Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Iron Man 2 Mostly Lives Up to the Hype

Iron Man 2

Starring: Robert Downey Jr; Gwyneth Paltrow; Mickey Rourke; Don Cheadle; Scarlett Johansson; Sam Rockwell; Samuel L. Jackson

Director: Jon Favreau

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is back and once again proves that bad ass boys have bad ass toys. Picking up where Iron Man left off, Tony Stark has confirmed publicly that he is Iron Man. This does not sit well with Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) who demands that Stark turn over the suit to the US Government. Stark refuses and the Senator turns to Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to duplicate the suit as a weapon.

Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is in Russia plotting his revenge against Tony Stark for wrongs Ivan perceives were committed against his father by the senior Stark years before.

Unfortunately, Tony Stark is dying. Ironically, the palladium in his arc reactor that was designed to save his life is poisoning him and his continued use of the Iron Man suit is only making the problem worse. Determined to make the most of his remaining days, he becomes reckless and begins taking chances both in business and his personal life. During the Monaco Grand Prix, Stark is attacked by Vanko. Though Stark survives the attack and Vanko is captured, Vanko has attracted the attention of Hammer, who realizes that he needs serious help to recreate any of the Stark technology.

The remainder of the movie is filled with spectacular special effects, an amazing fight scene between Tony Stark and his friend, Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury who is once again trying to recruit Stark for S.H.I.E.L.D. Paltrow is excellent as Pepper Potts, playing straight man for Downey Jr’s Stark. They have an excellent chemistry and it’s actually a shame that they don’t get more time together on screen.

Rourke’s portrayal of Vanko aka Whiplash is authentic and played with the same intensity he throws into any role. Cheadle’s Rhodes is much looser played than Terrence Howard’s version in the first Iron Man but the role was not a stand out role as was Rourke’s. While I understand that Justin Hammer is supposed to be an obnoxious, egocentric ass, Rockwell took his portrayal over the top and down into a pit. He was the single most obnoxious character on the screen. I did find the character familiar before realizing that Rockwell must have watched Tropic Thunder prior to the start of filming and was channeling Tom Cruise’s Les Grossman.

Overall, Iron Man 2 delivers as a great action flick and super live action depiction of the Marvel Comic. Nothing really new under the sun but it is worth it to watch on the big screen to fully appreciate the effects and sound. This is one movie that should be seen at least once on the big screen. Oh, and be sure to stick around for a preview after the credits. That little teaser was enough to make me jump for joy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The New Nightmare on Elm St does the original justice...and then some

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I can remember when the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" came out. I wasn't allowed to see it when it came out because it wasn't a movie you would usually allow a seven year old to see. However, it was only a few years later that I got to watch it at a slumber party. It scared me pretty bad but, again I was only 9 or 10. However, thanks to my brother, I was already a bit of a horror movie aficionado so I watched the other movies as they came out. I've actually grown to love Freddy as the villain, mostly because of the amazing way Robert Englund portrayed him. Having said that, when I heard there would be a remake, my first thought was "Why mess up a good thing?" I had very low expectations, especially after seeing the preview ("been there, watched that, got the t-shirt" was my thought) but I was curious when I saw there would be a little Freddy backstory. That aside, I was not expecting much out of this movie other than to be bored stiff.

I was wrong....

***Caution: Spoiler Alerts!***

One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

First off, we are transported into Freddy's world. The first intended victim is Dean, played by Kellan Lutz. Sitting in a diner, he struggles to stay awake to keep from dreaming. He tries to explain his fears to his friend, Kris (Katie Cassidy), but is unable to fully explain before Freddy quickly takes him out. (Sorry Twilighters...maybe Emmet Cullen could have killed Freddy but then it would have been a five minute movie...ten if the fight scene had gone on long enough.)

Three, four, better lock your door...

One by one, the Elm Street teens begin to realize that they are dreaming about the same man. They realize that they knew each other as very young children and that their parents are covering something up. Been done before? Yes. But then there is Freddy and he is proof that everything old is new again.

Five, six, grab your crucifix...

Jackie Earle Haley leaves the pop culture humor out of Kruger and leaves him with the sick and perverted comments of a true serial killer and child molester. As we learn more about his story, we find that the children were all students at a pre-school where Kruger was a gardener. The kids told their parents that Freddy molested them, the parents hunted him down and burned him alive as he screamed out, proclaiming his innocence. This leads to the big question: did the parents murder an innocent man on the basis of the confused imaginations of small children and he is now seeking revenge on the children for said lies? Or is this a killer and child rapist looking to finish tormenting his now grown victims with no limitations?

Seven, eight better stay up late...

"Nightmare" has many jump out of your skin moments. You will find yourself looking over your shoulder as you leave the theater. You will find yourself looking at your bed with apprehension, wondering if this new, creepier & not-so-funny Freddy will pay a visit to your dream land. You may even wonder if your mind is playing tricks on you as you daydream...

Nine, ten never sleep again...

This is a Nightmare for the next generation. If there are to be sequels, I truly hope that they spawn from this new storyline as opposed to dredging up and rewriting the past. The writers of this movie pay homage to Wes Craven by taking an idea and making it their own without trashing the concept. Of course, not being a big fan of sequels, my hope is that this franchise is now over and Freddy in the new incarnation is dead...

...or is he?