Iron Man 2

For me the summer blockbuster movies have begun. Iron Man 2 being the first one to hit the big screen. Without giving too much away, the movie is about a disgruntled russian, Ivan,  who is setting out to take down Tony Stark. Also there is a story line about Justin Hammer, a competitor in the arms race, trying to obtain Stark technology to create his own Iron Man to sell to the 4 armed forces division. In the simplest terms, those are the major plot lines.

The film has the usual cast of characters and a few new faces. Robert Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Zodiac) is of course Tony Stark. This is a role that seems very comfortable for him, a rich cocky superstar. Although I thought Downey Jr nailed the character, the scenes with the over the top technology was a bit much. He spent way too much time pushing buttons on hologram screens. Just way too much of that for me. Yes it showed money and wealth, and he can have anything he wants and any technology he wants, but not much else. The story did not benefit from it.

One of the new faces, Scarlett Johansson (The Other Boleyn Girl) plays Natalie. Who seems to be the new secretary for Stark Industries, then seems to turn into somewhat of her own superhero. Really she is nothing more than a cute face answering the phones until the extreme curveball with the character. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) plays Ivan/Whiplash. Nothing really special to write home about on his performance, got the job done, but seemed to be just going through the lines. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Traffic) is adequate as Lt. James Rhodes, but like all of these characters, seriously lacks character development. The one character that I thought was outstanding was Justin Hammer, played perfectly by Sam Rockwell. (Moon, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) Just as Downey Jr. plays the cocky rock-star, Rockwell has a nach for the slimy greaseball character.

Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors) returns as Pepper Potts. Samuel L Jackson (Shaft, Pulp Fiction), Gary Shandling (What Planet Are You From?) and director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made) also make appearances in the new film.

So, what did I think? The film really lacked in story in my opinion and seemed to go all over the place as far as a direction. It got to be very slow in the middle acts. This one just did not live up to the first Iron Man, which I really loved. Unless you are a diehard Iron Man fan, my advice is wait and rent this one. The film was entertaining, and had some nice comedic moments, but had it’s fair share of flaws as well.

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The Black Dahlia

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Just like my last review, Burn After Reading, I was giving this film a second chance. I will say the result didn’t change much from what I thought of it in the theatre. Since it was directed by Brian De Palma (Mission Impossible), I expected so much more. The theatrical trailer for this movie was so misleading. The trailer really sells the Black Dahlia murder, and the film really doesn’t focus on that at all. The focus of the film seems to center around the two cops that were at the crime scene, Josh Hartnet (Pearl Harbor) and Aaron Eckart (Thank You for Smoking) and their relationship with Scarlett Johanson (The Other Boleyn Girl). Before any murder even takes place, the story seems to be more worried about creating a boxing rivalry between Eckhart and Hartnet.

As far as the cast, there are a lot of big names in this film and none of them seem to deliver. Josh Hartnet seems to look as disgusted during the film as I was watching the film…FOR A SECOND TIME! I even thought the saving grace for me might be Scarlett Johanson, just because she is in it (Just as Daniel Craig and Adrien Brody are my better half’s saving graces), but she seemed to just be in the frame reading lines. And then there is Hilary Swank (Best Actress Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry), what was she thinking? She does ad some interest during the family dinner scene, but from nothing she did other than the fact that she took Hartnet over to her house for dinner where her mother and father seem to go a bit ballistic.

If this film had a title of  Boxing Cops or LA Crime, I might have been more forgiving about this film going all over the place, in every direction except the way it should have gone. Being billed as a murder mystery, I was starving for information about the crime and details. The Black Dahlia has so much creepiness about it, and is such a bizarre macabre murder, you don’t have to tell all of the side stories. The film was titled The Black Dahlia, and to see less than a story of the Black Dahlia murder is highly disappointing.