elektra: (movie tickets)


Bullets and bad guys and puppies with sad eyes. And Colin Firth kicking butt–what more do you need? Check out my review of Kingsman: The Secret Service at tabloid.io.

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

It’s been years since I saw a movie in the theater twice in as many days–Guardians of the Galaxy is that special.

An excerpt:
Guardians of the Galaxy throws you in at the deep end and turns away, confident you’ll love what you’ll see, but not really giving a darn if you do or not. And it blasts “Cherry Bomb” on a boombox at you the whole time.

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great movie for fans of the comic book–it’s got the “look and see” of traditional Spidey in all his teenaged angsty goodness. Both Spidey and Peter Parker pack a ton of growth into a really solid movie, with a great cast of supporting characters. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
It is not power-packed with action sequences, chases, and special effects (although all are present!), instead opting for a larger dose of character development. The result: like the Spider-Man comic books of old, the viewer is drawn into Peter Parker’s complicated, angst-filled life, where decisions are more complex than just how to defeat a particular foe, and every action has a consequence.

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

Hugh Jackman is back in The Wolverine, bridging the gap between X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Days of Future Past. While not his best outing, it’s far from his worst, and there is enough here to recommend going to see. A detailed review is up at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
On the plus side, I cannot say enough good things about Yukio–the character as created for the movie (very different from the comics) is multi-faceted, strong, and compelling. The movie definitely becomes less interesting during a long stretch when Yukio is absent from the screen.

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

The latest outing of Superman is out, and the reviews are . . . mixed. This is a new take on Superman, grittier, more Dark Knight and less Boy Scout in blue tights. I’ve got a detailed review up at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
I didn’t know I was such a purist.

I love comic books.

But my Superman is definitely NOT science fiction. And Man of Steel is, at its heart, a science fiction film as it attempts to ground Superman in realism.

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

Iron Man
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Stan Lee (comic book), Don Heck (comic book), Larry Lieber (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson (stinger)

Iron Man 2
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Justin Theroux, Stan Lee (comic book), Don Heck (comic book), Larry Lieber (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Paul Bettany

The Avengers
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn (story), Joss Whedon (story)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Alexis Denisof, Harry Dean Stanton

This is a look at one pathway in Marvel’s Phase I, mostly because I sat in a theater and spent an entire day watching all of Iron Man’s prior outings, culminating in the premiere of Iron Man 3. My review of that latest film can be found at buzzymag.com.

From the very beginning, we meet Tony Stark, who is fun, fun, fun. Son of visionary weapons designer (and oh, so much more) Howard Stark, Tony lives in the ultimate Malibu bachelor pad. He’s a genius, rich, with private planes and toys galore. Robert Downey Jr. inhabits this role. He makes this movie!

Halfway around the world, he takes pride in personally supervising demos of the latest weapon from Stark Industries.

Of course, he is captured, then tortured, tormented, and locked in a cave–where, at the end of hope, with but a single friend (Shaun Toub), he builds a crude mechanical suit, reinventing himself in the process. This suit requires Yinsen to bolt him in and handle the power-up externally. But it wins Stark his freedom, while giving him a sense of accomplishment lacking in his life.

Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Tony’s combination secretary-assistant, trying to get him to stop wasting his life. She also runs interference for him, important when folks like Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) want to debrief him. Actually running Stark Industries is Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), who is very conscious that he isn’t as brilliant as Tony, but is superb at playing corporate politics and handling the company.

Tony’s chauffeur Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) tries to keep him from doing anything monumentally stupid (he mostly fails), while Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard) serves as Stark Industries’ military liaison. Rhodey is mostly a party-pooper in this one, stiff and unable to think outside the box.

After returning home, and with the help of his very advanced home AI, Jarvis (Paul Bettany), Stark builds a better version of the mechanical suit. Now, robotic arms help him “suit up.” He reacts to flying like anyone would–like a kid with a new toy.

Even as Tony puts together his awesome new suit, though, mentally he’s torn up. He begins to doubt what Stark Industries is doing. And the more he tries to fix it, the more it unravels around him.

By the end, he’s grown as a person, and ready to own his actions, good and bad–he is Iron Man.

And by the time the credits have rolled, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has stopped by to discuss the Avengers Initiative . . .

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is enjoying notoriety at the Stark Expo, a World’s Fair-like event, while in Russia, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is nursing a second-generation grudge. What actually happened with his father–that apparently depends on your point of view.

We’re also introduced to Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a weapons expert who is anything but. Like Obediah Stane, Hammer is more of a politician than an inventor. And he is incredibly slimy.

On the flip side is both Stark and Vanko, who are classic comic book scientists: combination physicists, chemists, engineers, and they also are expert fabricators.

The real politicians (in the government), characterized by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) would like control of Iron Man, too–conveniently not recognizing that there is a person involved. Everybody wants the suit . . . or a suit.

But all is not well. There are complications associated with having a tiny arc reactor in your chest that Tony has to deal with, and his response is just to be more reckless than usual–shutting his friends out in the process.

When Vanko appears, throwing around cars and shearing off bits, he is threatening. You believe that someone could die. Then the awesomeness that is the suitcase armor makes its appearance. Definitely an upgrade.

Agent Coulson is back, and he’s showing some teeth this time. Tony has turned Stark Industries over to Pepper Potts to run, and Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) turns up to help her out.

Rhodey (now played by Don Cheadle) is manipulated a bit in this one, although some of that is inherent in the fact that he’s military. He wants the suit, too, or Tony to be more responsible about being Iron Man.

With everyone so focused on wanting a suit, was it really a shock that Ivan built a suit?

Still, lots of action, more growth as a person on Tony’s part, more development of the Tony-Pepper relationship, more of Pepper as an independent person. The more Pepper grows, the more important she becomes to Tony. We meet Agent Romanoff, and see how awesome she is, and get a look at the S.H.I.E.L.D. dynamic. We see more of the Tony-Rhodey partnership that works so well when they fight together.

Lots of stuff blows up. Even better.

And there’s a mysterious hammer in the New Mexico desert . . .

After all of this–they showed us The Avengers. Really, we should have squeezed in Captain America and Thor, too, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And this day belonged to Tony Stark.

It’s established that S.H.I.E.L.D. has built an installation out in the desert to study the Tesseract, staffed with scientists and agents, among them Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in charge.

But Loki (Tom Hiddleston)’s stolen the Tesseract. He’s not from around here. He keeps having meetings in his head with someone (Alexis Denisof), and he wants everyone to kneel before Zod.

Now Nick Fury transfers to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and grabs a gamma radiation expert, Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Why didn’t he have Banner working on the Tesseract before, if it emits gamma radiation? He also gathers up Iron Man and Captain America. Before long, they’ve found Loki, and Thor’s joined the party.

No one is getting along, and no one trusts S.H.I.E.L.D. or each other. Until Loki’s escape and tragedy forces them all together . . . the Avengers.

Now Loki is on the loose in New York. His allies, the Chitari have shown up, too. Now we get the Iron Man mark 7 deployment–in mid-air!

Now that they’re a team, everything works perfectly. Cap is a major strategist, the Hulk is in at least some control, and everyone plays nice with no egos.

Earth is safe, even if New York is kinda trashed. Everyone goes their separate ways. Nothing to see here, move along.

And not one, but two stingers.

Onward to Iron Man 3!

Send to Kindle

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

Dredd 3D is a dark, real take on the adaption of Judge Dredd that leaves the 1990s version in the dust. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
From the beginning voiceover by Karl Urban, it’s clear this is not the 1995 adaption of Judge Dredd–it’s a darker, grittier, Christopher Nolanesque treatment of the material that never lets up. For fans of the original comic book (2000 AD), this dystopian future is just what they were looking for.

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

Barman Begins (2005)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan & David Goyer & Bob Kane (Batman characters)
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy

The Dark Knight (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan & David Goyer & Bob Kane (Batman characters)
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman

Note: the following contains spoilers for both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. If you haven’t since these two movies by now–have you been living under a rock?

Thursday night I spent nine hours in a dark movie theater with a wonderful group of fanboys/girls watching the Dark Knight trilogy–an appetizer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (each prefaced by a The Dark Knight Rises trailer), followed by a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. My review of the final movie is up on buzzymag, I’m going to speak to the first two films here. It was a fun, though tiring, evening–seeing a movie with other superfans definitely elevates the experience. And make no mistake, my love of the Dark Knight goes back to playing Batman & Robin with my best friend in kindergarten, back when the worst punishment my mother could possibly threaten was not allowing me to watch my half-hour of “Batman” on TV (same Bat-time, same Bat-channel).

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and watched either of the first two movies through–so I bought tickets for the marathon as soon as it was announced instead of watching the DVDs. I was sitting front row center–the perfect place to truly experience a movie.

I’d forgotten how powerful the start of Batman Begins in–how the movie jumps back and forth in time and Christopher Nolan makes it work. It sucks you right into the story in a way that just starting with Bruce Wayne as a boy might not have.

Things I noticed this time through–it’s just Bruce Wayne and Alfred alone in Wayne Manor for much of the film–how does Alfred keep that place clean all by himself? When Bruce’s parents were still alive it appears there was more of a staff, starting with Rachel’s mother the housekeeper.

I really appreciated how the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon is developed, each event building on the next, allowing you to understand the growing trust between them. This relationship continues from Officer Gordon to Lieutenant Gordon to (eventually) Commissioner Gordon.

The subplot of who is going to end up running Wayne Enterprises as it goes public also makes for a bit of entertainment–it shows how clever Bruce Wayne is, and how amazingly clever Alfred is. Where would Bruce be without Alfred?

I’ve seen this film a number of times, but every time I am struck by the scene where Bruce Wayne climbs down the well to explore the cave under Wayne Manor for the first time–he stands there with his lantern and is confronted by what is for him the embodiment of fear: The cave is full of bats! It’s an powerful visual, and it hits me everytime I see it.

Something I noticed for the first time on this showing: there’s a brief scene of DA Rachel Dawes comforting a child in the Narrows–an early role for Jack Gleeson, who is now everyone’s favorite “king who deserves to be slapped”–Joffrey Baratheon.

In Batman Begins we had the first taste of the great Michael Caine giving his interpretation of Alfred, interacting with Christian Bale showing remarkable range as Bruce Wayne, from college age through training with the League of Shadows through his early years as Batman. Liam Neeson as mentor and friend, then adversary, turns in his usual top-notch performance–nuanced, physical, and philosophical. Gary Oldman is thoroughly believable as the one honest cop in Gotham, and Morgan Freeman shines as the “Q”-like Lucius Fox. Cillian Murphy is just this side of crazy as the Scarecrow. I even found Katie Holmes sweet, but her character was somewhat overshadowed by the sheer scope of the rest of the film–she didn’t get a lot to work with.

This film (and the following two) ended to heartfelt applause and cries of “Gryffindor” and “On to Isenguard.” You gotta love fanboys!

The Dark Knight showed us the commitment that Christopher Nolan had made to the franchise–the first piece of which was that Bruce Wayne was not in Wayne Manor–it burned down at the end of Batman Begins. He’s living in a Gotham City penthouse while the mansion is being rebuilt, and Batman is working out of a temporary Batcave downtown.

This film will forever be remembered as the last that Heath Ledger completed before his untimely death, and for the intense performance as the Joker that earned him a well-deserved posthumous Oscar. His Joker was scarily psychotic and very disturbing–his philosophy summed up by: “All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal.”

A minor detail that bothered me about the plot of this one–one of the subplots revolves around one of the minor bad guys fleeing to Hong Kong, where he is out of reach of the authorities. So the good guys reach out to Batman, who clearly isn’t controlled by jurisdictional issues–but how do they know that he has the resources to leave the country and bring this guy back? It’s an operation that requires both connections and money to pull off . . .

The makeup effects throughout the movie were outstanding.

This movie marked the first time I watched a sequel and thought they managed to top the first film. I really enjoyed Batman Begins, and before that, I really like the Michael Keaton Batman, but The Dark Knight was . . . more. More intense, bigger action, higher stakes. The Batmobile is destroyed. They killed Rachel Dawes. They killed Jim Gordon. Even the other criminals were scared of the Joker. Heck, they killed the Bat Signal.

The ending left you understanding how important Gotham City is to Batman, and just what he is willing to sacrifice to save it.

The returning cast is again wonderful, with the relationships between Bruce Wayne/Alfred and Batman/Jim Gordon continuing to develop. Aaron Eckhart does a great job in the dual role of heroic Harvey Dent and the villain Two-Face. Maggie Gyllenhaal is more spunky in the role of Rachel Dawes than Katie Holmes–I think she’s given more to do here. But it’s jarring to see a different actress in the role when they worked so hard to keep everything consistent through these films–especially when you watch all three in a row.

At one minute past midnight, the main event rolled . . .

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

elektra: (movie tickets)

They’ve rebooted the Spider-Man franchise, and it’s having such a hot weekend that SONY has already announced that this is but the first in a trilogy. I’ve got mixed feelings about the movie, but I definitely think you should go see it–my full review is at buzzymag.com.

An excerpt:
Emma Stone is adorable as Gwen Stacy and her look is absolutely spot-on from the 1960s comics. Incongruously, Peter’s look has been updated to hoodies, a backpack, and a skateboard, and he looks a just a tad too old to be in high school. What happened to the nerdy Peter Parker who would be too embarrassed to talk to the prettiest girl in school?

Mirrored from Until Midnight and Occasionally Later.

October 2016

2345 678


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags