Archive for the ‘Robert Downey Jr.’ Category

MOVIE: The Avengers (2012)

August 22, 2012

I actually saw this movie about a month ago, but I was having a hard time figuring out what to say about it in a review so I never got around to writing one.  But the blooper reel from the upcoming DVD release just hit the Interwebs today, and I realized it kind of says everything that needs to be said.  Which is this:  The Avengers is FUN.  It’s just REALLY, REALLY FUN.   IT IS SO FUN, YOU GUYS.

I can’t think of anything profound to say (clearly) — I’m not a superhero movie or comic fan generally speaking, and I don’t know anything about any of the characters (except for having watched a lot of The Incredible Hulk episodes as a kid, which I bet doesn’t count for much, right, nerds?).  But to me, this struck me as a movie written by a totally joyful fan boy (Joss Whedon) and acted by a whole bunch of incredible talents who were having the time of their lives on set.

Need independent proof of that?  Check out the blooper reel here:  http://vimeo.com/48114558.  Kind of says it all!

This is a movie that oozes happiness and fun.  But it’s not just silliness.  Some of the characters (Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, for example), are complex and interesting, not just big, green, and fond of breaking things (though I confess, I’m still confused why we have a group of human superheroes and then. . . a GOD?  What is Thor doing in this gaggle?  I guess I’ll have to watch his movie next and find out!).  And the script is brilliantly, hilariously written — just what you’d expect from Whedon (I’d actually forgotten he’d written the script, in fact, until the scene at the end during which Capt. America is assigning battle tasks, then turns to Hulk and says simply, “SMASH.”  Oh yes, WHEDON.  Of course!).

You could not do better for a popcorn-munchin’, summer-heat dodgin’ film, in my opinion.  This one fits that bill absolutely perfectly.

So, you know, RECOMMENDED!  Doy.  And that goes for fans of the comics and not-fans of the comics alike!

[Prequeue it at Netflix | Preorder the DVD]

Genre:  Action, SMASH
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner,  Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

MOVIE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

May 27, 2012

Zzzzzzzzz.  *sleep apnea snort*  What?  What?  Oh, was there a movie just on?  There was?  Huh.  Go figure.

(In other words, what a snoozefest this stinker was!  I think once you go Benedict Cumberbatch, you just can’t go back.  There’s no mystery in this mystery, no real clue-hunting, or clever deducting.  It’s just an action movie, plain and simple.  Which:  Yawnsville, UK.  Maybe worth a rental, but don’t blame me if you have to try it three times before you can actually stay conscious for the whole thing.)

Lameity lame lame lame-o.

[Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre:  Crap, Action
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Rachel McAdams

MOVIE: Due Date (2010)

March 27, 2011

Sometimes you just want to laugh at something really stupid for 90 minutes, you know?  This movie fits that bill rather nicely.  Bonus:  Blooper reel!  Goddamn it, I love Zach Galifianakis.

Recommended!

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast:  Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis

MOVIE: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

January 17, 2010

Over the span of my life, I’ve had a lot of encounters with the great Sherlock Holmes.  Hands-down, though, one of the best was when I was living in my first apartment in graduate school, back before I had a TV set.  That year, I started getting a lot of books on tape from the local library, primarily to fill the silent void when I was home alone.  One of those audiobooks was a series of recordings of Holmes stories, read by ex-Boyfriend of the Week Ben Kingsley.  Most of the time, when I had a book on tape playing, I wasn’t even really listening to it; it was just there providing the comforting sound of a voice in an otherwise quiet room while I puttered around.  But every time I put in one of those Kingsley recordings, I immediately found myself sitting down, ear tipped towards the speaker, riveted.

I can’t remember how many of those Kingsley-read stories I listened to, but it was at least a half-dozen, and I’ve read many more Holmes tales in print during the span of my lifetime as well.   So, I would consider myself reasonably familiar with the mythos of Holmes and Watson.  That said, I’m certainly not a purist, and I went into this movie excited to see a new spin on the old boys from a director (Guy Ritchie) whose films I’ve found really energizing and unique in the past (big fan of Snatch in particular).

Overall, I will say I really enjoyed watching this film.  It’s entertaining, for sure, and I thought both the lead actors, Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock and Jude Law as a totally kick-ass Watson, did a great job in their respective roles.  (Though I will say I’ve heard/read a lot of people talking about a homoerotic element to their relationship in the film, and I have to say, I didn’t pick up on that at all.  I’ve never really understood why people persist in describing a close relationship between two men as “homoerotic,” just because, what, they live together and they clearly care a lot about each other?  This is weird to me.  But whatever — it isn’t terribly important and besides, what the hell do I know anyway?)

While I was undeniably entertained the entire time I was in the theater, I did have a few issues with the movie overall.  One was the storyline — the mystery — which I didn’t feel was at all up to par with the smart, complex plots of the original stories.  The mystery wasn’t terribly original or interesting (it was about a bad dude who kills a bunch of people, gets hanged for it, and then “miraculously” comes back to life to keep on killin’), the clues discovered didn’t feel like authentic “eureka!” moments, the villain didn’t impress me as that terrific a nemesis, and the result was that I didn’t care all that much about the outcome.  The only part I found at all intriguing was the set-up for the coming and classic conflict between Holmes and Professor Moriarty, which is finally established at the end of the film, leaving great, hopeful space for a sequel.  Bring it.

The other issue I had with the film was, I’m sorry to say, all Guy Ritchie’s fault.  Ritchie has a very distinctive style, especially when it comes to scene transitions and fights, and while that’s a style I have really dug in the past (it worked to enthralling and often comic effect in Snatch, for example), it just didn’t fit here for me.  I don’t know if it’s because it felt too “modern” for the setting of the story, or. . . what, exactly.  But it felt forced to me here, like Ritchie got to the end of the film, realized his trademark techniques weren’t in there, and went back to toss them in at random in a few places.  It glared at me.   It jerked me out of the experience a few times.   It was too much.  Too much.  Just somehow a little bit too much.

Aside from these quibbles, though (and my overall dislike of Rachel McAdams, who I find kind of stifled in terms of range — read: boring), I was completely entertained the entire two hours this movie was rolling out before me, and if they make a sequel, I’ll be one of the first in line, popcorn at the ready.  It’s the kind of movie you should see when what you want is a boost of spirit without much expenditure of brain.  “Flick” is the word, really.  This movie is a flick, in the very best sense of the term, and, as such, it features very little in the way of mental challenge, and very much in the way of eye candy (damn you, Robert Downey Jr.’s mouth, because you look distractingly delicious from here and from here, I cannot reach you).   Nothing wrong with that.  And, in fact, many things right.

What did you guys think?  Hit the comments and let me know.  And can you believe I haven’t made Jude Law a Boyfriend of the Week yet?  I can’t believe it either.  I better get on that.  What should I rent for research?

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Action
Cast:  Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly

MOVIE: Tropic Thunder (2008)

January 14, 2009

tropicthunderI actually saw this movie about two weeks ago, but I’ve been struggling with what I should say about it in a public forum.  Because here’s the problem with this movie:  it is soooooo very wrong.  SO VERY WRONG.  In sooooo many ways.  SO MANY WAYS.

And yet, oh my holy heckfire, was I ever dyin’ all the way through it, laughin’ so hard.  I actually started to get kind of hoarse by the end of the movie because I had been letting loose with so many throaty guffaws the entire way through.   Now that’s laughing, people!  Laughed so hard I done nearly broke my vocal cords!

In case you haven’t heard, this movie is about a group of actors hired to make a Vietnam war flick.  Out in the jungle somewhere (Laos?  Vietnam?  I can’t remember if/where they said they were), the actors are doing an absolutely abysmal job of it.  Only five days into production, they’re already “a month behind schedule” (heh), and everybody is getting frustrated, from the key grip to the studio head, a balding guy with major anger management issues played (in what has to be one of the most brilliant PR moves of all time) by Mr. Tom Cruise.

Yes, you read that right.  And damned if he wasn’t just awesome in this too.

The inspiration for the movie-within-the-movie is a memoir written by a Vietnam vet named Four Leaf (Nolte) who has accompanied the film team on location.  Annoyed with the pussyfooting around, Four Leaf convinces the director that if he wants his actors to get the job done right, he ought to fly them into the middle of nowhere in the jungle and leave them there for a few days, so they can see first-hand what surviving in that place is like.  The director agrees.  And things go rapidly downhill from there.

So very, very downhill.

The cast consists of Jack Black as a bleached-blond junkie primarily known for a series of comedies about flatulence, Ben Stiller as a rapidly-washing-up action movie hero, Robert Downey Jr. as a white actor playing an African American character (totally something I think ONLY RDJ could’ve pulled off successfully, god bless ‘im), Brandon T. Jackson as an actual African American playing an African American (his banter with RDJ is ridiculously funny), and Jay Baruchel as the rookie who also happens to be the only one of the group who showed up for the “boot camp” training before filming started.  In other words, the only one in the group who can read a map.

What happens after the gang is dropped into the trees is just weird and silly and ridiculous and hilarious.  But I still hesitate to express just how much I liked this movie just because it’s also sooooo irreverent in regards to soooooo many things that it almost makes me feel like I must be a horrible person for laughing so hard at it.  I am comforted if I think of it solely as a spoof of war movies.  But I’m pretty sure I’m still going to hell for recommending this movie.  Meh, life — it is such.

Recommended!  And make sure to watch the “previews” at the beginning of the movie — the sad thing is I would TOTALLY rent Scorcher VI.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Comedy, War
Cast:  Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Matthew McConaughey

MOVIE: Iron Man (2008)

December 9, 2008

ironmanYou know how sometimes when a movie has gotten the kind of crazy over-the-top happy buzz this movie got when it first came out, you end up seeing it a few months later and go, “Meh, what was all the hubbub, bub?”

This is not that kind of movie.

Because this movie? Was just as awesome as everybody kept telling us it was.

If you’ve gotten this far along in 2008 without hearing about the plot of this superhero flick, you must be living under a rock by choice, man, so you might want to stop reading right now and go back to your dark hole underground where the only entertainment media you partake in is moldy copies of Mad Magazine from the 80’s (not that I blame you, of course — Spy vs. Spy was always my favorite).

For the rest of you, though, it goes a little bit like this:

Rich White Dude makes a fortune off the suffering of others (our “hero” is weapons maker Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.).  Rich White Dude goes to Afghanistan to demonstrate his Latest Killing Device.  Rich White Dude gets kidnapped by Bad Guys who, when they find out who he is, force him to work with Accented Genius Guy in order to develop a replica of Latest Killing Device.

Only, Rich White Dude has begun to discover the error of his ways and cannot let such a weapon fall into the hands of Bad Guys, so instead, he makes himself Suit of Armor 1.0, which he then uses to blast his way out of the bunker and fly back to safety.

Suit of Armor 1.0 works well enough to get him free, but has a lot of bugs (one of the major ones being the approximate battery life of a laptop from 1994).  So, Rich White Guy returns home, drops bombshell on company (weapons bad! mousy secretaries good!) and decides to make Suit of Armor 2.0 instead of guns, with the ultimate goal of it one day replacing traditional airplanes by letting pilots themselves become the aircraft.

Of course, Rich White Dude has ignored all of history, as so many Rich White Dudes seem to do.  And therefore, it does not occur to him that his device of mass construction could just as easily be converted into a weapon of mass destruction.  And that’s where Rich White Dude’s nemesis, Disgruntled Other Rich White Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, comes into play.

Commence battle of good vs. evil.

Predictability aside (and you can’t — CANNOT — harsh on a superhero movie for being predictable, because that’s absolutely 100% THEIR JOB), this is simply a stunning flick.  Great effects, a terrific sense of humor, and marvelous acting on the part of Robert Downey Jr., who could play this same character from now until the end of time without ever once boring me.  And, for that matter, probably will, considering how much money it’s made him.

All in all, an absolute blast.  I can’t wait to see it again — and already have the sequel in my pre-queue at Netflix, that’s how Be-Prepared I am.  AWESOME.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow

MOVIE: Zodiac (2007)

July 31, 2007

I read the book this movie was based on several months ago and found it pretty intriguing, albeit very clearly written by a cartoonist and not a reporter (it was written by Robert Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie, and his writing skills lack, uh, oomph, to put it nicely).

So, I already knew most of what was going to happen in this movie, and was kind of worried that, thus, I wouldn’t get much out of it. But, as it turns out, I did really enjoy it. It’s MUCH too long (I had the same complaint about the book, actually), but it’s still pretty effective, and much of the stuff that happens at the very end was taken, I assume, from Graysmith’s second book, so it was stuff I didn’t know anything about (though, now that I’ve seen this movie, I’m definitely planning to read the second book, despite my somewhat-reserved opinion of the first one).

The story focuses on the infamous Zodiac killer (duh), who killed a number of people in the 1960’s and 70’s in the Bay Area and then sent lots of letters and hard-to-crack ciphers to the local newspapers. When Graysmith overhears the content of the first letter, he becomes obsessed with getting involved with the case, even though it’s completely unrelated to his job as a rookie political cartoonist. He ultimately teams up with reporter Paul Avery (played by Robert Downey Jr.), and the two of them begin working on the ciphers and theories together. Eventually Avery is lost to alcoholism, and Graysmith begins thinking it’s time someone wrote a book on the case. As his investigation deepens, he begins to focus on one suspect in particular — a man who, it seems, has a lot in common with what they already know about the killer. Was that man really the Zodiac killer? We’ll probably never know. But, though movies with unresolved storylines usually drive me batty (damn you, Limbo!), the postscript of this film provides enough information to make it feel fairly satisfying. I felt like it had a sense of closure, even if that sense is somewhat unjustifiable.

In any case, I did enjoy this movie, though I would’ve edited at least thirty minutes of it out had I been in charge (why, oh why, am I never put in charge?). If you like puzzles and thrillers, you’ll probably like both this movie and the original book, I think. Great acting from everybody too — and, of course, it didn’t hurt that it was essentially a little ex-Boyfriend of the Week reunion flick either (Jake, Mark, and Robert have all been featured on the site, see links below to their write-ups). Recommended!

Genre: Thriller / True Crime
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Chloe Sevigny