I am (reviewing) Iron Man

Iron Man (taken from ironmanmovie.marvel.com)It seems that the bar for movies based on comic books just keeps getting set higher and higher. Sure there are the occasional rotten eggs. Daredevil, Electra, Fantastic Four, X-Men 3, and Spiderman 3 spring to mind. Hrrrmmm…maybe the quality of comic book movies isn’t increasing as rapidly as I thought. That makes Iron Man even more impressive. Some mild spoilers may follow.

Iron Man was, quite simply, FUN. It hit just the right mix of humor and action, and the conflict between Iron Man and the big bad was intensely personal. It was less “save the world” (although there was a certain element of that), and more “you did NOT just do that to me.” Despite focusing quite a bit on the development and testing of various suits, I never felt that the movie lagged.

The special effects were terrific, mostly because you couldn’t tell what was computer-generated and what wasn’t. Granted, Iron Man flying at 30,000 feet with two fighter planes probably wasn’t a stunt double in a suit, but for just a second, you thought it might be. The acting was good across the board, with Robert Downey Jr. really standing out. He put all my doubts about his casting in this movie to rest. Gwenneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and the rest of the supporting cast were solid, if not spectacular.

The movie-watching experience for me was the best I’ve had in a long time. We saw it a week after it opened, and the theater was nearly full. I don’t remember the last movie I saw where scenes caused the entire audience to break into spontaneous applause. We did during Iron Man.

There are lots of references that are sure to get the comic book geeks excited (no, no, definitely not me. certainly not), but they don’t bog down the movie for the average consumer who just wants to be entertained. If you’re one of those said comic book geeks, you’ll probably want to stay for the scene after the credits. Or, you know, look it up on YouTube in a couple of weeks where it is sure to appear (copyrights be damned!).

Iron Man is the best comic book movie since Batman Begins, and might even pass it for the sheer entertainment factor. If you want to blow $10, there are worse ways you could spend it.

Netflix – Not What We Imagined

Kate and I signed up for Netflix in December. It hasn’t exactly been what we expected. I’m not referring to the selection of movies, how fast they send you movies, the ease of use of their Web site, or anything related to our satisfaction with the service itself. We have generally been very happy with all of those things. The problem, you see, is us.

Since we signed up for Netflix we have seen the following movies:

  • Pennies from Heaven
  • Raising Helen
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Brothers Grimm
  • Six Degrees of Separation
  • The Dukes of Hazard

These movies have one thing in common. They were all terrible. In fairness, The Brothers Grimm and Raising Helen could get a rating as high as mediocre, but that’s still not saying much. We’ve also seen a couple of good movies, so we’re only mostly inept when it comes to picking movies. We’re currently sitting on Schindler’s List, which I’ve never seen, and awaiting Mr. and Mrs. Smith (my pick – it might be another bad one). Maybe we should look at the movies with a little bit more of a critical eye before adding them to our queues.

In other (totally unrelated) news, Simon went to the doctor yesterday, and weighed in at a whopping 18lbs, 7ozs! He’s currently playing linebacker for the Viginia Tech Baby Hokies, and is terrorizing baby quarterbacks everywhere. Simon for Heisman!

This Winter’s Crop of Movies

Kate and I used to see lots of movies in the theater. It’s an outing that we really enjoy. Things, however, have changed a bit with the coming of Mr. Simon. First of all, there are the usual wide array of challenges that come with bringing a baby to the movies. Then there’s also the issue that we’re on a tighter budget and don’t really want to spend lots and lots of money at the movies. So, to make a long story short (too late), we’re cutting back.

Having said that, there are LOTS of movies coming out this winter that I want to see. Kate shares my interest in some, but not all, of these movies. At any rate, we’re going to see one of these movies on December 15. But that’s probably the only one that we’ll see in the theater. The movies that I’m interested in include:

So now comes the challenge. Even though we’re reducing the number of movies we see in the theater, we are already planning on seeing one of these movies. Can you guess which one? And why? Use the comments!

Serenity – A Quick Review

Serenity Movie TicketI’ve plugged and plugged the movie Serenity to the point where some people have questioned whether I’m being paid to do so. Simon chose the exact day that we were planning on seeing it to make his debut appearance, so it has naturally been on the backburner for a while.

Yesterday we braved the movie theatre with a baby. So Simon saw (or at least slept through) his first movie! We intentionally chose the 1:30PM showing in the hopes that there would be very few people there. We were lucky enough to have the entire theatre to ourselves for the first two-thirds of the movie. At that point some random creepy man showed up. Who pops in to watch the last third of a movie? What’s that about?

So on to the movie. The following could be considered a bit spoilery, so don’t read it if you want to see the movie without knowing ANYTHING. Despite a weak beginning, I thought the movie was very good. Once it got rolling, Serenity was quite fun. The strength of the show (Firefly, which Serenity was based on) was always the characters, and I thought that was true of the movie, as well. It’s hard to introduce and get people invested in a cast as large as this one, but I thought Whedon & Co. pulled it off.

The effects were adequate, but not spectacular. In this movie, that wasn’t a problem because the character development and plot really took over the movie. For once, in a science fiction movie, the effects were secondary. They were a means to an end. Very much like the original Star Wars movies. Definitely NOT the “look what I can do with CGI” that the later three became.

I was surprised how well the story worked, and Joss Whedon, NOBODY WAS SURPRISED WHEN YOU KILLED ****. If there’s anybody who doesn’t get too attached to his characters, it’s Whedon. Nobody is safe in a Whedon TV show, and apparently movie.

I’m not certain that Serenity did well enough to justify a sequel, or a return of the series to TV. One can only hope. Regardless, they’ve done an excellent job with the movie that they made. It’s still in theatres and you should go see it if you get a chance. Or if not, put it on your list of movies to see on DVD.

T-Minus 8 days and counting. . .

For those of you who think my math is wrong, it’s not. That’s because, for once, I am NOT referring to Kate’s due date, or anything having to do with the baby. I’m basically using this blog to provide free advertising (again) for the upcoming blockbuster (I hope) movie, Serenity. Because you know the 15 people my blog reaches will make all the difference.

So once again I point you to trailers, a review of a trailer (this fellow amusingly refers to the “hot fox super ninja” multiple times), and then defer to Whedonesque for a ridiculous amount of other links and information about the movie and other Joss Whedon-related news and projects.

Serenity comes out on September 30. Go see it. SERENITY NOW!!!

Go See Serenity - In Theaters Sept. 30

Batman Begins

If you see one movie this summer, make it Batman Begins. I realize this is high praise considering all the movies that I haven’t seen, but I so thoroughly enjoyed Batman Begins that I think it merits the recommendation.

Christian Bale is the best choice for Batman/Bruce Wayne yet, and I quickly got past the slightly annoying “batman-voice”. You’ll see what I mean. Surprisingly, however, you don’t actually see Batman in full iconic garb until at least an hour into the movie, by my estimation. Maybe more.

This is an origin story, and it is well told. I’m not a big enough fan of the comic to know how true to the “real” origin story it is, but it was certainly entertaining. Christian Bale’s strongest moments are as the driven and brooding soul who, realizing that vengeance upon his parent’s murderer is not an option, will settle for those like him.

Veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, as Alfred and Lucius Fox, respectively, really add a lot in terms of comic relief. While this film was gritty, it was nowhere near as dark as the Burton Batman films. The action was frenetic and it was difficult to tell what was happening, which fits with the style of this Batman. He strikes, fades back into the shadows, and strikes again – constantly keeping the bad guys confused and fearful. It appears that they tried to keep the batsuit off camera as much as possible, which wasn’t a bad thing. It’s hard to make the suit believable, but they did as good a job as one could expect, and then kept it off screen as much as possible in a film that is about Batman. Don’t get me wrong, you see plenty of Batman in the suit – but not as much as I thought you would, and not as much as in previous films.

Fear is a major theme – and it is addressed well. While I was a little fearful that having multiple villains would hurt this film as it hurt previous batman films, it wasn’t an issue. The Scarecrow was well executed, and the scenes that made use of his hallucinogenic gas were a joy to watch.

I realize that watching a fellow run around dressed like a flying rodent doesn’t appeal to everybody – but this is a quality film, top to bottom. See it if you have the opportunity, and I’ll be glad to take the blame if you don’t enjoy it.

Star Wars – How to Temper Your Expectations

Kate and I have not seen Episode III yet, and probably will not have a chance to do so until the last weekend in May. I’ve heard from numerous sources that Episode III is light years (no pun intended) better than Episodes I and II, so we will want to see it eventually. However, we have found the perfect way to put our expectations in check and diminish our hope that the movie will be good.

Watch Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

We did that last night. It was a menace, all right. That movie is flat-out TERRIBLE. I didn’t remember it being quite so bad in the theatre. I think I was blinded by the Star Wars excitement that every geek experiences when these movies are released. There were a number of reasons this movie was bad. Shall I enumerate? Well, seeing as this is MY BLOG, I think I shall.

  • Jar Jar Binks. Enough said.
  • Terrible acting (apologies to the kid who played Anakin – maybe it was the directing that just made him look terrible).
  • Writing horrific enough to make normally fantastic actors look bad. Only Ewan McGregor escaped unscathed. A true credit to his acting ability.
  • Crazy accents for alien cultures. Must the imbecilic bad guys be made to sound distinctly Asian? No, that’s not quite right. They don’t sound Asian as much as they sound like someone doing a bad and ruthlessly stereotypical impression of an Asian-American.

We’re going to watch Episode II some time next week. I wonder how my impressions of that movie will change with a second viewing. Yeah. I’m hard up for stuff to blog about.