Tag: Comics (page 4 of 6)


Logo courtesy Netflix.  No logos were harmed in the creation of this banner.


There was a time when it seemed implausible that superheroes that didn’t already exist in the general public’s somewhat limited imagination could succeed as motion pictures. People remembered Christopher Reeve as Superman and Batman had a TV show in the 60s that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton could use as a springboard for their darker, edgier take. But Iron Man? Thor? Captain America? A decade ago these costumed crusaders wouldn’t have had much of a chance. A lot of people at the time would have pointed to 2003’s Daredevil as an example of why the lesser-known names can’t make it at the box office. This is perplexing to me, because despite some of its shortcomings, Daredevil most decidedly does not suck.

Courtesy Marvel Studios

By day, Matthew Murdock is an attorney working a variety of pro-bono and low-rate cases in Hell’s Kitchen. He and his partner Foggy Nelson fight for the underdogs who wouldn’t have a chance otherwise. By night, Murdock prowls the streets as Daredevil, an acrobatic vigilante who is said to be absolutely fearless. The catch is, Murdock is blind. The accident that robbed him of his sight as a child hyper-sensitized his other senses, giving him a type of echolocation and the sort of reflexes that lead him to train as a martial artist. His goal is to topple the enigmatic Kingpin slowly consuming the criminal underworld in New York, but his encounter with a young woman named Elektra who matches his martial skills changes his life and may cause him to hang up his cowl forever.

Daredevil features characterization as its most prominent success. There is some definite chemistry between Matt & Elektra. Winston Fisk, the aforementioned Kingpin, has the sort of intimidating physical presence that, to quote Roger Ebert, “makes the camera want to take a step back and protect its groin.” I’m a fan of Michael Clarke Duncan and this is very good work on his part. Kingpin’s specialized hitman, Bullseye, seems possessed with a manic magnetism that has the audience watching his every move just to see what crazy thing he does next. Even minor characters’ little nuances come through in the writing and acting, from Foggy’s quirky sense of humor to reporter Ben Urich’s dedication to unmasking Daredevil.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
“Your Honor, I submit this work for the pleasure of the court and ask that Armageddon be stricken from the record. And my memory.”

The biggest question hanging over this production is if Ben Affleck was right in the leading role. The best answer I can offer is Marvel could have done much, much worse. Despite criticism that’s been leveled at Affleck in the past, he portrays Murdock with honest charm, real humanity, and a haunted vulnerability. One of the best ways to show your audience that your hero is not invincible and a relatable character is to hurt him, and Ben’s pretty good at conveying pain. It’d be nice if he didn’t narrate so much in the beginning, though. He’s not terribly good at delivering one-liners, either.

Daredevil does suffer from its share of flaws. The pace of the movie is somewhat schizophrenic, never seeming to strike just the right balance between having fun and being dramatic. Superhero stories do tend to be melodramatic, what with their hyper-realized heroes going through emotional changes before our eyes on big screens with bombastic surround sound, but this one goes a bit too far in places. Finally the action is undercut rather than underscored by the hit-and-miss soundtrack, which includes that one song Nickelback does.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
“Bullseye. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“I dunno, boss… Guinness, football and hookers?”

Still, director and co-writer Mark Steven Johnson shoots clean, crisp scenes and makes the most of the characters he introduces. This is especially true in the Director’s Cut. A lot of the problems of pace I mentioned are solved when the romance is cut back, the duality of Matt’s life is increased and the reality of the situation is driven home in the expansion of the fights. This version of the film is rated R, while the theatrical release skated by with a PG-13 rating. I suspect that in order to appeal to kids, especially everybody who was really into Evanescence at the time, the romance was amped up and the “boring” courtroom stuff cut back. Which is a shame, because seeing the way Matt and Foggy work a courtroom and the things their client says on the stand are a real joy.

This movie, like its namesake, dwells in darkness. It’s a brooding, driven piece of work. Even in its’ director’s incarnation, it’s flawed. However, the shortcomings I’ve mentioned never quite overshadow the good things in it, the hallmarks of a genre shaking off the dark and gritty late 90s that gave us hard-edged anti-heroes like Spawn. Daredevil is edgy, but that edge is tempered with bits of humor and humanity that elevate it just above the surface of the dark and swampy waters of your typical Hollywood fare. I’d recommend it.

One thing of note to conclude: the superior Director’s Cut is not available on Netflix. I watched it through Amazon’s On Demand service. But the standard edition isn’t bad, and you can add that to your Netflix queue if you’re it sounds like this is the sort of superhero movie you’re looking for. I do try to be honest in what I do, but I established the title of this series quite some time ago. I can’t exactly change it every week to say “It came from Amazon”, or “It came from my basement”, or “It came from the side of the road”, or “It came from my friend Ben’s house.”

Josh Loomis can’t always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it’s unclear if this week’s film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain… IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.


Logo courtesy Netflix.  No logos were harmed in the creation of this banner.


A lot of production companies, investors and even film-makers like to assume that we, as a movie-going audience, are stupid. They think we can’t handle movies with deep characters, complex plots or themes that transcend a work and try to tell us something about ourselves. So more often than not, a movie about giant fighting robots or girls with guy trouble or unlikely partners solving crimes tend to be watered down in such a way that they’re palatable to the blandest, lowest common denominator of palate out there. Thankfully, some other projects aren’t afraid to take a chance on something smart, to take conventions we as an audience might take for granted and flip things around just to see what happens. Kick-Ass falls into the latter category, not only in that it adapts one of those comic books that looks at super-heroes from a completely different perspective as most mainstream IPs, but also in that this adaptation differs quite a bit from the book. I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t read the books myself, so I’ll be cribbing notes from critics far better (or at least better known) than myself.

Dr. Punchy Wright can hunt me down later and break my face if it really becomes an issue.

Courtesy LionsGate Entertainment

Taking cues from the Spider-Man movies back when they were still good, Kick-Ass introduces us to a teenage high school loser who is both a social outcast and an unashamed nerd. He does well enough in school to not be in the slacker crowd, he certainly isn’t a jock, he’s practically invisible to girls (which he claims is his “only real superpower”) and among his friends, to paraphrase his own words, he’s not the funny one. And yet, it’s living this kind of mediocre existence that leads him to buy a dopey-looking wetsuit, pick up a baton and start fighting crime. Or trying to. Mostly, he gets the crap beaten out of him. However, somebody with a camera phone tosses his exploits at the Internet, and WHAM, he’s a star. He’s a super-hero. And he’s getting pulled bodily into an escalating confrontation between a sadistic mob boss who’s also a family man, and a devoted father/endearing daughter team who are also sadistic costumed vigilantes.

Kick-Ass, as a comic, seems to be in the same vein as Watchmen or Wanted, taking a more cynical view of the world of super-heroism and trying to inject a dose of realism or humanity into the characters involved. Of the three, Watchmen weathered the transition to the screen the most intact, with its themes and nuances preserved in a nearly immaculate fashion. It’s a haunting commentary on the human condition couched in the deconstruction of super-heroes in general. Wanted was changed almost entirely from its comic book roots, which is a shame because a lot of the fun in that work comes from the way its protagonists behave given that they have super powers but none of the constraints of being ‘heroes’. Read the book if you want to know what I’m talking about, but what Wanted got right was the theme of doing something with your life that gets you out of the mundane things that you know in your mind are slowly killing you, but you do them anyway because it’s easier to get paid for that crap than it is to try something new and potentially dangerous. Kick-Ass also changes, ejecting as it does a lot of the cynicism from the printed page and opting for a more balanced moralistic stance. Sure, some of the stuff on screen is dark and a jab is taken at the audience’s expectations once or twice, but on the whole, part of what makes the experience so good is that it’s more interested in having fun than pointing out how pathetic you are.

Courtesy LionsGate Entertainment

As a character, Kick-Ass is aware of how pathetic he is but he doesn’t let that stop him. He’s determined to at least try to make a difference, and it leads to him being extremely endearing and a true underdog of a hero. I think that some people might overlook Aaron Johnson’s work entirely but I can’t do that in good conscience. This is a solid leading role and as much as the movie is almost stolen entirely from his character, Johnson still comes through on the other side with a performance that is one of the best I’ve seen in a movie like this since the first two Spider-Man films.

In fact, Kick-Ass is, in terms of being endearing and realistic, almost a better Spider-Man than Spider-Man was. This film made me miss those early days of Tobey Maguire getting to know his powers and trying like hell to win Mary Jane’s heart. Both his Spider-Man and Aaron Johnson’s Kick-Ass have as their core power, not radioactive webbing or gamma rays or a magical MacGuffin, but real heart and a never-say-die attitude. If Kick-Ass as a film were a more cynical work, the optimism that fuels the teenage hero would have him dead in the 89th minute, the camera pulling back from his broken and lifeless body before cutting to black as some ironically upbeat music plays.

Courtesy LionsGate Entertainment

The film isn’t without some delicious soundtrack dissonance, however, and when it comes to that sort of thing, I will be hard-pressed to name a better example than Hit-Girl going to town on bad guys with bladed weapons to the music of the Banana Splits. Chloe Moretz completely owns both this role and pretty much any time she’s on screen. She’s the Comedian from Watchmen only 11 years old and wearing pig-tails: completely aware of how damn depraved her actions are but not giving a shit because she’s slaying bad guys. She knows that what she does shocks onlookers and will leave the cops who show up at the scene speechless, and that’s the whole point. If this is what she does to folks who break the law, what chance have you got? Better put down the cocaine and turn yourself in before you end up with a balisong in the throat, boss.

A lot of critics cried out in dismay at the very notion of this little girl perpetuating and, even worse, being the target of this level of high-energy, unabashed and completely bone-crunching violence. They seem to think that sick thrills or cheap laughs would be derived from the end result. It’s like the outcry that emerged when BioWare advertised Mass Effect included sex: completely uninformed and totally wrong. No, Hit-Girl’s exploits are not played for laughs. The way this girl has been brought up is entirely backwards. She knows it, her father knows it, and the audience knows it, too. However, she makes the most of what she’s got, because railing against her father’s vendetta is only going to make things worse. She wants her father to be happy, and the most expedient way to do that is to cut a bloody swath through the people who made his life miserable. Hit-Girl is a smart, dedicated and deep down very compassionate character, even if she is violent, cruel, foul-mouthed and maybe a little cracked. She’s got more complexity than most female characters in films today, and I for one am glad that the makers of Kick-Ass didn’t pull a single punch when it came to putting her through her paces.

Courtesy LionsGate Entertainment

Speaking of Hit-Girl’s upbringing, another strong performance in Kick-Ass is Nicholas Cage as Big Daddy. His costume, performance and methodology are clearly a send-up of Batman, but his character is unconstrained by Batman’s one rule of not killing his opponents. If Batman did ever eschew that rule, it would look a lot like this. As a result, Big Daddy might be one of the best depictions of Batman ever, if that makes any sense. Cage does some things with the character that are at once fantastic and downright strange, and it’s a testament to his capabilities as an actor that are sometimes undercut by a bland concept or bad screenwriting, like National Treasure, Next or Ghost Rider. In fact, I’m going to say this right now, and I don’t care who knows it: I like Nicholas Cage. I think he’s talented and I enjoy watching him on-screen, even if I’m laughing at his ass. Half the crap he does isn’t necessarily his fault, and even when he’s off, he’s still memorable. I like him. There. I said it.

In terms of the rest of the production, Christopher Mintz-Plasse may surprise some of the fans of McLovin in his turn as a fellow comic-book fan donning a costume and calling himself Red Mist. It’s part of a plot that works very well and hums along without losing the audience, bolstered by the musical choices in both soundtrack and score. The film isn’t perfect, as the low budget shows in places and sometimes the film seems to have a bit of filler here and there, but it never gets in the way of the movie being fun. I get the feeling that a lot of the look and feel of the movie comes right out of the comics, and as much as the blacker portions of the story and theme have been left behind, the result still manages to take a jab at us as the audience as much as it puts its characters through the wringer. Like the changes made to Watchmen, my suspicion is that Matthew Vaughn and company kept to the spirit of the work while changing things up a bit to make the story a bit more suited for the silver screen.

Regardless of all of that, Kick-Ass kicks ass. Provided you’re a fan of super-heroes and not put off by the sort of hyper-realized violence that would be right at home in a Sam Peckinpah or Paul Verhoven flick, it belongs on your Netflix queue if not your DVD shelf. It’s a brutal, no-holds-barred, steel-toed-boot-to-the-crotch-while-laughing-all-the-while action comedy that has no fear, no hesitation and no limits. It’s a roller coaster through a demented carnival of bright costumes and gushing blood that occasionally smacks you in the face with a water balloon with profanity scribbled all over it in Sharpie.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Josh Loomis can’t always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it’s unclear if this week’s film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain… IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.


Logo courtesy Netflix.  No logos were harmed in the creation of this banner.


The right-hand column of my blog (you fine Escapist folks know where it is if you’re a follower of mine so I won’t reiterate its URL) haunts me. I put a few things on my Netflix queue that, for one reason or another, I think would be interesting to review. The recent remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 looks ripe for taking the piss out of, Tron needs to be seen with fresh eyes unmasked by the glasses of nostalgia, Kingdom of Heaven is reportedly much better in a Director’s Cut format, and so on. Ideally, I would be able to watch these films and formulate their reviews while also working on the revisions of my novel. Unfortunately, we can’t all be Yahtzee Croshaw, what with his cushy Escapist gig and his shiny new blog and his upcoming novel and legions of rabid fans. Some of us have to continue working day jobs. And live in a dystopian nation of backwards politics hopped up on its own hype. And can’t seem to shake a World of Warcraft addiction. And aren’t as good-looking.


So here’s a review of 1989’s Batman instead.

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman, as it appeared at the hands of Tim Burton back when I was a young lad who hadn’t quite discovered the true joys of the female form yet, mixes the origin story of the Caped Crusader with that of his primary nemesis, the Joker. Gotham City is currently being run not by its long-suffering mayor but crime boss Carl Grissom, who seems to be getting away with it while Batman beats up muggers. It isn’t until Grissom’s “number one guy,” Jack Napier, gets shot in the face and takes a swim in a vat of chemicals to emerge as the Clown Prince of Crime that Batman goes after the syndicate. Batman, or rather Bruce Wayne, is himself being pursued by photojournalist Vicki Vale, who wants to know the truth behind the eccentric billionaire’s disappearances and behavior. Despite being rich, charming and charitable, there’s something a bit off about him, and she needs to find out what if she’s going to keep sleeping with him.

This was the first real attempt to make a celluloid Batman that’s more in the veins of Frank Miller than the camp that permeated the character in the 60’s. It was actually the work in the late 70’s Detective Comics that influence the gothic look and feel of Gotham City in Burton’s film. The soaring dark towers, flying buttresses and stoic sculptures would seep through this film into its first sequel and the animated series, which is still one of the best depictions of Batman to date. The story of Bruce Wayne’s never-ending quest for revenge and the villains that are drawn out by his particular form of mild sociopathy is quite dark, and Burton’s early filmmaking style underscores this darkness, as well as not having Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter anywhere in sight.

Courtesy Warner Bros.
Fighting crime is serious business.

Michael Keaton plays Wayne in a very particular way. Instead of making the dichotomy between the jet-set playboy and the haunted superhero obvious with voice affectations or mannerisms, we see the line between the two as somewhat blurred. Both Bruce and Batman are a little stiff, the former due to social awkwardness and the latter constrained by a rubber suit. Neither character is particularly wordy, and Keaton shows how the strange lifestyle of fighting crime by night permeates into one’s daytime activities with Wayne’s habits, mannerisms and speech patterns. He’s not my favorite Batman, but he’s close, and he’s one of the few who really focuses on the character’s inherent oddness.

Given that this is Batman, however, the title character isn’t quite the most interesting one. Jack Nicholson’s Joker is still held by many to be the best, harkening as he does to the days of Cesar Romero’s way of punctuating his lines with an insane laugh and dressing in bright colors. He’s quite joyful and there’s a lot to like in the way he approaches the darkness and deep psychosis of the “world’s first fully-functioning homicidal artist.” Some of his gags work very well, too – the boxing glove in particular. Not all of them do, however, and while he does dispatch innocents and henchmen alike with an amusing disdain, for me his performance somewhat lacks the cold razor’s edge that Mark Hamill occasionally unsheathes in his voice acting and that Heath Ledger wielded with the adroitness of a master fencer.

Courtesy Warner Bros.
The Joker + Prince = winning combination.

The biggest surprise for me, however, was how much I ended up liking some of the less colorful supporting actors. Kim Basinger, while always nice to look at, wasn’t quite as interesting for me as Robert Wuhl’s dedicated reporter character of Alexander Knox. He’s convinced that the Batman exists despite all the denials of Commissioner Gordon and others in authority, and his pursuit of the truth is peppered with a few good jokes and the sort of newspaper tropes that make All the President’s Men and State of Play such great films. I was sorry he didn’t make it into the sequel – I thought that, after the public admission of Batman’s existence, he’d want to interview the hero in some sort of Gotham Globe exclusive. Sort of like Lois Lane trying to land an interview with Superman, but without trying to make it into a date, because that would be gay.

The late great Jack Palance chews up some of the scenery in a delightfully hammy way, Billy Dee Williams makes Harvey Dent a smooth-talking charming DA that makes me mourn what became of the character at the hands of Joel Schumacher, and Michael Gough brings us Alfred Pennyworth’s trademark grandfatherly concern and dry humor. The writing isn’t too terrible, the action’s decent and the special effects are practical effects that are aging somewhat gracefully so far. The soundtrack’s an odd but interesting mix of Danny Elfman and Prince. And as much as I like the Tumbler from Nolan’s Batman films, I’m always delighted to see a Batmobile that looks like a Goddamn Batmobile. Because when you’re the Goddamn Batman, it’s not too much to ask to have a little style in your Goddamn Batmobile.

Courtesy Warner Bros.
It runs on jet fuel and awesome.

All in all, this is a decent comic book film that helped Hollywood realize that adaptations from that media to theirs was not only workable, but financially viable. Batman was the highest-grossing film of 1989, had a great deal of influence on future cinematic superhero works and inspired the animated series that launched the DC universe on the small screen. That’s undoubtedly a success, and it’s worth putting on your Netflix queue if you want to see where it all began, or if you like black and purple a lot. Even 20 years on, it’s echoes can still be felt in modern works dealing with dedicated and slightly crazy normal people who put on costumes to beat up criminals, which is something I’ll touch on when I review Kick-Ass next week.

I’ll see you fine folks then, provided I can fit the review in between the daily quests of my idiotic second job and my attempts to remind myself that my manuscript doesn’t completely suck.

Josh Loomis can’t always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it’s unclear if this week’s film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain… IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

Intellectual Indigestion

To The Oatmeal

This was going to be the first of a few posts inspired by The Oatmeal,, but I have quite a bit of work to do if I want to get something tangible squared away by Thursday.

“First you do the work that feeds your belly,” someone very wise told me recently, “then you do the work that feeds your soul.”

It’s hard to do the work that feeds your belly when it makes you want to vomit, but only critics get paid for complaining.

Movie Review: Iron Man 2

Courtesy Marvel Studios
Crank up the Black Sabbath.

All right, before I go into detail about Iron Man 2, let’s get the nerd-wank out of the way first: How cool is this? We’re actually going to get a live-action Avengers movie. The threads are coming together more and more and I couldn’t help but gasp like a little girl at the growing implications of it. I know, I know, it’s a couple years away and I had a feeling the thing at the end of the credits was going to be what it ended up being, but still. Holy crap. HOLY. CRAP. The Avengers movie is actually happening. It’s TOTALLY HAPPENING. GUYS. THIS IS GOING TO ROCK SO HARD.

You good? I’m good. Let’s get on with this.

Iron Man 2 picks up right where its predecessor left us, with Tony Stark smirkingly admitting to the world “I am Iron Man.” Six months have gone by, in which Iron Man has stabilized east-west relations, saved a ton of lives and made PMCs think twice about their business decisions. On the surface, Tony seems as arrogant, charming and intelligent as before, but his behavior is growing more and more erratic. The truth is, the palladium that powers the arc reactor keeping his heart from being perforated by tiny slivers of shrapnel from one of his own weapons is poisoning him. Unless he’s able to come up with a solution, the miracle of science that both keeps him alive and powers the Iron Man suit is going to kill him.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
“Lightning in a bottle, huh? Let me see what I can do.”

This is really the central premise of the film, allowing director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. to build the character of Tony Stark. We don’t quite reach the bottom of his character arc, but there are shades of ‘Demon in the Bottle’ here and there. The first act of the movie, for the most part, is just Tony being a somewhat erratic douche, clearly riding high on the tides of his success partially because that’s who he is and partially because he doesn’t want people to know how sick he is, especially Pepper. The scenes between Tony and Pepper have a lot of the same chemistry as in the first film, and contributes to the sequel’s overall success.

The unfortunate side effect of putting Tony’s internal conflict front and center is that the villains of the movie are given secondary status. In the first film, once you got over the idea of ‘The Dude’ being an envious power-mongering weapons mogul, the villainy really wasn’t as interesting as Tony’s growth from carefree genius playboy to self-sacrificing superhero. Here, we get two villains, as we must inevitably in comic book sequels, but in this outing, the reason for their teaming up doesn’t feel contrived in the slightest, unlike the Riddler & Two-Face in Batman Forever.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
“Armor? Pfft. Real men need no armor.”

In Iron Man 2, we discover that the aforementioned arc reactor was actually a collaborative project between Tony’s father Howard and Russian physicist Anton Vanko. Anton’s son, Ivan, is very upset that Tony’s done so much with his father’s technology but hasn’t acknowledged the Russian’s brilliant assistance once. So, he miniaturizes the arc reactor himself and equips it with a pair of very nasty electrical whips. The other bad guy in this outing is wanna-be Justin Hammer, a weapons manufacturer who has Tony’s sort of money but none of his smarts, charm or bravery. He wants to try and put both Stark and Iron Man out of business but just doesn’t have the tech to do it. When he sees Ivan in action, though, he thinks he’s found a way to not only catch up to Stark’s level, but surpass it.

As I said, these guys are hanging out in the back seat for the most part, while we’re focused on Tony and how he’s continuing to grow. Integral to that growth are his friends, especially Pepper and James Rhodes. Pepper’s made CEO of Stark Industries which leaves Tony free to be Iron Man, while Rhody tries to convince his buddy to stop shouldering his burdens all by himself. While everybody in this movie does a really good job of inhabiting these comic book characters with humanity and emotional weight, Don Cheadle in particular steps up to have Rhody be the kind of best friend someone like Tony needs – a straight-laced, orders-following guy who still puts his friends first and isn’t afraid to put foot to ass when necessary.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
It’s hard to consider a movie a failure when you get to see something like this.

This might seem to be a glowing review so far, but unfortunately Iron Man 2 doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessor. The energy, whimsy and pioneering that set the first Iron Man film apart is somewhat lacking here. Some of the more glaring problems are one or two plot holes, a couple gags that go on just a bit longer than necessary and the shoehorning of tie-ins to future projects. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, and in the words of MovieBob, the best way to describe Scarlett Johanson as the Black Widow is “HO-LEE…”, but honestly, there’s no need to pick up a metaphorical bullhorn to announce “THE AVENGERS MOVIE IS COMING.” We got that. We’re geeked for it. Tone it down and focus more on what’s happening right now. That said, there’s a gag involving something from an Avenger that, while slightly contrived, still struck me as very funny. I laughed at it hard.

Still, this does stand out among comic book movie sequels as one of the better entries. While it falls short of hitting the mark set by Spider-Man 2, it doesn’t miss by much. It’s fun without being stupid, action-packed without being terribly contrived, and errs on the side of humanizing the characters rather than reducing them to caricatures. I know there are some people out there who felt this was confused, messy or even boring, but I for one never felt bored watching the film. When there wasn’t action, there was good dialog, and when there wasn’t dialog there was character development. It’s not the best writing out there, to be sure, but you can certainly do a hell of a lot worse. It’s flawed, loud and might occasionally be a little annoying, but it’s also charming, fun and awesome – not unlike Tony Stark himself.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
It’s totally his boss’ dirty laundry.

Stuff I Liked: The Hammer drones (or “Hammeroids” as Tony calls them) are neat, the moment that Tony has regarding his father about two thirds of the way into the movie, and the interaction between Downey and Jackson. Also, I’m glad we got more ‘Happy’ Hogan, even if I had to smirk at the one scene with him and Natasha in the car, considering Hogan’s played by the director.
Stuff I Didn’t Like: As I said, there are a couple holes in the plot, including the Grand Prix sequence of events and the whole Hammer-Vanko-bird thing, and some of the gags don’t quite hit the mark they’re going for. The SHIELD stuff, while not bad, still seemed to be more for the benefit of upcoming projects than supporting this one and thus felt a bit unnecessary. The final confrontation and resulting ‘race against time’ bit felt a tiny bit rushed and a little messy. Finally, while I really appreciated how they did the sequence and I’m aware I was supposed to feel this way, the scene where Tony’s drunk and in the Iron Man suit made me a little uncomfortable.
Stuff I Loved: The Mark V suit popping out of the briefcase. Whiplash’s manly first appearance on the Grand Prix track. Pretty much everything ScarJo did with her character. The continued and real-feeling relationship between Tony and Pepper. War Machine. Just… War Machine.

Courtesy Marvel Studios
“It’s called ‘being a badass,’ Tony.”

Bottom Line: If you haven’t seen this in the cinema already, you might want to check it out, especially if you’re a fan of the first. I’ll probably pick it up on DVD when it comes out, because as flawed as it is, it’s still a pile of fun and has some great character-building moments and action sequences that are worth watching. It’s not fantastic, and not as good as the original Iron Man, but it’s still pretty damn good.

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