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“I’ve Just Privatized World Peace” — Josh Reviews Iron Man 2!

I’m always chasing after that perfect cinematic experience — the rare movie where everything just seems to magically click, and I walk out of the theatre totally jazzed by what just unspooled before my eyes.  I felt that way when I saw the first Iron Man. I was really blown away by the confidence with which director Jon Favreau and his team (headlined, of course, by the amazing Robert Downey Jr.) pulled off their exciting, engaging, and all-around FUN first installment.

Best of all, while that first movie was certainly a complete story all its own, it ended on a terrific high-note that promised fertile stories ahead — Tony’s spur-of-the-moment “I am Iron Man” admission in the final scene of the film, and the end-of-the-credits button that introduced Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (played by Sam Jackson, who was the visual model for the character in Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe created about a decade ago) and made mention of the “Avengers Initiative.”  I walked out of that theatre unbelievably pumped for the stories to come, and when Marvel announced, about a week after Iron Man‘s opening, their plans for future films based on Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2, all of which would build to a movie-version of Marvel’s super-hero team The Avengers, it was clear that an extraordinary venture was underway.

But that venture was fraught with risk.  Both Thor and Captain America seem like characters who work great in comic books but would be fiendishly difficult to pull off believably in a movie version.  And while most of the key creative players behind Iron Man were returning for the sequel, well, I probably don’t need to list for you the many, many sequels that have been colossal disappointments, unable to capture the magic of the first installment.

Alright, already, so what did I think of Iron Man 2?

Mr. Favreau and his team have crafted another fun, engaging installment of the adventures of Tony Stark.  They haven’t reinvented the wheel.  They haven’t turned over the apple-cart in the way that makes some of the truly great movie sequels so notable (The Empire Strikes Back, The Wrath of Khan, The Dark Knight…).  I didn’t walk out of the theatre with that same tingle that I had after seeing the first Iron Man.  But that doesn’t mean that the film isn’t very good.

Robert Downey Jr. proves that his perfection as Tony Stark in the first installment wasn’t a fluke.  He’s once again phenomenal, totally magnetic whenever he’s on screen.  I was pleased that the filmmakers resisted the temptation to trim any of Stark’s rough edges — Tony is just as much a … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

News broke yesterday that Sam Raimi’s planned Spider-Man 4 has been scrapped, and the studio is going ahead with a total reboot of the series.  DeadlineHollywoodDaily broke the story.  Personally, I’m bummed by this news.  Though Raimi & co. broke my heart with the atrocious Spider-Man 3, the first two Spidey flicks were so great that I really wanted to see him come back and try to return to the greatness of those first two films.  I hate that his run on the character is ending on such a low note, and the idea of rebooting a series that is only eight years old and wildly successful just seems insane to me.  But hey, I’m the guy who also wants to see Bryan Singer make another Superman film.

I have not read any of the Twilight books, nor seen the movies, nor do I have any intention of doing so.  But this piece over at CHUD about why Breaking Bad (the fourth and final Twilight book) MUST be made into a movie is absolutely hysterical.

Behold the weirdest wedding video I have ever seen.  This dude had his friends in the wedding party act out scenes from Superman II.  I am at once awestruck and disturbed.

Speaking of slightly-insane Superman fans, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon photos of this guy who decorated his office cubicle as the Fortress of Solitude.  Check it out:

fortressofsolitudecubicle

You can find the full story behind his crazy construction project here.

Then there’s this incredibly bizarre stop-motion animated interview with Fantastic Mr. Fox director Wes Anderson.  Except Wes Anderson is played by Jason Schwartzman.  You read that right.  Check it out.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, a super-cool new trailer for Iron Man 2 came out last month.  Take a look.  I was an enormous fan of Iron Man (read my review here), and have high hopes for the sequel.  Don’t break my heart, Mr. Favreau!  (By the way, in re-reading my review of Iron Man, I can see that I was sure that the Mandarin would be a key villain in the sequel.  It’s not looking that way… so I’m wondering whether that character factors into the story at all.  I certainly hope he does!)

Speaking of trailers, let me lay a few more on you.  Here’s a sort of weird new trailer for Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe’s latest collaboration: Robin Hood.  Take a look.  This seems like familiar ground for Scott and Crowe, and I can’t say that I have been lying awake at nights waiting for a new version of the Robin Hood story.  That being said, … [continued]

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I saw Iron Man tonight.

Wow.

What follows is as spoiler-free as I could make it.   But if you want to go into this flick totally devoid of any knowledge, why don’t you check back in after you see it and let’s see if we agree?

OK, now, let me get right to it: the film is tremendous.   Director Jon Favreau was able to create a very intense, serious film (one not aimed just at the little kiddies) that is also quite funny and endearing.   There’s a lot of humor, but its not the type of forced “stand back, here comes the wakka-wakka” type of humor that so often makes me cringe in comic book films.   Much of the credit for this must go to the man in the lead role.

I’ve already read a number of reviews that emphasize how perfect Robert Downey Jr. is as Tony Stark, and I most vigorously agree with the chorus. Not only is he a visual dead ringer for the character (the goatee is perfect), but he’s able to convey just the type of rich, spoiled, brilliant, cocky bastard that is Tony Stark.   As I alluded to above, there’s a tremendous amount of humor is this performance – I love his banter with his “lab assistants,” and with Jarvis – but also a lot of weight.   Like most superhero origin stories, this movie centers on “the turn” – when the hero character has to change from the person he was to the more righteous person he will become.   That can be a tough moment to play, and not every superhero movie – or ever actor assaying a superhero – can sell that.   But Downey Jr. just nails it.

The whole rest of the cast is dynamite as well.   The casting of Jarvis was dead-on.   Terrence Howard is terrific as Stark’s buddy Jim Rhodes.   I love how he’s able to nudge Stark on his behavior without being a total stick-in-the-mud himself.   (In the plane-ride scene early in the movie, you can really see why he and Stark are friends!)   Gwyneth Paltrow is also very strong as Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant.   She maybe gets a teensy bit too damsel-in-distressy towards the end of the flick, but she is a lot of fun to watch throughout the film.   Just as Terrence Howard does in his role, her performance hints at a long shared history with Tony Stark – and that really helps to flesh out the “world” that these characters inhabit.

Jeff Bridges brings a lot of charisma and energy to his role of Obadiah Stane, Stark’s mentor.   I just love Jeff Bridges, and it looks like he was having a lot of fun in the … [continued]