Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


The World’s Changed, Boys.  Time We Change Too

It doesn’t seem correct that the last time I wrote a written review for a movie was over 2 years ago, but I’ll take your word for it, WordPress.  Well, I figured if I wasn’t going to have a video ready for this week, maybe I could write a review instead.  And what luck!  I happen to have seen a movie today!  So I’ll just go ahead and give you a few words about Spider-Man: Homecoming, written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, directed by Jon Watts, and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, and Jennifer Connelly.

Peter Parker (Holland) is Spider-Man.  …Probably should’ve put a Spoiler Alert warning in the intro…  Anyway, he fights bad guys.  But not as much as he thinks he should.  The tailor of his suit, Tony Stark (Downey), disagrees and thinks he’s not ready.  Well Peter goes and does it anyway, getting in a little over his head when he starts getting closer with a gang of former salvage employees turned criminals and lead by the flying suit wearing Adrian Toomes (Keaton).  Other stuff happens, Tony tells Peter to get naked, Peter starts wearing a hoody with steampunk goggles, happy ending.

The general shittiness of my tone when describing the movie is not an indicator of my feelings about it.  I really enjoyed this movie.  I just don’t wanna give anything important away on accident.  I wanna do that when I goddamned good and ready!  I’m so happy Marvel got their mitts back on Spidey because they did it just as well as I hoped they would.  It just felt so much like Spidey!  More than it has felt like Spidey in quite a long time.  His jokes were good (Sorry Andrew Garfield) and at no point did he have a cringe-worthy dance scene in an emo black suit (Sorry Tobey).  It was more fun than serious, but succeeded on both fronts when it aimed to, which is something the DC Universe should take note of, especially with how well Wonder Woman did it.  The movie keeps our friendly spider more grounded and small, working out of a neighborhood setting one could say.  It doesn’t get too big for its britches, even though Peter wants it.  It’s better this way.  Spider-Man should handle his own business, and then occasionally get involved in the bigger, crossover type things like they do in those picture books people like so much.  He should have his Peter Parker troubles and have to perform a balancing act with his secret Spider-Man troubles, and in this movie he does!

The movie, however, was only ALMOST perfect.  It’s hard to put a movie together without flaws, and the minor ones in this were definitely forgivable, but worth noting because it’s very difficult to make jokes about good stuff.  The biggest one for me was the whole MJ thing.  One thing that really stuck in my craw about the Dark Knight Rises was the whole Robin thing, and the MJ thing in this movie reminded me of that.  You have this character that you’ve created for the movie and that’s fine.  But why have a big reveal at the end that the character we’ve been watching in the whole movie shares a name with something we know?  Like, am I supposed to get excited that John Blake’s real name is Robin?  Even though he’s not Robin and won’t be Robin and no Robin has been named John Blake?  So it’s just a moment of the filmmakers saying, “Remember that beloved character!?  …Well, this isn’t them.  But, y’know, it’s kinda cute… right…?”  Well that’s how the MJ thing felt in this movie.  Didn’t ruin anything, mind you.  I just thought it was unnecessary.  I also felt like this movie came dangerously close to getting in over its head with the characters.  I know Marvel is excited to get to play with these characters again, but when I looked through the Wikipedia page for the movie after the fact, almost every bit character in the movie was meant to be bigger characters from the comics.  They had Prowler (apparently), the Tinkerer, the Scorpion, one version of a guy that would become Venom, and TWO Shockers!  There was also electricity in some of the scenes, and that will probably be revealed to be Electro at some point.  It didn’t hurt anything for me really, but maybe slow down a little.  You can have bit players in a movie and it won’t hurt my feelings that the dude that sold Peter a sandwich wasn’t Kraven the Hunter.

I can’t say I have much to say about the action and visuals in the movie.  They were all great.  I thought they would be and my psychic powers were confirmed when they were.  …NEXT!

The casting was phenomenal.  We’ve met a lot of these people before and already knew how good they’d be so not a lot of surprise there, but they either met or exceeded expectations.  Tom Holland didn’t have it easy jumping into such an iconic character, but felt even better when we got to spend more time with it.  And being Spidey ain’t easy.  The first hardest thing about being Spider-Man is not beating Flash’s ass.  The second hardest thing would be having those abs and wearing a shirt to high school.  These are both things that would’ve been much different if I were Spider-Man.  Perhaps my uncles did a poor job imparting wisdom to me.  …Plus they’re both alive, which seems like they really let me down.  But Holland was Peter Parker and Spider-Man both at the same time perfectly, which is something I don’t think I could say about any other Spider-Man I know.  Michael Keaton was also expectedly fantastic.  He had solid motivation and reasoning and one of the most important things to get right about a villain is their motivation.  A bad guy who is bad just to be bad is boring.  This is a family man that got screwed by Damage Control and went a little overboard afterwards to take care of his family.  And he was intimidating AF!  The way they had him put together the Peter/Spidey thing was masterful and believable.  And his line comparing the way he got rich with the way Tony Stark got rich was also perfect.  Jacob Batalon as Ned and Zendaya as Michelle were both great comic relief, without overdoing it.  I felt a little annoyed with Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in this movie, though.  They did a great job, but their role in the movie was to get mad at Peter for trying to handle something even though he constantly tried to let them know about if first.  Something is about to get hijacked!  Call Happy!  …He hung up on me.  Better handle it myself.  “I TOLD YOU NOT TO!” says Tony.  “I also had the other thing handled and you didn’t need to get involved…but I guess I forgot to let you know I called the FBI.  …Probably would’ve let you know that you didn’t need to get involved if I told you, wouldn’t it…?”  Also, I really enjoyed Jennifer Connelly as Karen, Peter’s AI suit companion.  I didn’t know it was her until after the movie, but they had a lot of cute interactions.

Y’know, I always say I don’t have much to say about movies I enjoy and that’s why I don’t write reviews for them.  Guess I showed me!  I can talk way too much about anything!  Next up: Sports!  But Spider-Man was lovely.  A perfect balance of a Peter story and a Spidey story with only minor annoyances that don’t take away from the overall enjoyment, with great action and comedy and wonderful performances to realize those things.  Go out and see this movie!  You have my blessing!  Spider-Man: Homecoming gets “You were on the ceiling!” out of “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

P.S.  Rest in Peace, Joan Lee.  This movie and character may not exist at all without your support.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)


I’m Gonna Offer the Choice: Do You Want an Empty Life, or a Meaningful Death?

Iron Man 3 (2013)The release of the Avengers set a high bar for superhero movies that I imagine filmmakers will find it very difficult to meet.  But it would be horrible if they decided that they had done it and that they had to stop there.  Of course they needed more.  Nay … I needed more.  I was worried that I might go into the follow up movie with expectations too high for any movie but Avengers 2 to match, but I found myself able to manage my expectations fairly well.  And it certainly wasn’t the movie that made that so easy to do; it has quite a pedigree of its own to live up to.  And not just the Avengers.  The first movie in this series was probably the first step in the process of Marvel (and probably Hollywood in general) taking comic book movies seriously.  The second one let a lot of fans down, but I wasn’t altogether opposed to it.  And I finally got to see the third.  And so I present to you my review of Iron Man 3, written by Drew Pearce, co-written and directed by Shane Black, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ty Simpkins, Paul Bettany, and Stephanie Szostak.

In 1999, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) meets a scientist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), who has been working on something she calls “Extremis” – an experimental cellular regeneration treatment with the nasty side effect of making some of the patients explode.  He also meets a disabled scientist named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who offers them a place in his company, A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics).  But Stark is mainly interested in banging Hansen, so he neglects the other things in favor of that goal.  Years later, Stark is mentally unstable in all sorts of different ways.  Because of the events with the Chitauri, Stark cannot sleep and instead spends his time building new suits of his Iron Man armor, he has occasionally debilitating panic attacks, and his relationship with his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) are strained.  And to make things worse, a terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is laying siege to the world with random explosions that leave no bomb residue.

I liked this movie … but I had a few problems with the movie that hindered my ability to love it.  And a big portion of the problems surround the problem with being a fan.  I loved what I thought they were doing with the Mandarin in this movie by making him a terrorist, but I did not like what it turned out they were actually doing with him.  I’m okay with you removing the magic rings element of the Mandarin if you want to keep the series based more in real life (even though the Avengers introduced someone that also relies heavily on magic rings in a matter of speaking), but what you did with the Mandarin in this movie was take one of Iron Man’s greatest villains and make him completely insignificant by the end of the movie.  And it wasn’t even a surprise!  I started getting sad that I was seeing it coming when I first saw the movie studio the Mandarin would broadcast from.  And they did the same thing with another of the biggest characters in the Iron Man mythos: Iron Man himself!  I didn’t come to see Tony Stark 3; I came to see Iron Man 3.  But the greater majority of this movie is Tony Stark fighting outside of a suit because his suits were destroyed or ineffective.  And then – almost to apologize for that – they spend the last fight scene of the movie dripping with Iron Man suits.  You’d think I’d appreciate that since I was complaining about the lack of metal suits through the rest of the movie, but that’s also not the case.  The suits Stark kept jumping into in that last fight were so disposable you’d think they were made of Post Its.  The bad guys would slice through them like a hot hand through Iron Man suits.  Then he’d run around for a while and jump into a new suit for a few seconds of fighting.  And he didn’t even get to be the ultimate hero at the end of the movie!  Though how it happened was fairly badass, it wasn’t Iron Man doing it.  I need my hero to defeat my villain.

That amount of complaining might lead you to incorrect conclusions about my thoughts on this movie.  I did not hate it, but parts of it bummed me out.  It was still a good movie, and I’d even recommend seeing it in theaters if you haven’t already.  It’s still got some decent writing in the story, and Tony Stark has some great lines as always.  For instance, I liked when he called that little kid a pussy.  When an enemy asked Tony Stark if all he had was “cheap tricks and cheesy one-liners” and Tony responded with “that should be the name of my autobiography,” I still laughed.

The look of the movie remains fantastic, and I could not bring myself to complain about that.  Even though I didn’t like that most of the action didn’t involve Iron Man, I appreciated the action that was there.  And I could not stop myself from getting a little excited when the large group of Iron Man prototypes shows up to throw down, but I found myself thinking that it was good that Tony fucked around and created all those disposable Iron Man suits, but why wouldn’t he create just one of them that could withstand tremendous heat?  In the comics, Stark has different armor for all sorts of different occasions.  He has one that can go underwater, he has one that can go into space, he has one that can take on the Hulk, but he doesn’t have one that can withstand heat?  I find that farfetched, and I refuse to realize the irony in calling something in a superhero comic book movie “farfetched.”

The performances in the movie also remained excellent.  I find it impossible to not like Robert Downey, Jr., especially as Tony Stark.  He’s got more than enough acting and comedic chops to go around.  Gwyneth Paltrow remains great as well, able to go toe-to-toe with Downey in every way.  I thought Guy Pearce was a little over the top in the nerdy version of his character, but he did the rest of it very well.  I thought Ben Kingsley was amazing and badass throughout the greater majority of the movie, and he even brought some (unwelcome) comedic parts to the movie.  I welcome comedic stuff when Tony Stark brings it because it’s true to his character, but it’s really not something I want to see the Mandarin doing.  When I saw Ty Simpkins in the movie, it made me nervous.  You see, I’ve been watching Married With Children recently and I’ve just reached the part where they unleash the character of Seven upon the world, effectively destroying every episode he was in, as is generally the case when they decide what something needs to boost ratings is to add a child sidekick.  Thankfully, I didn’t have those feelings with Simpkins.  He didn’t specifically bring very much to the table for me, but Downey did in his interactions with him.

Iron Man 3 was a good movie, but my nerdiness made me resent certain parts of it.  The story was good, but I didn’t appreciate the angle they went with the Mandarin.  The action was good, but I didn’t appreciate the relative lack of Iron Man, nor did I appreciate how disposable his armor was.  And anything I didn’t like about the performances was not to be blamed on the actors.  They were all fantastic.  Overall, I was torn in my feelings about Iron Man 3, but I am not torn in my belief that you should watch this movie.  It could have been better, but it remains worth the price of admission.  Iron Man 3 gets “Lesson number one: heroes, there is no such thing” out of “You know, it’s moments like these when I realize how much of a superhero I am.”

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Iron Man 2 (2010)


Sir, I’m Gonna Have to Ask You to Exit the Donut

Avengers is drawing ever closer, at present a mere 3 months away.  My nipples are so hard with excitement!  In an effort to further prepare myself and my audience, I have prepared a review of yet another Avenger movie.  Just like last time, this is one of two parts for a specific Avenger.  In fact, just like the last time, this one stars Iron Man.  This movie received some harsh treatment amongst the fans of the first movie, but their name is not on the top of this page.  So let’s see what I thought of Iron Man 2, written by Justin Theroux and Stan Lee, directed by Jon Favreau, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Slattery, Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, Garry Shandling, Leslie Bibb, and the voice of Paul Bettany.  And with special appearances by Stan Lee and Olivia Munn.

Good old Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has been doing alright for himself since the times of the first movie.  He has a new convention, the Stark Expo, set up to continue his father’s legacy, he’s been doing a lot of good work with the Iron Man suit, and he’s dying of palladium poisoning.  …Okay, two out of three.  Other things start going wrong for Tony, starting with Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) telling him he has to turn over the Iron Man armor.  Stark refuses, citing that no one is remotely close to duplicating the Iron Man armor, and it belongs to him.  Problems come up with THAT theory when Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), son of the recently deceased Anton Vanko, replicates the arc reactor that powers the armor and uses it to attempt to take revenge on Tony – due to his inherited belief that the Starks stole the idea from Anton – by channeling the reactor’s power into whips.  Tony is able to overcome Vanko and Vanko is sent to prison, until he is freed by Tony’s rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), and tasked to create better Iron Man armor.  Tony decides to make his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the new CEO of Stark Industries, taking on Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) as his new assistant.  This frees him up to take the self-destructive paths he had not the time for as the CEO.

I feel like people hated on this movie much more than it deserved.  Was it as good as the first one?  No, probably not.  But it wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard most people go on with.  Origin stories are easy because most of them have already been written and displayed in comic book form.  The fans just want to see that, but with more moving and less need for us to use our imagination.  When you come to the second movie, you mostly have a new script to work with, and it’s only occasionally something that’s already been written.  I thought the story was fine in this movie, the graphics were amped up a little, and the action was superior.  I wasn’t AS fond of it as I was with the first movie, but it was still pretty good.  It’s equally as funny as the first movie, though I would say the drama of the movie was toned down for this one.  Maybe that’s what people wanted out of an Iron Man movie.  Not me, however.  I went in wanting fun, and I got that.  One of the first things that comes to mind is the press conference that Tony was in.  I really liked that scene.  First, it was pretty funny that Tony was definitely not taking any part of that conference seriously.  The second thing I liked was when Don Cheadle showed up, because their brief dialogue made sense for the scene while simultaneously addressing the fact that Rhodes was a new actor.  They just kicked out something like “Yeah, I’m here now.  Deal with it,” which seemed to be a little bit of “Fuck off, nerds who will complain about this.”  The graphics of the original movie were already great, but you could argue that they got a little bit better with this movie.  I liked the whips that Rourke used, and I especially liked when he showed up with them for the first time and the whips burned his shirt off.  Then, when he was cutting off chunks of car with them, that was pretty sweet as well.  The portable Iron Man briefcase was a pretty cool idea, except that he kind of got his ass kicked in it.  For the first half of the movie, it only adds to my complaints about the first Iron Man movie: that the fights were too short or only gave us a half-powered Iron Man.  This one frightened me that the first big fight of the movie makes Iron Man into a bitch again, having him look like he’s going to lose to Vanko before barely pulling it out.  It ends up as kind of a stalemate when Tony fights Rhodes, but you can kind of get behind that because, though Tony is more experienced at fighting in the armor, Rhodes is more experienced at fighting.  But then they finally give me the payoff I wanted in the end of the movie, where something like 20 minutes is just a SUPER-powered Iron Man fighting seemingly infinite robots, mixed in with scenes of the Black Widow laying an epic ass whooping on about 8 guys in Hammer Industries … while Hogan struggled to beat The Rock’s stunt double.

The performances were still great in this movie, probably because the actors were either the same or replaced with better actors.  Robert Downey Jr. was still pretty charming.  He had a little bit of sadness this time around, but dying from palladium poisoning is a slight step down from being the reason a bunch of soldiers died.  Plus, he got that whole situation worked out.  I like Don Cheadle a lot more than Terrance Howard.  He’s a more likeable guy.  Gwyneth Paltrow is still great, but she was a little bit bitchier to Tony this time around, and that made me less fond of Pepper until near the end of the movie.  I appreciated that Samuel L. Jackson had a decent-sized role in this movie, as he had mostly just popped in for a second in the other Avenger movies.  Even though I had always known Nick Fury to be a white guy, Samuel L. Jackson is alright in my book.  Mother fucker.  Scarlett Johansson is a great addition as well.  Not only because I am always more than happy to look at that lady, and also not just because she looks really good as a redhead, but because that lady kicked some serious ass in this movie.  Sam Rockwell mostly got on my nerves in this role, and it’s strange that I like him even though most of his roles are fairly annoying dudes, but that is what he was going for here so I can’t blame him for it.  What I think I can blame him for is that he feels the need to dance in almost every role I can think of right now.  Even though that’s only three roles, he should tone that shit down.  The cameos were nice in this movie as well.  First, Olivia Munn is gorgeous and, even though she was only in for a couple seconds, I am always happy to see her.  Stan Lee was back in this one, and I like the running gag they have for him that he gets mistaken for a different old, white dude in each Iron Man movie so far.  First he was Hugh Hefner, and this time he was Larry King.

I have still been thoroughly entertained by the Iron Man movies, even if others have not.  Quality story, great actors, and a big step up in action makes me still be a fan of the series so far, even if the movie didn’t resonate quite as deeply with me as the previous movie.  By my count, I have only one Avenger movie left to review, so I guess I’ll need to find something else to throw in after that one.  But for now, we’re one step closer to the Avengers.  I own Iron Man 2 on BluRay, and I don’t see any good reason why you should not do the same.  Iron Man 2 gets “Nice work, Kid” out of “Drop your socks and grab your crocs, we’re about to get wet on this ride.”

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Couples Retreat (2009)


You Definitely Don’t Pull a Hypothetical Gun on Your Therapist

I’ve had today’s movie sitting on my desk for a little while now, ever since it arrived from Netflix.  When it came out in theaters, I knew that I liked all the people that were in the movie, but found that I never had any interest in watching it.  The thing that probably drew me in finally was the fact that there were a lot of really good looking women in bikinis throughout this movie, and also a pretty solid potential for comedy.  This movie is Couples Retreat, written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, and Dana Fox, directed by Peter Billingsley, and starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz, Carlos Ponce, Temuera Morrison, John Michael Higgins, Ken Jeong, Amy Hill, and Karen Shenaz David.  I had no idea that a person from both Scorpion King 2 and Scorpion King 3 were in this movie when I started watching it.  That’s just happy coincidence.

Jason (Jason Bateman) and his wife Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are having marriage troubles, so they decide that they should go to a resort to work on them.  But they’re also having financial troubles, so they need their friends to go with them in order to get a package discount.  Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), and Shane (Faizon Love) and Trudy (Kali Hawk) all begrudgingly agree to accompany them.  Dave and Ronnie have a stable marriage with kids, so they don’t believe they need a couples retreat.  Joey and Lucy’s relationship is on the rocks, but they prefer to just cheat on each other a lot instead of working it out.  Shane and Trudy have only just started dating.  But they all go anyways, thinking that Jason and Cynthia will go through the counseling while they can just enjoy their vacation.  When they arrive at Eden, the resort host Sctanley (Peter Serafinowicz) informs them that they must all go through the counseling or they must all leave the resort.  The group must now endure the resort owner, Marcel (Jean Reno), and his unorthodox methods, the amorous Yoga instructor Salvador (Carlos Ponce), and the temptations of the sister island, Eden East, and their wild singles parties.  But they’ll probably all end up better in the end.

Some of the expectations that I had going into this movie were let down.  I knew there would be good looking ladies in bikinis, and the movie delivers on that exquisitely.  There is scarcely a woman in this movie that is not ridiculously good looking and usually wearing a bikini.  The other expectation I had of the movie (given the cast) was that it would be really funny.  It wasn’t.  It had it’s moments, to be sure, but I wanted a lot more laughter than I got.  The introduction to Salvador is a super awkward and sometimes funny scene, as almost every Yoga pose he teaches involves laying on a member of the cast in a sexual manner, whether it’s the girls or the boys.  But there were a couple of funny moments.  The rest of the time it was roughly what you come to expect of a Vince Vaughn movie.  It just seems like the writers just put down a rough outline of what was going to happen and just went to those locations and talked nonstop until they felt they had enough comedy to fill a movie.  A lot of the cast inspires confidence that this will be a good philosophy, but the random things they were saying only got smirks out of me, with the occasional funny one.  This movie also does something that too many comedies feel like they have to do: try to have a meaning.  Obviously it’s all about couples retreats and stuff like that, but don’t lay this message on us about marriage.  It gets a little too heavy handed and sappy for my taste.  This movie had potential to be a good, ridiculous comedy.  I understand that the status quo is to have a little bit of a message behind the movie, but if you lay it on too thick it just bogs down the funniness.  They also seem to have reached a point at the end of the movie where they furiously try to tie up all the loose ends of the movie about 5 minutes before it ends, all within a 10 minute span.  The relationship problems were mostly just hinted at up until that point, then they all instantly reach a boiling point, but then fix it almost immediately.  Another sign that the story of the movie was only vaguely touched upon.  And what was with all the Guitar Hero talk in this movie?  I like Guitar Hero just fine, and I also understand the purpose of SOME product placement in a movie, but they talk about this thing all the time.  Vaughn’s job is to sell the game and, coincidentally, it becomes a strange and unnecessary plot point near the end of the movie.  The thing that the movie does fantastically is the look.  And not just the smoking hot women in bikinis … and I’m sure there are men that ladies would like to look at.  I mean the settings.  It’s probably pretty easy to make a beautiful looking movie in a tropical island setting, but every bit of this movie is colorful and vibrant once they reach the island.  So, if nothing else, you’ll enjoy looking at it.  A great movie on mute, perhaps.

I perhaps went into this movie expecting too much, but it was mainly based on the cast.  I like Vince Vaughn in a lot of his movies, but he does tend to play the same exact character in almost all of them.  Sometimes they work, and sometimes they’re just annoying.  In this movie, I had no problems with him, but he never really did anything funny either.  Just a couple of sparse moments.  The same thing could be said for Jason Bateman too.  He usually plays a completely different kind of character from Vaughn, but it’s usually a pretty neurotic guy.  He’s that here too.  And also has a few moments that were funny.  The biggest problem I had with these couples was with Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis.  I don’t know if I missed some explanation in the beginning of this movie, but I never had any idea how these two were still a couple.  They seemed to mainly just resent and avoid each other, and both of them just kept trying to fuck anybody but their spouse.  Then, at the very end of the movie, they fall in love with each other again because he invites her to Applebees.  …Alright.  I guess that’s a thing.  The only thing I can really say about Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, and Kali Hawk was that they are gorgeous.  Kristen Bell has a decent bit of acting around the end of the movie.  It took me a little bit to figure out where I knew Peter Serafinowicz from, but when I realized he was in Shaun of the Dead, I got really excited.  His character, Sctanley, probably had the largest amount of funny moments, but he wasn’t around enough to fix the movie.  I also felt like John Michael Higgins and Ken Jeong – two more people I generally expect a great deal of funny from – were greatly underused.  And remember when I reviewed all the Scorpion King movies?  Karen Shenaz David (from Scorpion King 2) and Temuera Morrison (from Scorpion King 3) were in this one too.  What a strange coincidence.  But they also had very minor parts here, so there’s nothing more to say.

I think it is probably a dangerous thing to throw a large amount of big names into a mediocre comedy.  We’ll just go in expecting too much.  This movie has it’s charms, but it should have been much funnier with the cast that it includes.  I wouldn’t think anyone would actually hate this movie, though.  The movie is a gorgeous thing to behold because of it’s tropical setting, vibrant colors, and – last but not least – gorgeous ladies in bikinis.  You just won’t laugh that much.  Couples Retreat gets “You got a pose called Yoga guy gets his ass kicked?” out of “Holy shit!  It’s like a screensaver!”

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Iron Man (2008)


The Truth is … I Am Iron Man.

Avengers is still on the way, peoples, and I still have Avenger movies to review.  Having already completed Cap, Thor, and Hulk, I’ve already done three of the biggest names amongst the team, leaving one more to tie it all up.  But since the Hulk and the star of today’s movie both have sequels already, I still have three more movies to review.  Maybe four, since Wolverine was an Avenger, though he’s not a star of the movie that’s coming out.  But if I run out, that one will do.  Before I must resort to that, I still have two movies starring one of the biggest names in the Avengers, and both of those movies are WAY better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Today’s movie is Iron Man, written by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matthew Holloway, directed by Jon Favreau, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jon Favreau, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Clark Gregg, Leslie Bibb, and Bill Smitrovich.

Wealthy philanthropist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets himself caught in a bad situation when a group of bad guys attack a convoy he’s in.  One of his company’s own bombs goes off right in front of him, sending shrapnel into his chest.  He’s taken in by the bad guys and saved by another captive, Yinsen (Shaun Toub), by having a magnet installed in his chest to keep the shrapnel from reaching his heart.  The leader of the bad guys, Raza (Faran Tahir), tells Stark that he wants him to make one of his new Jericho missiles for them.  He agrees, but instead uses the parts they give him to make a giant, metal suit.  He uses this suit to escape, but Yinsen dies in the escape.  Stark is rescued shortly after his escape by his friend Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes (Terrence Howard), and returned to the states.  He joins up with his assistant, Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his chauffeur, Hogan (Jon Favreau), and goes to a press conference with the guy that runs his company, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).  Here, he shocks the press by announcing that his company is going to stop producing weapons.  Stark goes into seclusion and builds a much better version of the armor he used to escape, deciding that he’s going to use this armor to right the wrongs his weapons created.

Hooray for Iron Man!  This is a really fun movie, especially for a dedicated Marvel nerd such as myself.  I had never been that big of a fan of Iron Man in comic book form, but I was on board for this flick.  The story was great, but mainly just taken from the comic book, with only minor changes.  The dialogue in the movie was mostly pretty clever, and the action was pretty great, but I did have some complaints.  They changed the story of Iron Man, but only enough to make it more topical for the audience of today.  If I recall correctly, Tony Stark was taken in by terrorist type people to have him make them a weapon and he escaped using the Mark 1 Iron Man armor, but it was originally the Mandarin that took him and not some vaguely-Taliban group, but it worked and made it more relevant today.  The scene where he gets captured is a pretty awesome way to start the movie off (in no small part due to the fact that they used AC/DC’s Back in Black), but it did kind of make the military look a little inept.  I know they were ambushed, but those army dudes got walked right over.  You should at least let them put up a bit of a fight first.  The build up to, and use of, the Mark 1 armor was pretty awesome as well.  But once Stark gets the kinks ironed (PUN!) out of his armor, the debut performance of it made me blow such the nerd-load.  It also is the first (but smaller) example of my problem with the action scenes: I wanted more!  Iron Man goes in and whoops ass too quickly for my taste.  I liked it so much, but I could’ve done with some more.  The bigger problem is the final battle.  I won’t go too far into it, but Iron Man goes into the battle with a bigger robot armor, but he goes in at less than half power, so he didn’t throw down as hard as he could have.  I wanted the final battle to be an epic throwdown with two fully armed and operational suits.  I didn’t want Iron Man’s biggest enemy to be his Duracells.  The action scenes still retained a great deal of awesome, I just wanted a little more.  I really dug the greater majority of the dialogue in the movie as well.  It felt at least somewhat improvised, but sometimes too clever to actually be improvised.  Robert Downey Jr.’s first interaction with Leslie Bibb, for example.  I really liked the way he deflected every question she tried to ask him into a proposal for sex.  I liked better that it payed off.  Then I liked when Gwyn lays the total burn on Bibb the morning after.  I also liked when RDJ called his car the “Funvee” and Terrence Howard’s the “Humdrumvee”.  I would’ve liked when Howard eventually rescues Stark and says “How was the funvee?”, but I ended up thinking to myself “How many weeks were you holding on to that joke, Rhodes?”  The graphics in this movie were great, with nice explosions and what not, and Iron Man looked amazing.  But in the part where RDJ has Gwyn play a real life version of Operation on him, that prosthetic chest was not believable at all.  On the other hand, I was very pleased with Stark’s computer generated holograms that he could interact with, Minority Report style.  Especially when he was working on the hand of Iron Man and put his hand in the hologram to try it out.

I can scarcely think of complaints about the cast of this movie.  Almost everyone rocked.  I love Robert Downey Jr..  That dude’s amazing.  When I first heard he was going to do Iron Man, I thought to myself “That guy is way too good of an actor to be in a comic book movie … but I sure as hell hope no one tells him that.”  I loved him throughout the movie when he was all snarky to everyone and perhaps a little spoiled, and I also liked it when he toned that stuff down and got serious.  Jeff Bridges is also great in the movie.  He may have been too likeable as Stane at first, but when he turns at the end that’s what makes it even worse, but in a great way.  When I heard Gwyneth Paltrow was also going to be in this movie, I thought “What the hell is going on here?  Doesn’t Marvel mainly like throwing some Afflecks and Garnets at their movies, and just throw in a Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen for flavor?”  She was also great.  She had a good deal of quiet attitude and sass to her.  That compounded with her hotness made me fall in love; a step up from when I fell in lust with her.  Can’t say I dug on Terrence Howard, though.  I’m not sure if it’s just because he wasn’t in the sequel (and was replaced by a far superior actor, in my opinion), but he just didn’t do much for me in this movie.  The best performance in the movie, hands down, was the fire extinguisher robot.  That thing was adorable and, even though RDJ was shitting on him for the entire movie, saved his life in the end.  Also, why would Stark program his AI butler, Jarvis, to be such a dick?

Iron Man is pretty awesome, but I would’ve liked it to be a little more awesome.  Great story, fantastic performances (especially by fire extinguisher robot), great dialogue, great graphics, and awesome action that I would’ve liked to see amped up just a little.  Still, fantastic and very fun movie.  You must see this movie if you haven’t yet.  I’ve purchased it twice because I had to switch over to BluRay, so the least you can do is buy it once.  The review for the sequel is comin’, so we’ll see how that one goes, but we’ve already seen how this one goes, and it goes good.  Iron Man gets “The Funvee” out of “I’m prepared to lose a few hours of sleep with you.”

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Zookeeper (2011)


You Wanna Talk? Let’s Talk!

I desperately wanted to rent today’s movie, mainly out of my self-loathing. We’ve all heard of this movie and decided not to see it, but you’re not all like me. You avoid things that may cause you pain because you’re weak. MAN UP TIME!! None of you will probably see this movie, but it won’t matter because I’m going to spoil it. Read on if you want to hear my thoughts on the movie. This movie is Zookeeper, written by Jay Scherick and David Ronn, directed Frank Coraci, and starring Kevin James, Leslie Bibb, Rosario Dawson, Nat Faxon, Joe Rogan, Ken Jeong, and Donnie Wahlberg, and starring the voices of Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Judd Apatow, Jon Favreau, Maya Rudolph, Jim Breuer, and Don Rickles.

Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) proposes to his girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), but she turns him down and dumps him. She says it’s because he’s a zookeeper, I says it’s because there is no way a girl that looks like her would marry a guy that looks like him. Just sayin’. 5 years later, Griffin is the lead zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo, having gotten promoted because of how much, and how well, he cares for the animals. Working with him is the zoo veterinarian, Kate (Rosario Dawson), the reptile house zookeeper Venom (Ken Jeong), and another zookeeper Shane (Donnie Wahlberg). At a party in celebration of his brother, Dave (Nat Faxon)’s wedding, Stephanie starts to regret breaking up with Griffin and starts trying to get back into his life. This is when the animals get involved. Apparently, they can all talk. The main animals are Joe the Lion (Sylvester Stallone), his Lioness Janet (Cher), Donald the Monkey (Adam Sandler), Barry the Elephant (Judd Apatow), Jerome and Bruce the Grizzly Bears (Jon Favreau and Faizon Love), Mollie the really annoying Giraffe (Maya Rudolph), and Bernie the Gorilla (Nick Nolte), although Bernie is depressed and doesn’t join the group when they meet to discuss Griffin. They start giving him shitty advice on how to land Stephanie again. Later, Stephanie’s ex, Gale (Joe Rogan), comes back into the picture and starts a conflict with Griffin over Stephanie. Griffin also uses Kate to make Stephanie jealous. Eventually, Griffin does get back together with Stephanie, and she convinces him to leave the zoo to work with his brother at the car dealership. This makes Kate accept a job in Africa. Griffin realizes that he’s not being the man he wants to be and goes back to the zoo, but then has to chase down Kate on her way to the airport. Happily ever after. … I mean the movie ended. That was my happily ever after.

This movie sucked. That’s not a surprise, right? What IS a surprise is why does a movie suck when so many people I would consider talented are involved? I’ve seen movies (okay, A movie) with Kevin James in it that I liked, but I heard good things about that TV show he was on. I’ve seen a couple Sandler movies that were funny. Ken Jeong is funny, Joe Rogan is funny, Rosario Dawson can be funny AND is a very talented actress. But what is the deal with James and Sandler? Together they have been making movies recently that are so bad that the only thing funny about them is the jokes made ABOUT the movie. This movie, as expected, was not funny. Zero percent laughs. The story? Not very good either. It is just a step up from other kids movies that seemed to have caught on to the fact that they really don’t need to rely heavily on writing because children will think talking animals is enough reason to see a movie. I would like to say this to such movies: the fact that you CAN make an animal talk in a movie does not serve as a premise for a movie. I would say I could write a better script in my sleep, but when I woke up at the end of this movie, I had no such script. Either way, it’s bad. Most of the humor relies on gross humor (like flinging lion phlegm into Kevin James’ face) and slapstick humor (like Kevin James inexplicably flying around a wedding party on sheets hanging from the ceiling, knocking down the bride, and smashing into an ice sculpture). You generally find Kevin James likeable in his movies, regardless of quality, and he is here as well, but I didn’t like how stupid he was written. Who in their right mind would take most of this advice from animals? They don’t get mates the same way we do! Women won’t jump on board with a guy peeing into a plant in a restaurant. And if learning from animals wasn’t the premise of the movie, it’s the very played out “being in love with one girl and ignoring the girl of your dreams that you’ve had all along” crap. I know this kind of thing is fairly realistic, but why be so fascinated with the girl that broke your heart that you ignore Rosario Dawson? Leslie Bibb is fine, sure, but did I mention the other girl is ROSARIO DAWSON?! Fuck that shit. This movie would’ve been over in 20 minutes for me. Get dumped, animals can talk, “Oh wait, I work with Rosario Dawson”, THE END. And if I asked the animals for advice and they came back with “Pee in a plant”, I would then say “Oh yeah, you guys are stupid. That’s why you’re in cages as things for us to look at. I’ll figure this out. Go back to licking your crotches.” On a positive note, the mouth movements for the animals were pretty well executed.

The performances themselves are okay at best, but it’s really hard to notice that when the writing is so bad and they’re the ones delivering those written words to us. Kevin James is mostly mediocre throughout the entire movie and reduces his performance to just poor imitations of animals. He has only one part I thought was funny. That was when one of the animals told him to insult, and immediately compliment, Stephanie to get her interested. Though this shows a fairly low opinion for the intelligence of women, it was executed pretty funny by James. He tells her that he wants dessert and she asks him something and he says “God you’re beautiful … but you’re still here,” and she hops to it and gets him some dessert. Leslie Bibb is very attractive, but didn’t add much by way of performance. Rosario Dawson, on the other hand, actually gave a very real performance in the movie, reminiscent to me of her performance in Clerks 2. In both movies, she really makes you believe that she could go for a guy that looks like Dante or Griffin. The problem with her performance in this movie is that, when she was going head to head with Kevin James, the reality of her performance shined a spotlight on how hammed up his performance was. That’s upstaging, Rosie! Joe Rogan and Ken Jeong appear fairly briefly in the movie, but their parts are the parts in the movie that did the most to fight against this movie’s lack of funny, but there’s only so much they could do. The animals were all pretty consistently annoying. Nick Nolte sounded like Nick Nolte and has the ability to make your ears bleed with how gravely his voice is. And the ape was animatronic or a guy in a suit, and looked very bad. The one in Jackass 3D was more convincing. The rest of the animals were real or CG. Adam Sandler and Maya Rudolph chose very irritating voices and performances for their animals and I dreaded them speaking again. Sylvester Stallone played the lion as very disinterested in what was happening in the movie, but that’s probably just because Sly probably was disinterested. Cher, on the other hand, was good.

This movie wastes a pretty solid cast with a bad premise, poor story, and complete lack of funniness. There are some good performances, namely Joe Rogan and Ken Jeong for the comedy and Rosario Dawson for her realism, but none good enough to sit through the movie to see them. Kids may enjoy the movie, but there’s no reason to let those little shits control your lives. Zookeeper gets “Tragic misread of situation” out of “You don’t wanna know”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!