Monday, May 31, 2010

Iron Man 2 and Kick Ass reviews

The quick review is just where I go over elements of the movie and name something good and something bad about that element (because what am I Roger Ebert?). Then I expand on something bad and something good. Now that we got the rules down, here we go.


Quick synopsis: Tony’s back and dealing with the political aftermath of publicly coming out as Iron Man. Ivan Vanko designs his own armor and goes after Tony for revenge. The element that Tony uses to power the arc reactor is poisoning his blood. James Rhodes, disturbed by Tony’s erratic behavior, takes the Mark II armor which the military turns into War Machine. Tony has to figure out a way to cure himself, defeat Vanko, and save the day…and gets to make out with Pepper.

Good: Lots of fun action scenes
Bad: A little too much running in the final scene when the drones were able to be taken out in one shot.

Good: Great dialogue – still as quirky as ever.
Bad: Getting drunk at his birthday party in the Iron Man armor (Peter Parker singing and dancing in Spider-Man 3 anyone?).

Good: I like the origin – stealing the armor and having Tony’s enemy upgrade the weapons was a nice twist.
Bad: Being taken over by Vanko. Kind of useless considering he didn’t really get to do much damage to Iron Man.

Good: Self-confident throughout the film – consistent – you completely understand why this guy has the code to Tony’s armor room.
Bad: Rhodey saw what the element core was physically doing to Tony and didn’t figure out what was going on as Tony’s best friend.

Good: Fantastic dialogue, a new role as CEO, and more screen time are not wasted. It’s always good to see her.
Bad: I know it would have ruined the ‘you’re dying?’ reveal at the end, but, as the person who knows Tony the best, she should have known something was very wrong with him.

Good: He’s always eager to follow whatever order is given him and get involved when needed.
Bad: Nothing. Happy is just there to provide friendship and support to the characters without dragging the plot.

Good: He didn’t say much so you hung on every word – even when he seemed amused you always got the sense that he was dangerous.
Bad: Not enough screen time and a final battle that was over much too quickly.

Good: I can’t think of a good Justin Hammer scene.
Bad: Ugh. Everything. He’s just an annoying weasel that you never take seriously and a weak foil for Tony.

Good: The costume. It’s what every fanboy hoped for.
Bad: Taking Happy down with a ninja-krav maga-Mr. Miyagi move (way to keep your status as a spy on the down-low).

Good: There’s a good conversation at the end about The Avengers Initiative.
Bad: The whole scene at the donut store and at the mansion – having Tony find his own solution would have been better for the character.

Good: Tony’s Malibu Mansion is the site of the West Coast Avengers Headquarters, Captain America’s shield (I bet we find out why it got destroyed in the Captain America movie), Thor’s hammer.
Bad: It would have been nice if Nick Fury had said whether Bruce Banner or Natasha Romanov were on the Avengers roster – guess we’ll have to wait.

Good: Every film version of the armor – really detailed, articulated, and awesome – and great figures of the comic book versions of the characters.
Bad: Some of the concept armors are odd looking (Inferno Armor?).

The biggest problem I had with the movie: Nick Fury gives Tony the means to create a new element. Fury suggests that has information straight from Tony’s own father that will help him solve his problem. Tony’s problem is he has a power source in his chest that’s toxic to him and his father not only foresaw Tony putting an arc reactor in his chest but created an element and hid the formula in a model for him to create sometime in the future? That’s more stretching than Mr. Fantastic himself could do.

As for Nick Fury, if he knew what the solution was to Tony’s problem, why not just give it to him? And it’s hard to believe that he knew the solution because if he did, he wouldn’t have banned Tony from leaving the mansion (which Tony disobeyed and ended up with the formula for the element in doing so). So was Fury just giving him his father’s stuff and hoping for the best? In the comics Fury always knows what he’s doing so he could have known that Tony would escape from the mansion and figure things out – on the other hand, he could have just been the bad ass from the comics and said, “Your father discovered a formula for a new element – one technology couldn’t create” and given him the trunk.

The thing I liked the most about this movie: The way Tony and Rhodey moved in the armor. I didn’t like the party scene but when Tony crouches in the armor it looks like someone wearing the armor can move normally. I remember those first X-Men/Spider-Man movies where people walked around stiffly. Now someone can move around in their costume/armor as though they’re wearing pants and a t-shirt.

So did I like the film? Despite the flaws, the back and forth between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (thanks to Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow) is some of the best comic book film dialogue around. Plenty of action and I was entertained enough to dismiss the many large plot holes. It was awesome seeing the Avengers references and the film origin of War Machine was great too.
This never happened in the film but is still a great picture


Quick synopsis: Dave, a huge comic book fan who gets bullied, decides to try being a superhero. On his first outing as Kick Ass, he gets beaten so badly that it damages some of his pain centers so that he can’t feel pain as intensely. He meets other heroes: Big Daddy, Hit Girl, and Red Mist. Kick Ass is in over his head but with the other heroes’ help, he’ll save the day.

Good: Great origin story and the Aaron Johnson’s performance was amazing and I really believed that he was alternately brave and timid throughout the movie.
Bad: The ENTIRE ‘playing along with Katie thinking he’s gay’ storyline.

Good: Great origin story and a quirky performance from Nicholas Cage who is charming enough to pull off shooting a little girl, even if it’s in the chest.
Bad: I hated that he dies at the end – just an awesome character.

Good: Despite the fact that she’s raised to fight and to kill, she is surprisingly cheery through much of the movie.
Bad: I understand Big Daddy’s origin, but turning your daughter into a killer is bad juju.

Good: Is the main villain without being too irritating playing a standard mob boss.
Bad: Is a little boring. The standard, “What? Who? Find them. Kill them.” kind of stuff.

Good: He’s a spoiled kid who just wants his father’s approval but when he becomes involved in the family business, he finds himself taking over.
Bad: By the end of the film, when he takes his father’s place, he’s still the most unthreatening character in the film.

Good: What starts out as a friendship turns into a romance where Katie is the only person who knows Kick Ass’ true identity.
Bad: Again, the ENTIRE ‘liking Dave because he’s gay’ storyline.

Good: After Big Daddy’s death, it’s only appropriate that her God Father, who was her father’s partner on the police force, raise her.
Bad: Can’t think of anything. Without him, we wouldn’t have found out Big Daddy’s origin.

The biggest problem I had with the movie: The first twenty minutes of the film were really boring but necessary to set the plot in motion. At first I didn’t like the fact that Dave’s two best friends didn’t know his secret identity but his girlfriend did but when he’s getting tortured on the internet and you see Katie crying and really going through hell, you’re reminded why heroes have secret identities. It’s not only to protect them from the villains but to protect their sanity as well.

The thing I liked the most about this movie: THE ACTION SCENES!!! When Big Daddy fought his way through a warehouse of bad guys I start to wonder why none of the Batman movies had a fight scene that cool. The entire final act is one fantastic fight scene where the action is clear (not that choppy fight garbage where you can’t tell who is hitting who or doing what (i.e. Prince of Persia playing in theatres now)).

So did I like the film? This is a fantastic superhero film. Lots of great origins told very quickly and effectively without dragging the plot and a great story with a lot of different motivations and a really satisfying ending.

Kick Ass gets up close and personal with Big Daddy and Hit Girl

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Losers Film Review

I saw The Losers this weekend. I’ve wanted to see the movie since I saw the preview. I liked the preview so much that I bought the first trade paperback. I like that so much that I bought and read the rest.

I was a fan of the characters and the story before I bought a movie ticket (even if I was a Johnny-Come-Lately to the title). For those who are also fans (albeit real fans who discovered it long before I did) and are wondering if Hollywood made a film worthy of writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock’s material have nothing to worry about. Even those without any prior knowledge of the source, like the friend who went with me, it was a great film.

I didn’t realize when I greedily read all the trades that I was getting a first look at the film. The source material constitutes almost one hundred percent of the film. The reason I say ‘almost’ is because I can’t really remember all of the movie or the trade paperback. But I didn’t feel robbed getting that sneak preview of the film – it was great fun seeing all the characters that I enjoyed on the page on the big screen.

The plot of the film is the same as the comic book series. The Losers are a group who cross a mysterious figure in the CIA known as Max. When Max has the team’s extraction chopper shot down, no one knows that the team had loaded it full of children they’d rescued. The Losers throw their dog tags into the wreckage and go into hiding.

Clay is the glue that keeps the team focused and together even if they want different things. Clay is joined by Roque, the headstrong second in command who doesn’t want to go after Max. Roque just wants to go home and start a new life. Jensen, just as in the comic, provides much of the humor in the film. He’s a communications/tech guy who can hit what he aims for (most movies play that guy as good at hacking and bad at fighting and shooting) and he’s down for whatever Clay’s agenda is despite having a niece he’s close to back home. Pooch a pregnant wife who thinks he’s dead but he’s steadfast in his resolve to get Max so he can go home. Cougar is the stoic sniper who doesn’t mince words and always has his teammates’ backs. Finally, Aisha is the mysterious benefactor who has a score to settle with Max…and with Clay.

As far as Max himself goes, in the comic we don’t see much of him but there’s a lot of him in the film doing outrageous things. I think the less-is-more approach of the comic suits the character better than the film’s numerous appearances.

There’s the popular scene with Jensen who takes on a trio of guards with Cougar’s assist. He tells the guards that a government experiment has given him powers. I don’t know if that bit was an intentional nod to Chris Evan’s signing to portray Captain America but it was pretty funny.

Of course no great action film is without good interaction between characters and there’s plenty of that in The Losers. The actors have great chemistry and are fantastic in their roles.

The film, like the comic book, is a fantastic escape and will be a welcome addition to my Blu Ray shelf.
The Losers from the hit Vertigo series.

The Losers from the film.

Wizard World Anaheim 2010

There’s been talk that Comic Con International could be moving to Anaheim because it has more convention space and available hotels nearby. I hope it doesn’t because right now that convention is local to me and I like going everyday (it’s huge) and I don’t want to pay for a hotel. Two weeks ago I got a look at Comic Con International’s possible new home when I went to the first ever Wizard World Anaheim.

Wizard World Anaheim was from April 16 – 18 at the Anaheim Convention Center (right across the street from Disneyland). It was held in one hall of the massive convention center.

I’ve never been to a Wizard World convention but it was a really good time. The only thing I have to compare it too is Comic Con in San Diego. I’ve been going to the San Diego Con for about 25 years. With that in mind, I hit the Anaheim floor like a tornado, covering the entire room in about an hour. Very few celebs, with the exception of Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Adam West had large lines (and even those lines didn’t last long, allowing everyone who wanted an autograph to get one). The sellers were helpful and there were a lot of great deals to be had.

The vibe was really mellow and laid back and the celebrities were friendly. From my hotel (on the perimeter of Disneyland), I could clearly see the fireworks display every night.

I didn’t go the last day because the size of the con allows you to do everything you want to do in one day. I’m going to do it again next year, but just for Saturday.

Here are a few pix from the event – none of them were taken by me but others took great pictures.
The Anaheim Ghostbuster franchise (I can't wait for GB3)

The Purrfect Angelz - like the Pussycat Dolls, but geek friendly

The always awesome and sweet Jewel Staite (who plays Kaylee, my favorite Firefly/Serenity character)