Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robert Downey Jr. Weekend

I didn't plan it this way but I spent both Sunday and Monday watching movies starring RDJ. I had been waiting for Sherlock Holmes to arrive via Netflix for weeks now, and it just so happened to finally ship the day after I went to see Iron Man 2.

Iron Man 2

I tried to avoid any reviews going into this one as it is pretty much a given that I'm going to go see a superhero movie, and I didn't want anyone else's opinions clouding my judgement. I had heard from others that the reviews weren't so great, but I tried not to let that influence me at all. The first Iron Man really surprised me. I had never really cared for the Iron Man of the comics, and the 1990s cartoon could literally put me to sleep. "What do I care about a man in a robot suit? I want superheroes!" were the kind of thoughts Iron Man would normally inspire in me. The first movie really changed the game for me, showing me that the man behind the suit was actually a really interesting character worth caring about. Jeff Bridges didn't make the most interesting villain in that movie, and the second movie seemed to suffer from the same problem. Am I really supposed to care about Mickey Rourke at all? He muttered a lot of bad Russian and made a few sourpuss faces. With his performances in this and Sin City, I'm not really sure I want to see The Wrestler. Sam Rockwell did a much better job of making Justin Hammer a more interesting character.. but the nature of that character was to ramble and pretty much every scene he was in made the movie drag a bit. I can't help but think about the upcoming Avengers movie, and wonder if it will suffer in a similar fashion. While it was great seeing War Machine come to life, to have the appearances by Nick Fury and Black Widow and how they interacted with Iron Man.. a lack of a compelling villain can make a superhero movie suffer.

War Machine is almost entirely what this movie did right. I'm very lukewarm about Don Cheadle in the roll. I wouldn't call him a huge upgrade like I saw some people calling him. I thought he did well while in the suit, but as just plain old Rhodey he seemed to lack some of the humor and just all around emotion we saw from the character in the first film. He played it all a little too understated. He seems to be more comfortable in an action sequence than outside it, which is really not what I expected from him. The first truly exciting part of the movie for me was when he donned the silver suit and the two of them went at it. I am always surprised by this - I remember playing with Voltron far more than I remember watching the cartoon, and I never cared all that much for Transformers, Power Rangers, or Gundam like others of my generation. If you would asked me in general if I cared about watching two robots fight each other I would tell you no. Yet when the two of them faced off I got very excited! And when War Machine popped out of the bottom of that stage with his big guns on, I got all giddy. Though that may be more the comic book nerd in me just being excited about seeing something I had only seen in drawings before suddenly on the movie screen. I can't really say "come to life" since most of it was probably CGI.

I've been a fan of Scarlett Johansson since Ghost World, and I thought she did a good job with what she was given here. They didn't really give her a whole lot but hopefully she'll have a bigger role when the Avengers come around. She definitely showed herself as a capable hero, and I was fully in love with the one scene where she got to really kick some ass.

Overall if you're looking for a good fun summer movie, I think you'll enjoy this. I don't think it touches on some of the themes as well as the first film did, but it's still a pretty strong follow up.

Sherlock Holmes

Here comes my best effort to not completely gush all over this review and collapse into ridiculous hyperbole.

I loved this movie. I loved it from the very first scene, as we see him analyze exactly how to take down his opponent in the proper sequence, what damage it will do to him, and how long it will incapacitate him. I had a lot of reservations when I first heard about this movie. Sherlock Holmes as action hero star just didn't seem to add up to me. Sometimes our first instincts are wrong. Very wrong. I think we all automatically picture SH as an older gentleman with his pipe, hat and coat, maybe the violin, and so we don't think of him as being able to fight. But why can't he be a little younger and more fit? It doesn't take away any from what he is: a man of supreme intelligence and logic who can solve just about any mystery put before him.

Beyond a required summer reading of The Hound of the Baskervilles, my written Sherlock Holmes knowledge is limited and restricted to what makes it into common pop culture. I'm willing to admit I probably learned more of it from Data on Star Trek TNG than anywhere else. So I can't testify to how accurate most of the character portrayals are, I can only say I loved watching them. I thought Jude Law made Watson a much more capable and stronger character than the one I've normally seen (he's usually a little bungling, isn't he?) and I loved Irene Adler immensely. I also really loved the way the movie kept you really uncertain as to whether the magic being used was real. I also should have known the character in the shadows was Moriarty.. who else would he be? Convenient to keep him shadowed that they can choose whoever they want for casting reasons later!

I also haven't seen a movie so slash-tastic since the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

My one complaint: being 4'10" does not make someone a midget! I have very close personal reasons for being adamant about this!

This one is definitely an absolute recommend for pretty much anyone.

In an unrelated matter I also re-watched X-men Origins: Wolverine. It definitely rates below X1 & 2, but above 3 for me. I think it's main flaw is that it's too obvious from the get go that Victor is still working with Striker, and so Logan just looks like an idiot who is too slow to catch up with the rest of us. Gambit is underused, Deadpool is squandered, and I get the feeling that if you were to watch this and then immediately follow it with X2, the pieces just wouldn't add up right. But it still rates as a fun summer movie flick and Hugh Jackman was still born to play Logan so I'm willing to forgive it a lot more than I do X3.

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