Archive for Robert Downey Jr.

Iron Man 2 (5/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2010 by Brandon

Remember the final battle in the first Iron Man? It was technically thrilling, but entirely unncessary to the plot – it just seemed like the filmmakers felt the need to put in a final bombastic action sequence. That fight is the weakest of the entire movie, which is one of the slickest action pics of all time. And unfortunately, Iron Man 2 seems to have learned more from that clunky final boss fight than it did from the rest of the semi-brilliant origin story. Continue reading

Advertisements

The Incredible Hulk (8/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2008 by Brandon

A big green monster stomping around smashing into things means absolutely nothing if the viewer can’t identify with what lies beneath the surface of that monster, and in the new, bigger, better, badder Incredible Hulk, Edward Norton gives us the perfect performance with which to identify before he goes into rage mode. It’s the strongest thing about an already strong movie, one that successfully continues this superhero summer after the homerun of Iron Man.

I was one of the few people who really appreciated what Ang Lee tried to do with the original Hulk back in 2003. He wanted to give us a superhero movie that was as much about the human drama as it was about the superpowers. Unfortunately for him, it got caught up in some rather bloated acting scenes, and way too little smashing. Let’s face it – when you go to see a movie entitled, “Hulk,” you want to see one or two things being tossed around, and possibly even the Hulk breaking a police car in two and using them as boxing gloves, but no, we didn’t get that.

Louis Leterrier, the director, whose previous credits include the Transporter films and Jet Li’s fumble, “Unleashed,” didn’t exactly have me all fired up with excitement. I was looking forward to it with a tinge of apprehension, and thankfully, Leterrier more than outdid himself, easily surpassing anything else he’s ever done and placing himself squarely alongside Iron Man’s helm-meister Jon Favreau as a superior superhero director. The Incredible Hulk is more gritty and rough around the edges, as opposed to Iron Man’s sleekly polished shine, but that suits its central character perfectly, and the result is a smash-fest that will leave viewers excited for more.

Any relation to the previous movie is done away with, as we learn, through a series of flashing images, that an experiment went horribly wrong and forced Dr. Bruce Banner to flee the US army and take refuge in South America, where he’s been hiding for the past five years, perfecting calming techniques so as to never let the Hulk take over again. The plot details are kind of hazy within the first half hour – Leterrier doesn’t take us the traditional route of superpower origin story, and refuses to lead his audience along like a poor puppy dog on a leash – this is a fast and brutal story and within fifteen or twenty minutes we’re treated to our first Hulk sighting as the army discovers Banner’s location and sends in a team after him.

Because so little time is spent before we see the big smashing green thing, we need a solid central character around whom the conflict can be centered, and, with marvelous conservation of energy and a minimum of scenes, Leterrier gives us that in the form of Edward Norton, whose earnest belief that he must never again let this green monster overtake his body succeeds in pulling the audience with him through these episodes of anger. When we see him transform into the Hulk, our heart breaks along with his, because we know how hard he has worked to never let the Hulk overtake him again. There’s finally an energy and heart inside this big lug, and the superb CGI overtakes Ang Lee’s version by leaps and bounds (pun intended). Leterrier makes the Hulk a much more realistic character (as realistic as any ten foot tall green muscular beast can be), who bleeds, gets cut, and has rippling biceps that would make Ah-nold salivate with envy. He is one bad-ass mother, but he’s centralized around Dr. Bruce Banner’s trials and tribulations, and it works.

Obviously, because one of the main complaints of the first film was not enough action, Leterrier makes sure to gives us plenty of what we crave, and some of the action scenes in this movie rank among the best in Marvel movie history. Leterrier manages to take what could essentially be a giant green galoot randomly smashing things and transforms it into a two ton ballet of fists and metal crashing into each other to ridiculous results. Moreso than the miminalistic and futurustic Iron Man, the Hulk is a true summer movie, complete with liberal explosions, monsters crashing into each other to spectacular, literally earth-shattering results, and a strong central story thread running throughout.

The film is not without its weaknesses. The central love story between Dr. Banner and the general’s daughter, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), is seriously malnourished, and though Norton and Tyler share nearly electrifying chemistry in a scene or two, it’s not enough to save what often comes off as contrived cheese. At one point the Hulk actually says the name, “Betty” out loud, and I had to struggle not to laugh. William Hurt as the general who is pursuing the Hulk, as well as Betty Ross’s father, is competent and admirable, and he brings some much needed heart to the side story of the struggle between Betty and her dad. Tim Roth as the increasingly depraved villain (an army commander who becomes jealous of the Hulk’s powers and tries to find ways to achieve superhuman strength), unfortunately never comes off as anything more than a caricature, but damn, what a caricature! He’s deliciously creepy and his developing insanity throughout the film is pulled off masterfully, but the script he’s handed is just not much to work with. This movie is clearly about Bruce Banner, and it doesn’t waste much time developing the humanity of others.

In the future, the first decade of the 21st century might come to be known as the comic book movie decade, and rightfully so. This is a great time to be alive if you’re a comic book fan, and this new Hulk continues the successful trend of superhero movies. That, and Marvel is clearly dropping hints into their movies about a potential mash-up movie in the future, and if, like me, one of the things you miss in comic book movies is how, in the original comics, Spider-Man talked to Daredevil while chilling with Johnny Storm, then it’s even more thrilling. This is a comic book movie for comic book fans, and chances are if you liked previous Marvel movies, you’ll love this one. It has its frayed edges and gritty exterior, but that’s part of its appeal, and as long as a few hundreds tons of concrete, glass, and metal get destroyed as a result of this big green dude’s antics, who really cares?

The Zodiac writer strikes again….

Posted in Movie Buzz with tags , , , , , , , on May 16, 2008 by Brandon

Here’s some dandily fine news.

For all you regular readers out there (and I know my regular readers must number somewhere in the upper hundreds), you’ll remember that Zodiac was my second favorite movie last year. Even though Ratatouille was my first, I’ll have to say that Zodiac probably had a better script – despite its length, it managed to be chilling, scary, tightly written and delicately paced, with a solid shot of wow factor.

This news makes me really happy. Yup. Zodiac’s script-writer has just turned in a script for Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5 to Sony Studios. I’m really excited to see how it’ll turn out – I have confidence in his abilities, especially when Sam Raimi is still possibly open to direct.

In other fun movie news, Tropic Thunder how has a redband trailer out. Am I the only one who notices that the credits say “Stiller Black Downey Jr.” and that Downey Jr. plays an actor who plays a black man? I wonder if they did it on purpose. I’m really excited for this movie – Zoolander did an excellent job parodying the really really ridiculously good-looking model world in it, and it showed some serious directing chops from Stiller. With him directing this new project it will be at least……three times this big! Oh, and cool, Steve Coogan is in it! I love him – even when he’s in mediocre project he keeps his tongue perfectly in cheek – sounds like the perfect guy for this movie.

And I was gonna post a link to the new Mummy 3 trailer but it looks like the link is down, so I’ll save my thoughts and comments for another day.

Iron Man (8/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , on May 5, 2008 by Brandon

Somewhere between Tony Stark testing out different versions of his suit and battling it out with a megalomaniacal super-duper-villain I realized something: this was the most pure fun I had had since Spider-Man 2 swung resoundingly into theatres back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong; Iron Man is no Spider-Man 2; hell, it isn’t even X2. But it is one of the best superhero movies ever made, and that’s no small praise.

Tony Stark is the head of Stark industries, and he’s in the Middle East closing a deal on his new licensed super-powerful weapon: the Jericho. On his way back to the Army base his convoy is attacked by terrorists and everyone except him is killed. He finds himself demanded by these al-Qaeda look-alikes to construct his new Jericho weapon, and they give him all the supplies he’ll need to do so. Instead he builds an Iron suit that enables him to escape and head back to the US, where he encounters opposition from his partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) when he tries to shut down the weapons division of Stark industries.

Iron Man does have a few chinks in his armor. The first third of the movie drags kind of slow, and there are some glaring plot holes while Stark is building his suit – the main one being why the terrorists would be so stupid as to entrust Stark with all this weaponry and then just magically expect him to follow orders. That, and it’s very unbelievable that such a savvy man as Stark would be completely baffled to find that his weapons are in the hands of terrorists – isn’t it known that if you’re an arms-dealer your weaponry is GOING to find itself in the wrong hands?

The action picks up once Stark is back in the US and perfecting his suit. When he finally takes it out for flight the feeling of exhilaration is reminiscent of when Peter Parker first took to the streets of New York in his PJ Spidey suit, unstoppable excitement tempered by terrifying fear and combined with a sense of tremendous discovery and escapism. Iron Man is the most purely fun movie so far this year, and part of that credit should go to the fantastic special effects.

You thought Transformers was staggering? Wait until you see Iron Man. Though it’s not as chaotic as the titanium titans clashing it’s still bombastically entertaining. The battles are wild and fun and take extensive liberties with the laws of physics and gravity; in other words, the perfect summer popcorn entertainment. There’s at least a half dozen moments where you’ll simply sit in your seat and think to yourself, “DAMN that was badass.” Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the cast shine like bright steel too.

Downey, Jr. is perfect in the role, he’s so charismatic to watch and it’s really difficult to ever take your eyes off him. Despite being an insufferable playboy for the first third of the film he still manages to be likeable, and when he finally does turn generous and unselfish he’s even more endearing. His kind-of love interest Gwyneth Paltrow is radiant, different from anything she’s really played before and bringing sexiness and charm to an otherwise underfed role. Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane is almost too calm and collected, and he lacks the life that the rest of the cast has.

Some people are calling Iron Man the best superhero movie ever made, but it can’t be that for several reasons, a couple of which are the obvious flaws mentioned above. The fact that Stark also needs a small generator to keep a few shards of metal from fatally piercing his heart, but at the same time can build weapons of incredible power, makes you wonder why he doesn’t just remove the metal pieces in the first place. These are all small complaints, though, as they’re the kind of things you either implicitly accept in a comic book world or whole-heartedly deny. And comic fans who stick around after the credits will be treated to an unprecedented event in superhero filmmaking. Regardless of which camp you fall into, the fact remains that Iron Man is the perfect movie to jump start this summer season, and it only remains to be seen whether The Dark Knight lives up to its expectations, because if it does, it’s quite possible that it may surpass both Spidey and X2.