I’m offering up my thoughts on some classic games known as THINGS, I reflect on one of my favourite places in the world and, after having taken in some of the new Doctor Who, I’ve got some thoughts to share.
Iron Man 2
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau, Gary Shandling, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Alright, when the first Iron Man came out two years ago, I was suitably blown away to see this Marvel character be given such a fantastic big screen treatment, even if it did succumb to a few cliches of the superhero genre. I was looking forward to the sequel with great gusto, but then something weird happened. I’ve been phenomenally disappointed with every movie I’ve seen so far this year, so I went into Iron Man 2 with greatly lowered expectations. Would it be worth those lowered expectations?
It’s been six months since Tony Stark stood before the world and said, “I am Iron Man.” And it’s been a stressful six months for Tony. The US Government is breathing down his neck, wanting Stark to turn the Iron Man armor over to the military. Without having turned it over, Stark created a new arms race for other companies to build armored suits…namely, Stark’s corporate rival, Justin Hammer. It turns out that the ARC Reactor — the glowy thing in his chest that keeps him alive — actually uses a toxic substance and is slowly killing him. The final straw comes when the villainous Ivan Vanko shows up, using technology exactly the same as Stark’s, claiming that Stark stole the inventions from his father and Vanko swears vengeance. Has it all become too much for Tony Stark to handle? Can he get his act together, cure his poisoning, and save the city from Vanko’s rampage?
What I Liked
I was completely shocked at how funny this movie is. Don’t worry, it doesn’t become all campy like 1960s Batman, but there are enough clever quips to really make you laugh. The action scenes are amazing…it truly is an impressive climax with armored suits mowing down giant robots. All of the actors bring their A-game to the table. And I know, with all the new characters and heroes and villains introduced, there was some worry that others would get overshadowed. But, I found a nice balance was struck. Oh, and John Debney’s score was a vast improvement over ol’ whats-his-name who did the music for the first film.
What I Didn’t Like
Well, just like the first film, it still falls victim to some of the cliches of the superhero genre. And, unlike other superhero sequels, like The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2, it really doesn’t push things to the next level. It’s more content to just give us more of the same.
It’s a hell of a good ride, a very entertaining film. Not better than the first one, but truly on the same level as the first one.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsey Fonsenca, Chloe Moretz, and Nicholas Cage.
Well, as the superhero genre becomes more and more mainstream, I’m sure we’ll be treated to more deconstructions of the genre. “How would superheroes be treated in the real world?” “What would possess a person to actually put on a costume and beat up criminals?” The latest attempt to tackle these questions is Kick-Ass, based on a comic created by comic book writer Mark Millar. How are these questions tackled in the film?
Dave Lizewski is just your average high school kid. Girls ignore him. Bullies beat him up. He fantasizes about his hot teacher. And he and his buddies like to hang out and read comic books. So, one day, after reading some comics, Dave asks, “How come no one has ever done it? Donned a costume and become a superhero?” Dave decides to do just that. He buys a wet suit off the Internet, modifies it into a superhero costume, sets up a special MySpace page where people can send him crimes to investigate, and he takes the superhero name “Kick-Ass.” After some first attempts at beating up muggers go horribly awry, Kick-Ass finally has a victory, and the fight footage is posted on YouTube, and he soon becomes a viral sensation. He even inspires other heroes to come forward, including the Batman-esque Big Daddy, his sidekick, the foul-mouthed and homicidal 11-year old known as Hit Girl, and the mysterious Red Mist. But before you know it, Kick-Ass is in over his head, and is being hunted down by the city’s biggest drug lord. Will Kick-Ass and his fellow heroes prevail?
What I Liked
I was surprised at how funny this film was. Granted, a lot of it is dark humor, as it involves body counts, and a lot of it comes from the shock of having an 11-year old girl who curses like a sailor and slaughters drug dealers with a wide variety of bladed weapons. I also like the fact that this was an independent film, giving it a nice, gritty, low-budget feel that adds to it’s “superheroes in the real world” premise.
What I Didn’t Like
Kick-Ass does kind of fall prey to the Shrek conundrum. And that is, about 2/3 of the way through the film, it switches from mocking the cliches of the genre to falling back on them. It does turn into a full-out regular superhero film for the final battle.
This movie is all kinds of messed up, but in a good way.