Review- Kingsman: The Secret Service

by Brandon Matzke

Rating: TV-14

Isn’t this movie rated R? Well, yes and no. When it was released in theaters, it was rated R. But when it was released on television, it was toned down (slightly) to a TV-14. And seeing as the sequel comes to theaters September 22, it seems like the perfect time to review this modern cult classic. Now, with that out of the way, let me review this movie…. like a gentleman.

The plot of Kingsman is rather simple, yet crazy. A rebellious teenager (played by Taron Egerton) is forced into joining the Kingsman: a tailor shop famous across Britain. Of course, there’s more to it than that; the Kingsman is actually a secret agent agency, protecting the world from whatever threats approach. Mentored by the famous Harry Hart (played excellently by Colin Firth), the rookie agent must take on the maniacal Valentine (played by Samuel L Jackson), and his evil henchwoman Gazelle (a woman with literal blades for legs). Believe me, that’s the easiest way to describe the zaniness in this film.

For one, the action is amazing. I loved every action scene, and each one was filmed perfectly. Especially the church sequence. That may be one of the best fight scenes I have ever seen on film. I promise not to spoil it, but trust me when I say that it’s breathtaking.

This is a goofy movie. The film has a great lack of self-seriousness, despite what the trailer promoted. From start to finish, there isn’t a single scene that takes itself too seriously. And that’s for the best.

It is supposed to be a love letter to campy spy movies of the 1960s. Well, a very violent love letter, but still a love letter. And apparently, that was the intent. Matthew Vaughn (the director) once had a discussion with comic book legend Mark Millar about how spy movies had become way too serious, and he wanted to do a type of film that payed homage to the classic 60’s campiness, but to “give it a modern spin”. As a result, a 60’s inspired “take over the world” plot is mixed with modern technology, some brutal yet jaw-dropping action scenes, and some pretty fun performances to watch (especially from the usually dramatic Colin Firth). Kingsman isn’t perfect, but it’s still a ton of fun for spy movie genre fans, and gets a 10/10. Is it the best spy movie ever? No. Nothing can beat Casino Royale (2006). But it still is a blast.

What the critics say:

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

IMDb: 7.7/10

Review- IT (1990, the classic adaptation)

by Brandon Matzke (guest modern movie reviewer)

Rating: TV-14

Since the newest version of the terrifying Stephen King novel is coming out this week (I have seen the movie, it’s a 10/10), I thought it would be fun to look back at the TV mini-series that “scared a generation”; IT (starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the dancing clown). So, after days of searching Goodwills for a copy (and finally buying one on VHS for a dollar), and 3 and ½ hours of watching, I finally decided to review it. So, how was the classic mini-series? Well… I honestly have no idea. I’m gonna have to do something unusual for me: divide this into positives and negatives. But before I tell you my thoughts, I have to explain the structure. IT uses what I like to call the “Nolan formula”, where it often switches between past and present (this film’s present is 1986). So, half of the series follows the characters as children growing up in the town of Derry during the 50s, while the other half follows them as adults re-entering Derry to combat a childhood fear: Pennywise. Make sense? Well, let’s get this started!


1. The child actors

Believe it or not, but the kids in this movie are surprisingly talented. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that a young Seth Green was cast, but for the most part, they did pretty well. Sometimes, even better than the adults! The kids brought emotion into the film, and if the entire film was focused on the kids, I would’ve enjoyed it much more.

2. Tim Curry as Pennywise

I feel kind of strange about Curry’s iconic take on the child-devouring clown; part of me loved every second of him on screen, while another felt he was in the wrong movie. Let me explain. Curry was surprisingly a laugh riot; every joke he made had me cracking up. He truly stole the show. But at the same time, he was supposed to be scary. And the rest of the film took itself very seriously, so it felt rather jarring. Welcome, but jarring.

3. It’s surprisingly tame for a “scary movie”

This is probably the tamest Stephen King adaptation I’ve ever seen, despite the fact that it’s based on one of his most disturbing works. There’s nothing too gory, and it never gets too creepy. If you’re curious about scary movies, but aren’t exactly ready for Alien (my personal favorite scary movie), then this one is a great place to start.

Now onto the negatives. Oh boy…

1. The adults

Nothing against these people, but sometimes the acting from the adults feels rather bland. I don’t if it’s because their child counterparts did such a great job, but I found myself dreading seeing the adults’ stories. They were kind of predictable.They definitely dragged down the second half, since it was almost entirely focused on them.

2. The plotholes

Some plot points make zero sense at times, and I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t so “in your face” about some of them. For spoiler’s sake, I will not cover them, but they do annoy me. If you’re there for Tim Curry though, then it won’t be much of a bother.

3. The stop-motion

Listen, I used to make stop-motion films; I know how hard it is to use it properly. But the stop-motion in the film has not aged well. It looks extremely dated, and feels very out of place. But, again, it won’t be much of a bother to those there for a good time.

4. The Stephen King cliches I don’t know if these are as abundant in the novel as they are in this movie, but they do get on my nerves. If you don’t know them, then you’re going to have a lot more fun than I did. Trust me when I say that.

Final Thoughts

So, those were my personal thoughts on IT, a mini-series I sadly did not enjoy. But, for a few reasons, I still recommend it in a weird way. Tim Curry’s take on Pennywise is something you need to see to believe. This man was clearly having the time of his life doing this, and it shows. The childhood half of the movie works well acting as a sort of “supernatural coming of age” story. And, again, it’s a decent introduction to those who are curious about scary movies. Plus, it’s a great watch with friends.

I had a great time getting through this thanks to a very close friend, and I highly recommend getting as many of your pals together to watch this. It might not have been my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some enjoyment to be had. I personally give it a 6/10, but it’s clear that others can enjoy this more. Is it the best Stephen King adaptation? Not even close (nothing can beat The Shawshank Redemption). Is it the worst? As someone who has seen most of the worst (never watch Maximum Overdrive, Dreamcatcher, Sleepwalkers, etc. ), I can gladly say no. It’s somewhere in the middle. You either adore it, think it’s OK (me), or hate it.

Other reviews:

62% on Rotten Tomatoes

6.9/10 on IMDb