Ed Norton

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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Moonrise Kingdom

Year: 2012
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

RYAN’S REVIEW

How funny it is that so soon after we review Monster’s Ball we should come to another love story so equally awkward and awesome.  I think on paper the love story of a teenage girl and a khaki scout running away together to prematurely get married doesn’t sound so good but with the right guy at the helm it can become magic. I’ll admit that there are times during this movie that I feel a bit awkward because the stars are so young but it really takes nothing away from how cute and romantic their relationship is. Like all Wes Anderson movies this one is built on outstanding performances from a rich cast to go along with smart dialogue and unique direction.

I think Wes Anderson is one of the smartest filmmakers out there today.  Like a solo Coen Brothers act that makes something with a style of his own that never fails to be different and interesting.  I would never insult the man by trying to diagnose him myself.  I wholeheartedly believe this man more than most to be smarter than myself and I have no business trying to put his work under a microscope.  It’s incredible, its original, and it is a reminder to me that there are still fresh movies being made during this age of big budget special effects monsters. Wes Anderson is a director that knows how to develop characters during the time constraints of a film.  He draws top tier actors to his films and puts them all in a position to play a really memorable role. I don’t know where he found his two stars for this film but I thought the love struck couple was played by some outstanding young actors.  The supporting cast is as good as any I have ever seen yet these two kids manage to still really distinguish themselves. The star crossed lovers, Sam and Suzy, were played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.  I don’t know what the future holds for them but they have the talent to grow into greats one day.

This was the first Wes Anderson film to feature Ed Norton and I hope we see more collaborations between the two.  I am and have long since been a big fan of Ed Norton. I do not know what’s been up with him for the last decade or so. He really blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s playing parts that left quite an impression on me.  Since then the only noteworthy thing he has done has been The Incredible Hulk and although I thought he was great as the mean green machine he burned bridges with the studio.  That movie was to be part of the cannon of films being made around The Avengers franchise but when Norton got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit he was dropped like a bad habit.  His character was replaced for the big show and as a result there is a good possibility we don’t see anymore solo Hulk films for quite a while.  I think it’s a shame because I liked Norton as Bruce Banner and I would have liked to see more of his Hulk movies.  In this film he is awesome as Scout Master Ward and I think he fits in nicely with the Wes Anderson crew.

Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand were also collaborating with Anderson for the first time in this film and like Norton I think they fit in perfectly.  They are both in points of their careers where they can seemingly do no wrong when given the right opportunity.  For all his talent I think Bruce Willis makes a lot of crap these days but I am specifically thinking of the recent Die Hard sequels.  The man is too good of an actor to keep beating a dead horse in my opinion.  McDormand on the other hand doesn’t make stupid movies, and I love her for it.  Great actress that can never get enough credit.

The Wes Anderson regulars know what he wants now and their performances in his movies are always perfect.  Bill Murray is a legend and I love everything that he does.  He continues to be part of incredible films and I specifically love the way he has grown as an actor and entertainer over the long haul of his career.  Jason Schwartzman always plays an interesting character and this film is no different.  I have loved Schwartzman since his portrayal as “Cool Ethan” in one of my favorite comedies of all time, Slackers. That movie is largely forgotten and I rarely meet anybody who has even seen it but he is so damn funny in it.  In this film I specifically like the slow motion scene when Sam and Suzy are leaving the chapel as “man and wife” having just been wed by Schwartzman.

I have loved each and every film that Wes Anderson has made and this one is obviously no different.  I look forward to his most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, because I haven’t seen it yet.  Despite not seeing it I have already bought it and expect it on my doorstep the day it is released to video.  I have that much faith in Anderson that I will buy what he has made whether I have seen it or heard anything about it or not.  That isn’t something I can say for too many directors but I have no doubts about this one.  A truly remarkable filmmaker and in my opinion each and everything he does is worth your time.  He is still a young director so I hope we have a lot more to look forward to from him in the future.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I just love this adorable movie. It’s an interesting little love story about two kids, who I feel in the end teach everyone a little something about love. It takes a special kind of actor to pull off any Wes Anderson film, and I think he always does a fantastic job of finding actors who can portray so much depth even though they are mostly melancholy the entire film. Another note worthy thing about a Wes Anderson film is the opening credits. They are the most artistic in the business. It doesn’t get much better from an artistic opinion.

moonrisekingdom

This is how you fit everyone in the movie into the poster in an effective way. No cheesy glows and fading, floating faces. One big group shot. Any other movie and this might be cheesy as well, but not this movie. Because it’s too intentional. It works. The coloring matches the movie and the scenery matches the plot. The typography is a little hard to read since the value of the yellow is really close to the blue behind it, but it’s strange and out of place because of the fancy script; yet this too works simply because everything in his movies are strange and out of place. Yes, I will admit I am biased, but this poster works for me. I was already interested in seeing the movie because it’s Wes Anderson, but just in case…the poster also makes me want to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Multiplicity (1996)

Fight Club

Year: 1999
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Chuck Palahniuk (novel) Jim Uhls (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie instantly became one of my favorite movies when it came out and I watched it frequently. It’s full of little things that you notice with each additional viewing that make it fun to watch multiple times. I was fifteen when it was released and it probably wasn’t the best influence to spend so much time with during my formative years but there were no lasting effects. The anarchy and rebellion that goes into the story is something that can influence plenty of teens, and all young men love to fight, or watch fights at the very least.  This movie has without doubt made its mark on our society and that is still true over a decade later.   It is a dark movie but it is an incredibly interesting one as well.  It is based off a book that is equally if not more dark and disturbing.  According to the writer many people were unaware that it was actually based off a book when it came out, and he frequently came into contact with people unknowingly influenced by what was actually his creation.

Chuck Palahniuk is an interesting writer with a style like none other I have ever seen.  He has written many books but Fight Club is the only one that I have read.  I did really enjoy the book but it has been a few years and I am due for a reread because I can’t remember enough about it now.  (Thanks George R.R. Martin, you have pushed other authors out of my memory, but I don’t mind because your books are awesome). I do remember that I liked the book but it was different. The ways in which the movie was different though seemed to only bring more to the story collectively.  The main thing I remember from the book wasn’t even in the book itself but in an afterword written by Palahniuk about how popular the story had become and the mark it left on our culture.  He tells a story about being at a book signing in London.  One reader came to him raving about what was done to food in the book and saying that he himself had served a famous person tainted food in the same fashion. When the reader refused to tell Palahniuk who the famous person was he leveraged the autograph to get the info.  The reader then told him he worked at the only five star restaurant in the entire country of the UK and that the Queen of England had eaten his cum, FIVE times.  I will never forget that for as long as I live because if the Queen of F-ing England isn’t safe from eating cum then we are all in danger at all times.  All I can say is never send anything back and always be incredibly nice to the person serving you. They are preparing your food and they are usually young and immature people who wouldn’t even think twice about doing something disgusting to your food. Famous people shouldn’t even eat out at all, and the cops shouldn’t go anywhere but Subway because they can see their food prepared there.

This was the third uniquely awesome movie David Fincher had made in a row.  It came right after both Seven and The Game which both had the same ability to blow your mind at the end.  At the time I considered Fincher to be the best young director out there and his work backed that up.  I personally have not been impressed with anything that he has done since this movie although just about every movie he has made since has been critically acclaimed and loved by the audiences alike.  I didn’t care for Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Buttonor The Social Network all for different reasons but I specifically thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was awful.  I think that was one of the worst books I have ever read despite its success, and I think the movie was even worse.  The thing for me was that I got really invested in that mystery. I could not wait to find out who killed that girl and how.  When I found out **SPOILER ALERT** that she had been alive the whole time I was pissed, what a rip off, and the movie was even worse.  Literally all throughout the movie he has a picture of the woman as an adult on his wall under a different name and nobody that has been searching for her for thirty years looked at it and noticed her? Blomkvist easily obtains the picture of her living under the oh so clever alias of another relative, and they couldn’t figure this thing out in thirty years? Of course it wasn’t like that in the book but I just really thought it made the whole movie ridiculous. The movie was OK with me up until then and it was a well made film but I still think it was overrated. The story as a whole was just such a letdown, and I thought the Blomkvist character in the book was so overdone.  Everywhere he goes women of all types just throw themselves at him, it’s just tacky if nothing else, the pipe dream of a man that didn’t get laid enough in his life.  Daniel Craig wasn’t bad in the role though and the character wasn’t so annoying in the film. If nothing else the movie was great for seeing a lot of Mara Rooney naked, and she looked so sexy with those piercings and tattoos. Apparently there aren’t many who share my opinion of the book and movie though, they were both very successful.

This movie is dark, gritty, and mind blowing.  It was really well made and the screenwriter did a great job of adapting the story into a film.  What made this movie just as good though was the acting.  Brad Pitt was the king of cool in this movie, and he solidified his image with men as much as he already had with women in this movie. Pitt was more ripped than any man should be in this movie, he smokes nonstop, and he always had something either interesting or really cool to say.  Ed Norton was just as good and it is his character we see the most arc from.  What I never really realized until someone pointed it out to me was that Norton doesn’t have a name in the movie.  His character in the credits is simply listed as Narrator. Norton was on a role at the time this movie was made and he was in several great movies at the time.  His star has faded in the last ten years though and I am not sure why.  I know that he got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit for The Incredible Hulk and was not asked back to do The Avengers because of it.  I think that was a shame because I really liked Norton as Bruce Banner and was hoping for him to get back on top with the franchise.  Helena Bonham Carter is so dirty in this movie, yet still has something sexy to her that I think everyone can see.  I am a big fan of Carter and while for some reason she chooses roles that make her look unattractive I still find her to be sexy, even as she gets older.  This movie nearly got an NC-17 rating for a line she spoke that was taken from the book but it was cut to get the R rating.  At one point she tells Tyler Durden that she wants him to get her pregnant so she can have his abortion.  I think cutting it was understandable, even for a pro-choice person that seems too wrong.

Speaking of dialogue that was cut I think it is important to mention where it was simply changed.  The ingredients given for napalm and dynamite in the movie are not correct.  They were changed for the obvious reasons although the book does describe the correct ingredients in it.  Good thing for all of us that a lot fewer people read the book, but that information is unfortunately available to anybody clever enough to get on the internet, so beware.  I can see this movie being a dangerous influence to some people but that isn’t the case for all.  For all people of sound mind this is simply a fascinating and awesome movie.  I can’t say that I would recommend this movie to anyone because I don’t see it as being for everyone.  It has found an audience in very unusual demographics though according to the afterword by Palahniuk in his book.  So while maybe I’m not sure who and who I should recommend this movie to I can tell you that it is definitely worth your time to see it if you haven’t already.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Fight Club is one of those movies that most people have seen and loved. I think it mostly had to do with Brad Pitt being a completely gorgeous little badass. This movie is twisted in every sense of the word, and is put together in a seamless way. It is a super dark movie and follows the life of Edward Norton as his character changes throughout the movie and ultimately comes to a dramatic realization in the end.

I would be surprised to hear that you haven’t seen this movie, especially if you read our blog, so I will say go now and watch this movie. It will only add to your cool factor if nothing else, and other than that it is just damn well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Fire in the Sky (1993)

The Avengers

Amber and I just finished watching The Avengers and it was incredible.  I have been following the movie since they decided to do it a few years ago and it has more than exceeded all my expectations.  I had my doubts over the years because they were putting so many large personalities onto the screen at the same time but they made it look easy. This was easily one of the best films made after the Marvel characters and that is saying a lot with such great movies to compete with like X2 and the Spiderman franchise. I found myself disappointed with all the recent Marvel movies so this really was a pleasant surprise.  I did enjoy both Thor and Captain America but I had expected them to be better, and I all but hated Iron Man 2 and X-men First Class.  The Avengers simply couldn’t have been any better though.  It was action packed, all the stars were on point with their performances, and it was surprisingly funny.

I openly criticized the choice of Joss Whedon to direct this powerhouse when it was announced a couple years ago.  Clearly I grossly underestimated him and should have done my homework on him before jumping to conclusions.  He had an extended hand in the making of the film getting a writing credit to go along with his role as director.  He made a great movie and should be seeing a lot of doors opening up for him in his career now.  Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic and seemed to really shine in his role as Iron Man.  He is Tony Stark, and he is only getting better at playing the part.  I think Tom Hiddleston was awesome as Loki, really really great as the main antagonist of the film. He is so villainous yet such a joker all the same.  The whole movie he has that sinister smile on his face as if he is humored by a joke that only he knows and it is the entire world.  Samuel L. Jackson had to do little here but stand tall and look cool, but who better to do so?  This was the largest role Jackson has had as Nick Fury now and I think he is great at it.  Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson all did well reprising their roles as Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow.  I thought Jeremy Renner was really good playing the part of Hawkeye.  I didn’t know what good a guy with a bow and arrow would be against an army of aliens but I was really surprised by how much I liked the character.  I wish Ed Norton had returned as the Hulk but Mark Ruffalo wasn’t bad.  I really liked Norton’s The Incredible Hulk but he ended up battling with the studio over a writing credit after the movie came out and they ultimately decided not to bring him back for this.  Not to mention that The Incredible Hulk wasn’t exactly considered a successful film, I thought it was really good though.  I think this movie made great use of the Hulk, and Ruffalo did a good enough job playing Bruce Banner that it didn’t matter that the character was recast.

All of these actors had fantastic chemistry in this movie, and I am very hopeful they will all be able to come together to do it again in the future. They had great dialogue that really reflected their comic book roots with a lot of witty banter and goodhearted humor. Ruffalo and Downey Jr. particularly had good chemistry together, but you really get the feeling that all of these actors liked one another.  I was so surprised by how funny the movie actually was; I found myself laughing out loud from beginning to the very end. If you wait through the entire credits you see the movie end on a really funny final scene. The whole movie had such a casual and natural feeling to it, that surprised me too although it shouldn’t have.  This has been something like six films in the making with buildup coming in nearly every Marvel film since Iron Man came out in 2008. All the characters were well established before this movie even started production so they didn’t have to waste any time introducing every character. That allowed them to do so much more with the script and I think that made this an exceptional comic book film.

Amber and I both loved this movie, if we had the freedom to do so we would have gotten right back in line and watched it again. However we had a lot to talk about on the way back to pick up the kids, there was so much to like about the movie.  I hope everybody out there goes to see the movie because it is worth your time and money. Given the opportunity Amber and I might even go back to the theater and see it a second time on the big screen. We did not watch the film in 3D format, opting for the safer 2D choice.  The last two films we saw in 3D looked awful, but I cannot say how good or bad they might have been in this movie. If you saw it in 3D leave a comment and let me know how it looked.  If it looked good I might check it out the second time around.

UPDATE #1

Santa Claus was awesome this year and brought us a copy of this movie to add into the collection. I enjoyed this movie just as much the second time if not more.  It is a fun and exciting movie that couldn’t have been made any better.  I look forward to the next installment as there will undoubtedly be one, and can’t wait to find out who might be joining the team.  Until then I look forward to the next Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man movies that will be hitting screens this upcoming summer.