Posts Tagged ‘robert downey jr’

captain america civil war

In Lagos Nigeria, while trying to prevent a terrorist attack and save Captain America, (Chris Evans) The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently kill a number of Nigerians in an office building.  The Avengers have caused a great deal of collateral damage while trying to save people.  Towards that end, 118 nations have signed a treaty to have the United Nations regulate the use of the Avengers.  Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) gets lectured by the mother (Alfre Woodard) of one of his inadvertent victims.  He’s ready to hang up his suit, but Captain America doesn’t want to sign the treaty arguing that the Avengers should have the freedom to control their own actions. As representatives gather to sign the treaty in Vienna, there is a bombing, and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is the main suspect, but Captain America can’t believe his buddy from Brooklyn is responsible for such bloodshed.  Who is responsible for the Vienna bombing?  Whose side will the rest of the Avengers take on the treaty? Iron Man’s or Captain America’s?

I had reservations about this film, a film about the Avengers fighting each other could be very dumb if handled badly, especially in light of Batman vs. Superman. And when I saw they were fighting over a treaty, I thought, ‘Is that all there is?’  But happily, the reason they are fighting goes much deeper than the treaty, and that is the heart of the story.  The rest of the story is engaging and surprisingly funny.  The characters are nicely integrated, and there are new characters introduced and that’s nicely done too.  There is an element of “The Manchurian Candidate” a great Frank Sinatra film, in this film, which Iron Man mentions himself.  In all, Civil War takes what could have been tired characters and a hackneyed story and breathes new life into them.  The only criticism I have is that sometimes the fighting sequences go on for too long, and the story gets lost, but other than that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The acting was mostly very good.  Robert Downey Jr. again stands out from the rest with his usual witty, off the cuff delivery.  He really understands Tony Stark/Iron Man, I really wonder how much of his dialogue is ad libbed.  Chris Evans understands Captain America too, but I wish they would give his character a little more complexity.  Sebastian Stan was ok as The Winter Soldier, he’s not a good enough actor to play a bad guy, in my opinion.  Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow, and deserves her own Black Widow movie for crying out loud. The actors who play the new characters are also very good.  Don Cheadle, a very good actor, is not good as Rhoadey.  I preferred Terrence Howard. Elizabeth Olsen, who I liked in the last Avengers film, has trouble maintaining her Sokovian accent, so this performance is not as good as her last one.Jeremy Renner is very bland for this type of movie, he’s bland in every movie I’ve seen him in except for The Hurt Locker, where he was very good. Paul Bethany gives a good performance as Vision and Anthony Mackie adds some humor as Falcon.

The Russo Brothers direct again, and it’s better than their last Captain America effort, the pacing is fast, the action sequences are well staged, if a bit long, and they get mostly very good performances from a very large cast.

Captain America Civil War:  Aye Aye Captain!

The Judge

Hotshot Chicago defense lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) finds out his mother has died and goes back home to Indiana to pay his last respects.  While in Indiana, Hank’s father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) runs over Mark Blackwell (Mark Kiely) with his car. Blackwell had received a light sentence from Judge Palmer  and went on to kill his girlfriend after getting out of jail.  Did the judge kill Blackwell by accident? Or did he kill him to right his own judicial wrong?  Will Joseph Palmer let Hank defend him after years of estrangement if a case proceeds against the judge?

The Judge begins just like This is Where I Leave You, The death of a parent,  a cheating wife, and family problems land the main character back in the bosom of his dysfunctional family.  There are many contrived parts of this movie all created to garner sympathy for the Hank Palmer character, his wife cheats on him, his mother dies, his father treats him like dirt, one brother is slow  like Raymond in Rain Man, the other brother had a promising baseball career, but for an accident.  What passes for comedy relief is just juvenile, including vomiting, and an icky romantic entanglement. There’s a big trial of course and the verdict should have been the ending, but the movie goes on for another 10-15 minutes and the ending resolves nothing.  Is it a family therapy session, or a courtroom drama?  It’s both, and neither is very satisfying.

This is a great cast, but Robert Downey is playing the same snarky Tony Stark type character that he plays in the Iron Man and Avengers films, and whereas the character works once, for Tony Stark, Downey Jr. goes to the well once too often and falls flat. Does anyone believe for a second that Downey Jr’s character was born in Indiana?  Not for a second, and that is part of the problem.  Robert Duvall is essentially playing a character he played in The Great Santini, tough as nails father barking out orders to his children, except The Great Santini is a much better movie. Billy Bob Thornton plays an evil prosecutor, who for some reason, unbeknownst to anyone, wants to bring down the judge.  Thornton tries to play the character low key, but his performance ends up being uninteresting.  Vera Farminga is stuck being Downey Jr’s girlfriend with nothing better to do than fawn all over him or fight with him.

The movie is long, and the pacing is slow, and the director is mostly known for inane comedies, which explains the idiotic comedy relief, but not the rest of the formulaic plot.  He could hardly give direction to the likes of Downey and Duval, but he could have lopped off 15 minutes at least from the running time of this engorged drama.

The Judge:  Guilty…of bad filmmaking.

avengers age of ultron

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Captain America (Chris Evans) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)  try to get Thor’s scepter from Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kreishman)  one of the leader of Hydra.  But Strucker is hiding more than the scepter, he’s been doing experiments on a pair of twins, Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff (Elzabeth Olsen) and also building artificial intelligence.  Tony Stark finds the artificial intelligence in Strcker’s hideout, and thinks he can merge it with his own artificial intelligence named Jarvis (Paul Bethany) to protect the world.  Does Stark’s plan to protect the world work or will it backfire?

I must say I liked Age of Ultron better than the first Avengers movie, that may be damning this film with faint praise, because I hated the first Avengers movie.  This movie is better because is an Iron Man centered story, and not a Thor centered story of all the Avengers, none bores me as much as Thor, I hated the Thor movies, so building this story off of Tony Stark is a wise decision.  This movie also introduces Quicksilver and the Scarlet With into the Avengers storyline.  But everytime writer Joss Whedon develops an interesting plotline or character, director Whedon sabotages those characters and plotlines by jamming the movie with overextended action sequences, and cascading amounts of CGI. The first scene is an example of the excessive use of CGI.  The Avengers are battling Strucker, why?  There is no set up.  Later, cities are leveled, citizens are screaming for help, yet none of our heroes sustain so much as a scratch, not even Hawkeye.  What’s his superpower?  A bow and arrow? Just once I wish they’d tell us how these annihilated cites get rebuilt.  Maybe they could make a movie and call it, Avengers Reconstruction.  There are also not one but two clunky love stories that ruin the interesting plot lines even further, they try to humanize the characters, but only serve to slow the movie to a crawl.  There is also product placement so obvious that it’s maddening.  None of the Audi cars being showcased got decimated in the midst of cities being leveled. Small wonder.

The acting is ok.  As usual Robert Downey Jr. carries this film, and he should.  He has a real comfort level playing the snarky Stark, and could easily play Stark for the rest of his career, as Hugh Jackman has done with Wolverine. Scarlett Johansson tries very hard to play Black Widow as an emotionless killing machine, but the clunky love story saddles her with drippy romantic lines and wrecks what could have been a very good performance. I don’t like Mark Ruffalo, he plays Bruce Banner as sort of a sad-sack loner. Ruffalo has this dog-that’s been kicked persona that is offputting, I still say Bill Bixby played Bruce Banner better than anyone else has.  I don’t like Chris Hemsworth either, he’s not a very good actor, and he proves it over and over.  Jeremy Renner doesn’t bring much to the film except a few quips and a what –am-I doing- here-attitude.  Chris Evans who’s good in his own Captain America movies doesn’t have much to add here. Elizabeth Olsen, sister of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, does quite a good job as the Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor Johnson of Kick Ass fame, is also pretty good as Quicksilver, although I think Evan Peters was better as Quicksilver in The Days of Future Past. Claudia Kim was good as Dr. Helen Cho, Whedon could have done much more with that character and with the actress, but he did not.

Director Joss Whedon keeps the pace going strong except when he tries to integrate romantic elements into the story, then the pace lags.    Whedon tries to overwhelm the viewer with CGI, instead of integrating the special effects within the storyline.  There are extended action sequences that are in severe need of editing, but they go on and on.

Avengers Age of Ultron:  Not The Age of Dull-tron, but could have been much better.

chef

Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a chef for a popular Los Angeles restaurant.  He is facing a review from a influential food blogger, Ramsey Michel  (Oliver Platt) and wants to shake up the menu a little.  But after Riva (Dustin Hoffman) the owner of the restaurant stops by and orders him to serve his most popular dishes, Carl complies, and waits for the review.    Michel rips the food, and his review of the restaurant goes viral.  Carl gets his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony) to sign him up for Twitter, and Carl throws down the gauntlet for Michel to come try his food again.  Riva again interferes with the menu, and Michel again writes an awful review.  This time, Carl confronts Michel in person, and the confrontation again goes viral, via social media.  Carl is ruined.

With nowhere else to go, Carl follows his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) to Miami.  Inez has been prodding Carl to get to know his son Percy a little better, and get a food truck, and cook what he wants, but getting a food truck would involve making a business deal with Inez’ ex-husband, Marvin. (Robert Downey Jr.)  Does Carl really want to get mixed up with his ex-wife’s ex-husband?  Does he want a real relationship with Percy?  Isn’t being a weekend dad much easier?

This is a great movie.  Jon Favreau wrote, produced, directed and starred in this film about a chef who stands up for his principles and pays a big price.  The question is, can Carl Casper rebuild his life without giving up on the style of cooking that made him famous to begin with?  I think the central aspect of this movie is the relationship between Carl and Percy, Percy just wants to be part of his dad’s life in a real and meaningful way, Carl thinks that taking him to the amusement park and the movies makes him a good father. Can Carl reconcile the differences between Percy’s perceptions of him, and improve his part time parenting skills?  This movie also provides a realistic illustration of the impact of social media in today’s society.  It can ruin people, it can also help them build back what is lost.  A portion this movie is about the impact of critics in the internet age.  As a critic with a blog, I take my responsibility very seriously, and my responsibility is to my followers, to steer them away from the vast array of flotsam and jetsam that Hollywood calls movies, and steer them towards movies that are worth their time and money.  But I found Favreau’s take on critics an interesting one, and I hope to be that influential one day.  The ending is a little too neat, but the flaws in this movie are minor, compared to the many things it does well.  It is much funnier than I expected, heartfelt, and touching.

Favreau does a heck of a job as an actor, as a frustrated chef, who only wants to cook.  He doesn’t want a reality show or a boss that tells him what to do, it’s a great role, and he plays it well.  Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson are really good in small roles.  11 year old Emjay Anthony does an exceptional job in a complicated role, and John Legiuzamo who usually annoys me was funny and restrained more than usual.  Sophia Vergara really was the only part of the cast that was not impressive, in essence, she was playing the same charcter she plays in Modern Family, a loud, brassy Latina.  But she had a relatively small role in the film.  And blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. appears in the film as himself and plays a few songs in the movie, as icing on a very flavorful cake.

Director Favreau does a good job capturing the sights and sounds of Miami and New Orleans, as the film unfolds into a travelogue of sorts.  He also keeps the pacing moving along, and gets good performances from almost everyone. I only know Favreau  as a director of the movie Elf, a very funny movie.  Most of all, he got some great shots of food, or food porn as it is often referred to now.  I think he uses a stunt chef, because all we see are hands in most of the cooking shots.  Producer Favreau must have called in a lot of favors, because he got a stellar cast, and they all fit into the movie flawlessly.

Chef:  Can you smell what Jon Faavreau is cooking?

Iron man-3

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) reminisces about his early days as an inventor in 1999.  Tony wrote half a chemical formula on a napkin in 1999, and fellow inventor Aldridge Killian (Guy Pearce) wants Tony to join his fledgling company AIM, but Tony never does, he leaves Killian and one-night stand Maya Hanson (Rebecca Hall) behind to make oodles of money in the weapons business.  Tony has more pressing problems, he is having anxiety attacks from surviving an attack on New York (featured in the Avengers movie) and a terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc on America and the world with a series of random bombings.  Tony challenges Mandarin to bomb his house, Mandarin obliges, reducing Tony’s house to rubble. Another of the bombings seriously injures friend and former bodyguard Happy Hogan. (Jon Favreau)  While Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle) tries to find Mandarin in Pakistan,  Tony is analyzing heat signatures from the bombings.

The analysis leads him to Tennessee, to an apparent suicide of a soldier. A little kid named Harley (Ty Sympkins ) escorts Tony through the small town in Tennessee.  Harley helps Tony with his anxiety, Tony helps Harley through some bullying issues, the more Tony investigates the heat signatures from the bomb that killed that soldier in Tennessee, the less he thinks it’s a suicide.  When he comes back home from Tennessee, who dos he see but Maya, who’s now a successful biologist.  Why is Maya back in her life?  The Mandarin is now threatening the President of the United States, President Ellis. (William Sadler)  Much to his surprise, Iran Man tracks Mandarin to Miami.  Can he stop The Mandarin before he harms the President?

I liked Iron Man 3 a lot, the reason is simple, this movie had a story, and several subplots, unlike the Avengers, which had no story or subplots, and as overrun by a juvenile overreliance on special effects.  This had interesting characters.  There is a twist to the Mandarin character, which I’m still deciding if I like or don’t, but at least it showed some complexity, as did the Killian character. Sure the relationship between the kid and Stark was manipulative and shamelessly tearjerking, but it showed that the character was just some guy in a metal suit.  Towards the end of the movie, the special effects do take over the movie and that bothered me. At times, Jarvis seemed to have more to do than Tony Stark. This is not a flawless movie.  Despite that, this is a much better movie than Iron Man Two.  It approaches the first Iron Man movie, but falls short.  It is still a very entertaining film.

The performance of Robert Downey Jr. makes this movie more enjoyable than it should be.  He gives a performance that is both comic and dramatic at once.  He is Tony Stark, he’s lived that life and the ease with which he plays the character shows.  Guy Pearce also gives a standout performance, burning with intensity.  Pearce is a very good actor.  Ben Kingsley is one of my favorite actors and he doesn’t disappoint.  It is disappointing to see Don Cheadle reduced to window dressing as Rhoadey Rhodes, but I’ve always said Terrence Howard was better as Rhodes, and this movie doesn’t change my mind.  Gwyneth Paltrow continues to annoy me in her role as Pepper Potts, despite being given more to do.

The writing is above average for an action adventure.  The direction is not spectacular, but keeps things moving along.  The 3D effects are worth the extra price of a 3D ticket.  This is one of the few movies I’ve felt that way about.   One continuing pet peeve, is the product placement.  Does the director have to make it so damn obvious? Can’t the producers raise enough money without turning the movie into a huge commercial?  It really ruins some shots, and nobody cares.  That annoys me.

Iron Man 3.  Still no signs of rust.

avengers

 

Loki, (Tom Hiddleston) Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) stepbrother is back on earth to take the tesseract back from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who is planning to build an arsenal of weapons with the ancient Asgardian power source.  Loki wants the tesseract to summon an Asgardian army and rule the Earth.  Loki takes the tesseract, quite easily from Fury, and turns Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) aka Hawkeye, into a mindless slave, with the aid of his Asgardian scepter.  Loki still needs a power source to open up a portal to let the soldiers down to earth, he finds the power source on top of the Stark building, and opens up the portal, and the soldiers rain down on New York City like the plague.  Can Nick Fury bring together the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to ward off the invasion of extraterrestrial soldiers?  Will Hawkeye join the fight for the good guys?

I really wanted to like this movie. I waited for months to get this dvd on rent, I was angry that I missed such a highly rated movie in the theater.  It was rated highly on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, and I really liked The two Iron Man movies, and Captain America, even though I didn’t like Thor at all, I was still looking forward to this movie.  Well the fanboys must be rating movies on these websites, because this movie stunk.  It stunk to high heaven. It is everything I hate about Hollywood, pure Hollywoord excess.  Car chases for the sake of car chases, explosions for the sake of explosions, mindless violence, no plot, just a huge mess, like New York City after Loki is done with it.

None of the actors had any presence besides Downey Jr. He was having fun. The rest are just non-existent.  Hemsworth is just annoying.  Ruffalo plays the same sad sack/wimp he always plays. There’s a detachment he puts in all his characters that drives me crazy.  Jeremy Renner is trying too hard to be an action hero, he should stop trying so hard, and just play it understate like he did in the Hurt Locker.  Chris Evans has nothing to do except be Mr. Gee Whiz 1950’s guy, and that gets old fast.  Scarlett Johannsson  looks bored, this is just a paycheck for her.  Gwyneth Paltrow continues to embarrass herself, what is she?  A secretary?  A nagging girlfriend?  Either way, it’s insulting.  Samuel L. Jackson is usually interesting, but even he was dull here, he’s usually a wildcard, but in this movie he seemed constrained.

For all of this I blame Joss Whedon.  He takes credit for writing and directing this drivel.  I like Joss Whedon, he did revolutionary work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the tv show, and Cabin in the Woods had a nice twist, but the Avengers could have been written by a 12 year old with a lobotomy.  Really, rather than getting a paycheck Whedon should go into the Witness Protection Program.  Chris Nolan ruined superhero movies for me, the Avengers seems pedantic by comparison to any of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The bad news is there probably will be one or two more Avengers movies.

The Avengers:  Green with envy? No.

iron man 2

The world is at peace and Tony Stark (Downey Jr) is to thank.  There are no wars, no terrorism, so Tony should be on top of the world, right? But he’s got problems, a grandstanding Senator named Stern (Garry Shandling( hectors Tony about the proliferation of Iron man suits around the world.  Tony proves the suits In Iran and North Korea don’t work.  What Tony doesn’t know is that a nemesis named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) is working for a rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to mass produce the Iron Man robots.  Vanko’s father was deported by Stark’s father and he now he sits in Russia and plots his revenge.  Vanko’s revenge involves making the robots drones, with no human pilot

Tony knows one thing for sure, he is dying, because the arc reactor he invented has begun to poison his blood.  He starts to become fatalistic about his future, turning over control of Stark industries to his assistant Pepper Pots, and racing cars in Monaco, as well as hiring Natalie Rushman (Johansson) an employee from legal to be Pepper’s assistant. In Monaco, Tony has his first brush with Vanko, Vanko is jailed by French authorities, but is bailed out by Justin Hammer to work at Hammer industries   Sick of Tony excessive drinking, his best friend , James “Roady” Roads, confronts Tony, fights him and takes one of Tony’s spare Iron Man suits to be weaponized by the military.    Toby’s downward spiral would continue, if he weren’t kidnapped, by mysterious Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and told to find and element for his arc reactor that won’t kill him.  Fury gives him an injection that slows down the poisoning and Tony begins to look for the elusive element, with the help of some old film of his dad.  But will Vanko and Hammer build those Iron Man drones and rule the world?  Who is Natalie Rushman, will she help Tony or doublecross him?  Will Tony find a new element for his arc reactor before the old reactors kill him?

This is a breathtaking movie, especially for a sequel.  This is an action junkie’s dream.  Sometimes, the action is too frenetic, but what keeps this movie together besides the action is the really large helping of comedy.  This was a really funny movie.  Justin Thoreaux  who wrote the very funny Tropic Thunder, wrote this movie as well..  Robert Downey Jr carries huge portions of this movie by himself.  If anyone understands the excesses of money and fame, it’s Downey because he’s lived that life.  Downey Jr was funny in a dry understated way, and really plays well off fellow 1980’s star Mickey Rourke.  Rourke could have played Vanko as a cartoon sort of Boris Badanov, but he plays Vanko as a quiet, understated villain, seething and smoldering, waiting for a chance to strike, like a coiled cobra.  And to hear him talk about his “burd” is hilarious.  Sam Rockwell  plays the smarmy, fast talking, thoroughly incompetent defense contractor Justin Hammer.  He personifies everything that is wrong with corporate America today.  Scarlett Johansson is great in this movie too, she fills a female action void that was missing in the first movie.  She kicks butt and takes names, I was impressed.  There was also a mystery to her character, I didn’t know where her loyalties lay until the last moment.  Samuel L. Jackson is just plain having fun, with his eye patch, and his cheesy one liners, he was clearly enjoying himself, and that kind of fun is infectious.  There were disappointments however, Don Cheadle didn’t really cut it as Roady.   Cheadle is more a quiet, contemplative, thinking man’s actor, the action format is not his best genre. Terrence Howard was  just as soft-spoken as Cheadle but he had a presence of strength and honor, he seemed more military than Cheadle.  The other disappointment is Paltrow as Peper Pots, all the chemistry between Paltrow and Downey is gone, she seems more like his mother than a love interest, chiding Iron Man to wear his clean undies before he beats up the bad guys, ok I made that up, but her performance was still disappointing,

Iron Man.  Ironing out his personal problems, and letting us watch.