Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SHREK FOREVER AFTER - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



SHREK FOREVER AFTER – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: The Mad Hatter

SHREK FOREVER AFTER (also mercifully known as SHREK: THE FINAL CHAPTER) begins by introducing us to Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). This little imp is known for duping unsuspecting patrons into sucker deals and has his eye on getting control of Far Far Away. He had King Harold and Queen Lillian (John Cleese and Julie Andrews) all primed and ready to swindle when Shrek found Princess Fiona.

That was the start of things for Shrek and Fiona (Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz) who have since added three little bundles of joy to their brood and like many new families, soon find themselves in a rut of feeding, changing, play dates, and time spent with the same old friends. It's enough to drive an ogre crazy, and it ultimately does. Shrek throws a temper tantrum during his triplets’ birthday party and storms off like an ogre.

It's around here that Rumpelstiltskin catches up with him and offers him one of his too-good-to-be-true deals. Shrek can go back to being an intimidating care-free ogre for a day. In exchange, 'Stiltskin will take a random day from Shrek's childhood. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

Bad news for our smelly green hero: 'Stiltskin takes the day he was born. Thus, 'Stiltskin’s deal with Harold and Lillian comes to pass, and he swindles them out of their kingdom. Also Shrek and Fiona aren't married, he has no children, ogres are hunted within the kingdom, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) lives a life of servitude, Puss (Antonio Banderas) is fat and lazy. Essentially it's Bedford Falls with an imp playing Mr. Potter.

Shrek can undo it all, but he has a day to do so, otherwise . . . well . . . y'know.

More than one person has told me that it was all the pop culture references in the first Shrek movie that made it work so well. I've never bought that. I've always believed the fact that SHREK was based on a great story was what made that first film work so well. In many ways, it felt like the fairy tale that The Brothers Grimm forgot—a clever one that felt fresh in the face of all the animated sweetness we'd been handed for so many years.

Now, by this fourth entry in the series, we've all learned what happens when clever becomes complacent. It's bad enough that much of the winks and nods are ones we've already seen, but now they've all been grafted on to that same "what if?" story that we've seen far too many times. Even with that in mind, I still wanted to enjoy this Shrek offering a lot. But sadly the amount of times I laugh per film has been dwindling as the series has gone on. Now I'm only snickering at throwaway lines (Donkey to Gingerbread Man: "What you talkin' 'bout cracker?").

There is never a moment in SHREK FOREVER AFTER that you think things might not work out. Every new road block these characters encounter seems to come with instructions tacked to them on how they can be overcome. Ye, Far Far Away is still bright and beautiful, and yes, it's fun to hear the flute sample from The Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot" worked into a fairy tale. But that wasn't what made the first chapter work, and it certainly isn't enough anymore.

Then there's the continuing love affair with 3-D. While I loved what Dreamworks did with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, there wasn't a single detail of SHREK FOREVER AFTER I felt merited a 3-D experience. Thus, I opted for a 2-D screening. While I can see a moment or two where the 3-D might have been nifty, there wasn't a moment I thought I was missing out. Memo to Hollywood: We're over the novelty; you officially have to try harder. Don't believe me? Look at the opening weekend box office for this film.

Indeed, watching Shrek work through his midlife crisis is about as entertaining as listening to Big Bird consider mutual funds or sitting patiently while Goofy gets his biopsy results. ‘Stilskin might have been a fun character on his own, and Puss seems to own every line he is given, but ten years on I have officially grown bored of anything and everything that happens in Shrek's swamp.

Sorry Shrek my man. Next time try buying yourself a sportscar. Might make for a more entertaining movie.


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Thursday, May 20, 2010

ROBIN HOOD - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW




ROBIN HOOD – A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW

By: The Mad Hatter

For the second time in a week, I bought a ticket for a film with chatter of bad buzz ringing in my ear. At least this time, it wasn't an entire week's worth of bad buzz. At least this time around, the chatter wasn't based on comparing a sequel to its original. And with ROBIN HOOD, I think that the negative chatter is not so much due to the movie being bad as people not getting the story they expected to get.

The story begins in the late 12th Century. Richard the Lionheart is in the final throes of his crusades when he gets killed in battle. As the battle continues to rage, four infantrymen break free from the stockade and head for home. The group is led by an archer named Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe). As they try to flee for home, they come across the king's guard getting ambushed by the traitorous knight, Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong).

Thinking quick, Robin and his men disguise themselves as the fallen knights, knowing it will ease their passage home. Amongst the guard is Robert Loxley who with his dying breath, begs Robin to take news of his demise to his father in Nottingham. He likewise entrusts Robin with his sword, asking he return it to its rightful place in his father's hand.

Successfully passing as knights, the men return to England and hand over the crown of the fallen king to the queen mother. The crown is swiftly passed to Prince John, the next in line, who very quickly shows his hand at being strict where it comes to his subjects paying their due taxes. He likewise appoints Sir Godfrey to go about collecting what he's due, unwittingly empowering Godfrey to hasten a French invasion.

Robin, meanwhile, is off to Nottingham where he meets Lord Loxley (Max Von Sydow) and his daughter-in-law Marion (Cate Blanchett). Upon learning of Loxley's death, they both convince Longstride to take his place in order to avoid having their property taken by the crown. Longstride agrees, and somehow, an entire town accepts him as Loxley even though they look nothing alike.

Sheriff of Nottingham? Peripheral character. Outlaw? Not so much.

Astounding feats of Archery? Once in a while. Mis-marketed film? You betcha.

The production of ROBIN HOOD was plagued with indecision, and that indecision has led to much dissatisfaction with the film. What we have here is an origin story, but you'd never know that from the bold title nor from any of the high energy marketing. At one point in the film I thought to myself, "Geez, it feels like we've been setting up Robin's back story for a while." Then I looked at my watch and realized the film had forty minutes left to wrap things up.

Had this film been billed as ROBIN HOOD: SECRET ORIGIN, reaction to it might have been a bit more favorable. As it stands, it contradicts every legend of Nottingham ever told. From Errol Flynn to animated foxes, no movie has ever put the man in tights into this particular narrative. That said, this isn't a bad movie; it just isn't what audiences are expecting.

Russell Crowe does a serviceable job even if he doesn't have much chance to rob from the rich and give to the poor. His accent is indeed slightly muddled, but I'll give him points for attempting one. In some ways, he is playing “Maximus-with-a-Bow,” but he doesn't hold the film back and is as good as he needs to be. Nobody in the cast is really given much to work with, but of everybody, Mark Strong seems to most understand what he's there to do.

Strong is the dastardly villain in this story, and it’s a role he's perfected well in the last eighteen months. After him, Oscar Isaac has his moments but doesn't have a clear enough part to dig in to. He's slimy, weaselly, and cowardly but never needs to be one of these traits for any longer than two minutes at a time.

Since ROBIN HOOD is Ridley Scott's film, I tried to consider where it would fit within his spectrum of films, and sadly it isn't as good as GLADIATOR or KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (the latter was hardly a hit with audiences or critics). For me much of the reason comes down to never tapping into the determination of either of those films. Both of them were stories centered on one man trying to rise to a challenge. ROBIN HOOD spends so much time with Longstride trying to take Loxley's place in many ways that by the time occasion comes for him to rise, we've stopped caring.

I enjoyed what I saw in ROBIN HOOD—bad marketing, and strange story be damned—but I don't know who else will. Those looking for Russell Crowe to kick ass and take names would be better served renting GLADIATOR. Those looking for the legend of an archer and his band of merry men would be better served renting Errol Flynn's 1938 classic. If you're looking for a decent tale of medieval life and a notion of where the whole legend begins, give this movie a look.


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Monday, May 17, 2010

LUCID DEMENTIA - A BADASS BAND INTERVIEW




LUCID DEMENTIA - A BADASS BAND INTERVIEW
By: Mediasaurus Rex

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Sheldon of LUCID DEMENTIA. I’d been playing their music rather regularly (you can get a feel for it here ), and the more I listened to them, the more I wanted to know about them. When I found some footage of them online with a giant demon-looking puppet I was hooked. Was LUCID DEMENTIA a goth puppet-show? Were the rumors that I’d heard of some horror/music hybrid accurate? Are they really opening for ANDROID LUST in Houston on June the first at a club called Numbers? Is their music part of the soundtrack to a horror film called SWEATSHOP? Who were these people, and when would I be able to see their stage show? I had to get to the bottom of the groovy beats and socially-conscious lyrics on the pronto. What follows is some really valuable information about a band that has the potential to really go somewhere.

Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Lucid Dementia, the Band, (actually, the full name of the band is “The Fall and Rise of Lucid Dementia as Performed by the Tribe of the Tantrick Puke Whores”) was [formed] in 1996. After the release of our 1st CD, Twisted, the title song ended up on an international compilation for Female Industrial Artists through COP International, which gave us immediate world-wide exposure. A local Club owner took us under his wing and got us started on the local stage, [an opportunity] which eventually spread out to [performances in] surrounding Texas Cities. Lucid Dementia has undergone various line-up changes, with mainly me, Luci (the puppet) and the drummer as the long-time stand ins. We have been on 1 tour outside of Texas to Colorado Springs and back.

How many members are in the band?
There are MANY “Dementians” (People that help the band in various forms, as well as ex-band members that are no longer able to play with the band but are considered to still be band members). Currently the official line-up number is 5.

Can you describe the genesis of your mascot (Lucid Dementia)?
When I wrote and produced the 1st album, I did it without regard for how I was going to perform it. I had recently been studying about Alfred Jarry and how he performed his Absurdist play “King Ubu” by using simple puppets and such, and that inspired what eventually became “Luci.” I really wanted to do something fantastic, and very different from anything else that was out there.

The story of Luci is this: (Here is a snippet)

“There is another place and another existence, and it cannot be described in human words or even imagined, but it is a place that is of a much higher state than the humans. It should be said here that in this existence, there is no sexuality, no male or female. Humans are known of at this place, and although they are studied, they are used as an example of what we would call evil, and it is against the law to behave in a human fashion. Luci De Mentia was found guilty of this crime and given the most severe penalty—to spend an unknown amount of time among the humans. Luci, in her existence, was a kind of queen, and the crime she committed, the human behavior, was ever so slight, yet again, in her existence, it is an abomination and actually rarely happens. Luci is imprisoned to the human existence, and she is not given a body; she is put here like a ghost. After being here for 13 years, Luci found a suitable body—a timid young man with an insane need to make music. His mind is unstable and makes for perfect manipulation. He is her grand puppet.”

Luci is in constant amazement that human beings, as unintelligent and primitive as they are, are able to walk on their hind legs.

What can the audience expect from Lucid Dementia (the mascot) in a live show?
Half the audience demands Luci, the other half demands Sheldon, so we try to give them both. Normally, we begin the show with Luci for 2 or 3 songs. She IS the lead singer of the band and performs like one. She WILL bite audience members if she can, and she is not above jumping into the audience if necessary. She has a hypnotizing effect on most audience members; some just become disturbed.

What can one expect from the band in a live show?
LUCID DEMENTIA performs a kind of hardcore industrial horror show. We don’t seek to shock audiences; we seek to amaze them. There is always blood, sometimes just drooling; other times there have been live vivisections or brain surgeries. It really depends on how much time the band has and how quickly we have to get offstage if there is another band playing after. We tend to whip audience members into frenzy, so it’s a really bad idea for a quiet, or laid back band to play after us. So far the only one that could pull that off well was Clan of Xymox.

Can you detail the rowdiest live show you have ever performed?
In San Antonio I once fell off a stage into a stack of speakers and messed up my leg really bad, then performed on one leg for the rest of the show. Later someone threw a bottle at my head. Holly had gotten into a car accident that night, and as we found out later, she was performing with a concussion. We once performed at a Punk House in Colorado , and I jumped off stage with Luci on, and a bunch of punks jumped on me and punched and kicked the crap out of Luci and me. That was pretty fun. The last time we did a live vivisection on stage, we had different girls from our dance fan club called The Go Gore Grrls on stage with us, and everyone was smacking each other in the face and hair with blood and gore.

You draw a lot of musical influences from across the board; what are you finding most influential on your music of late?
I used to live in an old house my Uncle built in the 50s and moved out about 5 years ago. Moving out of there and living in a normal house gave me a perspective on some messed up things that I went through while living there. So the next album we are currently working on is inspired by those experiences. It’s probably going to be 13 songs about ghosts. Musically, my core is punk—true punk music, not that pop crap that passes for punk nowadays but true in your face punk music. That is my back ground. This was back when there was no “Goth” or “industrial” or “alternative” but when it was all punk. To me, industrial was the natural evolution of punk music. LUCID DEMENTIA is part of the next evolution of industrial music. That’s what I try for anyway. I let everything influence me, and I hate to be tied down to any one genre. The new LUCID DEMENTIA music will be more aggressive. If I had to name my top current influences: Thrill Kill Kult, Ethyl Meatplow, Mindless Self Indulgence, (Old) Ministry, Cabaret Voltaire, and Hardwire.

There is a sort of b-movie/horror movie kind of vibe that you guys have; can you elaborate on your film tastes?
The name “Lucid Dementia” means “being very clear about issues that are very unclear.” LUCID DEMENTIA is a horror movie. Then again, life is a horror movie. Unless you are very, very lucky, sooner or later something really horrible is going to happen to you whether it’s getting tied down and tortured or dying slowly in a nursing home. I know it’s a horrible way to live, but when things are going well in my life, I start hearing the JAWS theme playing because I know it’s only a matter a time before the next horrible event happens. Can you tell I was tortured as a child? I’m big on Science Fiction horror movies: all the ALIEN movies, lately PANDORUM, and most zombie movies. The movie our music is in is pretty awesome (SWEATSHOP). One of my favorite things to do is watch a bad horror movie and make fun of it, so B-movies are great too.

TWISTED (my personal favorite) is a song about religion, right? Can you tell us the story behind this song?“Twisted” was the first LUCID DEMENTIA song I ever wrote. It is also the most lo-fi song ever recorded for LUCID DEMENTIA. It is also the most famous LUCID DEMENTIA song. It’s all about what everyone thinks “god” is, and pokes fun at how people fight over the concept of “god.”

What are the band's plans for the rest of 2010?
1. Play live as much as possible.
2. Record new music as much as possible.

How did your music get featured in that episode of CBS' NCIS?
They were looking for “poppy” gothic music. The fine folks at COP International recommended us, as well as other folks in bands they talked to. It’s nice to have fans in high places.

Your website says that you will be touring heavily for your next album. Will you be hitting the west coast?
We want to tour more than anything. We would love to start playing outside of Texas more. Right now the economy seems to be making that really difficult, as well as gas prices. A lot of venues have closed as a result of this. As soon as the demand is there, though, we will be everywhere we can.

Anything else you want to add?
Check out the trailers with Lucid Dementia music:
http://www.blogger.com/www.sweatshopfilm.com

LUCID DEMENTIA will be opening for ANDROID LUST June the first in Houston at a club called Numbers.


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Friday, May 14, 2010

THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: Mediasaurus Rex

I don’t think I am alone in saying that I have struggled my entire movie-going adult life trying to stay awake through the entire THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. The Clint Eastwood vehicle is a long-winded mood piece that is ground-zero for the 60s era spaghetti westerns. Director Ji-woon Kim’s update of the film runs about thirty minutes shorter than the Sergio Leone classic, but it is all about wicked pacing and style. THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD is an Asian film, frenetic and wonderfully shot, that takes all of the standard western movie cues and adrenalizes them with modern action-film mayhem.

What starts as a convoluted, hard to follow tale about a map, a train robbery, and more bullets than ever necessary gels in its second act with three main characters playing a delicious round of egotistical tug-of-war. There is Park Do-wan (Woo-sung Jung) who is the good. Do-wan is a bounty hunter who never smiles and cocks his rifle with a spin of the gun like THE TERMINATOR. Do-wan is a stoic; he channels old-school Eastwood with clarity. He is on a mission, and his hat is low over his face. The bad is Park Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee), a man who at a distance, looks strangely like Prince in his 80s incarnation. Chang-yi’s hair hangs over his right eye perpetually. His left eye always looks weepy. Chang-yi is a killing machine though. He uses bullets with inhuman skill and in one particularly brutal scene, slashes his opponent with a knife multiple times while dancing around him counter-clockwise. The weird is Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Sang), an aviator hat and Lennon sunglasses-wearing smart aleck who has a history in Korea that he would like to forget. Tae-goo is a criminal trying to make his way in the world. Unfortunately, the pride-dashing bounty on his head is merely the lamentable value of a piano.

The plot is rather simple. All of these characters are killing and stealing their way through northeast Asia in the 1930s. Chang-yi has been hired to rip a specific map off of a bank chief who happens to be riding on a train. However, before Chang-yi and his crew of savages can stop the train, Tae-goo has already made a hold-up of his own, securing the map and setting off a chain of events that brings Park Do-wan hot on his trail. The story is about the treasure map that allegedly leads to some goodies squirreled away before the fall of the Quing Dynasty. As more and more bandits, professional criminals, and even the Japanese Army tear the Manchurian desert apart in search of Tae-goo and his map, the film becomes more of a tribute to the ROAD WARRIOR than any western in recent memory.

In some ways this film is an unconventional marriage of IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD and THE STING put to Tarantino-style gunplay. But the key of it all is this film’s nonstop quirk. Fire-eaters, ducks, a running theme of mouths full of half-chewed food, and a classic brass diving helmet are just a few of the random items that permeate this film. THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD also features mouthy henchmen that ask the wrong questions and a sloppy guy with a machine gun turret who, when shot, mows the rest of his crew down. There is also the classic opium den scene and some of the most precise bullets fired since BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. If it was in a western, THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD salutes it.


This is a self-titled “Oriental Western” where convention is flipped, pinned, and tied up in obscure knots. The seamless CGI in this film (most notably a hawk with a carrion rabbit in its beak) trumps silly modern American throwback movies like INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL SKULL with ease. The world of THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD is a violent one, where bullets of exponential quantities are blasted at some characters, missing some entirely while the plasma of others sprays the camera lens.

What keeps the film going and locks the viewer in is the fact that THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD is nonstop fun. Wide camera shots suck up the desert and kick dust in everyone’s face. Moments of peril are edited out at times and at others zoomed in on. A running, squirm-inducing theme of chopped fingers keeps the pacing on the dangerous side. Tae-goo’s behavior counters this darkness as he behaves like a complete clown thief. Do-wan is as macho as they come, swinging from cargo ropes, firing his rifle from above, and never missing a target. Chang-yi is a wiry, muscularly ripped menace, sporting two cartilage piercings in his left ear and some vicious scars on his face. THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD drips with style, contains just enough substance, and references its predecessors with nonstop superiority. Hollywood should be taking some serious notes on what Ji-woon Kim has done here because it is damn near flawless.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

DARK CRYSTAL 2: NO THANKYOU



DARK CRYSTAL 2: NO THANKYOU
By: Mediasaurus Rex

It has come to the point where once a week I hear a new idea from Hollywood that is completely retarded. If there is an idea that I have heard of this week that has pissed me off to the highest of pisstivity, the notion of a sequel to THE DARK CRYSTAL is it. The idea of a sequel to this 80s classic has been in the air for years, but now it seems to have some teeth. Furthermore, the bozos who are to helm this thing scare me to death with their mediocrity. Have you seen UNDEAD? Have you seen DAYBREAKERS? These are movies that are mediocre at best in the horror scene. What moron decided that Peter and Michael Spierig should helm such a sacred project? The only way a sequel could possibly be palatable is if Jim Henson were raised from the dead. I said as much in my TWITTER FEED. Oh, and another thing, didn't the original DARK CRYSTAL end on such a note as to kill any notion of a sequel? Not according to this link.

*shoots self in face*

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

IRON MAN 2 - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



IRON MAN 2 - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW
By: Mediasaurus Rex

There has been a lot of online whinging about IRON MAN 2, but the truth of the matter is that it is a lot of fun. IM2 is completely Robert Downey Junior’s vehicle. It is Downey’s charisma, ego, and personality that hold the whole film together. Downey has been cut loose to present Tony Stark AKA Iron Man the way he wants to. It is all Downey, and he has such a spark and well-conveyed lust for life that the film is superglued together by his performance.

Other actors attempt to steal his thunder (most noteably Samuel Jackson), but they can’t compete with Downey’s constant upstaging kinesis. When Tony Stark tells Senator Stern (Garry Shandling), “I am Iron Man; the suit and I are one,” he might as well be talking about his own presence in the film. If there was no Robert Downey Junior, there would be no Iron Man. Downey is the backbone of this cinematic enterprise; he knows it, and he is completely cocksure on the subject. His Stark perpetually says, “Mute” to whatever electronic chatter is in the air because he is in control, and any hindrance to that needs to shut up and listen.

It is true that if IM2 is placed up against its predecessor, it comes up short. Part of this is due to the fact that the expectations for the original IRON MAN weren’t particularly high. When IRON MAN actually delivered and then some, an impossible bar was raised for IM2 to hurdle over. IM2 simply cannot bring what is required of it. This doesn’t mean that it has “failed” or is a “mess.” What it does mean is that even though it doesn’t clear that hurdle, it is a good movie that will stand up over time. As a matter of fact, for the most highly anticipated film of 2010, IM2 holds its ground well. It stands a solid two or three feet above anything else in the mainstream multiplex today.

The tone of IM2 is more that of a quirky comedy-drama than an action-packed superhero film. There was a lot of sharp dialogue in the first IRON MAN, but there was also an omnipresent suspense. IM2 has a greater amount of clever chatter, but the atmosphere is much lighter. Stark’s sickness and internal conflicts aren’t enough to ratchet up the tension whereas Obidiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) in the first IRON MAN really kept the menace oozing both in the fore and background. Part of this new flippant air has to do with IM2’s lighter, PG rating. Although IM2 is not the disjointed mess that SPIDERMAN 3 or WOLVERINE was, it still has more plot and silliness than necessary which damages the final product.

The plot is relatively simple but heavy with tangents. In short, Tony Stark is in need of some new form of energy to power his heart and his Iron Man suit because that palladium he harnessed in a cave is killing him. Corpselike veins are threading themselves over his body, and his blood toxicity is up. This is Tony’s secret, and he hides it well while living his rock-star industrialist role to its fullest. Stark’s life is full of complications though, and they are close to him and hounding incessantly.

Stark’s main problem is that the government wants Tony to turn his Iron Man suit over to the military. The televised hearings on this subject, featuring the oddly bloated Senator Stern are showcase fodder for Stark’s textbook narcissism.

There is also a heavily-tattooed, Eastern Bloc brute named Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who has managed to recreate and harness the arc light power of the suit for his own means. Rourke has parked his customary cinematic tobacco intake for this film, and his kid-friendly prop of choice for Vanko is an everpresent toothpick. When he is on the screen slashing everything with his electrified horsewhips, it is fantastic. However, it is made clear early in the film that he is really no match for Stark or his battle suit.

There is also Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a sleazy weapons manufacturer who likes to call Stark “Anthony,” and manages to speak long paragraphs of dialogue that mean absolutely nothing. Hammer wishes he could be as cool and smart as Stark and even has his own fat US military weapons contracts but suffers from a debilitating case of Stark penis envy. Justin Hammer is the money behind the chaotic battle at the end that blows everything onscreen to pieces, but he is really more of a dork than a menace.

Other complications include the sexual tension between Stark and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) that hits high gear with “arguing over each other” dialogue reminiscent of classic episodes of MOONLIGHTING. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Nick Fury is still pestering Stark about his nebulous Avengers initiative. And a new pose-striking legal secretary named Natalie (Scarlett Johansson) has caught Stark’s wandering eye.

Stark has his hands full, and every time he goes to blow off some steam, things go crazy-wrong. He is attacked by an electrified Vanko while racing his car on the Monaco GP track. And later, at Stark’s birthday party (where he does a little drunken DJ scratching and repulsor ray skeet shooting) one of his backup Iron Man suits is stolen by his buddy Lt. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to the tune of ‘Robot Rock” by Daft Punk.

There is an awful lot more, and the plot threads make for long passages in the film sans Iron Man himself—the guy the audience wants to see. Stark has a lot of loose ends to cauterize and relationships to mend before the film ends, and he handles them all rather well. However the viewing experience is really bogged down by all of the manufactured plot developments required for a cast this large to find and interact with one another. Unfortunately, IM2 is more or less reduced to the pornographic standard of keeping the audience in wait for Stark to suit up. But when Iron Man is onscreen throwing fists and weaponry about, the movie hums along perfectly.

IM2 contains everything that a blockbuster comic book film should have. It showcases a heavy serving of loud explosions, pretty women, fantastic state of the art weaponry, and high-tech gadgetry. When the action breaks onto the screen, it is nothing short of fantastic. The mime-like Iron Man mask manages a look of pissed-off indifference followed with over-the-top beatings and destruction of anything and everything in the vicinity. An example of the even more high-powered nature of Stark’s Iron Man is an explicit tripling of his suit’s firepower. Seriously, multiply that tank scene in the first IRON MAN by three.

IRON MAN 2 is a well-crafted, long-winded (over two hours), enjoyable sequel. No expense was spared for this film. But with a paring down of its over-zealous script, IM2 could have been better. In a few years, there will inevitably be IRON MAN 1 and 2 DVD/Blu-Ray double-packs for sale. They will be worth the purchase, but the first film will always be the stronger one. IRON MAN 2 is no GODFATHER 2 or EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. But then again, it isn’t like any of the countless sequels out there that don’t even deserve to be mentioned. It has its problems, but considering the legacy that it has created, it has done well to step up and deliver.


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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

HARRY BROWN - A BADASS DISMISSAL



HARRY BROWN - A BADASS DISMISSAL
By: Mediasaurus Rex

There is no real reason why Michael Caine should get the respect he does. HARRY BROWN is Caine being the same shmuck he has always been, except this time he is trying to channel Travis Bickle.

HARRY BROWN is a vigilante movie, and it really has nothing going for it other than some disturbing scenes of a seedy area in Britain called "The Estates." The Estates are similar to what we in America would refer to as "the projects."

Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, an ex-military man with a shrouded past. In fact, his past is so shrouded that when the film ends, there is little that can be said for it. The truth of the matter is this: the only reason Harry Brown was written with a military background is so that he would be able to shoot guns in the third act of this mean spirited film.

When Harry's friend is killed, he dives into the criminal element and chalks up a decent body count. Emily Mortimer plays the detective who is trying to figure out what is going on with Harry. When she does find out, she spares him. In a nutshell, that is the film. It is a retread, and it is vicious. HARRY BROWN is GRAN TORINO with teeth. HARRY BROWN is a cliche of a film built on the TAXI DRIVER chassis with no creativity whatsoever. This film doesn't deserve a serious review; it deserves a good punt into the bargain bin. What a waste of my time.


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