FRIEND REQUEST [R] D
As part of my preview for “Friend Request,” I touted my love for the tagline “Evil is trending,” but now, having seen the movie, I wonder if evil is feeling let down by this tame (lame is definitely a more accurate description) social media horror story. Everything about Simon Verhoeven’s effort here smacks of predictability – from the cookie-cutter pleasantness of popularity to the gothic witchery of its scorned outsider (Liesl Ahlers). I have come to despise horror films that resort to providing an extensive backstory for the evils on display; I would much rather have such dark and depressing experiences remain unexplained. To my mind, that I far more chilling and a request I would like to extend to future horror aspirants looking to earn my box office “friendship.”
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [R] C-
Matthew Vaughn has a real and endearing love for the outrageousness and extravagance of the comic and graphic worlds. His adaptations pledge fidelity to the marvelous colors and mythic action barely contained in those carefully delineated frames. Which is why it should come as no surprise that his latest, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” pulls off an impossible character resurrection – the return of superspy Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who took a bullet to the head in the first “Kingsman” installment. That move would have been perfectly in keeping with this kind of modern heroic fantasy if the rest of “The Golden Circle” had been as revolutionary in its bold execution. Instead, the overly long movie feels like a cartoonish version of Roger Moore’s campy James Bond outings (think “Moonraker”) with higher production values. The saving grace though is the underrated character beats supplied by Firth and Mark Strong (who really needs a project worthy of his roguish talents).