Daredevil (2003)

I don't plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

I don’t plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson (well, this is his best movie, sad as that may be)

Written by: Johnson wrote the screenplay based on the Marvel Comics character of Daredevil

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith and Leland Orser

What it’s about: a man struck with blindness as a result of a childhood accident finds his other senses are greatly heightened and uses those abilities to fight crime as both a super-hero and a lawyer

What I liked: To be clear, this was the Director’s Cut that I watched.  It’s a bit longer and in some cases it actually makes the film better.  Most of the action scenes are decent, as well as the special effects.  The costuming of the characters was a fairly decent translation from the comic books, as well.  I liked Affleck’s performance, as well as Colin Farrell’s enormously intense scenery chewing as Bullseye.  It’s also a fairly dark comic book movie, and I think it was actually ahead of its time.  If this movie were made today, it would be of a higher quality with more attention paid to the darkness of the character, as modern audiences are more accepting of those themes than they were 10 years ago.

What I disliked: At times it feels like a comic book, and that’s not a great thing when it comes to the execution of the story.  Pointless scenes featuring action hero poses, and lighting choices that make no sense when you take into account the fact that the character is goddamn blind.  Some scenes are positively goofy.  There was also the sense that – much like Batman & Robin – the story was trying to cram in as much Daredevil history as possible which just led to it being somewhat scatterbrained.  If you’re doing a proper Daredevil movie series, you don’t introduce Elektra until at least the second movie.  Also, the music choices for the movie just reeked of attempted cross-marketing, featuring two flash-in-the-pan Evanescence songs.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  It is a decent enough comic book movie, but unlike the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, it doesn’t transcend the genre.  All that being said, it is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

Rating: 3 / 5

See?  Goofy.

See? Goofy.

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John Carter (2012)

Sometimes I go into watching movies knowing little to nothing about them.  I knew that for years, this project had been around and it was originally titled John Carter of Mars and then it was inexplicably changed to something boring that unless you had the knowledge of the previous title, could have been anything.  I’d never read the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories, so I really had no idea what the movie was about, other than it maybe it used to have something to do with Mars, but not anymore.  Also, a guy named John Carter, pretty sure he was going to be central to the story, after all they left his name in the title.

Hey, have you ever seen Army of Darkness, but wished that instead of the far-gone past and undead enemies, Ash was on Mars with some humanoid Martians and some uh, regular looking Martians?  Well good news everyone, Disney made that movie!  It’s called John Carter and it’s a fairly bland but ultimately inoffensive unintentional (?) take on the Army of Darkness story.  Or not.  Whatever, that’s what it struck me as, except Taylor Kitsch is in no way, shape or form a decent replacement for Bruce Campbell.

There are several things that I liked about John Carter, but none of them are really worthy enough for me to highly recommend seeing the movie to anyone else.  I always enjoy seeing Lynn Collins in movies, though for most of Carter I kept thinking she was really Olivia Munn.  Mark Strong did his usual job as the heavy of the film, and yeah, it’s pretty much a cookie-cutter-summer-blockbuster that wasn’t.  Also, not released in the Summer.  Kitsch kept reminding me of a younger, blander Timothy Olyphant, in fact this whole movie was an exercise in disconcerting me about little things.  You might like it though, I’m sure my parents did.

3 / 5

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Alright, so I did a whole nice write-up yesterday for the first Iron Man movie, and well, this one is more of the same.  It’s not The Dark Knight sequel to Batman Begins, it’s more like what Batman Forever was to Batman, if that makes sense.  It probably doesn’t since I just casually omitted Batman Returns, but Forever had sooo much Batcrap shoved into it that the movie actually shat out a sequel.

I just wanna sit back and appreciate that thing that I just wrote.  Man, I hope I didn’t subconsciously steal it from someone, because it is such a perfect description of Batman & Robin.  You can LIKE this review or G+ it or RT it or whatever.  I don’t even want to write anymore.

Alright, fine.  So Iron Man 2 brings back almost the exact same cast and creative team as the original movie, minus the unlikable Terrence Howard (replaced with the awesome Don Cheadle) and bringing in Justin Theroux as the screenplay writer.  At this point The Avengers movie release date was (I think) set in stone and there were preparations and things shoved into the story that seemed to be less about just Iron Man, and more about pumping up the Avengers plotline.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it gives the whole movie more of an episodic feel.  Like, you can’t have “The Body” episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” without “I Was Made to Love You” which I had to research (and I actually dug that episode too) to remember it took place directly before “The Body”.

I feel like I’m getting all Pitchfork-y with this review, making allusions to other things that seem quite brilliant in my head and maybe seems assholeish when someone else reads it.  Anyways, the film also brings in Mickey Rourke as the main villain Whiplash, Sam Rockwell as Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) main business rival, Justin Hammer, and Scarlett Johansson as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent – and future Avenger- Natalya Romanov or y’know, Black Widow.  There’s also a lovely little appearance by John Slattery as Tony’s dad in archival footage, and the whole Stark family thing reminds me so much of “The Venture Bros.”

So there are parts I like about Iron Man 2 because they remind me of other things, and it’s a competently enough made movie, but not nearly as great as the first movie.

3.5 / 5

Iron Man (2008)

Okay, so this is the movie that kicked off the whole Avengers Initiative thing that ultimately led to The Avengers being made and probably becoming one of the Top Five highest grossing movies ever (pure speculation at this point).  If this movie had ended up being a box office bomb, well, it would have bankrupted the newly made Marvel Studios, Robert Downey, Jr. would probably have had a relapse and the entire world would be a different place now.  Probably.  But it didn’t, so yay!

I’m a DC Comics fan, so most of the characters in Marvel’s comic universe I have only a smattering of knowledge about, though I do tend to pick up little tidbits of info here and there.  Iron Man probably wasn’t what Marvel would consider a first-tier marketable character, but they didn’t have 100% control over their most recognisable movie characters – Spider-Man and Wolverine/X-Men – so the film for Iron Man became the launch pad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It was directed by Jon Favreau in an apparently less than 100%-scripted environment, which leads to some scenes of dialogue which feel much more natural because of Downey’s nature of neverstoptalkingwhenotherpeoplearetalking.

Downey was probably no one’s first choice for Tony Stark/Iron Man, but the actor took that ball and fucking repulsor rayed it to the moon.  The rest of the cast is 95% perfect as well, but only because I find it hard to buy Terrence Howard in anything.  This film also marks the first fun appearance of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) of S.H.I.E.L.D. and boy I hate typing acronyms like that.  Iron Man also pretty much laid out the formula for all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, with Coulson appearances, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appearances, post-credit scenes and numerous nods to the future films in the Universe.  Like Pixar, only more fanboy serverish.

Anyways, solid fucking movie.  Great launchpad for the Avengers franchise, and I wish DC would be able to replicate the same formula for a future Justice League movie, but oh well.

4.5 / 5

I Love You, Man (2009)

One of the things that I truly love about the so-called Frat Pack or Apatow’s Army or whatever the hell label you want to put on them, is that the large group of actors work with each on project after project and give little throwaway parts to their friends and the entire cast feels like an enormous ball of fame.  I mean, there’s a ridiculous amount of tagged actors for this movie.  Granted, I go a bit crazy with the tagging, and a few of them weren’t really well-known (or known even) back in 2009, but here we are in 2012 and I’d say that the massive audience that watches “Big Bang Theory” weekly knows who Melissa Rauch is.  Anyways, enough about my attempts to get more hits.

I totally have a man crush on Paul Rudd.  I probably write that in every Paul Rudd review that I write (okay, I only have one for Our Idiot Brother so far, well now two I guess), so you’re going to have to get used to it because I think I might go on a Rudd streak here.  Dude’s been in so many good movies, and movies that have been made better just by the sheer presence of him.  Anyways, he plays Peter Klaven, a somewhat introverted wonderfully lovable guy who proposes to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones) almost directly after the opening credits.  However, it comes to light that Peter doesn’t really have any close guy friends, leading to the premise of the movie: find Peter a guy friend!  Soon he meets the blunt and charmingly honest Sidney Fife (Jason Segel), and they totally hit it off and Peter’s life undergoes radical changes.

No matter my predilection towards Rudd, I will still be honest and tell you if a movie he’s in sucks or not.  I totally disliked Wet Hot American Summer when I first saw it, but now I’m wondering if I missed something there.  May have to revisit that one sometime.  Anyways, this is a charming and awkward comedy, with Rudd and Segel bouncing off one another wonderfully.  Lots of funny moments from the rest of the massive ensemble-ish cast and it’s a feel-good movie in my books, though I will say that some audiences might just not fall in love with the characters the way I did.  They all know their roles and play their parts to perfection though, no matter if they have to look like a huge asshole doing it, right Jon Favreau?

3.5 / 5

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

When the budget for your movie is around $163 million, there is going to be a lot expected out of box office returns.  While a $174 million dollar return is nothing to sneeze at, it’s not exactly what the numerous big time producers expected from Cowboys & Aliens and I think I have narrowed down where they went wrong.  If you’re going to have a movie starring Olivia Wilde and have her naked at some point but not show it, well that is going to turn off a lot of your potential audience.  Hell, even straight women want to see Olivia Wilde naked.

Directed by Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau, Cowboys & Aliens is all about an amnesiac cowboy named Jake (Daniel Craig) and putting together the mystery behind how he found himself out in the country with a weird bracelet on his wrist.  Jake goes to the nearest town, stirs shit up and finds himself at odds with the local rich cattleman, Woodrow Dollarhyde (Harrison Ford).  Then even more shit happens and Dollarhyde’s son Percy (Paul Dano) is abducted by aliens and a mission is launched to rescue Percy and all the missing townspeople.  Olivia Wilde is the mysterious Ella, who may be more than she appears which is a pretty phenomenal thing in and of itself.

It’s a textbook high concept popcorn movie, based on a graphic novel.  It is everything that a summer blockbuster should be, but a bit grittier than something stupid like Independence Day or Armageddon with high quality actors.  I enjoyed it, though while the concept is fairly unique, it’s an altogether predictable picture.  Definitely worth a watch.

3.5 / 5

Zookeeper (2011)

The opening two minutes of Zookeeper establishes Leslie Bibb’s character as a cunt.  I don’t just throw that word around, but she rejects Kevin James’ character, Griffin, because he’s merely a zookeeper.  Then later on, the talking animals that Griffin looks after teach him that to be a success and to get that cunty woman back, he has to act like a cunt to people.  So he does, and I die inside a little more and people keep paying money to see shit like this.  $150 million at the box office for something that is essentially Single Dr. Doolittle’s New Groove.

Seriously, there are a load of talented people involved in this movie.  Hell, even Kevin James is a likable enough actor, but he continues to go with the easy, lowest common denominator making piles of money route.  I don’t even know if he’s looking for his own Punch-Drunk Love.  Maybe someone should make a meta movie about him called Finding Kevin James or some shit, I don’t know.  Currently, I’m watching him talk to what appears to be a CGI or animatronic gorilla (voiced by Nick Nolte) and taking Donnie Wahlberg down a peg.  Also, all these animals talk but there’s a Toy Story-esque “code” where they cannot expose this secret to humans.

I wanted to Live-Tweet how terrible this movie is, but it’s an overall terrible, not an in pieces terrible.  Unless of course you like watching Kevin James falling down.  Then it’s five stars, easy, like omg it is the bomb.  I fucking hate this movie, though I thought it would have been funnier if they called it Paul Blart: Zookeeper, then I might have actually laughed once.

0 / 5

Another thought that occurred to me during my research, well not a thought, just y’know a gripe.  Ebert had actually been getting better the past few years in my opinion.  Then I see that he gave this movie 3 / 4 and said that it wasn’t a great movie in the review, and damned it with even more faint praise saying that at least the animals had the good taste to be in 2D, like that was a choice that the animals made.  That is my gripe.  Ebert, get back to being sensible.