Kingsman: The Secret Service | Dragon Age: Origins, "Orzammar"
Secret spy services and sub-surface squabbling.
MOVIE REVIEW /// Kingsman: The Secret Service
Movie summary: A spy organisation recruits a promising street kid into the agency's training program, while a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. (IMDb)
When Kingsman: The Secret Service popped up as a random selection to watch for a review, I couldn't help but think how weird it was that I've already reviewed the sequel and wondered if my dislike for that movie would affect my enjoyment of this. Ultimately, I don't think it did (other than in one very small way), but I've got to say that I still didn't quite like this movie as much as I thought I would.
That one small way The Golden Circle impacted this movie was the wasteful use of Roxy (Sophie Cookson) in that movie, when I enjoyed the character so much here and would've loved to see her used much better - here's hoping that any third movie brings her back - and not as a villain. I get that the title isn't Kingswoman, but having a kickass female spy really wouldn't hurt, would it?
Otherwise, the main issue I had with Kingsman is that it feels a little outdated already, although I can't really place why. There's something about it which makes it come across as a little too simple, which was good - again, at the time - as a contrast to Daniel Craig's James Bond, Matt Damon's Jason Bourne, Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer and also Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt; the last of those proving to have far better current longevity than any of the others.
Taron Egerton's Eggsy is fun to watch as a protagonist, and Egerton's performance is great, but the world and story he lives in doesn't quite match up. That's also true of the rest of the cast, with Colin Firth, Mark Strong and the previously-mentioned Cookson all being terrific to watch on one side, with Samuel L Jackson and Sofia Boutella proving to be excellent antagonists.
To be fair, a self-centered, arrogant as hell techbro who thinks he can save the world, like Jackson's Valentine, still works pretty well as an instantly dislikeable bad guy - the fact he has Thanos-like motivations and a similar end goal doesn't hurt either. Strangely, this role shows just how good an actor Jackson is, because Valentine is so different from the general view of the kinds of characters he plays, yet the performance is so natural that you buy Valentine as a character completely.
The biggest obvious issue for me is that I don't like how the action is shot in Kingsman. It's sped up, which does get across how frantic and frenetic some of the fights can be, but it's a little too fast to be believable - there's a difference between using a higher frame rate to make things feel like they're moving faster than they are, and simply taking normal-speed action and playing it faster. Kingsman feels very much like the latter.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is fortunate that the characters are so much fun to spend time with, and the cast play them as if they had a great time making this movie. The action doesn't really work anymore, even if you can tell how well choregraphed it is (especially a church massacre), and the exaggerated, stylised version of our world the movie is set in feels a little fake, robbing the plot of any great sense of danger.
Kingsman: The Secret Service remains a good movie even if it does feel very much of its time and far more dated than it really should for a movie released just seven years ago. The way the action is shot is a little jarring too, making what's going on comes across as not all that real and, as result, nothing to care too much about. Thankfully, the excellent cast all give great performances to ensure you shouldn't end your watch feeling as if you've wasted your time.
[7/10 - Good]
GAME PLAY /// Dragon Age: Origins, "Orzammar"
Ah, Orzammar - by far and away my least favourite main section of Dragon Age: Origins, if only from a story point of view. Why do I put it that way? First off, the Fade is definitely the worst part of the game and all the Dwarf stuff doesn't come close to that tedium. The second reason is that everything in Dwarven society works from a world-building point of view, but isn't that much fun to play through.
It's great for world-building as all of the political machinations and (sometimes literal) back-stabbing is nothing like the rest of the game, plus the scenery and architecture is completely different to everything we've seen up to this point. It's not as much fun to play thanks to pretty much the exact same reasons, feeling like it belongs in a different game.
Everything being underground really doesn't help matters either, with various shades of red, brown and grey being pretty much it for the entire time you spend in the Dwarven capital - a visual treat this is not. Nor is all the political stuff, because it's never made to feel important in any terms other than recruiting another set of allies for the final confrontation with the Archdemon and the Darkspawn horde.
The Ferelden civil war, with the looming - if distant - threats of Orlais, the Qunari and the Tevinter Empire, feel so much bigger and it means that the Dwarves come across as very much a lesser race in the world as a whole, with their dispute over the throne being made to feel like petty bickering rather than the huge event it really should be seen as.
Having all the Dwarven activity kept to this one area also means that you're practically bombarded with new quests and side activities in no time at all, with there being no real flow to all these side stories and a lot of back-tracking across the three main levels of the city. Fortunately, Orzammar isn't that big, but having to go back and forth so much can get a little frustrating after a while.
Also, many people might pick up the last party member - Oghren, a Dwarf Berserker - fairly quickly here, but I'm trying to play Elissa as quite focused and the game hasn't given me any particular reason to so much as speak to him yet, so I haven't, despite heading into the Deep Roads for the first time after tidying up my quest log as much as possible beforehand.
And being focused is how I'd suggest playing through this unless the art style and concentration on political matters really grab you, as there's very little else to do here, with only a small smattering of combat here and there to punctuate the flood of lore and exposition that gets dropped on you otherwise. To be fair, that is about to change...