New from The Movie Snob.
Iron Man 3 (C). I remember enjoying the first Iron Man and not caring much for the second one. The latest installment also left me cold. Once again, Robert Downey, Jr. (The Avengers) plays the swaggering genius-zillionaire Tony Stark. Only now, Stark has lost a bit of his swagger–he even has an occasional panic attack, for crying out loud! But this is no time for Stark to take a soul-searching sabbatical, for a new threat has emerged–a superterrorist called the Mandarin, played with some panache by Ben Kingsley (House of Sand and Fog). Unfortunately, the innumerable explosions, the endless digital effects, and even the remarkably steely abs of Gwyneth Paltrow (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) just weren’t that entertaining. And I wasn’t the only one who was turned off; I saw a family in the theater with a couple of kids, one of whom was dressed up at Iron Man, and about halfway through the film, I realized that they had all left. It is probably too violent for little ones, I guess, but it is rated PG-13 after all. Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) costar. Oh, be sure to stay through all the closing credits for an amusing final scene.
Movie Man Mike chimes in on a summer blockbuster
Iron Man 2 (B+). The general rule for sequels is that the second movie is not as good as the first. Not so with Iron Man 2. The sequel is at least as good as the first and probably better. Where the first movie was focused upon introducing the character and the concept, the second movie is able to develop the character further and bring some new challenges to Iron Man. This is a great Summer film because it’s full of high-stakes action scenes. The conflict in this movie comes from the fact that the military sees the Iron Man technology as a potential threat and it wants the technology for its own purposes. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey, Jr., assures the military that the technology is safe in his hands. Little does he know, a Russian villain named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has the technology, and he develops his own super-suit. Add to the mix Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who’s an arms dealer desperate to get the U.S. Government’s business, and you have a recipe for a potential catastrophe. The cast has a lot of surprising big names (also Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson), all of whom play their parts well and add flavor to the mix. If you don’t see this at the theaters, you should at least rent it. And if you haven’t seen the first one, check it out too (although it’s not a prerequisite to understanding and following the second film).
DVD review from The Movie Snob
Hotel for Dogs (C+). Your options can get pretty limited when (1) you’re trying to pick a movie that both you and The Borg Queen will be able to tolerate, and (2) you’re renting out of one of those “Red Box” machines. Last night, this is what we ended up with, a Nickelodeon/DreamWorks production about a brother and sister who turn an abandoned hotel into a refuge for an ever-growing pack of stray dogs. The dogs are cute, and the movie is generally entertaining enough. Lisa Kudrow (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion) has a thankless role as the siblings’ unpleasant foster mother; Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) fares somewhat better as their exasperated social worker/case manager. The star is a pretty, teenaged actress heretofore unknown to me named Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew); she reminds me of a young Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs). (Apparently she is the niece of Julia Roberts, who is no favorite of mine.) Anyhoo, this is a decent, family-friendly movie, even if it won’t win any Academy Awards.