The Avengers (AKA Avengers Assemble): ensemble super-cast of characters (and actors) have to save the world from Loki and his army of robo-alien minions. Everything about this flick aims to please: it does a good job of linking Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and a few other superheroes together; we get to see superheroes take on bad guys, superheroes brakin’ up monsters, and superheroes fighting each other; Black window is even thrown in as the gratuitous hottie – no complaints. There’s a solid streak of humour, with a bunch of surprisingly funny lines that had the entire cinema laughing. Also, why do people still live in Manhattan when it gets attacked this often? After years of buildup, drip-fed snippets, extended trailers and bags o’ hype, the final product is better than the cynic in me was dreading. The Avengers is a summer blockbuster in every sense of the word: big cast, big budget, big story, big spectacle, big runtime, big characters, big laughs, big noises… BIG FUN! Directed by Joss Whedon, this is a well made, lovingly crafted, humourous mega-buster.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: pulp noir parody about a small-time criminal that gets in way over his head when he discovers a Hollywood murder plot. At the centre of this are two rock solid characters; RDJ is a quirky lovable rogue, and Val Kilmer plays ‘Gay’ Perry, a hardened P.I. but again, quite likable. Both interesting, charming and acted superbly; the chemistry between them is second to none. As the film pans out the story broadens and remains interesting, but the best part of KKBB is the humour. Almost every base is covered; screwball, wit, black, gross out and slapstick – with corpses, fingers, dogs, guns and a Christmassy undertone. This is further backed up by a sharp script, littered with comedy gems. I also liked the non-glamourised aspect of being in bottom half of the film industry and L.A. social scene. There’s a few minor faults; pretty corny and obnoxious meta narration by RDJ, a lot of smug pulp and movie references, and for some people it’s probably too left field. It’s more of a mish–mash of genre than a single type too, although that could equally be a good thing. Other than the ridiculous action-hero ending KKBB is an absolutely solid film, funny, sharp, black and a total hoot.
Due Date: After both being put on the no fly list two polar opposites have to share a car across America to make it back in time for the arrival of a baby. The first half is like a gag machine gun, then they swap some of the joke time for more serious character development and curveball story points ’til the end. Being in 99% of the scenes both actors needed to be bang on the money, and they were. Downy Jr’s reprises several of his semi-likable borderline mad man roles, and Galifianakis has impeccable comedic timing, nailing a fleshed out version of Alan from the Hangover. While it’s funny the trailer reveals a lot of the good stuff, definitely reducing the impact of at least 1/2 the jokes – in saying that, there’s much more packed away in the film. The humour cover all bases too: slapstick, black, stoner, witty and gross-out – never thought I’d see a dog do that. A bit like Art Race there’s a ton of great shots of America from being on the road. While it’s not quite as good as the hangover, it’s the same mish-mash of comedy, fraternity, and crazy random events that will make it a similar hit. The final product is gag after gag threaded together with a believable and melodramatic relationship that works quite well – and in the end, it’s Just an all-round funny and watchable film.
Charlie Bartlet: Misunderstood and peculiar rich kid gets expelled from private school and has to fit in at a public school; 0 points for originality. Then come the cast, and eclectic cross-section of pupils: suicidal goth, slutty cheerleader, bonehead bully… again 0 points for originality. Bartlett himself is quite corny, his love interest (Kat Dennings) is appears to be incapable of conveying any emotion but Downy Jr is good to watch and unexpectedly calm – until he gets the typical ‘crazy man’ scene. My biggest problem was that this tried to cover too many themes: depression, rebellion, love, parents, popularity, growing up and all the rest but instead of being neatly wound together they were separated and covered 5 minutes at a time. It’s also got one of the most gratuitous boob-shots in history. Nowhere near the same league as the School/Teen movies: Napoleon Dynamite, American Pie, Ferris Bueller, Fast Times, Mean Girls, Superbad, Rushmore… Reasonably forgettable MTV movie-type affair.
Zodiac: this is a pretty damn good film. Great story, especially if you’re in to your crime/thriller films. The one thing that stood out for me is the acting, all the main characters are absolutely superb; Gyllenghall and Rufallo especially proving that they’re good enough to be proper leading men & Downy Jr playing his typecast ‘crazy guy’. The only real problem for me was that it wars a touch on the long side, at just under 3 hours, it seems pretty dragged out – which isn’t helped by a slump around the 110 minute mark. Despite this it remains interesting and looks really retro / authentic. It’s also amazing how slow and fragmented old-school investigations were – this will definitely go down as one of the best cop films of the naughties!
Iron Man: takes far, FAR, too long to get in to the good stuff, although I guess it’s good to build up the characters a bit. Downey Jr plays his role pretty well, although it’s the typecast of himself he’s been playing for decades. For an action film there wasn’t actually that much action, and what there was wasn’t amazing / memorable. The bad-guys aren’t particularly evil or scary. Some good jokes peppered through the film. Spent the whole film waiting to hear the intro of the Ozzy version of Iron Man, but this didn’t happen. Stick around after the credits because there’s a 20 second skit that tees up sequels (and will give all Marvel fans a hard-on). Finally, when he’s flying, his posture is similar to that of a transvestite / drag queen – i.e. not very super-hero like. All in all, after looking at a few review sites online I can not believe I’ve not seen any particularly bad ones as it’s NOT an amazing superhero film like Batman Gegins, Spiderman 1/2 or X-Men.