Tag Archives: Mickey Rourke

“IRON MAN 2” Review (✫✫✫)

Literally, two Iron Men.

Let me stop your expectations right there. Iron Man 2 is not as good as Iron Man. It just isn’t. Granted, making anything better than Iron Man is damn near impossible. I think the only recent movie that can compete is The Dark Knight, albeit for very different reasons.

All the same, just because Iron Man 2 is not as good as Iron Man doesn’t mean it isn’t good at all. It just depends on what you’re looking for when you enter the theater, and what expectations you’re having that would affect your view of the picture.

I myself went in expecting a subpar sequel to Iron Man. I got just that. But just because it is subpar doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, and believe me: Iron Man 2 is all sorts of fun. Whether it’s in the action, the comedy, or in the performances, I was never bored, and I quite enjoyed seeing Robert Downey Jr. suit up a second time in the suit, even if it was less meaningful this time around.

Iron Man 2 picks up right after the events of the first Iron Man, where Tony went into a press conference and stupidly told everyone that he was Iron Man. I banged my head into my seat multiple times when that happened in Iron Man, and I repeated this action when Tony dropped out of a helicopter, flied around next to fireworks, and landed in a convention center, only to unmask himself in front of thousands of fans at the beginning of Iron Man 2.

I have one word for a person that would act like this in real life. The first half of that word rhymes with bass. The other half is hole.

This time around, Tony is pitted up against not one, but TWO bad guys. The first is Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian technician who holds a deep resentment against Tony considering his family’s history with the Starks. The other is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a wickedly genius business man who has all of Tony’s ego, but none of his charm. These two together make a terrible team that Tony needs to take down alongside his friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who suits up next to Tony as the War Machine.

…you get it? Iron Man 2? Two Iron Men? Ha ha ha.

The best thing about Iron Man 2 is also the best thing from the first Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. once again proves how great of an actor he is both inside and outside the Iron Man armor. At this point, he is Tony Stark. It doesn’t even seem like he’s putting on a performance anymore. He’s inhabiting the character so naturally that he feels like he’s reacting more than he is acting. His mannerisms and expressions are on point, his line delivery acute, and his comedic timing perfect. Downey Jr. never falters in the film. Not even once.

And the action scenes are just as strong as they were in the first film. Well, maybe not as well. The first movie, after all, did have Tony fighting terrorists and war mongers, and carried more weight to it as it appealed more to reality than it did to fantasy.

Still, the action is fun and fast-paced. My particular favorite moment was when Tony and Rhodey team up to take on an army of Iron Man armor copycats. This scene was exciting to watch because really, this is the first time we see Tony facing a large-scale threat that aren’t fragile human beings. It was exciting and interesting to see Tony and Rhodey fighting with larger stakes in the midst. It shows that the Marvel universe knows how to grow and build upon its original elements.

So Downey Jr., the comedy, and the action is retained from the first movie. What isn’t? Well, for one thing, the tone is off. Iron Man 2 is more silly and less serious, and while it does make for a fun movie, it also makes for a less meaningful one. The movie has this strange sub-plot involving Tony’s mortality and his complicated history with his father. These are serious subjects that should have a lot of gravitas and weight to it, yet it feels removed and out of place here. We don’t care about Tony personally like we did in Iron Man. We just like watching him suit up and shooting snarky quips at his supporting cast.

I wonder, where exactly did director Jon Favreau go wrong? I think his mistake was focusing more on the plot and less on the character. The first Iron Man was a great character study, as well as an exciting action movie. That was due in part both to Robert Downey Jr.’s personification and Favreau’s understanding of the character. Then Iron Man struck a chord and was suddenly universally praised from both critics and fans alike. How on Earth was Favreau going to top that?

I think that, in the midst of production stress and unrealistic expectations, Favreau panicked and tried to force a story onto the character, rather than allowing the character to create the story himself. This is a movie that knows the notes, but it doesn’t know how to play them. It’s more interested in setup rather than payoff, and you can see that with all of the Easter eggs stuffed in the film, but with all of the underdeveloped characters in there as well.

Overall, I enjoyed Iron Man 2 and I had fun with it, but it was not as worthwhile an experience as Iron Man was. Isn’t that to be expected though? Sequels are a dominant force in today’s industry, and most of them are not only disappointment to their predecessors, but are just bad movies overall. Be grateful that we’ve got a few laughs and thrills and can enjoy Iron Man 2 for what it is.

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“SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR” Review (✫)

Can you kill me too while you’re so busy at it? Thanks. 

There’s a character early on in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For that describes the city as a place “where you go in with your eyes open, or you don’t come out at all.” He’s wrong. I went in and out with my eyes fully open. I only wished that I kept them closed.

Oh, where to begin with this. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is, in a word, messy – a neo-noir thriller as confusing as a detective’s murder case and more violent, putrid and horrific than a crime scene. The only brains this movie has are the ones that it blows out of peoples’ heads.

The plot takes place sometime within the Sin City universe. The question is when? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think the movie knows either. It’s part prequel, part sequel and part in-betweenuel that cuts to wherever and whenever it wants to.

Like the first movie, there are three main stories the plot revolves around and, likewise, three main characters to sympathize with. You have a young Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), who, before he met Jackie Boy, was obsessing over a rich housewife named Ava (Eva Green). There’s Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an overly-cocky poker player who wants to come to Sin City and beat the king of all cards himself — Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). And then there’s Nancy (Jessica Alba), who is still coping with John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide at the end of Sin City.

Following this easy enough? Good, because that’s all the explanation you’re going to get. The biggest problem with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is that it’s so convoluted. Stories are meshed, mixed and thrown together without any sense of connection or correlation to its plot, and the entire time while I was watching it, I kept wondering where these stories were taking place and why I should care. Some movies do well with intertwining narratives, such as Pulp Fiction or Crash. This is not one of them.

A good example of this is in the very first scene of the film. Marv (Mickey Rourke), the hard-headed thug who was framed for the murder of Goldie in the first movie, wakes up next to two crashed cars with no memory of how he got there. He goes through mundane dialogue for five minutes in his obviously exaggerated thuggish accent, then the movie cuts to the story and almost completely forgets about him.

My first thought after watching this: why was that scene necessary? As the movie continued its runtime, I continued to ask this question in my head until I realized that none of it was necessary, that it was just a continuous farce of violence and delinquency that the kids who play Grand Theft Auto would just drool over.

This movie is definitely violent. That’s to be expected, I know, especially when you remember how violent the first one was. There is, however, a stark difference in how the violence is used in each movie. In the first Sin City, the violence was both shocking and satirical, at times being so disturbing that you can’t help but reel back from it, and at other times being so exaggerated that I laughed at it. Whether it was positive or negative, however, I at least felt something.

Here, nothing is felt. Here, we just look at all shades of black, red and white among severed body parts while we plod through the final act like it’s a homework assignment rather than the climactic ending that it deserves to be.

I’ll admit to having disliked the first Sin City. Does that matter? I give credit and criticism equally where it is due, and even though both Sin City’s are equally violent and despicable, the first one was at least more intriguing and had more cohesiveness both as a whole story and as smaller, separate narratives. This one fell flat, crumbled to pieces and was about as clear as a muddy window pane. Maybe that’s why Marv couldn’t remember anything at the beginning of this movie – he realized what he signed up for, and he tried to forget all about it.

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“SIN CITY” Review (✫✫)

“There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”

You’re either going to love or hate Sin City. There’s no getting around that fact. Like the movies directed by Quentin Tarantino or Eli Roth, Sin City is a movie specific to its own tastes, and doesn’t care much about the opinions opposite of it. It’s a violent, gross, disgusting and putrid film full of the stuff that would make a Catholic priest faint. If that sounds like something you would like, by all means, be my guest and have at it. If you are repulsed by my description of the film, I certainly don’t blame you.

Based off of the comic book series by Frank Miller, Sin City is a film that follows four separate stories that (mostly) intertwine together. John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is an aged police officer who is viciously pursuing child rapist Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl). Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a rough-around-the-edges thug who is framed for the murder of a prostitute he slept with named Goldie (Jamie King). And Dwight (Clive Owen) is a private investigator who gets pulled into a turf war, risking the lives of cops and prostitutes alike.

What do all of these stories have in common? They all started because of a woman, and these men go out to kill because they love their woman. Or, at least, whatever constitutes as love in this universe, in which case it’s a one-night stand.

It’s so difficult to review a movie like Sin City. Why? Because it’s not for people like me, that’s why. I don’t like watching movies like Sin City. I don’t like watching blood and violence for the sake of blood and violence, or watching sex and nudity for the sake of sex and nudity. It’s hard to be non-biased with movies like these because I watch moments where a naked woman walks out with bare breasts and all, and I can’t help but imagine the director thinking “Hey, let’s have this actress naked in this scene, because boobs.”

Sin City is aggressively, unnecessarily violent. How violent? So violent that the least bloody scene in the movie came from Quentin Tarantino. That’s how bad it gets. Red, white, black and yellow blood splatter across the screen like Jackson Pollock was making a painting. Severed heads and body parts are frequently cut off and thrown around in the film like missing pieces to a G.I. Joe. Those body parts include testicles, by the way, on multiple occasions. And don’t even get me started on the absurdity of its kills. In one scene, Marv gets beaten, stabbed, shot, and crashed his car into a lake and still gets up to pursue Goldie’s killer. Good God, are these guys made of kevlar or something?

Remind you, I have no problem with violence in movies, but here it’s just far too absurd and disgusting to be able to fully stomach. When it’s used to illustrate an emotion or a point in movies like Pulp Fiction or Taxi Driver, I praise its purpose and its usage. Here, it illustrates no emotion or urgency. It’s a glorified selling point for a really long, disgusting, stupid movie.

I did like the visualization of Sin City. That, and its opening scene. I liked it’s black-and-white style, it’s sense of contrast and expert use of shadow and lighting. It gave it a strong reminiscent feeling of the classic neo-noir films that inspired the original Sin City comic books, the ones that have the snazzy saxophone playing in the background as two lovers stand on a balcony, telling each other that they love each other and that they never want to leave each other. The film itself, in fact, functions as a parody of the neo-noir genre: characters stand on balconies, docks, outrun police cars, smoke cigarettes and talk in thickly exaggerated accents to the point where it can’t be taken seriously.

Realize, however, that this wasn’t on accident; director Robert Rodriguez wanted you to see how he exaggerated details so you would understand that him and Frank Miller were lightly poking fun at the genre, all while at the same time suggesting delicate homages to it as well. I like that they tried to reach for a deeper effort with the film, even though their intentions were smarter than the film itself was.

So what’s my end consensus? Is it a movie that you should see or skip? I’ll leave that decision in your hands. For now, I have done my job in telling you what the movie is like, and I will wash my hands clean from it. I have church in the morning.

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