Two Movies: Free Guy and The King's Man

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I haven't had a post in a little while (life events and then some current events have intervened), so I thought I'd post a thread about some movies a watched this weekend in order to get my mind off of ... those things happening on the new channels.

Both of these movies are on HBO Max streaming (and Free Guy is also available on Disney+). The reason I am going to discuss them in tandem is, well, mostly because I happened to watch both of them over the weekend. But also because they presented a kind of interesting tension- one movie I went into with decent expectations, and left very disappointed. The other ... well, I had no expectations whatsoever, and I had a genuinely great time. Enough that I'd recommend it to all those who didn't catch it in the theater (during COVID) or believed the middling reviews.

Which was which? Well, read on!


1. The King's Man: Ralph Fiennes Gets his Paycheck.
Sorry boss, but there's only two men I trust. One of them's me. The other's not you.

I didn't even realize that there was another Kingsman movie released, such has been the rhythms of cinema life disrupted in the last few years. So it was with some bit of happiness that I saw this pop up on my favorite streaming service, HBO Max (HBO + DC + Studio Ghibli + Warner movies makes for a good combination). And even better ... Ralph Fiennes! He can act. He's the best part of the best Wes Anderson movie. He's the best part of the most underseen and underrated Cronenberg movie. He just consistently knocks it out of the park. And while the Kingsman franchise isn't always great, it has at least been fun, going from subversive and smart to crass and enjoyable, but at least being enjoyable and having a fair amount of visual flair.

...and this sucked. It's hard to explain how a movie can misfire so spectacularly, but this movie did. At a fundamental level, movies have to be somewhat tonally consistent. While it's definitely possible for movies to cross genres (rom-coms, zom-rom-coms), having a movie constantly jerk you between different tones is disorienting and unsatisfying. At a certain point, you no longer are clear on how you should react to the movie- is it trying to be funny or serious, dumb or smart, crass or respectful?

And that's why this movie was so ... frustrating. The cinematography was good. There were some action set-pieces that were enjoyable (and some, such as the Rasputin one, were funny as well). The acting was high quality. But I still have no idea what I was supposed to think of the movie as a whole. In all honesty, and without giving away spoilers, I felt like some of the actors were told, "You're in an Austin Powers movie," and some of the actors were told, "You're in a remake of All Quiet on the Western Front," and then the actors had scenes together.

In a sense, I have to recommend this movie only so someone can see how all the individual parts of a movie can "work," and the movie can still be trash. Because that's what this movie ended up being. A dumpster fire. It was neither fish nor fowl, but some kind of ungodly chicken-fish hybrid that managed to combine the worst aspects of each.


2. Free Guy: Ryan Reynolds is the Movie Star We Deserve
I never disrobe before gunplay.

Ryan Reynolds is a charming man. The best movies that he is in (such as the Deadpool series) tend to play that up, the worse, well, they don't. Free Guy swerves hard into that charm ... and, for the most part, it works. Don't get me wrong- it's not a great movie. It's not a movie you think about and ponder for weeks afterwards. But it is a fun movie. And at times, it's really fun.

The basic conceit is revealed at the beginning of the movie, so ... I can go ahead and tell you if you didn't already know it. Reynolds plays Guy, who is an NPC in a videogame (similar to Grand Theft Auto) who learns that he is in a videogame. It doesn't have any philosophical, Truman Show-esque points to make. But what does do is have a LOT of fun with the idea, and there are so many great visual gags that go on in the background of the movie that I will probably watch it again just for that.

Most importantly, it's really funny. It's funny if you play videogames, and (based on a sample size of one person that I was watching it with) funny if you don't. Some of the second act meanders a little, until it picks up with Dude, but ... yeah, this is a completely fun and enjoyable movie that doesn't require much from you (the viewer) but provides a good time. Sometimes, that's all you really want. Let's face it- maybe a three hour Japanese film about grief is a better movie, but sometimes you just want to have some laughs.


So, anyone else what to chime in? Thoughts about these movies?
 

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payn

Legend
In total agreement with you on The King's man. I did love Rasputin and the trench warfare scene. Otherwise, this film was a total snooze fest.

For me Free Guy felt like a movie made for folks who wished Ready Player One starred Ryan Reynolds. This film felt like they didn't know if they should lean heavy into the social commentary on gaming and A.I., or just a romance feel good story. Its kind of one foot in each and as usual, ends up being good at neither.

Kinda wished you watched the better movies that I could comment on more enthusiastically. Like The Last Duel and Nightmare Alley. Though, we work with what we got to work with.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
In total agreement with you on The King's man. I did love Rasputin and the trench warfare scene. Otherwise, this film was a total snooze fest.

For me Free Guy felt like a movie made for folks who wished Ready Player One starred Ryan Reynolds. This film felt like they didn't know if they should lean heavy into the social commentary on gaming and A.I., or just a romance feel good story. Its kind of one foot in each and as usual, ends up being good at neither.

Kinda wished you watched the better movies that I could comment on more enthusiastically. Like The Last Duel and Nightmare Alley. Though, we work with what we got to work with.

Honestly, I was looking for some pure escapism this weekend. Given that most of the weekend was spent watching ... you know, other stuff.

I'm going to have to disagree with you on Free Guy- I don't think it was going for Ready Player One. I think of it more as ... well, as a PG version of the Crank franchise. I know, by placing it in an admittedly fictionalized universe, you lose a lot of the frisson that made Crank the true first "videogame" movie (in the way that Repo Man was the first true mainstream "punk" movie), but it was just fun. RP1 was ... well, it was many things, but fun wasn't one of them. IMO.

Saw The Last Duel. It was a good movie, but I think it also told us that those types of movie (good movie, big budget, middlebrow) just aren't going to be made much. It's another example of how the middle gets squeezed out.
 

payn

Legend
Honestly, I was looking for some pure escapism this weekend. Given that most of the weekend was spent watching ... you know, other stuff.
Gotcha.
I'm going to have to disagree with you on Free Guy- I don't think it was going for Ready Player One. I think of it more as ... well, as a PG version of the Crank franchise. I know, by placing it in an admittedly fictionalized universe, you lose a lot of the frisson that made Crank the true first "videogame" movie (in the way that Repo Man was the first true mainstream "punk" movie), but it was just fun. RP1 was ... well, it was many things, but fun wasn't one of them. IMO.
High praise, and I see what you are going for here, Free Guy just didn't hit those notes for me. Part of that was the writing and a bigger part is Ryan Reynolds just feels one note at this point. I think somebody around here nailed it when they said RR should only make Deadpool movies for the rest of his life.
Saw The Last Duel. It was a good movie, but I think it also told us that those types of movie (good movie, big budget, middlebrow) just aren't going to be made much. It's another example of how the middle gets squeezed out.
I think theatrical dramatic film or "(good movie, big budget, middlebrow)" is getting its lunch eaten by the series explosion. Folks are just not looking for movies to pack that punch anymore. Also, I think Last Duel had some major writing problems going on.

If you havent seen Nightmare Alley yet, move it up the list. Its fantastic.
 

MarkB

Legend
Everything I've heard about The King's Man has led me to avoid it.

I did watch Free Guy when it first came out, and enjoyed it a lot. The only unrealistic part is that it's a gameworld in which people supposedly have more fun shooting random NPCs than each other, which quite simply doesn't ring true - if PvP is available, people tend to have a lot more fun ruining someone else's day if they know that someone is an actual person.

I suppose an argument could be made for that being the point of the whole AI aspect of the movie - that it makes the NPCs realistic enough that us sadistic humans can get a kick out of hurting them - except that none of the NPCs other than Guy came across as actually being like that.
 



Mezuka

Hero
Saw King's Man this weekend. It is wierd and off but I do love the machinations of the evil guy pulling the strings of rulers to create an unecessary war against Britain. It's a much better idea than any Bond evil guy ever had, far less costly. Kind of scary watching King's Man at the same time as invasion of Ukraine is on going.
 

Nightmare Alley was amazing from start to finish. The cast, the plot, the story arcs, the cinematography. Definitely deserving of its Oscar nominations.

Kinda wished you watched the better movies that I could comment on more enthusiastically. Like The Last Duel and Nightmare Alley. Though, we work with what we got to work with.

I watched Free Guy this weekend. I liked it a whole lot more than I expected, with it existing in this breezier intersection of Ready Player One, Tron, and The Matrix. Also seeing Force Grey's Utkarsh Ambudkar in it was an unexpected surprise.

Taika's Antwan is one of those perfect villains for today's age. A person that thinks he is so cool and intelligent but is entirely unaware that he is neither of these things.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I thought Free Guy worked on many, many levels, and was a great movie. I am very likely to rewatch it, which I don't do often.

I thought King's Man was a train wreck with occasional really fun moments.
 

delericho

Legend
I rather enjoyed both.

With Kingsman, I was able to enjoy the various pieces that worked, without worrying too much about the incoherent mess that was the whole. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to others, and probably won't watch it again, but I don't recommend it.

Free Guy was much the better film, and most reminded me of the Lego Movie. Again, I think I'm unlikely to watch it again, but at least that one I wouldn't feel bad about recommending. :)
 

Ryujin

Legend
Free Guy was a pleasant surprise for me, to see Reynolds use the charm and comedy chops, but not have them steeped in cynicism.
I'm with you there. He played straight Good Guy, without the sarcasm he uses to great effect in other properties. He does Sarcastic Mouth very well, as he's shown in many other films, but he's also excellent as Bashfully Naive. I only hope that he makes all of the money he needs, before he Jim Carreys himself out of a job.

I thought "King's Man" was OK, but just that. The first movie was excellent but let down (IMO) by the rather crass ending scene, after setting the stage as a gentlemen's organization. The second one was OK. It had some really good scenes, with a particular character being given a good background motivation, and I was particularly tickled by "Captain Fantastic" being the movie playing at the private theatre. "King's Man" was quite uneven and didn't seem to quite fit with the lore, from the previous 2 films. I felt that they tried to carry it on their particular take on action, alone.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
yeah Kingsman veered a bit too much into live action cartoon this time round (especially the Rasputin fight), but I did appreciate their attempt at social commentary, even if George got off a bit more favourably than Wilhelm. The Trench scene was good though and overall I did enjoy it.
NB did anyone else start going over the Boney M Rasputin lyrics during the fight?


Loved Free Guy, Ryan its playing the same character in all his movies, but it works as a pleasant fun ride
 
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payn

Legend
yeah Kingsman veered a bit too much into live action cartoon this time round (especially the Rasputin fight), but I did appreciate their attempt at social commentary, even if George did off a bit more favourably than Wilhelm. The Trench scene was good though and overall I did enjoy it.
NB did anyone else start going other the Boney M Rasputin lyrics during the fight?
So, the word up cowboy fight stuff in golden circle wasnt cartoony? I sort of found the cartoon level of violence a staple of Kingsmen. The Rasputin fight was the one time KM felt like it belonged in the franchise. 🤷‍♂️
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I thought "King's Man" was OK, but just that. The first movie was excellent but let down (IMO) by the rather crass ending scene, after setting the stage as a gentlemen's organization. The second one was OK. It had some really good scenes, with a particular character being given a good background motivation, and I was particularly tickled by "Captain Fantastic" being the movie playing at the private theatre. "King's Man" was quite uneven and didn't seem to quite fit with the lore, from the previous 2 films. I felt that they tried to carry it on their particular take on action, alone.

So, since others have commented on it, I might need to go into more depth, which requires spoilers.

Anyway, this is why I had so much trouble with the movie. Again, loved the component parts, but taken as a whole ... it sucked ... because ...

When I say that the movie is like the actors don't know if they are in Austin Powers or All Quiet on the Western Front, I really mean it!

From the very beginning, the movie was incredibly confused in terms of tone. To start with, it opened on the Boer War. I get it- it's a trendy historical thing to say that the Boer War was a dress rehearsal for WW1, so there is a thematic reason for it. But let's be blunt- the Kingsman franchise, while having some serious parts, was mostly fun.

The Boer War is not fun. Watching a child's mom get murdered is not fun. The action wasn't cartoony or comedic, but relatively real. And there was no signaling for how the audience should feel. Wait- do the Brits are the bad guys, because they are the ones running the concentration camp? Or the Boer sniper, because he's trying to shoot the guy running the camp?

It's a mess of an opening, with no clarity. But a moral, right? Violence is bad. Do not do violence.

But then we get what should be the central emotional conflict of the story- father who promised to not allow his son to be involved in violence (and also will not kill again), and son who wants to go solider on in glory. Except ... it's WW1, see? So we have the son go off the fight in the trenches, and gets killed in terrible fashion after learning his dad was right (no violence!). But his dad, in order to make things right, learns that ... well, you gotta go out there and kill some people. In fact, his 'catharsis' comes at the end, when he kills the main baddy by letting him fall off the Angora sheep cliff (umm ... yeah).

Oh, and the baddie? That part of the story actually seems like it could have been a good Kingsmen story. See, it's a Scotsmen who wants to free his country from the British, so he gets this complicated plan that touches on most of WW1 and history. Something so stupid it almost makes sense. Except ... it doesn't. At any level. Because, again, you're mixing the comedy (ha ha the Great War and Rasputin and Mata Hari and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and even Lenin were all due to a desire for Scottish independence) with deadly-serious pathos (young boys getting mowed down in the WW1 trenches).

Nothing in the film works, tonally, because you can't combine zany "Rasputin loves to eat yummy cakes and have the sex and fight" scene and juxtapose it with scenes of people dying in trenches. It's too jarring, and the movie never settles on a coherent framework. Worse, the actos often appear to be in different movies, with some (like Fiennes) playing it mostly straight and other going full Austin Powers.
 

payn

Legend
So, since others have commented on it, I might need to go into more depth, which requires spoilers.

Anyway, this is why I had so much trouble with the movie. Again, loved the component parts, but taken as a whole ... it sucked ... because ...

When I say that the movie is like the actors don't know if they are in Austin Powers or All Quiet on the Western Front, I really mean it!

From the very beginning, the movie was incredibly confused in terms of tone. To start with, it opened on the Boer War. I get it- it's a trendy historical thing to say that the Boer War was a dress rehearsal for WW1, so there is a thematic reason for it. But let's be blunt- the Kingsman franchise, while having some serious parts, was mostly fun.

The Boer War is not fun. Watching a child's mom get murdered is not fun. The action wasn't cartoony or comedic, but relatively real. And there was no signaling for how the audience should feel. Wait- do the Brits are the bad guys, because they are the ones running the concentration camp? Or the Boer sniper, because he's trying to shoot the guy running the camp?

It's a mess of an opening, with no clarity. But a moral, right? Violence is bad. Do not do violence.

But then we get what should be the central emotional conflict of the story- father who promised to not allow his son to be involved in violence (and also will not kill again), and son who wants to go solider on in glory. Except ... it's WW1, see? So we have the son go off the fight in the trenches, and gets killed in terrible fashion after learning his dad was right (no violence!). But his dad, in order to make things right, learns that ... well, you gotta go out there and kill some people. In fact, his 'catharsis' comes at the end, when he kills the main baddy by letting him fall off the Angora sheep cliff (umm ... yeah).

Oh, and the baddie? That part of the story actually seems like it could have been a good Kingsmen story. See, it's a Scotsmen who wants to free his country from the British, so he gets this complicated plan that touches on most of WW1 and history. Something so stupid it almost makes sense. Except ... it doesn't. At any level. Because, again, you're mixing the comedy (ha ha the Great War and Rasputin and Mata Hari and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and even Lenin were all due to a desire for Scottish independence) with deadly-serious pathos (young boys getting mowed down in the WW1 trenches).

Nothing in the film works, tonally, because you can't combine zany "Rasputin loves to eat yummy cakes and have the sex and fight" scene and juxtapose it with scenes of people dying in trenches. It's too jarring, and the movie never settles on a coherent framework. Worse, the actos often appear to be in different movies, with some (like Fiennes) playing it mostly straight and other going full Austin Powers.
Nailed it.
The Trench warfare scene was incredible. Well until the guy decides to fire his pistol and do the thing nobody would do. So, I take it back even the trench scene was ruined.
 

MarkB

Legend
So, the word up cowboy fight stuff in golden circle wasnt cartoony? I sort of found the cartoon level of violence a staple of Kingsmen. The Rasputin fight was the one time KM felt like it belonged in the franchise. 🤷‍♂️
Kingsman had one fight scene (the church) that managed to be both awesome and horrific simultaneously, but most of the rest veers towards the cartoony. The sequel has that taxi-cab fight early on that lost me immediately because it was so utterly cartoonish - a battle that could only take place in the middle of a host of CGI, poorly choreographed and shot, and utterly unengaging.
 

Hades#2

Explorer
I enjoyed Free Guy quite a bit. I was able to watch it on the plane a few weeks ago. Did not see Kings Man though. I liked the Channing Tatum and Chris Evans cameos. I don't do online gaming but know enough about it to appreciate all the background stuff going on.
 

aco175

Legend
I was waiting for Free Guy in the USA, which I thought was not released yet?

Was going to watch King's Man last weekend, but watched the JLo movie Marry Me with my wife. It was fine if you like corny romance movies.
 

payn

Legend
Kingsman had one fight scene (the church) that managed to be both awesome and horrific simultaneously, but most of the rest veers towards the cartoony. The sequel has that taxi-cab fight early on that lost me immediately because it was so utterly cartoonish - a battle that could only take place in the middle of a host of CGI, poorly choreographed and shot, and utterly unengaging.
Yeap, the cartoony feel overall was hard for me to handle too. I just go with it now since its on brand. These are straight to stream movies for me. Entertaining, but not top tier movies.
 

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