Sunday, May 16, 2010

The joys of Criterion

Anyone interested in film knows that right now, Cannes Film Festival is taking place, and much to my chagrin, I was not able to get a badge, plane ticket, hotel, etc. I plan on attending next year, but for this year I'll just have to sit back and read the coverage as it comes in from, and By the way, that last sentence was one big fat shout out to colleagues Guy Lodge, Sasha Stone, and Anne Thompson, respectively, who are all doing such a tremendous job of covering this festival this year. Keep up the good work guys. See you all in France next year!

Anywho, the point I'm roughly making here is that while my colleagues get to go and enjoy lots of great films in France, I'm kinda stuck here in the US with the leftovers. Unfortunately, even that's slim pickings. 2010, for me at least, has been a rough year for film thus far, and even the good nto great stuff is slim pickings. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I've only actually enjoyed three US releases so far this year. Those, of course, would be the only three films I've had the time or energy to bother to write a review of. Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon, and Iron Man 2. I emphasize the fact that while I loved all three of those films, there haven't been any others that I've seen that I even came close to finding watchable. The Bounty Hunter, Dear John, Remember Me, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and countless others have just been outright awful in so many ways. Kick-Ass wasn't entirely awful, just a disappointment and painfully frustrating film on a lot of levels, so I wouldn't even go so far as to say I really actually enjoyed it, because truth be told, it felt like hitting my head against a wall for two hours.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review: 4.5/5

Movie Stills 34.jpg

Back in 2008, the hot ticket was "The Dark Knight", the wildly anticipated Batman reboot "Batman Begins". And rightfully so. Director Christopher Nolan's reboot of the franchise was a critical and commercial success, and pushed the director, and his star, Christian Bale, immediately into the A-list and in high demand. Now, the sequel was upon us, with an insane amount of hype and mystery surrounding not only the film itself, but the performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker.

However, before Batman could reign supreme, there was another comic book film building up mystery and interest. Director Jon Favreau was bringing a screen adaptation of one of Marvel's slightly lesser known heroes (when compared to the iconic Spider-Man, Hulk, and X-Men); Iron Man. The film had no real expectations, people expected it to be moderately successful and just merely OK. But as the interest and anticipation of the film grew, it gained an audience. Robert Downey Jr. had been cast in the lead role, which was genuinely unheard of to cast such a risky actor in the lead of a summer blockbuster tent-pole film.

And then the film came, and boy did it make a splash. Breaking box office records for a non-sequel, the film was an unexpected critical and commercial hit. That was sooooo 2008.

Iron Man

2010 is upon us and we are now seeing the release of "Iron Man 2", the wildly anticipated sequel to 2008's surprise smash hit. In one of the opening scenes of the film, Tony Stark makes a grand entrance to the "Stark Expo" and asks the cheering audience "Oh it's good to be back! Did you miss me", as if asking the film's audience themselves. We sure did Tony. The question is, the film indeed shoots to thrill, but is it as good as the first film? The answer, yes and no.

First, the good. The acting is all around excellent. The film is a bit more of an ensemble piece than the first film, but that's not a bad thing. In some ways, it makes you wish that each character was given more screen-time, but overall, the more important ones are given plenty. Robert Downey Jr., of course, proves why he was so perfectly cast in the first place. What makes Robert Downey Jr. so brilliant in the role is that in some ways, it's a more extreme extension of his own personality, charming, suave, and full of dry wit, but when the going gets tough, so does he. You can really see the pain in his eyes as he realizes that the technology that he needs to keep himself alive is also slowly killing him. But just as well, when duty calls, he's there to kick some serious ass.