Sunday, May 4, 2008

"IRON MAN" / "MADE OF HONOR"

“IRON MAN” (Robert Downey, Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges & Terrence Howard) / “MADE OF HONOR” (Patrick Dempsey & Michelle Monaghan)

This was a trade-off weekend – my wife went to ‘Iron Man’ for me & I went to ‘Made Of Honor’ for her. The reason I’m lumping them together is we both liked both movies. ‘Iron Man’ isn’t your typical ‘Comic Book Superhero Extravaganza’ & ‘Made Of Honor’, though definitely ‘chick flicky’, was a cut above the normal dumb romantic comedy. So if you’re looking for a good something for him/something for her combo with your date, I’d recommend this duo; she’ll be surprised how good Iron Man is & he’ll be shocked that Made Of Honor doesn’t totally suck.
That said – here’s my “IRON MAN” review...
Let me begin by telling you I DON’T LIKE COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO MOVIES; I loathed the first ‘Spiderman’ & was very upset with Roger Ebert for singing the praises of ‘Spiderman 2’ & tricking me into spending money to sit thru that piece of trash. I liked the new Christian Bale ‘Batman Begins’, but didn’t like any of the Michael Keaton, (etc.) Batman movies. The only Superman movie worth a darn was ‘#2’ with Christopher Reeves. I felt it necessary for you to know my background on the genre so when I tell you I loved ‘Iron Man’, you’ll realize this isn’t coming from a comic book geek. I don’t know if I ever read an Iron Man comic! My only reason for wanting to see this film version was Robert Downey, Jr. in the starring role & of course, the obvious cameo by Ozzy. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first; Ozzy Osbourne does not make an appearance in the film. The good news – Robert Downey, Jr. steals it, so it’s not that much of a disappointment.
This is a character driven story that doesn’t involve anything all that far-fetched (No radioactive spiders or beings from other planets) Tony Stark(Downey) is an arms creator/ manufacturer. He runs Stark Industries with his late father’s partner, Obadiah (Jeff Bridges, barely recognizable with a shaved head & bushy grey beard)
After conducting a demonstration of his latest ‘weapon of mass destruction’ in Afghanistan, Tony is kidnapped by terrorists who want him to build them one. With the aid of another prisoner(Who saved Tony’s life) Stark ‘pretends’ to build the bomb while actually constructing a suit of armor that would protect him as he just walked out of captivity. (Rocket boosters would help propel him to a safe distance as well)
If there’s a downside to this movie, it’s that a little too much time is spent with ‘technical’ scenes showing how the plans were conceived & the suit is built. But if they edited the scenes, I’d probably complain that they ‘made it look too easy to build’ – They must have reached a happy medium because I loved this film! On the other hand – the ‘test drive’ scenes where Tony 'irons' out the kinks in his new gadget are among the most enjoyable; his 'relationship' with his robotic aides provide many genuinely funny moments. Yes, this film has it all – the terrorist aspect makes it scary; Tony’s redemption gives it heart & makes you ultimately cheer for the ‘war monger’; Gwenyth Paltrow (as Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts) provides sweetness & a ‘spark’ of romantic chemistry; & Jeff Bridges plays his role as sly as Howard Cosell – right from the moment you meet him, there’s just something about him you don’t like. Terrence Howard, who has been on a role lately, plays Tony’s best friend Jim Rhodes & even though he isn’t given one of the ‘juicy’ roles, he adds to the believability of the entire story by being an average, ‘centered’ character.
But this is totally Robert Downey, Jr.’s baby – If, like me, you’re a fan & was concerned over his choice to take on a ‘Superhero’ role – don’t be. He’s Robert Downey, Jr. playing a fast talking womanizing weapons genius & pulling it off as only he can. Iron Man isn’t a ‘super’ hero – he’s a guy in a ‘suit of armor’ that allows him to do ‘superhero’ tasks. This is an actual ‘story’, well acted, with excellent character development. & for those who are jones-ing for the ‘rock ‘em, smash ‘em superhero special effects scenes, well, it’s got that as well, just not on a continual loop.
Go see ‘Iron Man’ even if you don’t like ‘Comic Book’ movies – I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. I don’t mean to sound snobbish (Cause I hate those kind of critics) but this is the ‘Superhero’ movie for those of us who don’t normally care for ‘dumbed-down’ Superhero movies. You know the kind – where plot doesn’t matter, it is only used to set up the next spectacular special effects scene.
Oh, & a warning for you non-Comic Book Superhero Movie fans that go to this – If they tell you ahead of time to stay seated thru the credits for a ‘special’ surprise – don’t bother; it is just a :15 promo for another Comic Book Superhero Movie starring Samuel L. Jackson... I was hoping it would be the ‘deleted’ scene with Ozzy!

“MADE OF HONOR” isn’t as bad as the trailer makes it out to be; the preview is aimed at the ladies & the actual movie isn’t that silly or sappy. It has its silly & sappy moments, but it is ‘watchable’. Patrick Dempsey plays womanizer Tom; his best friend is Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) they met when he mistakenly climbed into bed with her in her college dormitory. There’s no real character development as they just jump to ’10 Years Later’ & we see Tom bringing ‘buddy’ Hannah some coffee (with the phone number of a woman he just met written on her cup)
As I sat thru the early scenes, checking my watch (counting down the minutes until I could escape) I was feeling correct in my assumption that this would be a long, agonizing process. But somewhere along the road, it stopped being ‘ridiculously stupid’ & started having some realistic scenes with honest emotion involved as Tom realizes he’s in love with Hannah – after being without her company for 6 weeks when she is sent to Scotland by the museum she works for. Tom’s male buddies provide some humorous moments & I have to say that even though Michelle Monaghan isn’t a ‘wondrous’ beauty by any means, she looks pretty hot prancing around in the lingerie scene.
I might say the movie gets off track by making the Scottish hunk that Hannah falls in love with too nice of a guy; the formula should be that Tom is such a better person than Colin (Kevin McKidd) that we want him to get the better of Hannah’s fiancé & win her away – but Colin is perfect in every way – a nice guy; filthy rich; good looking, & apparently very well endowed (But fortunately I finally got a movie that didn’t show us proof of such! WHEW!) Yes, my initial reaction was that’s a mistake – Colin should be flawed in some way (& I guess the fact that he likes to hunt & kill defenseless animals is one flaw) but it apparently is what Scottish men do to prove their manliness since they run around in skirts a lot of the time!
I don’t know, maybe I was on a high after seeing ‘Iron Man’, but by the time they got to the typical & predictable sappy ending, I’d stopped looking at my watch long ago...

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Robert Downey Jr. is going to get a Oscar nomination in a supporting for his role in The Soloist. Glad you liked Iron Man. Now, interested to see what Edward Norton does with Bruce Banner.

Alan Smithee said...

Agree entirely with your review of "Made of Honor," except that an attractive woman wrote her number on the Starbuck's cup; Dempsey did not.

Did Scotland look fabulous or what?

I won't spil the movie for others by complaining about the ending.

Alan Smithee said...

I meant "spoil," not spil. Sorry!

Terry Reid said...

I am a big Edward Norton fan, but have very little interest in the Hulk movie; previews look 'dumbed' down for special effects geeks...
If your only complaint is over who wrote on a coffee cup, I consider my review of 'Made Of Honor' a success - it got chewed to bits by the TV critics - & I could see their points, it isn't a great movie, just not as bad as I anticipated. & how can you complain about an ending you KNEW was coming???

Alan Smithee said...

I complain about a predictable ending because the same result -- I am striving not to spoil the ending for others -- could have been reached by more insightful, more innovative means.

Almost every romantic comedy will have a happy ending. However, the ending can be interesting or it can be disappointing.

Patrick Dempsey too seldom tries to confess his feelings to his best friend and too often tries to sabotage his best friend's wedding, which makes "Made of Honor" a knockoff of a truly awful Julia Roberts film. When Dempsey tries to level with the bride-to-be and is defeated [e.g., she takes his profession of love to be a suggestion for the vows at her wedding], that was at least fun. When in contrast the audience is treated to sit-com wackiness, that was neither fun nor interesting.

So how can I complain about the inevitable? Because that is when I should have looked at my watch and headed for the exit, as I did about fifteen minutes before "Jurassic Park" expired.

"Pretty Woman" had an unpredictable ending that audience-testing induced the filmmakers to change. Its predictable ending was somewhat creative and played off a theme -- romantic fantasy -- introduced earlier in the film.

Unlike a friend, I knew the ending of "The Alamo," too. Still, it was reasonably well done.

I knew the ending of "The Titanic." Once Billy Zane raced about a sinking ship trying to shoot Leo, however, I no longer cared to watch.

Terry Reid said...

Gee, Mr. Smithee, for as many movies as you've directed, I'm shocked at your pestimistic attitude! Did you truly expect to see something 'original' when you paid to watch 'Made Of Honor'? Did you go to 'Jurassic Park' for the storyline & not the special effect dinosaurs? & who is this moron who didn't know how the Alamo ended?
I always say 'expectations' mean everything in movie-going. I don't like to know too much about a movie before I see it - Yet obviously enough to know if it might interest me. This is what I try to do with my reviews; tell you what they're about without revealing too much (Unless its a total piece of garbage that people need to be warned to avoid at all costs) I'm curious, exactly why did you walk out of 'Jurassic Park'?

Alan Smithee said...

Ask rather WHEN did I walk out of "Jurassic Park."

When Sam Neil went into a building and found shotguns, he took ONE shotgun and a few shells. You or I would EITHER grab multiple guns and as many shells as we could carry OR try to induce the others into the room with the shotguns as a redoubt. You and I would NOT continue the endless chase scenes.

I did attend "Jurassic Park" to see the effects. However, I might have enjoyed greater plausibility along the way.

As for my many movies, I did not direct everything I directed, just as Yogi did not say everything he said.

Terry Reid said...

You mean Yogi never said 'pic-a-nic basket?'

Alan Smithee said...

"Iron Man" was an enjoyable popcorn movie. The robots, a class that sometimes included Pepper Potts, were very entertaining. Jeff Bridges hammed it up but entertained thereby.

Although Ozzy is not in the film, the soundtrack samples Black Sabbath often, much as the "Superman" theme was rife with riffs from the TV theme. I liked that.

Nonetheless, "Iron Man" has elements of "Superman 2" and "Spiderman." It even has an inflection point like the young Bruce Wayne's.

Terry R. said...

If "Iron Man" has anything comparible to the Spiderman movies then it has to be the few parts I didn't like! I hated the first Spiderman & disliked #2-though it didn't stink as much. But thank you once again for your comments, Mr. Smithee. & now that we know a sequel is coming, I'm getting my hopes up already for an Ozzy cameo in Iron Man 2.

Joanne said...

Your reviews come in very handy for me to determine what I want to see when the movies come out in DVD.

Keep it up!!

joanne said...

Good comments. I enjoy your writing.

terry r. said...

Why, Thank You, Joanne; but do my reviews come in handy because you disagree with everything I say? I only ask because I DO have a friend who feels that why - everything I like, she hates/everything I hate, she likes!
So if I give something a bad review, she goes to see it.
Hope to hear from yo again, Joanne.

Kurt said...

Iron Man was a great popcorn film. And although I had a feeling I would probably like it, it surpassed my my original thoughts on how good it will be.
You know there will be a sequel. You know how much cash Downey pocketed on this ? He took on 25% of the profits. It's going to pass the 300 million mark. Do the math.
And a studio wants him to play the young Hugh Hefner. Kaching !

terry r. said...

I was hoping Robert D. would bring his usual quirkiness to the role & he did - that's what puts 'Iron Man' a step ahead of all other comic book movies (A genre I normally don't care for) & good for Downey to see the potential & cash in on it - let's hope he doesn't use the money to 'relapse' because I really love watching the guy act. Thanks for the feedback, Kurt.

Anonymous said...

iron man best movie of year. robert doemy should get awards nomination for it. dark knight and iron man best movies of the 2008.

terry r. said...

Umm... doesn't a movie have to come out first before you can claim it as one of the best movies of the year?