What’s coming up (October 3, 2010)?

Hi all…

I thought I’d start a new weekly post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to so you’d have an idea of what’s next on the review front…

Book-wise, I’ve been splitting my time between Eadric the Grasper – Sons of Mercia, Volume 1 by Jayden Woods and Tom Sawyer and the Undead by Mark Twain/Dan Borchert. I’m about halfway through Eadric now and finding it to be extremely well written, but dense. So I’m only able to read a chapter or two at a time before I have to set it down and ponder what I’ve read. Tom Sawyer and the Undead has been an easy read and been quite entertaining so far – I’m nearly done with it.

Music-wise, I have a few albums I’m dividing my time between. The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead, Paula Cole‘s Ithaca, and the upcoming releases Bring the Sea by Edie Carey and Dave KozHello Tomorrow. Each of these brings a very different style and passion to the table, but hopefully I can get a few reviews written this week.

DVD-wise, I have He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown to check out this week and just watched Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray last night. I love the Peanuts, so I’m sure that will continue to be a classic. Unfortunately, though Iron Man 2 was fun in spots, it still wasn’t as good as the first one.

So that’s where I’m at. I received a few more new books to review last week, so I’m a bit behind in my reviews and need to get cracking!

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

–Fitz

p.s. Check out these titles and let me know what you think or if you have anything you’d like me to review!

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Movie Review: Iron Man 2

Hi all!

Was I excited by the fact that Favreau and Downey Jr. were at it again with the next installment of the Iron Man movie franchise? Of course I was! It’s been two long years since we last saw old Shell Head kick some butt on the big screen. Worldwide Iron Man made about $600 million and I know I contributed to that by seeing it in the theater a couple of times and buying the DVD…

So how was Iron Man 2? Well, I’m sorry to say that it was good, but not great and definitely not as good as the first one for me. Was it still entertaining? You bet! I expect it to beat the first one in terms of ticket sales hands down.

[rating:3/4]

As most of you know (unless you were hiding in a cave a couple of years ago), Iron Man ended with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announcing to the world that he is Iron Man and the suit isn’t simply a bodyguard. Though most of the world was pleased with this, it turns out (surprise, surprise) that not everybody is a fan. The sequel picks up about six months after the first one ended.

The gang is back – Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Happy Hogan (director Jon Favreau)… And there are some new faces. Jim Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle who picks up where Terrence Howard left off), Natalie/Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, who surprised me in this role in a good way), Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell in a beautifully over the top performance), and Ivan Vanko/Whiplash (Mickey Rourke, who stole the show when on screen)…

It took a while for this film to get going for me. But once it gets going, there’s no turning back. The main players – Downey, Jr., Jackson, Cheadle, and Rourke dominated the screen in every scene. I was happy to see Favreau back as Hogan in a meatier role and Scarlett was stunning as the Black Widow. If there was a surprise in the film for me, it was her.

The whole Cheadle vs. Howard debate never really happened for me. I like Cheadle. He brings a solid presence to the role of Rhodey that I never really felt with Howard. But I did I think Paltrow was lacking in this one a bit. Somehow she never gained that witty exchange between Potts and Stark and whenever she was in a scene it was a bit of a buzzkill for me.

Once the action starts going – from the scenes during the race in Monaco to the explosive finale – it seriously grabs your attention and only lets up a bit here and there. At least that’s how it felt to me.

I know Iron Man 2 has had some mixed reviews. And my opinion is mixed as well, but I enjoyed it, will see it again, and will purchase the DVD when it’s released. A solid 3 out of 4 stars for me. So I think it’s definitely worth seeing. The only debate now is whether to see it in IMAX or on the regular screen the next time I want to see it!

What did you think? Leave me a comment with your review below!

–Fitz

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TV Review: Iron Man: Armored Adventures

Hey there…

Starting this Friday, April 24, a new Nicktoons Network/Marvel Animation series starts to follow the teenage years of Marvel’s armored super hero. Yes, a teenage Tony Stark struts his stuff in Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

After the insane success of last year’s Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, it’s only natural that Marvel would want to capitalize on the phenomenon. But when I heard about this series, I was worried. A teenage Iron Man? How would they pull that off?

Well, honestly they don’t pull it off. The best way I can put it is that you have to take Iron Man: Armored Adventures and assume it’s in a parallel universe where things are different than the main Iron Man timeline (which 2008’s Iron Man movie and next year’s Iron Man 2 movie do recognize). So if you take the new animated series out of the main Iron Man context, the rest of it works fine.

In this alternate universe, Tony Stark is a teenager who’s best friend is Rhodey (James Rhodes). Tony just happens to be an inventive genius, just like his father, Howard Stark, the head of Stark Industries. Except for the teenager part, this is pretty much the same background as Iron Man.

In the first episode, “Iron Forged in Fire, Part 1” we see Tony finish creating the Iron Man armor and try to show it to his father. But before he can do so, he and his father are in a plane crash. His father is killed and Tony is mortally wounded. The Iron Man suit saves him and gives a new electronic heart in the process. Obadiah Stane, one of Howard Stark’s right-hand men, steps in to take control of Stark Industries, effectively shutting Tony out of the corporation and his former home until Tony is 18.

Tony goes to live with the Rhodes family and starts attending the same high school as his friend Rhodey. He meets a new friend, Patricia “Pepper” Pots who is a sharp, energetic, and curious daughter of an FBI agent. She knows Tony & Rhodey are up to something and starts hanging around to find out what…

In “Iron Forged in Fire, Part 2,” we see Tony start figuring out that Stane is turning his and his father’s inventions into weapons. He also suspects that Stane might have been behind the plane crash that took his father’s life. And if that’s not bad enough, he meets the strange armored figure known only as “The Mandarin” – a figure who controlled two rings that Tony’s father thought might have been ancient and quite powerful technologies.

Though the animation has been done on the computer, it’s not as obvious or distracting as previous CGI-animated cartoons have been. The transitions between the portions where you see animated human characters and the Iron Man suit are actually pretty smooth.

I was apprehensive at first that I’d enjoy this new series, but after watching the first two episodes, I see myself setting Iron Man: Armored Adventures to regularly record on my DVR starting this Friday. There are 26 total episodes in the season, so we’ll see what happens. If you liked the Iron Man movie or are a Iron Man fan from the comic books, this is another interesting interpretation of the mythos behind the armored suit. Just keep in mind that this Tony Stark operates in a different Marvel universe than the Robert Downey Jr. version.

–Fitz

p.s. If you still don’t have a copy of Iron Man, be sure to pick one up!

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