Month: November 2016

Iron Man 2

Year: 2010
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Justin Theroux

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie has long since been one of the few Marvel films that didn’t have a place in our collection. I saw it in the theater when it came out back in 2010 and I wasn’t overly impressed. I thought the lack of action and story direction was a problem for a sequel that didn’t live up to my expectations at the time. However, having recently watched Grace Randolph list it so high in her ranking of Marvel movies I decided to give it another chance. I found that I enjoyed it much more this time around and think I’ve been too critical of it over the last several years.

I think I was just too impatient as a viewer back in 2010. I wanted more from this film than it offered and the disappointment overwhelmed the whole movie for me. I always think a sequel should be bigger than the original and by extension have more excitement as well. This movie is a bigger story as Tony Stark struggles with the life threatening nature of his power source as well as trying to maintain what he has created with the Iron Man. Yet the movie is seriously lacking in action. The action scenes on hand are all great but there is a long lull in the middle with little actual Iron Man action baring his in house fight with War Machine. The fight between Whiplash and Iron Man on the race track was incredible and I think the climax battle in the end really pays off well.

I never care for a storyline in a comic book film when a character loses the ability to be the hero. Same thing in Spiderman 2 when Peter Parker loses his power and gives up being Spiderman for a while. For me, when the hero ceases to be a hero and becomes a regular person it takes away all the excitement. You know they will eventually get their powers or abilities back and the time in between is just something to wait out.  This is a different situation but when I watched this movie back in 2010 I felt like Iron Man slowly being poisoned to death took away from what could have been more actual Iron Man action. Watching it this time around was different though and I could find more appeal to the film.

I initially hated the scene in which Tony gets hammered, pees in the suit, and then fights his newly cast best friend. It was just such a low point for our hero that it rubbed me the wrong way. Yet weighed against potential death it makes much more sense. Wouldn’t we all lose it a little bit and get crazy if we knew we were going to die? I can appreciate it more this time around too knowing that it echoes a story line in the comics in which Tony Stark was struggling with alcoholism.

I am not a huge Terrance Howard fan by any means but I didn’t care for the recasting of Rhodey. In truth I am a bigger fan of Don Cheadle but his casting breaks the continuity of the films. I didn’t care for the recasting of Edward Norton in the MCU either but that proved to be a success as Mark Ruffalo did a fantastic job with the part of the Hulk. I think it’s impressive how Marvel can do that and maintain success. Guys like Terrance Howard and Edward Norton were cast early in the process of building a cinematic universe. Hindsight is 20/20 though and given a chance to go back I think both would have done whatever necessary to make the relationship work.

I am a big fan of Sam Rockwell and liked him in the role of Tony’s rival Justin Hammer. I think it was really cool that the character was name dropped recently on Netflix’s Luke Cage and hope that means there is a potential return to the MCU in the future. Don’t know how he would be utilized but the MCU is really in need of more recurring villains. There’s no chance of return for Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash but he made waves with some really cool scenes within this movie. The fight on the race track with Tony’s briefcase suit was specifically awesome.

This movie was critical in the advancement of the MCU on the road to The Avengers. By introducing Black Widow and giving more screen time to Nick Fury they started laying the foundation for the connective tissue of these movies. There is also a reference here to Captain America’s with Tony using a prototype version of his shield at one point. It expanded the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. and gave it more history with Howard Stark being one of the founding members.

I don’t think this movie measures up to its predecessor but I do think the movie is better than I gave it credit for when it first came out. This movie led directly into The Avengers as arguably the most important stepping stone in creating the MCU. I don’t know that I agree with how high it was ranked by Grace Randolph but I can at least see now why she had it so high. This movie is worth your time if for no other reason than if you see one movie in the MCU you should have really seen them all. Marvel has made history with their creation of a cinematic universe and everyone is trying to copy them now.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Year: 2014
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out before I really understood and appreciated the scope of the MCU. I knew that all the comic book movies Marvel was making would eventually tie together and I thought they were all good. Yet when this movie came out I gave it a pass. I have been a comic book fan my whole life yet had never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The previews did nothing to encourage me as I distinctly remember wondering what was up with this movie. There was a talking racoon in it and this big tree thing that was voiced by none other than Vin Diesel. They had a WWE star in the cast! The fat guy from Parks and Rec was playing the lead. There was just no way this movie would amount to anything more than an experiment Marvel lost money on.

Well, I like to admit when I am wrong and from the very beginning of this movie I could instantly tell I was not only wrong about it but I was in store for something spectacular. Starlord dancing around during the opening credits is so engaging and fun. It instantly sets the tone for what turned out to be a really engaging and fun movie. That tone is also set by an awesome soundtrack that would top the charts for many weeks on end.

It turned out that fat guy from Parks and Rec lost a ton of weight and was kind of a hilarious badass in his own way. The talking racoon was not only not stupid but managed to steal the show. He is incredible and awesome in every single scene he is part of. Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot arguably showed more range than Vin Diesel as the actor in popular over explosive movies. I knew nothing about Dave Batista other than him being a WWE performer. Just when that seems like enough I see something like this that throws the whole world off balance.

I thought Dave Bautista was not just good in this movie but outstanding. He is so funny with his literal one liners and lack of understanding when it comes to metaphor or sarcasm. “Why would I run my finger across his throat?” He’s just so unexpectedly hilarious I absolutely cann0t wait for the sequel because I want more of this guy. I wrote him off for no other reason than the fact that he was a pro wrestler by trade and that seemed to be a gross miscalculation.

Chris Pratt blew up into a star following this movie and when you watch the movie it’s easy to see why. He is undeniably likable in this movie and brings a wit to the character that makes him hilarious. I really like Chris Pratt from his days on Parks and Rec where after a while I thought he was the only good thing about the show. I only refer to him as “the fat guy” because I have heard so many people describe him that way. I found it really impressive how he got himself in shape for the role. He did so on his own volition too which shows a lot of dedication to the character.

I can’t think of anything to say about Rocket other than he is just hands down awesome. His dialogue and delivery are so funny. He didn’t have time to work out the “minutia” of the plan, he called Stan Lee a “class A prevert,” and he got Starlord to take that prosthetic leg for his plan to escape the prison. He’s just so funny and I was thoroughly surprised by the character. He is so much more than simply funny as he is a tiny little badass that you just don’t see coming.

By saying no more than three words throughout the movie Vin Diesel actually managed to impress me. I have never been a big fan of the guy and don’t consider him to be a good actor. I can’t stand an actor that has to go over the top trying to be cool. If you have to try to be cool you are simply missing that element that makes it natural. In this film though, with his three words, it’s the coolest I think he has ever been.

Zoe Saldana seems to be part of every sci-fi franchise lately after significant parts in Avatar and the Star Trek franchise. In this movie she looks really good with green skin and I like her character quite a bit. She’s a beautiful woman but I feel like I would’t recognize her in anything else. She has over 40 acting credits but usually when I see her she is either CGI or in tons of make up.

Most of the characters in this movie are in a ton of make up or done by CGI but my favorite is Michael Rooker with that bright blue skin. I am a big fan of Michael Rooker going all the way back to Cliffhanger and before. I love his perception in this movie that Starlord owes him something because he stopped his people from eating him as a child. The arrow that he uses with his whistling is awesome and I can’t wait to see more of it in the sequel.

The rest of this cast is full of great actors in supporting roles. John C. Reilly is great in everything and he manages to be really funny in a small part. Glenn Close brings credibility as the leader of the Nova as does Benicio Del Toro as The Collector. My favorite supporting character is Korath played by Djimon Hounsou. He just looks so wicked in costume and I love the part of the film in which he called Quill Starlord and the response is a delighted “finally.”

I really liked the villains in this movie. Ronan was really wicked from the beginning with his dressing ceremony up to his disgust at Peter Quill dancing. Played by Lee Pace it is hard to recognize him at all in all the make-up but the make-up that hid him was excellent. He is a ruthless villain and thus far one of the better villains in the MCU who haven’t really measured up in the villain department quite like they have in the hero. This movie also gives us our longest look at the coming big bad guy Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. He has merely a cameo in this movie but it offers us a good look at what is to come. I also liked Nebula with her jealous streak and ability to just bounce back into form robotically after being blasted by an explosion. Looks like she will be switching sides in the next film and it will be cool to see her kicking ass for the good guys.

I had never seen anything by Director James Gunn before but I will have an eye out for his work in the future. I think the script he wrote for this movie was just so incredibly funny. I am regularly impressed with the people Marvel finds to helm their movies because often I am unfamiliar with them. They manage to make it all work great though with fantastic continuity for the expanding cinematic universe. No matter who is at the helm all of these movies manage to feel like they are on the same page. It’s an impressive thing and evidence of the genius behind Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige.

I think I have rambled on sufficiently for this movie but I could never say enough about how much I enjoy this movie. I love when I have low expectations of something and it manages to blow me away. If you have preconceived notions about this movie I understand, but I sincerely encourage you to give it a chance and find out as I did how great it is and what you are missing. This movie isn’t just worth your time but worth plenty of your time as it gets better with multiple viewings.