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Member's Reviews

Iron Man, a review by Jon

Iron Man
4 out of 5

A lot of you have already reviewed this and I've little to add. I'm going to though!  :laugh: I thought it was great, we film-lovers were spoiled last year by high-class superhero efforts with this and The Dark Knight. Although, has Goodguy reviewed this yet?  :P

There are basically two types of comic story; a deep, contemplative study of the human condition, or blowing shit up and looking cool while doing it! Characters like Judge Dredd can do both, Batman tends to lean to the first and that's why The Dark Knight was a perfect realisation of the character. The great thing about Iron Man is that it also feels like a perfect realisation of the "blowing shit up/looking cool" story.

It's a thin, predictable plot, broadly told, but that just makes it easier to have indulgent fun with fantastic set-pieces and a great cast. RDJ is wonderful as is his snappy dialogue with everyone, including his robots. Paltrow doesn't have a lot to do, but she looks great while doing it. And Jeff Bridges must have relished a playing Stane. He's an obvious character, but very different to a lot of Bridges' previous.

The only real problem with the film is the plot. Like many origin films, the origin takes too much of the running time (though it's always fun) and the resolution of the first mission has to be tacked on, meaning when you think about it, there's very little of substance. Comics have the advantage of being able to concentrate on Issue 1, while only having to set-up an element for Issue 2 to pick up on. And of course, they can stretch out the character arc used here for months. I still think the best origin was Burton's take on Batman because he was able to tell it in ambiguous flashback and not cripple his main plot. That said, I do think Iron Man runs a good second, certainly better handled than Spider-Man or even Nolan's first Batman film.

I'm looking forward to the sequel because hopefully they'll get into something a bit deeper (The Shiny Knight?) before getting caught up in this multi-film arc that Marvel are attempting. I'm in two minds about that. Again it's a comic staple (not literally the little metal ones), but will it translate to films?

I'm also disappointed that Trevor Howard won't be back, with Rhodes to be played by Don Cheadle. I already think his role smacks of the producers thinking they got the wrong guy. Most of his stuff is in the deleted scenes and I think a couple of them would have been great, especially one which would make it clear how long Stark was in the cave, except the running time is already over two hours. I liked him though and I'm sorry he can't expand on it himself.

And remember the conversation Pete had in another thread regarding this film: keep watching till after the credits!

(From Jon's Random Reviews on March 8th, 2009)

Member's Reviews

Sherlock Holmes, a review by Jon

Sherlock Holmes
4 out of 5

Explosive action, baffling mystery and astonishing intrigue follow Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his trusted ally Watson (Jude Law) in a race to uncover and foil a terrifying plot that threatens to destroy the country. Director Guy Ritchie helms the all-action adventure reintroducing the great detective to the World. Robert Downey Jr. is the new Sherlock Holmes!

I wasn’t sure whether I would like Sherlock Holmes. I understood that Arthur Conan Doyle’s original books are actually far lighter and satirical than the rather serious adaptations so far, but still; blockbuster material? Really?

In truth, concessions to being a tent-pole multiplex hit do cause the script to be too obvious and over reliant on set-pieces, but it is tremendous fun, breathlessly paced and very exciting. And from Robert Downey Jr. possibly one of the best performances of the Sherlock Holmes character yet attempted, though in the context of how previous productions have been fashioned, that's impossible to put into context. Certainly I can’t think of a better depiction of the relationship with Dr. Watson, and Jude Law more than holds his own. If anything the film relies on him more as the straight man.

But this is RDJ’s show from start to finish and he is superb. Great accent, perfect timing and delivery, and with such infectious fun. He convinces as the action man and almost as the detective, though that isn’t his fault. As I said, the plot is too focused on the set-pieces to allow the audience to see Holmes actually coming to any conclusions, until at the end where he reveals everything he knew. Which is a hell of a lot. Not letting the viewer join in more is a poor mistake as it might have been something truly special. All the pieces were in place.

Along with RDJ, Jude Law completes a very strong pairing. Having Watson the more grounded character, trying to leave Holmes behind is a clever foundation on which to build the story. It gives Holmes a weakness, without spelling it out, except in what is not said between the two leads. In the books, Watson is Holmes’ rock, especially in relation to his drug addiction, which gets a tiny, but perceptive reference here. Purely from the acting perspective, the chemistry is fantastic too. It very much falls into the ‘bromance’ of action movies like Lethal Weapon. They both have girlfriends, well played by Kelly Reilly and especially Rachel McAdams who is effectively the third lead as original Conan Doyle character Irene Adler, but it’s clear there is a love that Shall Not Speak Its Name between Holmes and Watson! Mark Strong rounds out the cast with a powerful turn as the villain, Lord Blackwood. Moriaty is hinted at, so if part two doesn’t end at Reichenbach Falls, I’ll eat my hat!

The biggest revelation for me is Guy Ritchie as director. Sherlock Holmes is by far his best film, and I do like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch very much. It’s just this is so different, requiring an eye for action cinema, and reveals both flamboyancy and restraint in expert use. Although the finale is a bit predictable, the sequence at the shipyard and the incidental fights are incredible. It’s a gorgeous looking film too, with sumptuous detail and lighting (there is a night-time scene that actually reminded me of Deliverance in that it was proper moon rather then movie lighting). Because of the attention to detail and eye for photography, this is one of the best modern movies I’ve yet seen on Blu-Ray, which so far has proved more impressive for older films.

Overall the sum of it's parts are better than the result. It hardly matters if it is a good or bad adaptation of the stories, because it's aimed at a young audience. It does exactly what it set out to do though. So bring on the sequel! Just next time, let’s have a bit of mystery that we can play along with.

(From Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010 on July 17th, 2010)

Member's TV Reviews

Xena: Warrior Princess Marathon, a review by addicted2dvd

1. Sins of the Past
Xena vows to change her evil ways - then must face off against a warlord who's determined to keep her on the wrong side of the law.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed watching this pilot episode again. It is a good introduction to most the characters. But while it touched on it... not so much for Xena herself. You wouldn't be lost if you never saw her in Hercules... but it definitely would help.

My Rating:

2. Chariots of Fire
After being befriended by a homesteader named Darius, Xena takes on a bloodthirsty warlord and his son, who have mercilessly pillaged Darius's community in an effort to drive the settlers off their land.

My Thoughts:
Another episode I enjoyed. In this one both Xena and Gabrielle found someone they probably could be happy spending the rest of their lives with. But they felt the need to continue their journey and in Xena's case continue to make up for her past and right wrongs wherever she could find them.

My Rating:

3. Dreamworker
Xena enters a mystical realm known as the Dreamscape to save Gabrielle, who has been taken there and forced to complete a series of tasks that will make her worthy of becoming the bride of the dream god, Morpheus.

My Thoughts:
This episode is definitely different then the previous two... but is a fin episode. I like it that Gabrielle is interested in learning to fight as well. As I said... I like strong women. But I also like that Xena doesn't want to teach her to fight. It goes along with the character. She knows how fighting and killing effected her life... and she don't want that for her friend.

My Rating:

4. Cradle of Hope
Xena and Gabrielle set out to find the parents of an abandoned baby, and discover that the infant's been marked for death due to a prophecy declaring him a future threat to a local king.

My Thoughts:
This show really has been consistantly very good. Of course it is still early into the series yet with only four episodes down. While the story about the baby was good... in this episode I enjoyed the side episode a little more. The side story dealing with the loss and attempts to get back Pandora's Box.

My Rating:

(From Xena: Warrior Princess Marathon on November 19th, 2009)