010 had to offer in terms of character growth, enjoyment and re-watch value. Star cast members Nicolas Cage (who gets some great lines in the film, makes me laugh a lot) and Mark Strong (who is mean as hell) do well as the adult supporting characters and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are great as the awkward teenagers who really come out of their shell when they don the suits. Mintz-Plasse gets to show a lot of fun as the conflicted teenage Chris D’Amico and only becomes a confident Red Mist/Motherfucker at the end of the movie, though this works well as we get set up for Kick-Ass 2. Meanwhile, the highlight performance has to be from Chloe Grace Moretz as she steals every scene she appears in with such style and just amazes you that her parents would let her talk like that as she uses more expletives than any cast member in the movie. Her emotion is top notch and her confident and hard-headed nature works well with the developing hero Dave Lizewski is trying to become. Top marks to Matthew Vaughn for bringing this movie to the screen with help of screenwriter Jane Goldman and producer Brad Pitt. Also can’t forget Mark Millar and John Romita Jr for creating this work originally as the Kick-Ass graphic novel. Kick-Ass 2 may not capture the same heights of the first, but still give it a watch and let’s keep our fingers crossed that Kick-Ass 3 will come!
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.
Next on the countdown is one of the most anticipated British comedies ever. Production began in 2005 on a movie based on the popular Steve Coogan character, the end result in 2013 became a rather funny and entertaining film with a great cast and top story. The film brought back cast members from I’m Alan Partridge including Phil Cornwell, Simon Greenal and Felicity Montagu as his assistant Lynn Benfield. The film opens with Alan Partridge still working as a radio DJ for North Norfolk Digital on his show with his sidekick Simon, which is about to be re-branded to “Shape” and the fear of redundancies loom as Alan looks to keep his position at the radio, but in doing this he encourages his bosses to go towards sacking Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). Shortly after Pat is sacked (thanks to Alan Partridge, and after he states “JUST SACK PAT”), a party is held at the station to celebrate the successful change. When Alan is out of the building, Pat goes in and interrupts the party with a shotgun and takes the members of the radio hostage. Alan then returns and runs out when he finds Pat and goes to the police for help. Now, this is where it gets interesting.
Alan Partridge agrees to help the police to defuse the situation and be a negotiator to help save those inside and help Pat to surrender. Alan takes this time as a reason to put his profile up and also catches the eye of Angela who also works for the station. Pat presents a show during this time and gets Alan as his co-host. Alan keeps messing things up such as not taking action against Pat when he hands him his gun, messing up negotiations (giving Pat the idea to get a helicopter) and locking himself out of the station (and loses his trousers when he falls out of a window). The movie does manage to deliver many laughs in its runtime, these continue to grow until the finale where Alan and Pat are in a mobile broadcaster and it is here when Pat finds out the truth about his sacking from Shape. Leading to a final conclusion on Cromer Pier, the two finally get to talk seriously and the film is then rounded off to a rather humorous conclusion.
Steve Coogan has perfected this character so much over the last couple of decades, including in the more recent Mid Morning Matters show where the character was first brought back to the public eye. Developing on both the original ideas from I’m Alan Partridge and Mid Morning Matters was a smart move and combines characters that have appeared in both to help form a successful film. Steve Coogan is as brilliant as ever as Alan Partridge, playing the DJ that we all love to listen to. Colm Meaney is just a great choice for Pat Farrell because he has a great radio voice and can go from understanding to psychotic in under a second. Also shoutouts to Tim Key (Side-kick Simon), Phil Cornwell (DJ Dave Clifton) and Felicity Montagu (Lynn Benfield) as they all return to their parts perfectly and make you think that almost no time has passed since last playing these characters. The script, with contributions from Coogan and Armando Iannucci is superb throughout. The movie has great wide appeal while it also keeps to its British roots rather well. Definitely a comedy film you would be proud to have in your collection. Also, big points to Steve Coogan for his lip-syncing to ‘Cuddly Toy’ by Roachford.
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.
It’s time to get onto some Disney now. So, why not start with one of the greatest animated films of all time. Aladdin is one of them Disney movies which just seemed to get everything right. The 1992 movie explores the story of Aladdin who is joined by his pet monkey Abu. He is a young thief in Agrabah who does what he can to survive. Along his way, he meets Princess Jasmine, whom he saves from an angry merchant at the market. They quickly become close until Aladdin is arrested. Jasmine is later told by her father’s advisor, Jafar, that Aladdin has since been executed. This is a lie, as Jafar is actually looking to use Aladdin to obtain a magical lamp for his own need for power from the Cave of Wonders, a cave that can only be entered by someone who is a “diamond in the rough”. Jafar attempts access into the cave early in the film just for the petty thief he hired to get killed once he enters. Jafar, dressed as an old man, uses Aladdin to obtain the lamp. He and Abu are warned they can get the lamp, but must not touch anything else in the cave. While in the cave, the duo meet the magic carpet (Disney’s first ever CGI character) and the carpet helps them find the lamp. When Abu traps them in the cave, Aladdin then rubs the lamp and is stunned to see a genie emerge and sings the catchy ‘Friend Like Me’. The Genie (portrayed by the legendary Robin Williams) comes to Aladdin’s rescue and gets him out of the cave. The Genie then reveals he can grant his “master” three wishes. So we continue…
Aladdin, after making his first wish to become a prince, re-enters Agrabah in the hopes of winning over Princess Jasmine. The Genie helps to make his entrance as grand as possible and the song ‘Prince Ali’ introduces Agrabah to Aladdin in his new look (Let’s just say it, the songs are brilliant and the ones with Robin Williams singing are just superb). Jafar attempts to stop any potential suitors for Jasmine as he wants to marry her for the power of being Sultan. Jafar, still upset about not getting the lamp, hatches a plan once he realises that Prince Ali is Aladdin and that he is alive because of the Genie when he sees the lamp. Aladdin has used two wishes and the third was originally to free Genie so that he could be free from the lamp and do what he wants, but Aladdin doesn’t want to give him up as he feels he will be nothing without the Genie by his side. Later, Iago, Jafar’s parrot, steals the lamp and brings in to Jafar for him to use the power. Aladdin, powerless and exposed as the thief that he once was, is banished from the kingdom and Jafar uses his new powers of sorcery to remove Aladdin. With the genie under the control of the evil Jafar and him taking over Agrabah, it is in the end a self-inflicted wish which sees Jafar finally defeated.
The film is very much a delight and thrill ride throughout its run time. Whether it’s flying on the magic carpet singing ‘A Whole New World’, exploring the beautifully created Cave Of Wonders or just the effortless comedy from Robin Williams as he makes Genie a pop-culture icon, this film has a lot going for it. The magic carpet shows that a character can show emotion without a voice and without a face as it becomes the heart of the movie as it helps the characters get out of certain dangers. The music is brilliant throughout, Robin Williams has a great presence in every scene he is in and the music he contributes his voice to is beyond amazing. Aladdin is definitely one of the all-time classics and an achievement on so many levels in both what you see and what you feel.
Written By Jonjo Cosgrove.
Sylvester Stallone had made the Rocky franchise popular worldwide by the time this 1985 movie came out, but this was the first time the series truly went international. Starring the original cast, held by a truly astounding soundtrack and featuring some of the best boxing scenes in cinema history, Rocky IV was indeed a massive hit. In the movie, Rocky Balboa is a retired boxer after becoming world champion for the second time. Soviet boxer Ivan Drago (portrayed by the near 6 and a half foot tall Dolph Lungdren) comes to the United States to prove himself as a fighter and has his eye on challenging Rocky. Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) takes the challenge and enters with probably one of the greatest entrances for a fighter as Apollo Creed arrives dancing on a stage which is lowered into the ring with James Brown backing him performing ‘Living In America’ and sporting the flag of the United States over his boxing gear. Given one of the biggest entrances, Apollo is dealt the greatest blow of his life and is overpowered by Ivan Drago with Drago delivering the chilling line “If he dies…he dies”. Later, Rocky swears revenge and agrees to fight Ivan Drago. This time though, it won’t be in the US. It will be in Russia.
Rocky, for the first time in the series, is left to feel guilt for the death of a friend. A fight which should have never happened, Rocky feels he has to take the fight with Ivan Drago to help both himself and the USA. While in Russia, Ivan Drago is being given every advantage possible in his training to help him prepare for his fight with the Italian Stallion. Rocky, however, is actually training in a more isolated area and uses his snowy and mountainous surroundings to help him prepare. With the help of Paulie and Duke (Apollo Creed’s trainer), Rocky begins to get ready and is soon joined by his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) as another shot of inspiration. The soundtrack for the training montage is brilliant and is still part of pop culture today and a track by Survivor is a very inspirational and rather catchy track which will get you singing after a listen or two (or make you think of that advert for Fosters Radler’s). In an almost mirrored entrance to that of the fight in the US, Ivan Drago is given a big spectacular entrance in his native country while Rocky is left with nothing but boos from the crowd. The fight starts out like the match with Drago and Creed, Rocky takes a pounding and looks to be suffering in the early rounds. Eventually, Rocky manages a few punches into the mighty Drago and begins to weaken him and see him take an unlikely advantage after landing a hit which cuts Drago below the eye and giving him a spot to attack (and helps them to realise Drago is just a man). Drago, while taking a short break, says that Rocky is “…like a piece of iron” and is astounded by his resilience.
In the end, the hero takes on Drago till the fifteenth and final round where Rocky Balboa finally defeats the Russian with a knockout. This may be a usual “good vs. evil” story in many books, but I find it different. It is a movie which shows courage, revenge, guilt, mental suffering and what a man will go through for his friend and his country. It is a film which ultimately shows that a piece between two rather different nations can happen (but, I don’t wanna start being political). Sylvester Stallone shines in what is probably his best character he has ever portrayed, the last appearance of Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed is great as he goes out with a bang and given a spectacular scene to go out on. Talia Shire’s Adrian is sadly not given a lot to do in this film but she is still the person who keeps Rocky’s heart in the right place. Though he isn’t given many lines, Dolph Lungdren impresses as the giant Russian who is seen as not human for his actions and his lack of emotions. The inclusion of probably the greatest 80’s movie soundtrack makes this film an incredible experience and one that will get you cheering for Rocky Balboa for the whole of its run time. Get some popcorn, a few fizzy drinks and the soundtrack of the film to hear again afterwards and tuck in to this incredible movie!
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.
Thomas Turgoose was only 14 when his big-break came in the British movie This Is England. He played a young skinhead who is accepted into a group of older peers which eventually splits into two groups with one become a nationalist group which greatly explored themes of racism in 80’s Britain. From this, he then went on to star in The Scouting Book For Boys in 2008 (released late 2009/early 2010 around the world), this drama about two teenage friends (Thomas Turgoose’s David and Holliday Grainger’s Emily) who live on a caravan park in Norfolk. The story begins by exploring their deep friendship and seeing them have the usual teenage fun you expect. Go running, have a laugh, wind up neighbours, etc. They also have fun with a security guard called Steve (Rafe Spall) who though older than them, seems to enjoy their company. One day, their happiness is broken by the news that Emily will have to move away to live with her father. So, to avoid them being separated, a plan is hatched.
While David is questioned by the police and Emily’s family as to where she has disappeared, he states he doesn’t know where she has gone. Later, he goes to a cave near they’re caravan park where she is hiding. The film starts off fun, quirky and uplifting. Though after the first act, the tone does begin to change. A manhunt is on to find Emily, stories start to come out about Emily and Steve and David realises that his feelings for Emily are actually growing beyond friendship and into affection. After some time, the pressure mounts on David from everyone around him. Steve is obsessed with finding Emily and seems to be holding back a secret. Emily reveals a few secrets to David which upsets and him and makes him more possessive as the time ticks on. The last 20 minutes become really dark as David does all he can to keep Emily from escaping and though he doesn’t want to hurt his friend, he goes to great lengths to keep her. In the end, a conclusion which will bring tears to your eyes as the story keeps a very bitter ending.
The performances in this film are all brilliant. You can’t help but feel for Thomas Turgoose as his character David does all he can to keep Emily with him, even when the scenes are a bit more serious. Director Tom Harper knows his angles and shots well, he captures a sense of emotion in every shot. Jack Thorne has a script which has no teenage stereotypes that you may expect to see and the strength is the development of the two leads over the course of the film. Also Holliday Grainger plays her part well as Emily tries to be free of her parental constraints and also keep those she cares about close to her. Also, the music is done really well. The soundtrack features five songs from Noah and the Whale, the song at the end may be a bit upsetting when you really start to listen to the lyrics. Overall, this is a dramatic film which is simple, edgy and represents a high point in British cinema.
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.
Ok, this one is a very divisive one. The Passion Of The Christ is a film which revolves around the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ. Though some critics hated the movie and the non-biblical material used caused controversy, there is no denying that this movie is still very important ten years after its release. Mel Gibson, director and co-writer for the movie, wanted to make a film that told an honest story and hired theoretical advisers to help with his depiction. Hollywood studios would not back the film as they felt it was too much of a gamble on money and on reputation. But when a $30 Million Dollar film makes over $600 Million, you can’t argue with them figures. Ok, so why do I enjoy this film?
From the start, this is not like any theatrical depiction of Jesus that you have seen before. The hurt in his soul is evident straight away as he fights temptation and struggles to accept his fate which is quickly coming. The characters around Jesus are kept true to their biblical heritage. Judas is shown betraying Jesus, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times as said by Jesus previously that he would and also placing Jesus on the cross. But there is a lot more than that in here. We see Jesus (as played brilliantly by Jim Caviezel) go through much suffering. Especially during a scene where he is tortured in a scene which lasts around eight minutes of him being hit, whipped, smacked and punctured until he collapses to the ground in a pool of his own blood. Judas resents himself for what he did to Jesus and tries to buy Jesus his freedom, when denied this Judas then commits suicide by hanging. Satan is depicted in the film as a woman who is trying to lure Jesus out of his fate and to bring chaos to the world. Finally, if you hadn’t already felt shocked enough after the torture scene. You see Jesus having a crown of thorns forced onto his head, piercing through his skin and he is then made to carry his own cross and later nailed to it and placed upright where his body begins to pull on the reigns placed through it.
This film is bloody, it’s not for the faint hearted and it will upset people. I think of it as an achievement in filmmaking, maybe it pushes the original story of Christ to a much darker place than it originates, but the depiction of the characters cannot be faulted and you will be gripped until the movie’s conclusion. The casting works well, the inclusion of a mainly Italian cast and American actor Jim Caviezel as Jesus proved to work well and by having lesser-known actors gave the film more attention for what it was than who was in it. The movie is all in Aramaic and Latin and provides a more authentic depiction for that time. Finally, Mel Gibson has stated that the film is as violent as he wanted it to show how much Jesus went through for the sins of all. He wanted to show what the man could go through and make you experience his pain and that in itself got me hooked as it is too brutal to not watch. Not an easy viewing, but a rewarding one. Just, don’t go rallying up to Mel Gibson demanding answers as to why he wanted to make the film in the first place.
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove.
So, I have decided to write about my Top 20 films of all time. This list of films was not easy, but I am glad that I have finally managed to make a selection that I think highlights some classic movies and purely brilliant cinematic pictures. A mix of action, comedy, horror, action and more is combined to create a top 20 I have grown up with and still enjoy a lot today. So, let us begin at Number 20: The Mask.
The Mask is silly, funny, unpredictable and downright entertaining. The film stars Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss, a bank worker who has been pushed around his whole life, making him a very shy person. He has very few friends and can’t get into any popular clubs, but one night everything changes when he finds a mask in the harbour. He places the mask (later discovered to be the Mask of Loki. The god of mischief. Which makes me wonder, could we get this film re-cut to include Tom Hiddleston as the god as he hides the mask on earth? No? Damn!) over his face and is transformed into The Mask, a character whom is able to warp the reality around him and is a polar opposite of the rather timid Stanley without the mask. The powers granted to Stanley are hard to describe, he can basically do anything he wants and gets revenge on those who have wronged and upset him. A plot in the film revolves around gangster Dorian Tyrell as he looks to overthrow his boss and make his mark in the city. In between this, we see The Mask as he makes fun of the world around him and fun random acts come up including creating a tommy gun out of a balloon and eat a bomb! Plus, when his dog Milo puts on the mask, you can’t help but laugh and think “Awww, how cute” at the same time.
Why do I like this? First, it is incredibly funny. Jim Carrey unleashes a barrage of comedy as soon as his head is green and he becomes a human cartoon for his audience. The random lines, the references to pop culture and the zany nature that The Mask held was something that the audience young and old could both enjoy. The jokes are rather clean cut and can be both immature and clever. Jim Carrey is able to make himself two completely different people while retaining the Stanley character in both his standard and mask versions. Cameron Diaz gets her first lead role in The Mask as Tina Carlyle; she shines as the girlfriend to a mobster who eventually falls for Stanley Ipkiss. Also, a mention should go to Richard Jeni, the comedian played the part of Charlie, the only friend on Jim Carrey’s Stanley. The comedian may sadly not be with us anymore, but his presence is so strong in this film that I almost wished a sequel would happen just to have Charlie become the new holder of The Mask. Finally, it’s a good 101 minutes of fun which showcases a Jim Carrey at his best and a peak for comedy movies in the 1990’s.
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove