May 24th, 2010


An Iron Handed Review

This Sunday

We've suddenly been thrust into humid, hot, summery weather -- the high peaked around 88°F here -- and we've been sort of reveling in it. Rather than turn on the central air, we put on the small window AC in the bedroom, but opened the windows and let the house heat up during the day. Of course the humidity meant that I also turned on the dehumidifier in the basement as well.

While many people I know are watching the 2-hour Lost recap show followed by the the 2½ hour Lost Series Finale, we watched cats & dogs & people on PBS' Nature, followed by a Miss Marple on Masterpiece: Mystery!. (grin)

Two Sundays Ago

We sort of abbreviated our normal Sunday routines so that we could run out to a 4:45pm movie. And though it was only the 9th of May, and regular schoolchildren are still in school, we had to mark the official beginning of the Summer 2010 Blockbuster Season. Alas, I've just been behind in putting in LJ updates and so this review is late. But it's not like people are depending on me for the film to be a success or not. (grin)

Iron Man 2 [PG-13] in IMAX
Celebration North IMAX, 4:45pm

One of the problem of getting behind in doing reviews is that (a) I have time to figure out what I say and (b) sometimes, having written it in my mind, I thought I've actually posted it. So... I can't link to a 2008 Iron Man review because apparently I never wrote it. (grin) Nevermind. We liked it. Thought Robert Downey, Jr. did a superb job of being both a drunk and an engineer -- delighted to see someone develop and field test gear, whether in a cave or an elaborate high tech basement lab. Not pleased with the terrorist sub-plot, which was, shall I say it?, a bit cartoonish, but in 2008, whatcha gonna do?

On to 2010 and it is SO nice to have a sequel which holds its own weight. I've talked to more than one person who cannot decide (or comes down on either side of the divide) which of the two Iron Man movies they liked better. That is such a relief. Indeed, just to have a decent story for a blockbuster sequel is extraordinary.

Watching Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow is so much fun. And they don't take the cheap way out, but keep have them missing the big romantic moment. Could not believe that they actually got whatshisname, Bill O'Reilly, from FOX News Network to show what an ass he is by claiming that Pepper Potts is just a secretary and not capable of running Stark Enterprises. When in fact she always has. And think about it -- Carly Fiorina rose from "secretary" to CEO. So don't give me that crap. (evil grin) Besides, the doofus running Hammer Industries shouldn't be allowed to run the register at a McDonald's Drive Up window, he's such a stupid businessman.

Don Cheadle always delivers a strong performance -- and his Major is a far better friend to Tony Stark than Stark deserves. But once again he is also mistreated by his superiors. Scarlett Johanson's Black Widow has been the subject of many comments claiming how awful she is and that her Russian accent is non-existent or weird. Frankly, I don't know the comic book canon for this franchise, so she was fun, looked great in her fighting gear and had some great and competent moves. More than that, I cannot address. Gary Shandling's Senator gets to each delicious crow at the end, which makes his previous unctuous performance all the better. And while Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury doesn't get much screen time, he also does his usual great job of "explaining" the unexplainable to people. We can watch him all day.

Of course the real great performance beyond Robert Downey, Jr.'s belongs to Mickey Rourke. Wow. Of course, I would quibble with the government's complaints that Whiplash had a harness and not a suit, but as Mrs. Dr. Phil pointed out, comic book politicians don't ever make sense. And it isn't Rourke's fault that the screenwriters don't know how computers, security or firewalls work. But my can he chew up the scenery, to say nothing of expensive race cars. (grin)

And while I'm ragging on poor screenwriting, we now have a THIRD movie in the last year which has a third elemental disfunction. Yes, Star Trek's red matter and Avatar's unobtanium, I'm looking right at you. Element 118? Really? Uh, no. Go Google "wikipedia element 118" and see some truth. Or look at my newly revised Periodic Table from my Spring 2010 PHYS-2070 class. And while it was a fun scene, making a particle accelerator in your basement -- and screwing up which way the laser is pointing? -- Does Not Work Like That.

Frankly, I missed seeing the "You Complete Me" scene from the TV trailer -- where Pepper Potts kisses the Iron Man helmet and then tosses it out the back of the airplane -- it isn't in the movie.

But don't think I'm complaining too hard, because the movie is fun. Tony Stark has his share of fun, too. The "Ironette" Dancers, with their glowing chest and hand lights, Iron Man performing in public -- it does nag at the back of the mind that this is awfully arrogant and deserving of a fall at some point. And getting drunk in the Iron Man suit? Irresponsible. And yet we get scenes like the array of Iron Man suits in various levels of repair. THIS is why this makes a good superhero flick. Iron Man is a suit made by an engineering genius with a lot of resources. But there are costs to such superherodom and we get to see them.

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Flaws? Sure. It's a summer blockbuster movie. You can either worry about the flaws or go with the flow and enjoy.

Mrs. Dr. Phil and I? We had a helluva time. Oh, the IMAX? Really impressive and the main focus eyepoints were well maintained. I've heard that the producers didn't want to backfix this with 3D, but that we can expect Iron Man 3 to be in IMAX 3D because it was shot that way. We'll bring the popcorn.

Highly Recommended

Dr. Phil

Sequels, Trailers and Other Issues

Last Night

I finally got around to posting my review of Iron Man 2. Even as I was wrapping it up, I realized that my notes included a couple of things, and then some things came up in comments, that I should probably mention. So...

I forgot to mention that both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 need to be included in my list of movies which have Dr. Phil Specials -- some kind of extra scene or bonus that is included in or after the credits. I suppose if I'd ever actually posted my review of Iron Man two years ago, I wouldn't have forgotten. In the first movie, the extra bit involves Tony Stark being asked to use his Iron Man suit against The Hulk, i.e. fugitive David Banner. In the new movie -- well hell, go see the movie and sit through the credits. I did. (grin)

Also, my theory of sequels suggests that most sequels have the problem that they can't have or recapture the innocence lost in the original. I suspect that one of the reasons that Iron Man 2 works so well is that (a) Iron Man isn't all that innocent, because Tony Stark isn't an innocent. Indeed, he builds his first suit as an act of defiance, and then upset at how he saw his company's products being used by the wrong people for bad deeds, he gets home and works to perfect the suit. Or at least make it work more better. (grin) (b) For all his arrogance and the missteps said arrogance engender, Tony Stark has a couple of serious problems in Iron Man 2 that he must again Must Solve Or Die, thus recapturing at least some of the residual innocence of the original. So good on them.

Trailers: Of course sitting in Row 2 centered seats in front of the humongous IMAX screen before Iron Man 2 started, we were going to get trailers optimized for IMAX content -- go figure. (obvious grin) So these are not necessarily the trailers showing in the regular cinema theatres just a few hundred feet away. First up, two involving Leonardo DiCaprio. Now I make fun of Leo, but the fact is that he really can act -- Titanic might not be his finest, but Catch Me If You Can is brilliant and he was smoldering in Gangs of New York and exciting/heading into dementia as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. We skipped Shutter Island, but this new movie Inception, with its strange fantastic dream imagery, looks to be the best dream world visualization since Robin Williams' What Dreams May Come. Then again Leo is the narrator for the Hubble 3D IMAX film about the final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Now the Space Station 3D IMAX film was, at the time, the closest thing I figured I'd ever see to actually going into space myself. I can only hope that the Hubble repair mission is equally enthralling.

Given the success of the first two, why am I not surprised that the third Twilight movie will be released in an IMAX format?

Then there's the IMAX 3D animated movies Shrek 4 and -- the big one -- Toy Story 3. Now Toy Story 1&2 are much loved stories. One hopes that they can recapture the magic One More Time and avoid the dreaded Third Film Sequel Decline. And then there's the modern/retro/homage IMAX 3D Tron Legacy, due on 17 December 2010, I believe it is. This trailer provides a backstory link to the original Tron and only a glimpse to the inside world of wonders. Tron wasn't a great film originally, but its graphics were clean and sharp and looked good on the big screen -- the lightcycles alone with their razor edged turns were amazing. I am really hoping that Tron Legacy is good.

Really? REALLY?

Late Sunday night I ran into this movie on the so-called SyFy Channel, which I eventually discovered was called Mutant Chronicles. After watching parts of it, while flipping back and forth with other shows, I looked it up on Wikipedia -- a great source for figuring out plots of TV shows and movies that you either don't want to watch, have only seen part of, or can't figure out what the hell was going on -- and found it was based on a video game series. Oh, well that explains why it wasn't coherent. Still, where I came in had a steampunk space capsule and Ron Perlman and despite the really bad landing, that was enough for me to see bits of it. Sorry, but most movies spawned from video games have real problems. The battle scenes against the mutants would probably be better behind a game controller than as a passive movie watch. Just saying. Somehow I missed this one when it had what sounded like limited U.S. theatre release -- and I'm not sad that I did. (evil grin)

And now I'm a little bit more caught up with posting that I was last night.

Dr. Phil