Iron Man

New movie review from The Movie Snob

Iron Man (B+). I’ll have to defer to Comic Book Guy as to how faithful this flick is to the comics from which it sprang, but it stands on its own merits as a solid superhero movie. Robert Downey, Jr. (The Avengers) stars as Tony Stark, a zillionaire inventor who made his pile in the weapons biz. After some unpleasantness in Afghanistan, he comes home with a bad ticker and a worse conscience. (How he built a pacemaker-sized nuclear reactor in a cave in Afghanistan is a great mystery to me.) To expiate his sins as a munitions maker, he creates a fabulous metallic suit that gives him, basically, super powers. Good action, good performance by Downey. Gwyneth Paltrow (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) is wasted as Stark’s girl Friday, the improbably named Pepper Potts. Jeff Bridges (True Grit) plays an oily (and bald) executive in Stark’s weapons company, but I just kept thinking, “Hey, that’s Jeff Bridges in a superhero movie!” every time I saw him. There’s a tiny little extra scene after all the credits, but it meant nothing to me. Comic book fans would probably get more out of it. A very good summertime flick.

Oh, and it just happens to be the 1000th movie I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it sounds obsessive for me to know that, but my sister and I have had a contest for years to see who could see more movies, so we both keep track. Okay, she just tells me when she sees a movie; I do all the keeping track. Anyway, I’m totally kicking her butt, since she’s seen only about 950 movies in her life. But I’m about 9 years older than she is, so I guess she’s doing all right.

The Nanny Diaries

DVD review from The Movie Snob

The Nanny Diaries (B-). I was surprised that this movie did not do better at the box office, considering how popular the book was. (I read and enjoyed the book, way back when, but have long since forgotten most of the details.) The movie is a pleasant-enough way to spend 106 minutes. Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin) is a young woman trying to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. By sheer happenstance, she finds herself hired on as the nanny for a fabulously wealthy family in Manhattan, with Mrs. X (Laura Linney, The Savages) as her exceptionally high-strung boss. She bonds with her charge, a kid by the name of Grayer (Nicholas Art, Syriana), and tries to flirt with the Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans, Snowpiercer) who lives in the Xes’ building, all the while knowing that the situation will have to come to an end–probably sooner than later, given Mrs. X’s temper. Linney steals the show, in my opinion, but then she’s always good. Worth a rental.

Encounters at the End of the World

Movie review from The Movie Snob.  Seriously, who else is going to see this movie?

Encounters at the End of the World (B-). German filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) takes his camera crew to the bottom of the planet: Antarctica. He was drawn there by some underwater footage he had seen, and it’s easy to see why. The ocean under the ice is a weird place, with the ice for sky overhead and a desolate sea floor littered with clams and starfish below. And he has some nice shots of a giant Texas-sized iceberg and an active volcano called Mount Erebus. But most of the film is about the collection of scientists and assorted misfits who live on Antarctica, studying seals or penguins or whatever, or working in the machine shop at the biggest settlement, or whatever. As one character says, if you’re not tied to anything anywhere else in the world, eventually you fall down to the South Pole. Interesting documentary, but I wouldn’t say a great one.

I Love You, Beth Cooper (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

I Love You, Beth Cooper, by Larry Doyle (HarperCollins 2007). This is a fairly amusing novel about what happens when a high school valedictorian (i.e., nerd) named Denis Cooverman uses the bully pulpit of his high school graduation speech to announce the five words that make up the title of this book. Beth Cooper, of course, is the captain of the cheerleaders and Denis’s near-opposite in every respect. Not to mention the fact she has virtually no idea who he is, even though he sat right behind her in plenty of classes. Anyway, Denis’s bold announcement sets off a remarkable chain of events that is generally very entertaining, although faintly repetitious after a while. Doyle seems to have an ear for the dialogue of the young and clueless, and it’s a fast read. It’s kind of like a blend of Superbad and Mean Girls in book form, with the smart kid from Superbad as the hero. If this book isn’t turned into a movie within a year or two, I’ll be astonished.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Journey to the Center of the Earth (B-). Yes, this weekend while everyone else was watching The Dark and Stormy Knight, I was seeing the new family-adventure movie starring the Kurt Russell of our day, Mr. Brendan Fraser (Encino Man). You know exactly what you’re getting — decent sequences of roller-coaster-like action, punctuated by corny dialogue and phony “family moments,” in this case between intrepid scientist Trevor Anderson (Fraser), and his angsty nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson, Zathura). Mix in a pretty Icelandic mountain hiking guide (Anita Briem, TV’s The Tudors) and a quest deep into—duh—the center of the earth, and you have what you should expect: a decent, family-friendly B movie. It’s rated PG for a reason, though; the littlest kids would be pretty terrified by some of the monsters and stuff. At least I would’ve been. Maybe kids are tougher today.


“Say, do all Icelander mountain hiking guides look like you? And why does this giant fossilized jawbone float on water, anyway?”

Brazil

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Brazil (C+). This, I gather, is a pretty well-known film from Terry Gilliam, who also directed Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It is a tale of a dystopian future in the vein of Brave New World and 1984. In the world of Brazil, the government maintains control of a docile population chiefly by the crushing weight of its bureaucracy and the insane paperwork required to get anything done. It’s like having the whole world run by the DMV. When necessary, however, the bureaucrats are backed up by frightening police forces dispatched by the Ministry of Information. Our protagonist is Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce, Evita), a low-level bureaucrat and generally decent guy who is superficially content with the status quo but whose dreams are filled with visions of freedom–and of a mysterious woman. Naturally she turns out to have a counterpart in real life that Sam sees from afar and becomes obsessed with. Robert de Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) has a surprising role as Harry Tuttle, a freelance air-conditioning repairman and perhaps terrorist who inspires Sam to start bucking the system. It’s a rather bleak movie, but certainly a visually interesting one.

The Ruins

DVD review from Nick at Nite

The Ruins

Adapted from the book written by Scott Smith, this passable film does not rise to the challenge set by the book. It should not have been too difficult. All that was needed was a Mayan ruin, some jungle vines, several young actors, and an adobe village. What I mean to say is that the movie strays from the book, including the end, which undermines the frantic pace that is set by the book. The story follows several American tourists who travel to South America for a beach adventure. While on the beach the meet a German tourist who wants to go find his brother who is off visiting a Mayan ruin with an archaeologist. The Americans go with the German and the rest is history. The Mayan ruin ends up being a very bad place to be. I will not give away the story because it would ruin, no pun intended, the book and the movie for anyone reading this review. The point I want to make is that I really enjoyed the book. Could not stop reading it. Had to turn the next page. The movie? I was ready to be done watching it ten minutes in. The book I still give an “A,” the movie I give a “C.”