Friday, May 21, 2010

Review - "Iron Man 2"

In 2008, "Iron Man" came out of nowhere to be one of the biggest films of that year. Naturally, as with all hits in Hollywood, a sequel was immediately planned for 2010. Some felt the pressure of releasing a follow up so soon after the first film would result in a rushed, less than stellar film. Well I can honestly say that did not happen in this case. "Iron Man 2" takes all the stuff that made the first film so enjoyable, and made what is, in my opinion, a sequel that is just a bit better than the original.

There is a lot going on in this movie. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces his own mortality. A Russian physicist (Mickey Rourke) seeks revenge on Stark for his fathers death, which he blames on Tony's deceased father, Howard (seen in this film through "old" film footage) and uses Tony's technology to achieve it. The Government is putting pressure on Stark to hand over his Iron Man technology for military use. Stark's competitor Justin Hammer (a great Sam Rockwell) is working with the government to develop Iron Man type equipment. S.H.I.E.L.D, the covert agency seen briefly in the first film, is pressuring Stark to join their "Avengers Initiative" aka Superhero team. Whew i got tired just writing all of that.

But it all works, and all comes together coherently. Robert Downey Jr. gives another great performance as Stark, a guy who has taken the weight of protecting the world on his shoulders and it is starting to take its toll on him. Mickey Rourke chews up each scene he is in, he lays the Russian accent on a bit thick at times but that really wasn't an issue for me. Don Cheadle steps into the role of Rhodey with total ease, I didn't even miss Terrance Howard. Sam Rockwell is hilarious as Starks wannabe rival. Everyone involved in this film had a blast and it shows on screen. One of my few complaints with the first Iron Man movie was that although the action was good, there was not quite enough of it. Definitely not a problem this time around.

This movie, just like the first, never takes itself too seriously, nor does it come across as too lighthearted. It strikes a good balance between the two. It's smart but doesn't hold back on the fun. The visual effects are well done like they were in the last film, and director Jon Faverau resists the latest gimmicks of modern film making ("shaky" cam, super quick cuts) and stays true to the world he established in the first film. I, for one am looking forward to another Iron Man film, as well as the upcoming "Avengers" movie, which Marvel studios is moving towards with each new super hero film ("Thor" and "Captain America" are filming now). Stay til the credits end and you will get another cool treat like at the end of the first Iron Man film.

Four out of Five stars.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer 2010

Editor's Note: Well it has been over a year since I have updated this blog. Unfortunately life interfered and I just was not able to dedicate anytime to it. Well thankfully things have settled down to the point where I can actually get back into it to talk about one of my passions, Movies. So here we go!! As always, feel free to leave comments, all I ask is that you stay on topic. If you like what you read, please become a follower! Enjoy and it's great to be back!

So begins another summer movie season, the time of year when the studios pull out the big guns, the "event" movies, the continuing and potential franchises. Every year Summer movies bring surprises, both good and bad. What will the summer of 2010 be like? No doubt it will be like most summers, there will be unexpected hits, unexpected flops, guaranteed hits, & pleasant surprises. The question is.....which movies will fall into which category? Let's take a look at some of the more high profile releases for the 2010 season.

"Iron Man 2" - May 7th. A sure thing if there ever was one. It crushed the competition with a first weekend gross of $128 million, $30 million more than "Iron Man". It looks to follow in the footsteps of both "Spider Man 2" and "X2:X Men United" as sequels that out do the originals, partly because they can jump right into the story without having to tell the origin story. All of the things that made the first movie so good seem to be returning, and the action is definitely being pumped up in this one, which is a good thing because my only real complaint about the first movie was that there actually could have been a bit more action. I will be seeing this tonight so I will post a review this week.

Predicted gross: $350 million

"Toy Story 3" - June 18. Pixar. Toy Story. Enough said. Toy Story is the only Pixar movie that has had sequels, (soon to change with "Cars 2" being made) and with good reason. Great characters. That's what makes us want sequels. They may be toys, but man do they have personality. That's why "Toy Story" was a hit, and why "Toy Story 2" was an even bigger hit. Judging by Pixar's track record, I have no reason to think this film will be nothing less than great. Even mediocre Pixar movies ("Cars" has always been though of as Pixar's weakest film) are better than half of the nonsense released into theaters. With the entire cast returning, (with the exception of the late Jim Varney), and some new voices - Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton, Whoopi Goldberg and Bonnie Hunt, I can say that this is a movie I would go to see with OR without my kids. Then again, I can say that about any Pixar movie.

Predicted Gross - $300 million

"The A Team" - June 11. Movies made from TV shows have been hit and miss. Being a big fan of the classic 80's TV show, I was of course very skeptical about this being made into a movie. Then I saw the casting and became very hopeful. Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Sharlto Copey ("District 9") as Murdock. The only question mark for me was Rampage Jackson as B.A., because he is not an actor by trade, I believe he is from Ultimate Fighting. But then I thought, well, Mr. T was not a good actor so as long as he looks the part and is intimidating, then it should work. Still cautious, I was at least hopeful. Then I saw the trailer and my fears were put to rest. Now I know that a good trailer does not guarantee a good movie, but knowing the show, I can pretty much conclude that the movie is going to be fun. All the actors look their parts. The action looks, at times, over the top, which is a good thing. The film makers seem to be taking a bit more of a serious approach, while at the same time keeping the spirit of the show intact. Director Joe Carnahan ("Smokin' Aces") is capable of directing good action, although "Smokin Aces" was a disappointment because of the muddled ending, the movie was about 10 minutes too long. So I'm holding out hope it's gonna be good.

Predicted Gross - $160 million

"Inception" - July 16. Ok I will admit, I don't know much about this movie. Then again, neither do too many other people. What we do know is this - It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine. It is directed by Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight", "Batman Begins", "The Prestige"), and it has something to do with a technology that allows a person to invade another person's dreams, and some sort of plan to implant, not steal information from someone. Sounds a bit like a combination of "Dreamscape", "The Matrix" and a good old heist movie. An odd combination to be sure, but if anyone can pull this off it's Christopher Nolan. With two great Batman movies under him, as well as "The Prestige" and "Memento", Nolan is a director who consistently delivers quality films and there is no reason not to believe "Inception" will be any different. Not knowing much about the movie's story usually proves to be an advantage with Nolan's films, so I will definitely make sure I know as little as possible going into this one. Nolan has not disappointed yet.

Predicted gross - $200 million

"The Expendables" - August 22. Sylvester Stallone surprised us with two sequels no one really thought would be as good as they were in "Rocky Balboa" and "Rambo". Both movies closed out their characters nicely, and word is Stallone is finally done with those characters. Not one to sit back and do nothing, Stallone has assembled a team of action stars unlike any we have seen before....Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungren, Mickey Rourke, Danny Trejo, with cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a story about a team of mercenaries heading to South America to overthrow a ruthless dictator only to find that nothing is as it seems. That is a set up for some potentially awesome action sequences. It's nice to see Stallone making an attempt at creating a new franchise, and seeing the trailers, this has potential. Being super violent and rated R, I don't think it is going to be a blockbuster, but it will make enough that it will be considered a hit and give Stallone the chance to make a sequel. Cant wait to see it.

Predicted gross - $100 million

Well that's it for now, what are your opinions on the movies I just talked about? What movies are you looking forward to this summer? Check out my review of "Iron Man2" in my next entry sometime this week.