Iron Man 2 – Marvel Superhero week

This is Marvel Superhero week – why? Because even though I am almost 50, I still love comic books. Iron Man 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreaus sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.

I loved the first Iron Man movie. I loved the handling (and updating) of the origin story as well as leaving enough room for the emergence of a good villain to quickly be trounced but mostly I loved it as a wonderful vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. and his quirky acting style.

Robert Downey Jr. does get to shine here as well but more attention is paid to the other characters (as compared to Iron Man which was basically a one-man show). Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau return as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan and are given more substantial roles. Paul Bettany again voices Jarvis.

For some reason Terence Howard was not asked back to play Lt. Col. James Rhodes. Instead he was replaced by Don Cheadle (who I have loved since he played Mouse in The Devil in a Blue Dress). The first line Don utters is “Look I am here, its me, deal with it, lets move on” which is a very humorous response to the whole replacement fiasco.

To more closely tie-in The Avengers event in May 2012, Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury as does Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. Scarlett Johansson plays a kick-butt Natalie Rushman AKA Natalia Romanoff AKA…

Everyone performs well and it is nice to see so many Marvel heroes onscreen (Iron Man, War Machine, Nick Fury, Black Widow) and allusions to several others (Black Panther, Captain America, Thor). The post-credit sequence remains intact.

Having said that, director Jon Favreau has tried to pack way too much into the movie much like Sam Raimi did on Spider-Man 3 (though it does not experience anywhere near that level of failure). The main plot deals with Whiplash trying to take revenge on Tony Stark but there are separate subplots involving a Senate sub-committee, SHIELD, Rhodey, blood poisoning, Justin Hammer, Natalie Rushman, and more.

I suspect that Marvel pushed Favreau to do too much with this film. The result is that while the film is quite enjoyable, it seems to come across more as a series of requisite scenes than as a whole story. While disjointed, it is still very shiny and fun.

People Watch: Look for the standard Stan Lee cameo as well as Christiane Amanpour, Larry Ellison and DJ AM Adam Goldstein playing themselves.

Get Carter – The Expendables week

In tribute to the incredible cast Sylvester Stallone has lined up for his latest film, this is The Expendables week. Today our expendable is Mickey Rourke. Get Carter is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Get Carter (2000) – Rated R for violence, language, some sexuality and drug content.

“When his brother is killed in an accident, cold-blooded gun for hire Jack Carter (Sylvester Stallone) returns home to make peace with his past. But when evidence of foul play surfaces, Carters mission becomes one of retribution rather than redemption. Miranda Richardson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Mickey Rourke and Michael Caine (who starred in the original production) lead the supporting cast in this remake of the classic 1971 crime thriller.”

“Hello Mr. Davis. My name is Jack Carter and you do not want to know me.”

Stephen Kay directed this updated remake of Get Carter. He tries so hard here to make this film stylish but it comes across as too jarring. there is a scene of Carter tailing someone. It is shot as if it is an action movie chase when all he is doing is following another car.

There are a few nice flourishes. When Carter disposes of an airline ticket, there is a sound of an airplane landing on the soundtrack. There is a good scene where we cut from the pre-violence straight to the aftermath.

Unfortunately most of the flourishes are laughably heavy-handed. Shortly after his world is rocked, they change the camera angle on Carter -yep you guessed it – upside down. Stephen Kay loves odd camera angles, close-ups which should be wide shots and wide shots that should be close-ups.

One of the missed opportunities was a scene at an incredibly beautiful golf course. You do not notice how beautiful until the scene is almost over. Pretty much every action sequence is a blown opportunity except the climactic one which is a nice payoff.

For all his other flaws, Stephen Kay assembled a rather impressive cast here.

Mr. Expendable, Sylvester Stallone, is just fine as the tough guy Jack Carter. His glum persona fits the role well and he can sell tough pretty well too.

If you find yourself missing Michael Caine from the original, do not worry as he is here too. Unfortunately he is not in much of the movie. It is basically an extended cameo as an homage to the original film.

Our chosen Expendable for the day is Mickey Rourke. Of course he plays a heavy here. Alan “Nightcrawler” Cumming has a delightful time as an internet tycoon.

Miranda Richardson plays the widow Gloria. She has been a favorite of mine since her hilarious turn as Queen Elizabeth in the second Black Adder series (currently available on instant Netflix).

Backing her up on the distaff side are Rachel Leigh Cook as her daughter and Rhona Mitra as a woman of mystery, Geraldine. Gretchen Mol can be glimpsed briefly as Audrey.

In spite of the cast, you cannot help but wonder how it would have looked if someone else had directed it. Unless you are a die hard fan on the cast, just give this one a pass. It is not bad but it could have been so much better.

People Watch: Early on in the film, we hear the unmistakable voice of Tom Sizemore (albeit briefly). Frank Stallone has a cameo as does the director Stephen Kay.

Lazy Weekend Musings – The Expendables

Before sitting through the somewhat painful Clash of the Titans, we thoroughly enjoyed the previews. A lot of the films showed promise but one was a real standout. It did not standout because of the trailer but because of what the director had pulled off with the cast.

Sylvester Stallone has written and directed a film for this fall called “The Expendables”. He has roped in what I must call the ULTIMATE action movie cast. It is simply mind-blowing.

The Expendables is about a team of mercenaries on a suicide mission. The mercenaries are Sylvester (Rambo) Stallone, Jason (Transporter) Statham, Jet (Hero) Li, Dolph (Universal Soldier) Lundgren, former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, Terry (Idiocracy) Crews and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

That alone wowed me but The Expendables also stars Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts and features character actor Danny (Machete) Trejo and DTV action star Gary (Tekken) Daniels.

Because of this and the upcoming Actionfest in Asheville April 15-18, I will be featuring instant Netflix movies based on the cast of The Expendables this week.

People Watch: I would not have mentioned this but the trailer completely gives it away. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have cameos in the film as well.