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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Mid-week Links

Hey there…

Ok… I’ve seen enough weird news this week to warrant a few comments about some of the things going on in the movie business…

First, La Femme Nikita is back? Again? Let’s hope it’s more like Luc Besson‘s original starring Anne Parillaud or the series on USA starring Peta Wilson. Evidently McG’s involved and in this version (reportedly to air on The CW), Nikita will go rogue and a new assassin will be trained to replace her. Isn’t it odd that they’d call the series La Femme Nikita if she’s not the lead character? Read more at ComingSoon.net.

Next, it’s good to know that Guy Ritchie isn’t afraid to continue the good thing he started with Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey, Jr. According to multiple sources (ComingSoon.net, FirstShowing.net and The Examiner) his Lobo (DC Comics) movie has been shelved for now and they’re ramping up to work on a script and pre-production for the Holmes sequel. Brad Pitt is rumored to be Moriarty, which should be quite interesting. Pitt as an evil, brilliant villain? Hmmm… (Update: Evidently this rumor has been squashed about Brad as Moriarty, so we’ll see who actually gets to play that role…)

And Michael Bay, king of explosions, is apparently scouting for locations for Transformers 3. The last one wasn’t bad enough? I’m hoping they return to the simpler plot of the first movie, which had me cheering by the end as a popcorn movie. Guess we’ll find out in July 2011. A bit more at ComingSoon.net

Lastly, in the “Please no, say it ain’t so” category, we have rumors of Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation) going for the role of Dracula in a new movie about the first vampire. (At least he’s not a teenager…) For me, the last good Dracula was Gary Oldman… and before that Bela Lugosi. Worthington would need to age about 30 years before I’d even consider him for a role like that… Latino Review, MTV, ScreenRant… Everyone’s talking about it and saying the same thing – say it ain’t so!!

That’s it for now… More the next time I have a chance to pull my head out of the sand…

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up a few of these great DVDs!

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Book Review: Sherlock Holmes in America edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Daniel Stashower

Hi all!

In 1887, Sherlock Holmes began to stalk the literary world. He lived at 221B Baker Street, London, and ran a private detective agency. He was brilliant, eccentric, and without equal. After a few years he was joined by Dr. Watson, both as a right-hand man as a chronicler. Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes was featured in four novels and fifty-six short stories. And I think it’s safe to say that Holmes had an affectation for the Americans starting from his very first story — “A Study in Scarlet” — when he told of an adventure in Utah.

And even today, Holmes has left an indelible impression upon the world at large, including American shores. In March 2009, Sherlock Holmes in America was published as a collection of 16 original short mystery stories featuring the famous detective. The collection was edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Daniel Stashower. Some of the writers included in the collection are Robert Pohle, Loren D. Estleman, Victoria Thompson, Gillian Linscott, Carolyn Wheat, and Jon L. Breen.

Timing for this collection is just about perfect, as the marketing starts to ratchet up later in the year for the upcoming Guy Ritchie movie. Simply titled Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the movie will release on Christmas Day 2009 and I know I’m intrigued to see it. Though this is definitely not the first time Holmes will grace the big screen, it will be the first time in since around 1946.

As a relative newbie to the Sherlock Holmes stories, I figured Sherlock Holmes in America would be a great way to get my feet wet. And I was definitely correct. Now I will have to go back to the original source material and start my way through the great detective’s many adventures.

Each of the authors had something different to bring to the table. Holmes, Watson, and even Mycroft (Sherlock’s brother) appear in these adventures, but it was the many other characters I found fascinating.

In “The Adventure of the Coughing Dentist” by Loren D. Estleman, Holmes and Watson encountered Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral. In the story, Holmes and Watson helped Earp clear the name of his good friend Holliday from a crime he didn’t commit.

In Gillian Linscott’s story “The Case of Colonel Crockett’s Violin,” the dynamic duo help clear up a mystery surrounding the origin of two violins said to have been owned by Davy Crockett at the Alamo.

And in Bill Crider’s story “The Adventure of the White City,” the duo help Buffalo Bill Cody avoid an unfortunate incident with Sitting Bull’s cabin. A group of Native Americans wished to destroy the cabin in an act of defiance for Sitting Bull’s compliance in the Custer massacre. Annie Oakley also appears in the story.

It was great to see these two iconic detectives appear in the context of the history of America during his lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the stories and definitely need to start reading Doyle’s original stories before Guy Ritchie’s movie appears at the end of the year.

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, it’s hard to go wrong with Sherlock Holmes in America. Pick up a copy and enjoy these great adventures!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up a copy of Sherlock Holmes in America at Amazon or your favorite local bookstore!

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