Avengers: Endgame (2019)


Assemble.

The day finally came.  After 11 years and 22 of my top 22 favorite films of all time, we’re in the Endgame now.  Even with all my hatred of people and crowds, my excitement and impatience would not allow me to wait long to see it.  But Infinity War set a very high bar for the MCU.  There was certainly no way they could pass that, or even blow it completely out of the water, right?  Well there’s only one way to find out.  Well, by the time of writing this, two ways because I’ve already seen it twice.  And even though the second time was today, I feel like I’m itching to see it again.  But what did I think of the movie, you might be asking?  …Really?  Have you never read one of my reviews or seen one of my videos?  Well here’s my probably entirely predictable review of Avengers: Endgame, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, and starring…like everyone.  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Bradley Cooper, and so many more names.

Thanos (Brolin) won and wiped out half of all life in the universe with the snap of shiny, bejeweled fingers.  Even though they were thoroughly trounced by Thanos by himself, the remaining Avengers – Captain America (Evans), Hulk (Ruffalo), Thor (Hemsworth), Black Widow (Johansson), and War Machine (Cheadle) – as well as the two remaining Guardians of the Galaxy – Rocket (Cooper) and Nebula (Gillan) – decide it would be a good idea to take another crack at it because the new girl, Captain Marvel (Larson) claims to be super strong.  Iron Man (Downey) decides to stay home because he’s sleepy.  So the Avengers set off to … avenge.  And all of this is the first half hour.  Pretty much anything else is a spoiler.

Y’know what?  Avengers: Endgame could’ve been better.  …Don’t get me wrong, it was the greatest movie of all time ever, but I’m sure there’s something that could’ve been improved.  I was able to think of at least one, but we’ll get to that.  But a movie that contains as much hype as this movie has and I only really had one gripe?  That’s a killer flick!  Problematically for the sake of this review, I don’t think it’s worth talking about without spoilers.  Pretty much the entire movie after the first half hour is spoilers, so if that is a problem for you, feel free to stop reading and come back after seeing it.  Otherwise, let’s dish!

The story of Endgame was fantastic.  Time travel is a tricky thing to pull off and even the most well thought out stories can probably fall apart if you think about things too much.  Endgame does a good job of avoiding talking too much about the science involved so it can’t be picked apart too badly.  Science probably can’t prove that you can’t travel through time by shrinking down to sub-microscopic levels and entering the Quantum Realm because those things probably can’t happen in the first place.  And if you’re going into Avengers looking for good science to occur in the movie about superheroes, then what’s wrong with you?  The story obviously does leave some questions that may or may not be addressed.  What happened with past Loki?  What happens later when Hydra thinks Cap is one of them?  What changed when Cap decided to stay in the past?  In the very least, it seemed like these choices were intentional and may be leading to something.  The MCU has earned my faith in them.  And what’s more is that the time travel stuff added to what this movie really was deep down: fan service.  It was the most fan servicey movie ever, and I loved them for it.  There were callbacks to earlier movies (including what I say is the best moment of the film: when Falcon’s voice crackles through the radio when all hope seems lost and calls back to Captain America: The Winter Soldier when he says, “On your left.”)  And then when they start getting into time travel, we’re literally taken on the greatest montage/flashback in cinema history!  We go into Avengers, we go into Guardians of the Galaxy, and we go to shortly after Captain America: The First Avenger.  We see the filmmakers saying, “Remember this?  Oh you loved this!”  And we also see extra stuff, like how and why Loki got that gag mask in Avengers and what were the sorcerers that are supposed to be defending our realm doing during the Battle of New York.  You could also say that the death of Thanos in the beginning of the movie was not too surprising.  I mean, the team is in a spaceship heading off to kill Thanos in the first half hour, but we all know this movie is 3 hours.  They probably should’ve run the credits after killing Thanos and treated the rest of the movie as the best after-credit sequence ever.

I generally talk about the look of the movie here, but they put so much time and money into this movie it’s not worth talking about.  It was great.  I guess the only thing worth saying about it is that people often complain about CG characters and how they’re not realistic or compelling.  Avengers already got rid of that idea with Infinity War, making Thanos a very realistic and well-acted CG character, so much so that you could be forgiven for forgetting he wasn’t really there.  This movie continues that with Thanos, but also does the same level of quality with the Hulk.  So instead of talking about the look of the movie, I’m just gonna list the most exciting moments that I wrote down during that last fight.  And I’ll write them just as I wrote them in my notes.  Cap and Mjolnir!  Chips are down!  ON. YO. LEFF!!  Assemble! Rescue and Iron Man!  Wasp called him, “Cap!”  INSTANT KILL!  A-FORCE!!  CAPTAIN MARVEL!  I AM IRON MAN!!  …I straight up got goosebumps just typing those.  …I’m gonna go see it for a third time…

The cast of the movie was…well it was everything.  If you ever appeared in an MCU movie before, you probably showed up in this movie in some way or another.  You can get mentioned and shown in pictures like the Dark Elves from Thor: The Dark World or you can appear in unused footage with some new voiceover like Natalie Portman did or you can straight up appear in some degree like Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, William Hurt, Winston Duke, Maximiliano Hernandez, Frank Grillo, Jacob Batalon, Robert Redford, Ross Marquand, Callan Mulvey, Sean Gunn, James D’Arcy, and even Ty Simpkins, the little kid from Iron Man 3 that’s all grown up and appears at Tony’s funeral but even I didn’t figure it out until I got to the parking lot.  (In my defense, I didn’t care for Iron Man 3 much and don’t rewatch it often)  So many people you couldn’t possibly ask for more, to the point where they even had Wong say, “You wanted more?”  …Here’s my thing…  Yes, you gave us so many people.  Almost everybody!  …ALMOST!  There’s so many that I know I shouldn’t complain, but this is the end of an era, man!  I think you should’ve found a home for everyone.  At least everyone that’s still alive in the continuity.  But what about Lady Sif?  She’s still alive as far as I know.  What about some Nova Corps action?  Where was Adam Warlock?  What about the Skrulls?  Anybody from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., like Quake or Agent Coulson?  I’m not caught up on that show, but past Coulson could’ve appeared.  I’m not like most people in thinking that this was the time for X-Men to show up now that Marvel has the rights.  It would’ve been too rushed and the MCU really should build to them properly.  But biggest of all would be the Defenders.  I know the Netflix series are cancelled and Marvel’s not looking to bring them back, but this would’ve been one hell of a sendoff.  Just having Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and the Punisher step out of a portal together?  Tell me that wouldn’t have blown your mind!  And it would’ve been easy!  If those actors wouldn’t have agreed to get into wardrobe and step in front of a green screen looking determined, those actors are silly people!

Now let’s go through the main cast.  They are all still amazing at this, and I’m gonna be sad to see some of them go.  Though thankfully for my tear ducts, not too many of them had to die.  I think only 2 big ones.  Downey’s Tony Stark being the biggest one, obviously.  Man I cried so hard the first time I saw the movie!  And only maybe 10% less on the second viewing.  I didn’t see it coming really.  I was convinced that Captain America was going to die and Tony was going to retire, but they flipped it on me.  Tony bothered me in the beginning.  I really liked his relationship with Nebula, but when he gets home he starts being a real douche for no reason.  He claims Cap wasn’t there when he needed him.  I saw Infinity War, Tony!  Everyone was begging you to call Steve, but you just never got around to it!  I understand his motivations for not wanting to get involved when they found a possible solution, but I feel like everyone knew that Tony wouldn’t be able to resist if someone posed an interesting enough theory to him.  It was just a matter of time.  And finally, Tony’s sendoff was perfect.  Retirement would never be good enough for him, and if he was going to have to go, it should be by saying, “I am Iron Man,” and saving the day.  And the funeral was perfect, from the cast involved in it, to the music and presentation, to the wreath with the proof that Tony has a heart.  Speaking of send offs, Cap’s was perfect as well.  I was expecting a noble death, but his noble life was even better.  I loved the “Hail Hydra” moment and the fight with himself, and I especially loved America’s Ass.  …I mean the line!  I wasn’t staring at his ass…  Most of the joy of Captain America was in the final fight, how even as possibly the weakest of the three heroes that started it; Cap was the one holding his own the most.  And holding Mjolnir!  I squealed with glee at that moment!  And then how he used it!  Calling in lightning, spinning it like Thor, throwing it at his shield in midair!  Perfect!  And finally, after all these years, he says, “Assemble!”  Though it raises questions, I really enjoyed his ending.  He finally got that dance with his best girl.  It makes you wonder now where second Cap was through all these other situations as you assume he wouldn’t be able to just lay low and hide knowing he could help, but whatever.  I’m kind of on the fence about him handing the shield off to Falcon.  I know that happens in the comics, and I know Sam is an honorable dude, but I feel like you go with Bucky.  He can be Captain America, from the strength and the history and the fighting ability.  Falcon can’t do what Cap could.  Falcon should be Falcon.  But whatever.  It’s fine with me.

I was bummed and surprised at what happened with Black Widow.  Having heard she had a movie coming, I was not expecting what happened to her.  On second viewing, hearing her say, “See you in a minute,” before they head back in time was heartbreaking.  But anyone watching Hawkeye and Widow head to Vormir after having seen Infinity War probably had a sinking feeling in their gut.  I was personally hoping that the self-sacrifice aspect would be a loophole.  I mean, we’ve only ever seen someone sacrifice someone else.  Thanos threw Gamora in there and Thanos got the stone for it.  Widow threw herself in there, so Widow should get the stone.  And then the Soul Stone says, “Well…ya got me.”  The other hope I have is ongoing because, besides wondering what happens when Cap is returning the stones and goes to Vormir and sees his old buddy Red Skull there, what happens when the Soul Stone is returned?  Is the soul returned?  Maybe we’ll see…  Thor continues to be a joy since Ragnarok.  It was very funny, and very fitting, to see fat Thor, drowning in self-loathing as he would be.  And he got to have a lovely moment with his mom.  I was kind of hoping that his magic, armor-up, beard-braiding action transformation might Hemsworth him up a little and bring that sexy back, but it’s fine.  He’ll get there.  I also felt like they used Captain Marvel well.  They didn’t make her too over-powered and didn’t make her just save the day easily when she decided to show up, and they also explained well why she wasn’t going to be around to save the day every time because she’s busy in space.  And she set up a moment I loved.  First, her little interaction with Peter Parker was adorable, but then that leads to the assembly of A-Force, or all the women heroes of Marvel, getting together for a save the day push.  I love me some badass ladies, and they put so many of them in one frame that I nearly passed out.  I would say that part of me found it a bit pandering because why in the context of the movie would only the ladies decide to make a stand.  We’re all equal on this battlefield and everyone was all spread out, but all these ladies just ran to the same point to do some work.  But who cares?  It was awesome!  Speaking of awesome, Scarlet Witch versus Thanos!  At that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about how much I wanted to see that, but then it happened and it was epic.  And Tom Holland.  His activity in this movie was somewhat limited by the whole dead thing, but it should be noted that this kid is such a damned good actor.  His death in Infinity War and his reaction to Tony’s death here were so heartbreaking!  I felt worse for Peter than I did for Pepper, and Pepper is his wife and mother of his child! For two other tiny points, I loved Nebula’s character ark.  She’s really becoming likable. I just wish when Cap called Thanos a son of a bitch that Nebula would chime in and say, “Actually, my grandmother was a lovely person…”  And he wasn’t in there much, but I wish Doctor Strange’s line was, “If I tell you, it won’t happen…but trust me, the whole thing is going to be an awesome spectacle.”

Now, you’ve been waiting through a lot of fangasming to see the payoff of a tease I mentioned in third paragraph and never paid off.  What is the one problem that I had with Avengers: Endgame?  It sucks to have something built up and built up and never pay it off, doesn’t it?  …Well too bad!  Moving on!

I’m kidding.  THE HULK!  That was my one problem with this movie!  Infinity War sets up Hulk’s inability to transform and help the team SO HARD and never pays it off.  It gave me blue balls!  …Or in this case, green balls, I guess.  And it just ended on that!  So of course I spend an entire year dreaming of what that moment will be where the chips are down and everything looks like it’s lost and then Falcon says, “On your left,” and Hulk transforms and turns the tide.  It would have to be some epic moment, right?  After all that build up?  …NOPE!  This movie starts and he’s just Hulk already.  Granted, he’s Hulk AND Banner, which is cool, but he just figured it out off screen in a bland, science moment we never saw and all that build up to nothing.  Well then certainly we’ll have some great moment for him in the big fight where almost everyone has a big moment then, right?  …NOPE!  I think I saw him once, and he punched something insignificant off camera and was never seen again.  I will grant you that technically the greatest moment for me in the film happens because of the Hulk.  If he hadn’t sacrificed his arm to snap then no heroes return moment.  I also grant you that his arm was hurt so he wouldn’t be as big of a factor in the fight.  But I’m not asking him to be the one that defeats Thanos, but give him something!  In Infinity War, Banner had a very hard time in his fight against Cull Obsidian because he had to rely on the Hulkbuster armor.  Why could we not have the moment when Cull is walking up on Iron Man but the Hulk drops down, makes some quip about beating him with one hand tied behind his back, and whoops that ass?  Well we couldn’t because Cull was stepped on by Ant-Man as a throwaway gag.  I don’t need Hulk to save the day or win the movie or absorb the gamma radiation he said the glove gives off to become Worldbreaker Hulk or anything, but you guys set it up and let it fizzle out and that was a real bummer that stuck with me after the movie.  …The one and only bummer, so you guys still did an amazing job.

So that’s it.  A decade long setup leading to a seemingly decade long review written by me.  And all of it paid off perfectly.  At least from Avengers: Endgame.  This review?  Fine at best.  But Endgame was the perfect fan service movie that included characters and references from nearly all of their 21 movies leading to this moment that in no way disappointed.  Well, in one way disappointed because of the Hulk thing, but if your movie is 2 hours of solid fan service followed by one hour of back to back hype moments and I leave with only one minor bummer as a Hulk fan, you have succeeded in a way no one ever has and possibly no one ever will.  You have done the impossible.  I’m not even going to tell you to see this movie because it’s obvious that I think you should and you should have already at least 7 times and I also told you not to read this until you had.  Avengers: Endgame gets “I love you 3000” out of “SO MANY STAIRS!!”

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Captain Marvel (2019)


My Name is Carol.

In a concerted effort to put out more content and make the end of the year easier on myself by having material to use to remember these movies I’ve seen throughout the year, I am going to try to review the new movies I see more often.  You’re welcome.  And since I saw so many damned movies at the end of the year, I could not imagine going back to the theaters until this movie released.  Obviously, I was super excited for today’s movie.  It should come as no surprise.  The word “Marvel” appears on the poster many times, as the company that makes it and the name of the character.  How would I not have seen it?  This movie is Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Djimon Hounsou, and Gemma Chan.

Vers (Larson) is a Kree member of Starforce with amnesia typical of a RPG protagonist.  With Starforce and her commander, Yon-Rogg (Law), they undertake a mission to stop an invasion by the shapeshifting Skrulls, led by commander Talos (Mendelsohn).  The mission goes awry and Vers is captured.  The Skrulls try to sift through Vers’ memories to find the location of an experimental engine designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Bening), which they find to be on Earth.  Vers escapes and crashes to Earth, where she meets Nick Fury (Jackson).  Together, they try to find the engine – as well as Vers’ missing memories – and stop the sinister plot of the bad aliens.

On its announcement, I was very excited for Captain Marvel.  Closing in on when I would be able to see it, I started hearing a lot of negative reactions to the movie from the internet in general and from my friend Jordan, who acted like the movie was nothing special and I shouldn’t bother seeing it.  As if there were even the slightest chance I wasn’t going to see it.  And now that I have seen it, I think Jordan is out of his mind.  And that the internet is being the internet.  I assume the internet was mostly a bunch of angry guys who were somehow bothered that this was not another white, male superhero, even though this is the first female lead Marvel movie after 20 male lead ones.  So those people can go to hell.  Jordan, I assume, probably just expected too much.  This is an origin story.  Typically, the origin stories suffer because of how much they have to do to introduce us to the character and we don’t typically get to love that character until the second time we see them, which I imagine will happen very quickly with Captain Marvel.  I, however, already love her.  I thought this was a damned solid origin movie.  Maybe not as solid as the first Iron Man, but better than some of the other ones.  I also was indeed surprised as they intended me to be with the alien race swerve they pulled on us in the movie.  Otherwise, as a white male, I’ve seen plenty enough of me’s in Marvel movies already, especially given how uncannily similar I look to Chris Hemsworth, and I’m happy to see something different.  The movie was awesome, entertaining, and funny when it needed to be.  I didn’t feel too many heart string tugs during the movie, but I don’t think it was trying for too many.

But speaking of heart-string tugs, I burst into instant tears twice during this movie, and it warrants talking about.  Neither were because the story was trying to make me cry.  Neither were even really part of the story.  The first wasn’t even part of the movie!  It was the damned opening studio credit!  They changed the Marvel logo, usually awash with their heroes in action from their various movies, and they changed it to the biggest and best hero in the history of the company: Stan Lee.  Typing that gave me goosebumps right now and seeing it made my face well up with tears and joy as they showed proper respect to The Man himself.  I could’ve used a bit of a warning, movie!  The second was his cameo, and sadly probably one of his last.  He was just sitting on a bus talking to himself and reading something, but in the theater I missed it.  I was happy to see his cameo, but it wasn’t until later that I found out how beautiful it actually was.  The movie takes place in the 90’s and Stan was on the bus rehearsing for his scene in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats!  That was so damned beautiful and I felt a strange happiness for Smith that he got to see that shout out from his idol and friend months after losing him.  Well-played, Marvel.  You got me bad with those.

As for the action in Captain Marvel, I was scarcely disappointed.  In all of her fights, she seemed to be a real threat and a total badass.  If there is one criticism to be made of any of the fight scenes in this movie, it would be the “Just a Girl” fight scene, where she gets into a fight and No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” starts playing.  I get it; it’s the 90’s and that song was popular, and Danvers is indeed a girl.  It was a little too on the nose for my liking, I would say.  It didn’t take me out of it or ruin the scene for me.  It just made me laugh a little, but I did hear from others that they felt this was a little much, and I don’t necessarily disagree.  Otherwise it was badass, especially when she unlocks her true power and lays waste to all those enemy ships and scares off the rest by punching her fist into the palm of her hand.  That was fantastic.

All of the performances in the movie were on point.  Brie Larson was great.  She can bring pathos and comedy and action in equal measure flawlessly.  I hope she’s around for a long time because I definitely want more of this character, and I’m very excited to see how she interacts with the Avengers next month.  A lot of the best moments in the movie were the chemistry between her and Samuel L. Jackson.  A lot of those scenes played like a fun, buddy cop movie that I would love to see.  I also liked seeing how Jackson changed the character of Fury to make him seem younger and not as experienced with these kinds of things.  I also liked seeing him interact with the cat.  I would say that I thought that how they showed Fury losing his eye was funny, but not exactly how I was hoping to see it happen, shall we say?  Mendelsohn was also great, able to successfully pull off both sides of his performance, both before and after the big reveal of the movie.  It was nice that he also got to play for a while without all the makeup that would probably hold him back in his performance, though you really couldn’t tell.  Jude Law was also great (did I mention all of the performances were?) but I can’t really think of anything in particular to say about his performance that I didn’t already say about Mendelsohn’s.  And lastly, Clark Gregg was great.  I would’ve liked more from Coulson though, just because I like him so much and he’s not in the MCU as much since Avengers.

Regardless of what friends and sexist idiots on the internet told me, I very much enjoyed Captain America.  It was fun, surprising, action-packed, and exactly what you’ve come to expect from the MCU.  Sure, all said this movie probably winds up placing in the upper middle of the MCU in terms of quality, but it’s got a lot of stiff competition, and I would say it places pretty high amongst the strictly origin film MCU, which is what you should compare it to if you’re being fair.  A strong opening for the character of Carol Danvers, keeps my excitement high to see her again both in Avengers and her own movie, and is hopefully a good start to other female-lead Marvel movies in the future.  Captain Marvel gets “I know a renegade soldier when I see one” out of “I have nothing to prove to you.”

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Django Unchained (2012)


Kill White People and Get Paid for it? What’s Not to Like?

Django Unchained (2012)It’s a heavy spoiler for this review that today’s movie made it into my top films of 2012, but I still feel obligated to give it the full review it never received. Near the end of the year, I was trying so hard to review as many movies from 2012 as I could that I pushed this one off so much that I didn’t feel like the memory was fresh enough to still write the review for it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I got around to reviewing it because there was no way that I wouldn’t be picking it up on BluRay the day it released. Well the time finally came that I could present you with my review of Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, James Remar, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, and Jonah Hill.

A group of slaves is being driven by the Speck Brothers until they’re stopped by a German dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who stops them looking to purchase one of their slaves named Django (Jamie Foxx). When the Speck Brothers decline, Schultz guns them down. Schultz reveals himself to be a bounty hunter who needs Django to identify the Brittle Brothers, who Schultz has a bounty for. After dealing with the Brittle Brothers, Django reveals that he’s been separated from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), and Schultz decides to help reunite them, taking Django on as an apprentice bounty hunter until they get a chance to free Broomhilda from the slave owner Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

This movie is awesome, but I don’t even know how comfortable I’d be in saying that it’s Tarantino’s best movie to date. And that is a huge compliment. When your movie is potentially coming in third to Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, you know you’re doing alright in your career. And Django does not disappoint Tarantino fans, at least not this one. It’s far more fun than you’d expect a movie about slavery to be. Tarantino takes what could be a really heavy premise and injects it with his particular brand of humor, which you can see all over the place, such as Don Johnson’s character telling one of his slaves to not be so hasty when jumping to the conclusion that she should treat Django like a white man when he suggested to treat him better than she’d treat other slaves. Even though the scene could’ve technically been left out of the movie, I also enjoyed the scene where the racists were preparing to lynch Django and got into a discussion about the eyeholes on their hoods because it was pretty damned funny. Of course, Tarantino usually writes some funny and/or compelling dialogue, my favorite in this movie being between Django and Schultz more often than not. I guess the dialogue did seem a bit off in their unrealistically low use of the N-word for a movie taking place in the South, but I’ll let that slide as well. The only thing I took issue with in the whole story was the plan to rescue Broomhilda. They determined that they couldn’t just offer to buy her, and they also couldn’t offer to buy one of Candie’s fighters unless they came at him with a ridiculous sum of money, so they had to come up with this big ploy to offer the money and ask to take Broomhilda as a signing bonus. I don’t know why they didn’t just offer a crazy sum of money for Broomhilda in the first place. I suppose part of their idea was to only pay $2,000 for her and act like they’d come back with the rest later, but if they’d just offered $5,000, Django would’ve been good for it. It’s not like he didn’t help him raise at least that much money, thusly earning it for himself. And it’s not like he had anything else he wanted, so he could drop all that money to get his wife back. It’s a major point in the story, but a minor qualm from me. I got over it.

The action in this movie was over the top, but always in a fun way. It was like the Expendables in that when someone gets shot, they are sent flying in an explosion of red mist. But unlike the Expendables, this movie was good. And watching Django go into Candieland and fuck shit up was fantastic. The only real problem I had with the look in the movie was having to see someone’s hairy black nutsack, up close and personal.

The biggest sell of this movie had to be the performances. Everyone in this movie put on a clinic for amazing performances. Jamie Foxx started off pretty meek, but quickly turned into a badass. We already knew he had the comedy chops, but I don’t really recall seeing him as a badass action hero that often in the past. He wears it well. Christoph Waltz cannot seem to go wrong when pairing up with Tarantino. Waltz is great in everything I’ve seen him do, but he’s magic with Tarantino. My mom tried to get me to describe what it is about him that makes everyone talk about him with such reverence. I don’t really have the words. After more than 450 reviews, I still don’t know how to put what I think of Waltz into words. But I also can’t tell my mom to watch the movies to see him in action because my mom can’t handle violence, and his two best performances that I’ve seen were in movies lousy with violence. I think you just haveta see him to believe him. Leonardo DiCaprio is also fantastic in this movie, playing Candie as very charming but believably sadistic. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome in this movie as well as the racist asshole slave, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen Jackson allow himself to look closer to his age. He’s 64 years old! Black don’t crack. Speaking of racist things, Walton Goggins is also in this movie. I’m not saying he’s actually a racist, but he does give good racism. He’s really good at saying the N-word. Speaking of which, I think that must be tough for all non-racist white people in this movie, as I’m sure all of them were. If I were in this movie and I had to sling the N-word around like that, I’d be ruining every take by yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, everybody! Alright, back into the scene.”

Django Unchained is awesome. Excellent story with great –and often hilarious – dialogue that I’ve come to expect from Tarantino. The action is lots of fun and every performance in the movie is what other actors should study for their own betterment. This movie is easily in Tarantino’s top three best movies, which is the best compliment I can give with an already illustrious career. This is a movie you should’ve seen when it was in theaters, but if that time is passed then you should go buy it right now. Django Unchained gets “Our mutual friend has a flair for the dramatic” out of “I like the way you die, boy.”

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Menace II Society (1993)


Young, Black, and Didn’t Give a Fuck.

My friend Forty requested today’s movie a pretty good while back, but he and I have a history of watching movies together so that we can make jokes about them and it seemed only appropriate that he join me in the movie he requested.  But the first time we got together to watch today’s movie, I started getting horrible stomach pains the likes of which I had never felt before, causing me to cut our movie viewing short.  I managed to survive, unless I’m writing these reviews posthumously, but we had not gotten very far into the movie, so it remained on the table.  Forty recently had some time off, so we decided to get together and give it another shot.  The only question that remained was whether or not it was the movie causing my stomach pain.  If I finish this review, it probably was not the movie and was instead the Wendy’s that I ate the night before.  This movie is Menace II Society, written by Tyger Williams, directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, and starring Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett Smith, MC Eiht, Glenn Plummer, Clifton Powell, Arnold Johnson, Marilyn Coleman, Charles S. Dutton, Bill Duke, Too Short, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The movie starts with Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) and his friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate) going into a store to buy beer, but getting into a confrontation with the Korean storekeeper and his wife that ends in O-Dog gunning them both down and stealing the tape from the surveillance camera.  We then basically jump into the life of Caine and his friends in the ‘hood.  Caine deals drugs and lives with his grandparents (Arnold Johnson and Marilyn Coleman), while taking care of the child and ex-girlfriend of his imprisoned father figure Pernell (Glenn Plummer) named Ronnie (Jada Pinkett Smith).  At one point, Caine gets shot in the shoulder in a carjacking that ends in the death of his cousin.  Later, he gets arrested with O-Dog for trying to steal a car.  But then Ronnie asks Caine to move to Atlanta with her to start a new life, so everything will end up happily ever after, just like every story from crime-riddled neighborhoods does.

I had heard a lot about this movie in the past, but had never had inspiration to see it.  I probably figured that I couldn’t possibly relate to the characters in the movie as I didn’t grow up in bad neighborhoods, even though I did grow up in the meth capital of the world.  I was never really around that stuff though.  Now that I’ve actually seen the movie, I have my same problems with it as I do with most drama movies in that I found it good, but depressing, and I don’t like being bummed out in my movie experience.  But the movie was indeed good, but I couldn’t help seeing all of the occasions that it clearly and blatantly ripped off a movie I have seen, Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.  My timeline may be off…  But if I get through the bummer, I enjoy the movie for what it is: a look at the life of some criminals in 1993-era Watts, and one that doesn’t deify or vilify the greater majority of the characters.  We understand on some level why they do what they do, even though we don’t condone it.  I feel like a good portion of the writing doesn’t really get that much respect out of me because of that; because it could easily be a true story, it’s just not based on anyone in particular.  And the dialogue certainly doesn’t deserve that much respect, because at least 80% of the words used in this movie are either the N-word or “fuck”.  I also see that Wikipedia says that it uses “fuck” or one of its derivatives 300 times in the movie, setting the record of most fucks per minute with 3.07 times per minute.  If I had noticed that sooner, I might have made my review try to set the record for fucks, but I’m not going back to add them now.  I also got the feeling that I wish they could have included subtitles in this movie for white folk, because I required a translator for the greater majority of the slang in the movie and Forty could only help so much.  There were a couple of things in the movie that I took issue with.  The first was right in the beginning with the shooting of the Korean couple.  I definitely didn’t take issue with the shooting of the Koreans, but I did take issue of what started it.  Why did the dude have to talk shit?  He said, “I don’t want no trouble,” mere seconds before talking shit about O-Dog’s parents and welcoming trouble with open arms.  I also took issue with O-Dog watching the tape of him killing them over and over again with his friends.  I don’t even have a joke for that.  It’s just crazy.  Of course, I also took issue with the whole attitude Caine has about his station in life, and it’s one that it seems most of the other characters have as well.  One of the characters says, “God don’t care about us.  Look how fucked up this place is.”  It was either O-Dog or Caine that said that (I can’t remember), but that is the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.  You’re going to blame God for that?  You and your friends occupy most of your time drinking, selling drugs, or killing people.  You sure are helping with the revitalization of your community, man.  And not only are you doing the horrible things, but you’ll occupy the rest of your time wearing the tape thin on the video of you doing horrible things, if you can’t find any to do at that moment.  One thing about this movie that did make total sense to me was that, being a black people movie, there would certainly be a prolonged shot at some random actress’ booty.  You did not let me down.

Most of the performances were very good in this movie, but Tyrin Turner never really worked for me, which was a shame because he was the main character.  In most circumstances in the movie he seemed to act as if he was trying too hard and not being realistic.  I first noticed it when he would check his pager.  Instead of just glancing at it, he chose to show that he was reading it as if he had no idea what he was looking at, as if it was reading the symbol for Prince’s name instead of “1 Page”.  It became a running joke for me through the movie to constantly make him say, “Yeah, that’s cool and everything.  I’m sorry, I’m just a little distracted trying to figure out what the fuck was paged to me earlier.  What the fuck does that gibberish mean?!”  His pronunciation of words also confused me more than once.  I had to try really hard to figure out what he meant when he demanded a guy’s “Jurry”.  I eventually figured out that he wanted the man’s “jewelry”.  It made much more sense after that.  I would give him credit for the fact that he was pretty convincing in the scenes when he seemed close to death and the scene where he was crying in the prison while talking to Pernell.  I thought Larenz Tate did a good job as O-Dog, but he did something that confused me as well.  I was confused by the fact that, even though all of these people were always a hair trigger away from killing someone, they still were brutal in the amount of shit they would talk to each other.  I don’t know how they hadn’t all killed each other.  O-Dog even mocked Caine for crying when they were taking him to the hospital as he was almost bleeding to death.  Samuel L. Jackson was also in this movie, and he gives a great performance that is VERY Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s the exact kind of performance he’s known for, like the Chappelle’s Show portrayal of him.  Also, would it have killed you to get Jada Pinkett Smith to wear something tight at some point in the movie?  She was young and pretty hot in this movie, but you couldn’t really tell because she was wearing Shaquille O’Neal’s street clothes for the bulk of the movie.

Even though it’s definitely not the type of movie I typically go for, Menace II Society was a really good movie.  If nothing else, it’s a good look at inner city gang violence and the people involved, and shows them unflinchingly and lets you reach your own conclusions about the message of the movie.  The greater majority of the performances are very real, but the main character seemed to be trying too hard for all but a few instances of quality.  I won’t typically recommend a movie that is such a bummer, but this is a good movie.  I’ll let you decide for yourselves if it’s something you need to see.  Menace II Society gets “We just havin’ some fun with the motherfuckin’ tape” out of “Teach him the way we grew up was bullshit.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)


It’s the Wood That Should Fear Your Hand, Not the Other Way Around

The inevitable followup to watching and reviewing Kill Bill is Kill Bill: Volume 2.  When Fabio suggested Volume 1, it was simply implied that Volume 2 was part of the deal.  And after watching the first movie, why wouldn’t you want to finish it up?  But there’s a problem here: there’s a pretty drastic style change between Volume 1 and Volume 2.  The people that really liked the first movie may not necessarily appreciate the changes that were made.  Of course, the other possibility is that it’s equally good in it’s own right.  Let’s see what happened in my review of Kill Bill: Volume 2, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Chris Nelson, Perla Haney-Jardine, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Parks, Bo Svenson, Samuel L. Jackson, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, and Helen Kim.

We start off back at the wedding rehearsal between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her groom-to-be (Chris Nelson).  The Bride’s former leader – and former lover – Bill (David Carradine) shows up and asks if he can sit on The Bride’s side of the church.  The Bride is pretty trepidatious, but welcomes him to the ceremony.  Unfortunately for her, Bill’s brought along the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad – O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – who promptly kill up the place.  Four years later, after awaking from a coma, The Bride sets off to get her revenge.  She already killed O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green in the first movie, so now she sets her sights on Budd.  But Budd is waiting for her, and shoots her in the chest with a shotgun blast full of rock salt, and then proceeds to bury her alive.  A little trick she learned from her master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) helps her escape and allows her to go after Budd again, but Elle Driver beat her to the punch.  Now The Bride can kill two snakes with one sword.

I found myself fairly bored by Volume 2, but I’m also well aware of the reason.  I know that Tarantino’s movies tend to be really talkie, but after the excitement and swordplay of the first one, I went into the second one expecting something different.  This is not to say that Volume 2 is a bad movie, but it’s certainly a different movie, and I didn’t really want it to be.  The first movie was a sword fighting martial arts movie, and the second one was a slower paced spaghetti western.  In the first movie, The Bride kills somewhere in the vicinity of 90 people.  In part two, she kills two people.  It would’ve been three but she, like the movie, was moving too slow to get it done before Elle did.  It’s a bit of a harsh shock, but once you settle in to the movie, you get to liking it a little more.  The story is still a pretty typical revenge movie, but without the over the top sword fighting, I had to find something else to be interested in.  The dialogue was mostly Tarantino quality, so I paid attention to that instead.  I didn’t really dig on the fightin’ words between Elle and The Bride right before they fought.  Tarantino’s trend of having people sitting around and talking too much works at a table in a diner, but not so much right before two people kill each other.  And when that fight was over in three seconds after they finally stopped talking, that was a bit of a bummer.  The aftermath of the fight was pretty hilarious though.  I liked the monologue Bill delivers about Superman because it’s clever and it’s something that I’ve never though of before, but it also had very little to do with the situation.  It reminded me of the conversation about “Like a Virgin” from Reservoir Dogs.  I also liked the conversation between The Bride and the assassin, when The Bride has just found out she was pregnant.  Even though I still liked the movie, I felt it moved a little slow from the expectations I had going in.  I liked the Pai Mei flashback scenes, but the rest of it was too talkie and not enough action for my taste.

I had no real complaints about the performances in this movie.  Uma Thurman was still great, but the character of The Bride was not able to show her true badassness as well in this movie.  David Carradine was also really good.  I had mixed feelings about Michael Madsen’s character though.  I enjoyed the fact that Budd seemed to be the only one in the group that realized they deserved what The Bride was going to bring to them.  Doesn’t mean he intended to just let it happen though.  Problem with that part of it is that, when the time came, he decided to protect himself like a Bond villain.  The movie would’ve been over in the first 10 minutes if he had buckshot in his shotgun instead of rock salt.  And then he had to put the hero of the movie in a dangerous and difficult, but ultimately escapable situation.  If he had performed the coup-de-grace with a rock as he had suggested … well … he’d still be dead because The Bride didn’t kill him, but The Bride would’ve been dead.  Also, kudos to Madsen for burying The Bride in my hometown of Barstow.  I’ve always thought that place was only good for burying people alive in.

Ultimately, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a really good movie that’s hindered by the expectations it’s predecessor set for me.  The first movie was exciting and spectacular, and the second movie was more low key and talkie.  Still good, but The Bride needed to get her sword wet a little to satisfy me.  I still recommend the movie though, especially since you need it to see the conclusion to the movie I recommended you buy yesterday.  I have this movie on Blu-Ray as well.  Kill Bill: Volume 2 gets “You’re a natural born killer” out of “Bitch, you don’t have a future.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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.”

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!