New from the desk of The Movie Snob.
Chef (C+). This movie has been playing in Dallas theaters since the beginning of the summer, so I thought I’d better see what could justify such a lengthy run. It was pleasant enough, but nothing to write home about. Jon Favreau (Couples Retreat) writes, directs, and stars as Carl Casper, a well-known Los Angeles chef in a swanky restaurant. A Twitter feud with a snarky food critic gets Casper fired, and he decides to reconnect with his love for cooking—and with his 10-year-old son, whom he hasn’t had much time for since a divorce—by starting up a food truck. It’s a perfectly decent movie, but it felt a little slight for the big screen. And occasional brief appearances by big stars—Robert Downey, Jr.! Dustin Hoffman! A tatted-up Scarlett Johansson!—are more distracting than anything else.
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).
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.
A rare visit from our own resident Comic Book Guy
With the success of the X-men and Batman franchises, it’s no surprise to me that Marvel and DC are mining their library of lesser heroes for movie fodder. Seems like the pattern is good movie – bad movie. (e.g. X-Men 3 – Awesome. Ghost Rider – Blows). What amazes me is how they attract top notch talent for these gigs. This jewel stars the likes of Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. and the ever so lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. For those of you who didn’t bother with the comic – Tony Stark (Downey) is a playboy genius engineer turned weapons mogul. After being injured by his own weapons while visiting a war zone (how IRONic), has a change of heart (literally) and becomes Iron Man to make amends for his company’s wrongdoing. You know the drill. Hero has traumatic event. Hero develops super powers (or super skills, or both). Hero takes on Villain. Hero prevails. Cool special effects and explosions fill the space between plot development. Formulaic? Sure. Just another variation of the Batman theme – although Batman is way cooler than Iron Man – but it works. And this one works well. Yes, the plot is predictable and you have to suspend disbelief but c’mon… that’s why you go to the movies, right? Bottom line: this one is awesome (and for those comic book fanboys out there – look for the Stan Lee cameo and the veiled hints of more superhero movies to come). Just remember the pattern: Iron Man. Good. The Hulk? Will probably blow. But that’s good news for the next one – The Dark Knight. Should be awesome. ‘Nuff said.