Thursday, August 30, 2007
Now this was a pleasant surprise after a fairly cruddy marketing campaign, which sold it as a much more cutesy and less clever movie than it turned out to be. It doesn't help that the first ten minutes are annoying in a cloying, sub-Harry Potter kind of way, and pointless too, telling the story of the hero's father, who's only important as regards a third act plot twist. It isn't until the prologue is over with and we find ourselves in the chambers of a dying king played by Peter O'Toole, who cackles at the sight of his sons murdering each other to succeed to the throne, that the movie really emerges as something witty and charming.
This isn't to say that the movie is flawless from that point - director Matthew Vaughn gives us all the obligatory images and jokes, to the point that the movie has a generic quality, especially in the character of the lead, a bland British guy named Charlie Cox. There's also a subplot involving Robert DeNiro as a closeted, cross-dressing sky pirate. His scenes flop because of (a) the annoying trendiness of the whole concept, and (b) because I couldn't buy DeNiro in the part - he's basically mugging. But Neil Gaiman's basic story ties it all together, and Claire Danes is charming as the fallen 'star'. It's no The Princess Bride but it's close - and a hell of a lot better than The Chronicles of Narnia.
Oh, and Ricky Gervais is in it, which is always a good thing.