Kingsman: The Secret Service (***½)

Posted on April 7th, 2015 in Commentary by EngineerBoy
A Gentleman's Closet

A Gentleman’s Closet

3.5/4 stars

We went into Kingsman with moderate expectations – I had heard some interesting buzz, but the thought of Colin Firth as an action star left me a bit incredulous.

However, I stand corrected. Kingsman is one of the more surprising and entertaining films we have seen in a *long* time. It is a funny, charming, exciting, and at times hyper-violent homage to the spy films of the 60’s and 70’s, updated with the effects and production values of the biggest of Hollywood blockbusters. On top of all of that, the acting has that impeccable British air to it, where you can tell that the cast members were actors first and celebrities second, unlike the all-too-common reverse of that in the US.

Leading the acting gravitas is Sir Michael Caine, playing Arthur, the mysterious head of a mysterious organization called Kingsman, composed of mysterious latter-day knights who mysteriously protect the world from mysterious mysteries.  And let me tell you, nobody plays a Michael Caine-like character better than Michael Caine.

Then we come to Colin Firth, usually known (to me) as the cuddly and befuddly love interest in some offbeat rom-com. Well, he is completely different here as the archly mannered and highly lethal (and highly believable) Kingsman known as Galahad. His nemesis is Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson with a deprecating lisp that hides the enormity of his mysterious plan.

Throw in some gratuitous Mark Hamill and a great supporting cast of newcomers and unknowns (at least by me) and you’ve got a terrific ensemble. The story is fairly original, and turns in directions that I did not see coming, which was quite refreshing.

It’s difficult for me to talk about the film without giving away key plot elements, but I’ll try to minimize the spoilers. The core of the movie is an evil plan that has worldwide implications, and also has the complicity of much of the world’s leadership, making it that much more difficult to stop.

The team of Kingsman fighting the evil plot are sort of a Non-Governmental Organization of Righteousness and Justice, dispensed by well-tailored members/knights with equal doses of wit and whoop-ass. Speaking of, this movie has one of the more intensely violent sequences I have seen in a mainstream film, so watch out. It’s actually well-done and integral to the plot, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising or disturbing, so be prepared.

Put it all together and this is one entertaining film. Marie and I have now seen it twice, and I’ve actually seen it solo as well. Given that we have a 4 year old and parental-movie-nights are a precious rarity, it says something that we chose to expend multiple of them on this film.

So, if you’re in the mood for a big action movie that’s also a well-crafted film, this could be the ticket. Highly recommended.

Goodbye, Ruckus

Posted on April 6th, 2015 in Commentary,Engineerboy by EngineerBoy
Ruckus considering a squirrel

Ruckus considering a squirrel

Today we said goodbye to Ruckus, our beloved rescue. We had him genetically tested and it came back that he was 75% Rottweiler and 25% Standard Poodle. I’m not sure how accurate those things are, but it fit. He was strong, smart, and handsome, and he was a great, deep soul.

Figuring out the smart part took me a while. Rux was cool and calm almost 100% of the time. Yes, as a puppy he was a galloping galoot who loved to get into mischief, but when Weagle passed away and Rux became the alpha, he matured almost overnight into a gentle guardian. What I had initially interpreted as him being a goofus was actually just him having fun while there was fun to be had, while it was not yet his job to maintain the safety of the pack.

But once he took over he developed a regal bearing. Not superior. Never menacing. Cool, calm, collected, and capable. He was benign with visiting dogs even when they misbehaved. He was an angel with children, and we never for one second had any concern with him around Avelynn when she was a baby – he loved her from the moment she came home.

He was also at his happiest when Annalisa was at the house, and the pack was complete – he would greet her enthusiastically each visit, then snuggle in next to her for as long as he could.

He was brought down by a 1-2-3 punch over the last few weeks. First, we learned he had Addison’s Disease when he collapsed in the throes of an Addisonian Crisis. As we nursed him back from that they discovered a splenic tumor. And, finally, his hind legs simply stopped working to the point where he couldn’t even get up.

Sadly, prior to his decline we had recently made the decision to get a new puppy that we could bring in for Rux to train up to become the new security chief of the house. We had just gotten to the point of making a choice of pup when Rux’s health started to fade, so we held off on introducing a new puppy into his convalescence. So, speaking selfishly, we have lost out on having Rux pass down his teachings to a new pup.

But, he did confirm that we love Rottweilers, particular after how great Weagle was, and our next dog will almost certainly be mostly or all Rottie. They are marvelous dogs, and any issues with Rotties will almost certainly be issues with the owners, not the breed itself. On the rare instances when I had to travel solo, it was comforting to know that Ruckus was at the house protecting the family.

He was a good dog. He almost never barked, except in extreme instances. He never snapped or growled, again, except in extreme circumstances. He had a built-in genetic drive to hoooooooowwwwwlllll any time he