REVIEW: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

CAST

Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Donald Glover (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Man Up)
Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity)
Erin Kellyman (Raised By Wolves)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Lind Hunt (Kindergarten Cop)
John Tui (Power Rangers SPD)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kiran Shah (Legend)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Ray Park (X-Men)

Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)On the planet Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive. Lovers Han and Qi’ra make an escape from the clutches of a local gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with stolen coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his surname, Han says he is alone with no family, so the recruiter gives him the last name “Solo”.Three years later, Han is expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination and is serving as an infantryman on Mimban. He encounters a group of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. Han attempts to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast—a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to understand Chewbacca’s language, Han persuades him to cooperate to escape. Beckett, aware of the usefulness of a Wookiee’s strength, rescues and enlists them in the gang to steal a shipment of coaxium on Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up, led by Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife Val, and the destruction of the coaxium.Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’ yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and is Vos’s top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)After reaching Kessel in the Millennium Falcon and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. In the confusion, they steal the coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship through the dangerous and uncharted Kessel Run to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)During a confrontation with Enfys, who tracked the team from Vandor, Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’ strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’ superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’s position. She avoids speaking of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.Donald Glover, Alden Ehrenreich, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him. Han shoots Beckett first before he can shoot him, and with his dying words Beckett tells Han he made the smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys. She offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him a vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a job.Woody Harrelson, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)As expected, the film has been met with huge criticism, which in my opinion is wholly unjust and just another opportunity for so called ‘star wars’ fans to voice their disapproval for Disney. Solo is not the biggest and boldest SW feature by any stretch, but it is true to the original trilogy material without resorting to overly complicated plots, ropey CGI effects and forced comedy. It provides action , excitement, great dialogue, romance and a vast array of alien creatures and genuinely feels like a SW film, albeit with an interesting western inspired spin. Its Star Wars with everything we love about the saga.

REVIEW: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Rob Reiner (New Girl)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
Christine Ebersole (Confessions of a Shopaholic)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Katarina Cas (Danny Collins)
P. J. Byrne (Final Destination 5)
Kenneth Choi (Red Dawn)
Henry Zebrowski (Herores Reborn)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Jake Hoffman (Hook)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)In 1987, Jordan Belfort procures a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna, who quickly entices him with the sex and drugs fueled stockbroker culture and teaches him that a stockbroker’s only job is to make money for himself. Jordan soon finds his career terminated following Black Monday and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.Leonardo DiCaprio, P.J. Byrne, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Henry Zebrowski, and MacKenzie Meehan in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Jordan befriends his neighbor, Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the “hard sell”. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name of Stratton Oakmont. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle full of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia. When his wife finds out, they divorce, and he marries Naomi. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont. Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi’s Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who have European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Donnie gets into a public brawl with Brad, and, while Donnie escapes, Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father advises him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lie low while Jordan’s lawyer negotiates a deal to keep him out of prison. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit and talks himself into staying in the middle of his farewell speech. Jordan, Donnie, and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Jordan decides to travel to Switzerland immediately to settle the bank account. In order to bypass border controls, he forces his yacht captain to sail to Monaco, but the ship is capsized in a storm. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed when a seagull flies into the engine. Jordan takes this as a sign from God and decides to sober up.Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan because Saurel, arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, has also informed on Jordan. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency. Fed up with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she is divorcing him and wants full custody of their children. Jordan loses his mind and tries to run off with his daughter Skylar in his car, but he ends up crashing in the driveway. The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work but slips a note to Donnie warning him. Donnie keeps the note and rats out on Jordan to the FBI. Jordan is arrested for breaching his co-operation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont. Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and serves three years in a minimum security prison. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can’t take our eyes off him.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL (2003)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin CIty)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
David Keith (Firestarter)
Scott Terra (Shadrach)
Leland Orser (The Bone Collector)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Derrick O’ Connor (Lethal Weapon 2)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Coolio (Batman & Robin)

Daredevil stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who lives and works in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. As a child, Matt was blinded by biohazardous waste. However, this traumatic event augmented his other four senses, granting him with a radar-like vision, allowing him to “see” with sound. With his heightened senses, and his need to have justice fulfilled (stemming from his father’s murder), Matt roams the streets at night as Daredevil, a masked vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Matt’s obsession with justice alienates him from others, even his law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau).Matt’s life changes when he meets the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Matt is immediately taken by this strong, young woman who is an accomplished fighter. However, things go awry when Elektra’s father is targeted by the ruthless Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a crime-boss who will stop at nothing to keep his empire intact. Kingpin dispatches the assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who has the ability to make any object into a deadly weapon, to eliminate Elektra’s father. Matt finds himself pulled into Elektra’s world, but clearly only Daredevil can stop Bullseye and The Kingpin.Jennifer Garner in Daredevil (2003)Daredevil is a very dark movie.  Thus capturing the feel of the years that Frank Miller worked on the comic. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are tortured souls, Daredevil is an especially bleek character, and the movie does a fine job of presenting this. Whereas the comic is full of thought balloons in which the character expresses his innermost feelings, the film presents montages essaying his loneliness and bitterness. This is a man who is pissed-off at the world, and even when something beautiful such as Elektra comes along, it gets blighted.Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003)Along with the tone of the film, Johnson provides a nice pace as well. The action scenes here are nothing new, but they are very well-shot and edited. The film does a fine job of balancing the exciting scenes with the more dramatic ones, and Favreau is even able to throw in a few moments of comic relief. For the most part, the special effects are good.One of the film’s biggest surprises is the performance by Affleck. Maybe it’s the contact lenses that he had to wear to convey blindness, but he is very good as Matt Murdock, keeping his typically rakish behavior in check for most of the film. Garner is impressive as well as Elektra, although I would have liked to have seen a costume that was similar to that in the comics.   A director’s cut of the film was released for in 2004. This version contained new additions like previously unseen footage and a removed subplot, and was to be a bit darker with an R rating. One of the biggest changes to the film was the addition of a subplot involving a drug addict played by Coolio.

REVIEW: IDENTITY THIEF

 

 CAST

Jason Bateman (Hancock)
Melissa McCarthy (The Boss)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Amanda Peet (2012)
T.I. (Ant-Man)
Genesis Rodriguez (Hours)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
John Cho (Flashforward)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Clark Duke (Two and A Half Men)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)

MV5BZmRiMzA2MzAtNzAxZC00M2EyLTg1NDctODJkOWQ1MGEyM2UzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzY5MzAxMDc@._V1_There aren’t very many actresses who have received an Oscar nomination for their performance in a comedy, especially within the past decade. Melissa McCarthy was an absolute riot in the hit Bridesmaids and even delivers plenty of laughs to TV audiences in Mike & Molly. Under Seth Gordon’s direction, she now stars in the latest comedy called Identity Thief. There has been a massive campaign behind this picture, making McCarthy’s involvement the focal point, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the next Bridesmaids. While this comedy won’t be leaving theaters rolling in laughter, it will certainly deliver some laughs and even a little bit of heart.08IDENTITY_SPAN-videoLarge-v3Mild-mannered Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) is a successful man with a great job and a loving family. However, his life begins to fall apart when a deceptively harmless-looking woman, Diana (Melissa McCarthy), steals his identity. She spends large amounts of his money and commits numerous crimes under his name, which gets him in trouble at work and with law enforcement. Sandy departs on a journey from Denver to Miami to take Diana to the police in order to clear his name and get his life back. It doesn’t take long for Sandy to discover just how clever Diana can be.
Screenwriter Craig Mazin doesn’t waste a moment, as he instantly jumps into the bulk of the story. Sandy Patterson gets himself into a lot of trouble after he gives a substantial amount of his personal information out to a woman over the phone. The audience is kept in the dark as to who Diana really is. While we know that nearly every word that comes out of her mouth is a lie, we’re constantly trying to figure out who this character truly is. She’s quickly identified as the antagonist of the film, but we learn that there’s a lot more to her persona than just a sly criminal. She begins to open herself up a little bit as she spends more time with Sandy. Despite the unfortunate reasons for these characters having to meet, they learn a lot of values from each other through this eventful adventure. Identity Thief often plays with the irony of a thief and her morals. Despite the over-the-top and unnecessary subplots, the second half of the running time is quite a bit funnier than everything preceding it. Without giving too much away, Sandy and Diana experience some hilarious situations, especially the one found in the woods at night. A lot of the jokes have been heard before, but they’re used in an original context.MV5BMTQzMTk1NTE2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg2MzEwOQ@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_This film wouldn’t have worked without this particular cast. Jason Bateman delivers a solid performance as Sandy Patterson. He’s convincing in the role, as he easily relates to the audience as an ordinary man going through a difficult situation. Melissa McCarthy is the absolute star of this movie. She fills Diana’s character to the brim with the same charm and charisma that got her popular in the first place. Her delivery elevates average dialogue to something audiences will find rather funny. McCarthy has quite a bit of comedic chemistry with Bateman, which makes them a great match on screen. However, she also manages to draw viewers in through the more emotional moments the story has to offer. There are a variety of entertaining cameos offered by Eric Stonestreet, Jon Favreau, Ben Falcone, Ellie Kemper, and others. This is an excellent cast that makes this script much more appealing than it would have been with other actors.MV5BMTUyMzk0MDI1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQ3MzEwOQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1294,1000_AL_

REVIEW: I LOVE YOU, MAN

 

CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Rashida Jones (The Social Network)
Sarah Burns (Life As We Know it)
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Jon Favreau (Iron man)
Jane Curtin (3rd Rock From The Sun)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Andy Samberg (Hot Rod)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Joe Lo Truglio (Pineapple Express)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory)
David Krumholtz (Serenity)
Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)
Aziz Ansari (30 Minutes or Less)
Nick Kroll (Sausage Party)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Matt Walsh (Ted)

I LOVE YOU MANPaul Rudd stars as Peter Klaven, a Los Angeles real estate agent who, in the film’s first scene, proposes marriage to the lovely Zooey (Rashida Jones, Cop Out). Zooey immediately goes about stocking her bridesmaids from a large stable of girl friends (including lovably dirty Jaime Pressly and Sarah Burns), but is a little thrown when Peter has no one to tell. His family explains: he’s always been “a girlfriend guy,” a serial monogamist who shed his guy friends along the way. Afraid of becoming too clingy and fearing a lop-sided wedding party, Peter sets out to make some guy friends (going on a series of disastrous “man dates”) before settling on the guy who just could be “the one” (to be his best man, that is): Sidney Fife (Jason Segal), a laid-back Venice “investor” whose devil-may-care attitude (and passion for the band Rush) makes him a good fit for uptight Peter.MV5BNjczNjAzNjgwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQzMTUzMg@@._V1_Director Hamburg (Along Came Polly), who shares a screenplay credit with Larry Levin, is rather sly in his construction of Peter and Sidney’s story; the picture cleverly repurposes the standard scenes and conflicts of the modern romantic comedy, from the “meet cute” to the “getting to know you” montage to the third party that may very well break them up (in this case, Jones’ Zooey). The semi-love affairs between straight, immature men is the thread that seems to run constant between most of these films; Hamburg and Levin’s script shrewdly and wittily takes that subtext and puts it out front. It is then fleshed out by the standard Apatow-style ingredients: cheerful vulgarity, good-natured charm, off-the-wall pop culture references (Chocolat and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium get name-checked), and a heaping helping of the comedy of awkwardness.I LOVE YOU MANRudd’s goofily handsome charisma is one of the film’s greatest weapons; the wedding proposal that opens the film is winning and sweet, and gets us on his side right away. Segal’s delivery and effortless likability pairs them up nicely, and his engagement party toast is uproariously inappropriate. Jones is charmingly unflappable; most of her notable work to date has been on television, but she clearly has the chops to carry a film. Her role could have easily been overplayed as a paranoid shrew or underplayed as an empty ingénue; Jones strikes just the right balance. You can see why Peter fell for her, and how he might be losing her.Hamburg was also wise enough to surround his leads with a full staff of comic utility players: Pressly, Burns, Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtain, Jon Favreau, Thomas Lennon, Larry Wilmore, and Aziz Ansari all show up, coming off the bench to grab laughs, sometimes in as little as a scene or two. Favreau and Pressly fare best, she as Zooey’s best friend, he as her husband, who openly loathes Peter.

REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.Ben Kingsley in Iron Man Three (2013)Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.Iron Man Three (2013)As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.

REVIEW: IRON MAN 2

 

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sam Rockwell (Galaxy Quest)
Mickey Rourke (Sin City)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Garry Shandling (Over The Hedge)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Jon Favreau (Swingers)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)_
Olivia Munn (Zoolander 2)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Helena Mattsson (Guns, Girls and Gambling)

Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 (2010)After the initial trepidation followed by the overwhelming box office success of the first Iron Man film, a second was a foregone conclusion. However as part of a larger trilogy, not to mention a subsequent Avengers film, the challenge of advancing some of those storylines along with giving people what they liked in the first one would be difficult, to say the least.Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2 (2010)Jon Favreau returns to direct the second film, based on Justin Theroux’s (Tropic Thunder) screenplay. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes) and his businesses continue to thrive, in part because as Iron Man, he’s promoted the longest stretch of global peace in quite some time. There is a small cottage industry that tries to capitalize on Stark’s success, with the main one being Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Hammer tries to mimic Stark’s technology and gain an advantage over it, but the results seem to wind up being disastrous. It’s as if he’s the Wile E. Coyote of defense contractors who want to make their own Iron Men. However the biggest threat to Stark’s Iron Man may be Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler), a Russian whose father worked with Stark’s, and may be as familiar with the technology of Iron Man as Tony is.Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in Iron Man 2 (2010)Not knowing of Vanko, Tony continues to live the good life. He continues to get along well with his assistant Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow, Se7en), despite the addition of the younger and equally attractive Natalie (Scarlett Johansson, He’s Just Not That Into You) into the fold. Despite these women sparring for Tony’s affections, he has bigger things to be concerned about. The arc reactor device in Tony’s chest is slowly turning his blood toxic and in effect, killing him. He doesn’t tell the women, or his best friend Lt. Col. Rhoades (Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard from the first film). And when Vanko confronts Tony, in Monaco of all places, it leaves Tony with a sense of doubt and a lack of purpose that might have long-lasting ramifications.Iron Man 2 (2010)With Favreau juggling the different storytelling balls, including an increased role from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction), he gives the audience new and different ways to enjoy the action and fighting sequences. And I have to admit, they’re exciting and damned fun to watch, starting from the opening sequence when Tony jumps out of a military plane into his “Stark Expo” highlighting his company’s ware. He twists and turns through the night sky, avoiding fireworks and other air obstacles to make his grand entrance. The confrontation with Vanko is also entertaining and keeps you on the edge of your seat.Don Cheadle and Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2 (2010)It’s ambitious in what it wants to accomplish, and it succeeds on many levels.