Mark Ruffalo

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.

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.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Year: 2004
Directed By: Michel Gondry
Written By: Charlie Kaufman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the most interesting films I have ever seen, if not the most interesting. It is like no other movie ever, a true original delivered by one of the most out of the box writers out there.  Charlie Kaufman is on another level when it comes to writing – he is a genius.  This movie is a great example of how imaginative and different he is; it is such a crazy movie. He is more known for his other films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but this has always been my favorite of his films, with Adaptation being an extremely close second. On the DVD cover Peter Travers of Rolling Stones magazine is quoted describing this movie as “A smart, sexy, and seriously funny comedy.” That leads me to wonder if he actually saw the film.  I would hardly call it funny at all much less describe it as “a seriously funny comedy.” This movie is about love and loss, pain and heartache, and the emotional roller coaster relationships tend to be.  I find myself having difficulty trying to categorize it because it is so different than everything else. I considered leaving it as a lone “uncategorized” film before settling on just creating a new category for “love story,” but never once considered placing it in comedy.

This movie is more like a journey than a story. It’s a journey through the mind and memory that is made perfectly.   Charlie Kaufman really outdid himself with this one, and Michel Gondry did an excellent job funneling Kaufman’s ideas onto the screen. I am not familiar with Gondry but this movie alone makes me interested in anything else he has ever made.  He had a great cast to work with on this film as well.  I have always been a fan of Jim Carrey’s efforts to take more serious roles and I think this is his best one. He does an excellent job in this movie and he deserves more recognition for the role.  Opposite Carrey was Kate Winslet, who is such a wonderful actress.  She is beautiful even with those awful colors died in her hair and she brings her talents to the screen in top form.  She is probably one of the most natural actresses I have ever watched and she has the ability to really bring a character to life in unique ways.  Kirsten Dunst is on hand in this movie as well with a great scene where she is braless in a tank top.  I have always admired Dunst, although I think her greatest performance was her first one, when she was a little girl in Interview with a Vampire. Dunst doesn’t do enough movies of late and that is a shame, I have liked many of her films.  Elijah Wood was trying to distance himself from the role of Frodo Baggins around this time to avoid being typecast but I think he made a mistake choosing this one.  He plays such a creepy guy that I think it hurt his image. He then went on to play an even creepier guy in Sin CityI think Tom Wilkinson brought a lot to the film with his role as the doctor who specializes in erasing unwanted memories. Mark Ruffalo did a decent job but nothing distinguishing and I haven’t figured out quite what people see in him as an actor.

This movie has such an interesting story and we can all relate to it.  Who hasn’t been through a messy break-up they would love to forget.  Who hasn’t lost a loved one and been overwhelmed by the grief and heartache? When Carrey’s character finds out what his ex has done it hurts him, he feels the pain of that loss and can’t live with it.  He decides to go through the same procedure and realizes in the middle of it that he made a horrible mistake.  When we exit relationships the reasons for the break-up are the freshest things on our mind and it seems like erasing them would be an easy decision.  It comes with a cost though, Carrey soon gets to the memories that made him fall in love with Winslet and he isn’t willing to sacrifice those. He desperately does everything he can in order to save the love of his life from being erased but ultimately fails, sort of. I think the overall theme of the movie is that true love finds a way, and it does as we see.  Sometimes certain people belong together.  Relationships are a rocky business and they can sometimes take all our strength to persevere.  I think it takes an understanding of that in order to make a relationship work, and all too often people aren’t lucky enough to figure it out.

This movie taught me a lot about love, and even more about relationships.  In an interesting way it has always had a strange ability to make me fall so much more in love with my wife and that makes me appreciate it even more.  This movie doesn’t hold a spot in my favorites of all time but I do think it is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen.  I love this movie and encourage anybody I can to see it.  I know very few people who have seen it though so I would like to take the opportunity to encourage anybody that reads this to go out of their way to see it.  It starts off kind of slow but quickly turns into something completely different, it is an awesome movie that is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ah, finally. We get to my list of all-time favorite movies. This is in my top five. I love this movie with all of my heart. I asked myself what I would say about this strange, original movie and here is what I think. I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I don’t really like the same ol’ same ol’ storyline that you can practically predict. Instead, I like the movie that shows what love is really like. This movie is a love story, but not in the classic way. It is a love story in a true way. The way that real love is nuts. You do things you never thought possible when you are in love. Love is absurd and makes people nuts. This film shows that.

This movie always makes me love Ryan more than I already do. I know how we were at first. All crazy in love. If there were such a technology such as memory erasing, we both would have done it already. But, in my heart I know without doubt we would find our way back together, somehow. It’s sappy, but it’s true. I love this movie so much because it reminds me how much I love Ryan.

Of course I think you should watch this film if you haven’t already. It is clever and witty and includes all the little details that make a movie worth watching and re-watching.

NEXT MOVIE: EuroTrip (2004)