I think I may have been a little premature with one of my recent montage posts and its coverage of the actor Dennis Hopper, unfortunately he lost his long battle with cancer today. I have no doubt that many of my fellow bloggers will linking to that memorable True Romance scene and rightly so, let’s pay tribute with a few other moments from his stormy career. He will perhaps be best remembered for Easy Rider of course, although the authorship of that movie remains unconfirmed, his long-standing feud with Peter Fonda and Rip Torn was never reconciled.
After almost twenty years in the wilderness due to his heavy substance abuse – this cult curio says it all - he cleaned up his act and was brought back in from exile with that horrifically brilliant performance in Blue Velvet. The story goes that Lynch took a call from him after he got his hands on the script, Hopper explaining to Lynch that ‘You have to give me this role, because I am Frank’. This autumn resurrection led to him being the go to guy for any chief villain role going be it in Waterworld, Speed or, erm, Super Mario Brothers - I guess he had alimony to pay. But when he was on he was on, and has made memorable appearances in some well acclaimed movies of the past few decades, as well as making appearances in the mid-century classical canon of Cool Hand Luke, Rebel Without A Cause and Giant with his good friend James Dean.
It’s quite a patchy but interesting career when you look at the old IMDB. Personally I will always remember him as that magnetic photojournalist lost in the jungle, as a uniquely philosophical ex-biker in some glimpse and you’ll miss him shards of a neutered trailer;
Finally, good christ on a bike I haven’t seen this scene for many a year and it is much more distressing than I remembered from its beginning, let alone the Roy Orbison rendition. He may be ‘one suave motherfucker’ but this is nasty;
EDIT: OK, this little clip has come up which is hilarious, I’d rather I left my commentary on a such a note – at least until someone posts the classic ‘Cheques in the mail’ moment anyway…
Given that Kiefer/Jack shoots Hopper dead at the end of Season 1 of 24 I’m guessing that an amended version of this will be doing the rounds shortly….
I know I’ve posted this before but it should get us in the mood;
What can I say, its been a while since I had a nerd out concerning Stan the Man. To be honest I’ve had a few ideas of how to celebrate this momentous 400th post occasion but I have neither the time nor inclination to craft an appropriate post on my favourite actresses or the best war films – two themes I’ve been mulling over for a while – so whilst this might be the Mint on a sort of auto-pilot at least I’ll have some fun putting it together. I’ll keep comments to a minimum due to time constraints, as always my list of ten eleven – we may as well do one for each official movie – is predicated by what’s available and embeddable from youtube (case in point A Clockwork Orange which is almost totally blocked) but given that I could effortlessly expand this out to the best fifty scenes I’ll try to avoid the obvious ‘Here’s Johnny’, ‘Open the pod bay doors Hal‘ ‘I’m Spartacus‘ or ‘Mein Fuhrer, I can walk‘ moments, lets see what emerges as we start our journey back in the early 18th century where the spoilers begin;
Just bathe in those compositions, the glacial pacing, the source lighting, the hypnotic rhythm of the music – probably an observation that can be applied to every clip used in this post but I digress. In terms of the narrative this is the climactic boss fight, the final set-piece, the incendiary apex of the picture – it’s not exactly Jason Bourne is it? Still, I love it…
For the Kubrick connoisseur this has two pluses, firstly the use of chess as metaphor that is embedded throughout the film – if you didn’t know Stan was a superb chess player and echoes of the game reverberate throughout his work – and the presence of the Ben Grimm alike Kola Kwariani whom Kubrick cast after meeting him during his chess hustling days in 1950′s Central Park, a tradition one imagines long extinct. Kola is probably one of the worst actors ever to grace a Kubrick picture but he has a face and demeanour which is ideal for this hard-boiled Jim Thompson adaptation, one of the most cerebral of noirs.
It’s difficult to articulate what I like about this conclusion to Jacket but I think its the sense of closure to the tale and the soldiers marching off into history, plus its got that great Kubrick dissolve at the end, just before the credits roll. I’ve just reminded myself that one of the missing links in my Kubrick library is this little number (and this come to thing of it) so if anyone is struggling for an impending birthday present you have a mild hint. Vincent D’Onofrio on FMJ here.
If I had to pick one movie with a gun to my head as to what I consider my least favourite of Stan’s oeuvre then it would be Lolita, at least when you omit the shorts he made in the fifties and Fear & Desire which has shards of interest but wasn’t the most auspicious of debuts, no wonder he did everything in his power to suppress that but via the magic of the Internet voila. Anyhow, James Mason’s manufactured grief in this scene is deliciously played.
I wanted to link to this but for some reason every A Clockwork Orange link is denied from youtube, you’ll have to make do with the unusual trailer.
Another one it’s difficult to find decent clips for, Woody Strode’s sacrifice inspires our heroes bloody struggle for emancipation. If you are so inclined I highly recommend the Peter Ustinov commentary on the Anniversary edition which is packed full of factoids and hilarious anecdotes.
And then of course there is the prowling camera, along with Ophuls and Scorsese the best tracking shots in celluloid history. Kubrick may have been fastidious in terms of historical accuracy, in getting all the details correct but he would sacrifice that goal in terms of visual craft in cases such as this, commentators have pointed out that the First World War trenches would not have been wide enough to accommodate a camera dolly and tech crew as seen here.
One of the key scenes, if not the key scene of Eyes Wide Shut that propels Bill on his nightmarish odyssey, unquestionably one of those non-submersible units that Brian Aldiss references here. This was shot very intimately on a closed set – Stan, camera operator and sound guy only – one imagines it was quite a gruelling trek over the weeks it took to put together, maybe enough to kill a trophy marriage…
Back to the beginning if you don’t count the aforementioned Fear & Desire, quite an arresting scene which proves that even a miniscule budget could be deployed with great effect in SK’s hands. If you are so inclined, here are some links to his first two shorts and a corporate film which isn’t very exciting but does represent Kubrick’s first work in colour.
OK, as we come to the end an obvious choice but a great one. Did you know that General Buck Turgidson was based on the terrifying Curtis Le May? Well, now you do. I’m keeping schtum for the moment but there is an impending special event at the NFT on a Sunday in July, it concerns the screening of a certain film and a special guest they have to present it and do the obligatory Q&A, fingers crossed for that one. It should be quite a cinematic weekend as Inception opens on the Friday, then there is a screening of another film (no, not that one, this one – have I given the guest away?) on the Saturday, all of which is related to a series of cultural events and festivals that are celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society. In that spirit and not in the least bit related let’s close on something a little more epic shall we, this kills me every time;
This four hundredth post comes at something of a turning point for me professionally speaking, I’m in the final stages of negotiating a two year contract with Thurrock which given the current economic climate in the public sector is quite a coup – my agency contact nearly fell off his chair when I told him. Less money but job security, no expenses but a pension and annual leave – I’d be stupid to turn it down really. It also helps that this programme is quite high-profile so for a change I’d quite like to stick around and see it out, it has the potential to be quite a feather on the CV. Fingers crossed things might accelerate on this blog project of mine with potential coverage of the Frightfest Festival in August, my patrons at Sound On Sight are trying to get me a press pass for that festival which should put me in good stead for the LFF in October. Anyway, here is a curious incident on youtube that cropped up via the altmovies.kubrick google group and finally the first of nine clips of the great dude himself – enjoy. As for HAL he’s just so passe…maybe, at long last, this turgid 21st medieval century is starting to deliver…
Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant quickly achieved a cultish reverence amongst film fans that prefer their cinema somewhat darker and more degenerate than your average multiplex fare, the images of a ravenous Harvey Keitel prowling a stygian Manhattan immutably searing itself on the memories of a tribe of extreme cinema aficionados – no, I’m not going to link to that scene. The films cult cache inevitably led to consternation and confusion some eighteen months ago with the news that the film was going to be re-made with none other than Bruckheimer action stalwart Nicholas Cage in the title role, the disbelief of which being further exacerbated by the assignation of Werner Herzog to the directors chair in what swiftly become the most unusual team-up since Superman and Muhammad Ali all the way back in 1978. Waters were muddied when a furious Ferrara publicly stated that he wished everyone involved should die in a car crash, Herzog replied with a dismissive ‘I’ve never even heard of this Ferrara or seen his movie’, confirming my suspicion that only someone as mental as Herzog would dare to mock the notoriously demented Ferrara– I’m not a violent man but that is one fist-fight I’d pay to see. Now that the dust has settled the clumsily named The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans (which has to be the most unnecessarily complicated movie title since this) hobbles into UK cinemas after only achieving a very limited theatrical run and swift DVD release in the US, it’s a shame as this is one beautifully delirious movie, a Creole flavored descent into a Cajun cyclone of criminality.
In a Katrina ravaged New Orleans Terrence McDonagh (Cage) watches an incarcerated convict plead for his life in a swiftly flooding prison, his friend and colleague Stevie (a vacant Val Kilmer) making bets on how long they can leave it before the dumb sap drowns. McDonagh leaps into the water to save the felon and through a ‘six months later’ title-card we begin to realise that this selfless act of bravery may just have derailed McDonaghs life, resulting in a spinal injury suffered in the fall which has left him dependant on prescription drugs for the rest of his life – that’s the good news. McDonagh has taken to snorting, shooting and stealing just about every narcotic he can lay his hands on, sharing his plunder with his similarly fractured hooker girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes, adequate) whilst his father and stepmother are working through their demons via hard liquor. Evidently not content with such depravity McDonagh is also heavily in debt to his sympathetic bookie (Brad Dourif) is involved in stealing evidence from the departments’ evidence lockers not to mention occasionally shaking down Frankie’s Johns for cash and coke. The horrific execution of a small time heroin dealer and his entire family including three children seems to activate McDonagh’s smothered moral compass, it’s an atrocity that initiates a frantic crusade for potential redemption as McDonagh obsessively hunts down the murderous culprits.
It is obligatory for any film-blogger to link to the atrocity of The Wicker Man remake when discussing Mr. Cage, if you think that performance is overwrought then you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is one strangely amusing movie which is completely divorced from its supposed ‘original’, other than both films concerning drug-addled, licentious lawmen they really have nothing in common. Whilst the original was an exceptionally grim, dark odyssey of Catholic redemption New Orleans is much more of a black comedy, Nicholas Cage (which I could and will lazily describe as being ramped up to ‘eleven’) truly in his element with one of his most twitchily ebullient performances to date – he is terrific if you go with the flow. He is supported with the likes of Michael Shannon, Fairuza Balk and Jennifer Coolidge in an impressive ensemble cast, all of them wantonly unprincipled in a realm where it seems that any meritorious behaviour has been diluted, any virtuous activity have been swept away in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Herzog throws in some bizarrely incongruous moments which elicit the odd chuckle here and there, employing a melange of styles with no intentional aesthetic to build an patchwork feel, there are no expressionist lighting techniques that you’d expect in a dark noirish tale, if anything the film takes place in high contrast, brightly lit exteriors and interiors, his frequent DP Peter Zeitlinger relying more on naturalistic source lighting to illuminate McDonagh’s murky activities. I’ve read that the film is best described as less a fictional movie and more a documentary on an alternate reality which I like, the hallucinations – or should that be potential hallucinations – adding some slight surrealistic flourishes as reverberations in McDonagh’s soporific mind. Herzog litters the film with a Jambalaya of animals – snakes, alligators, dogs, bulls, sharks and yes that now famous iguana scene all providing some alternate, detached perspective on the action, some sardonic, primeval observations on our species ridiculous antics. It’s not difficult to slot this into the Herzog canon, it’s yet another tale of an obsessive male protagonist on a mission in an alien, threatening environment, it opens and closes with images of predators in the jungle, indiscriminately stalking their prey.
I think there’s an inherent fascination with seeing those tasked with defending and supporting our so-called moral civilisation fall prey to the temptations and sins that such a world brings them into contact with, it’s fertile territory to examine the very notions or ‘right’ and ‘wrong ‘not to mention a certain enjoyment in seeing potential heroes transgress the restrictions of polite society and do whatever the fuck they want – people may deny it but that is a cathartic release and it’s no coincidence that the scene in the film where Cage terrorizes two elderly women got the biggest laughs from the audience I saw the film with. There were two ways I could have closed this review, either to link to the fine history of corrupt cop movies with the likes of Touch Of Evil, Q&A, Serpico, Rogue Cop, Infernal Affairs, Unlawful Entry, Violent Cop or Les Ripoux or I could produce a list of some of the best films that make the most of such a charismatic city as New Orleans in the likes of Down By Law, Angel Heart, The Cincinnati Kid, Hard Times, Panic In The Streets, Walk On The Wild Side and, erm, Abbott & Costello Go To Mars. I think I’ll do both.
I’m not one for shilling products but I’ll make an exception for promoting Mr. Lynch’s work;
and part two:
Interesting stuff and if this makes me a corporate whore then so be it. I hope and am sure he’s ploughing his fee from this into something new, if you believe the rumors which I caught in this months Sight & Sound a potential sequel to Mullholland could be on the cards. Hrrm….
A mixed bag this weekend as I headed over to the Greenwich Picture House for a double-bill, after a particularly exhausting week I think I deserved some cinematic pampering. The first choice of movie wasn’t quite the relaxing, soothing picture that I needed, Lebanon is the story of a four man Israeli tank crew who were part of the incursion by the IDF into their neighbours territory back in 1982, the films director Samuel Moaz exorcising his demons of an experience that has haunted him for the past twenty years since as a young man he was a member of an identical tank crew who served in that controversial conflict. After winning the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival last year there has been a modicum of buzz around this project, I was intrigued to see how the filmmakers would pull off a tale that was filmed entirely within the environs of the tank with no cut-aways or establishing shots, only a series of POV shots of our four main characters would serve as a window to the outside world and the hellish barbarity that is unfolding.
That visual conceit is paradoxically the films strength in one sense and failure in the other. No doubt the premise generates a sweltering sense of claustrophobia which is reminiscent of that other great war movie Das Boot with its similarly charged adrenaline of a group of terrified troops trapped in a confined environment; you can almost sense the choking stench of their mobile coffin in the auditorium. Everything is framed in tight close-up to harness this tension, however the technique actually becomes quite irritating and repetitive after a while. Maybe it was the mild hangover I was suffering after a few too many in my local on Friday night but after twenty, thirty minutes of four guys screaming at each other I started to get a little bored, the characters are almost indistinguishable from each other so its hard to care about any of them. The sound design quite appropriately is used to great effect, the shrieking roar of the steel behemoth as it transverse over the battlefields is quite arresting – the film very much achieves the feeling of being there, engulfed amongst the horror, the danger and the terror. Lebanon is less overtly political than I expected, its intentions seems broader than examining the socio-political context of that particular Middle Eastern conflict and following the line of its predecessor Waltz With Bashir, it seems to be aiming for a wider ‘war is hell’ target, not exactly a new idea and a somewhat exhausted premise. Lebanon is something of a noble failure which at a brisk 90 minutes doesn’t completely outstay its welcome, perhaps one for the combat movie devotees only.
Far more efficient and entertaining was American: The Bill Hicks Story which followed, hardly a surprising choice for me to see as the man is one of my all time heroes. If you’ve seen the widely praised Robert Evans biopic The Kid Stays In The Picture then this documentaries design will be familiar – Bill Hicks life is brought to vivid life through the adoption of photos of his childhood, teenage years and faltering steps to comedic stardom which are manipulated into a form of loose animation, a technique supported with voiceover reminiscences and anecdotes not from cultural commentators or fellow humorists but from Bill’s family and friends, the people who were there and saw firsthand the development and growth of a uniquely blistering talent. For the layman this provides an entertaining and comprehensive overview of the Hicks phenomenon and his elevation to the pantheon of one of the all time great stand-up comedians, even if it is a little light on the potential psychology and events that turbo charged the man to adopt such a combative and unique stage persona.
Having the full co-operation of family and friends yields some fascinating material for a Hicks completist such as yours truly, when you bear in mind I have over 100 hours of material I have accumulated over the years sitting on my hard drive, mostly full sets from his tours of the late eighties and early nineties then you can appreciate what a treasure trove it is to absorb some of the earlier material that is unearthed including footage of his tentative performances at the remarkable age of fifteen and sixteen – even back then you could see the genesis of his hatred of authority and loathing of hypocrisy. American doesn’t shy away from tackling the darkest moments of his career and doesn’t fall into the trap of lionising his alcohol and drug fuelled rants which were not entertaining, cool or edgy but slightly pathetic and potentially fatally destructive, it is the figure of a reborn, newly sober and far more illuminating, scabrous and most importantly funny comedian arising from those ashes which is inspiring to behold. I was personally interested to learn more of the Houston ‘Outlaw Comics’ movement that Hicks was a part of although I was a little disappointed to see the figure of Sam Kinison almost entirely air-brushed from the biography, according to all the books I’ve read on the subject he was something of a mentor figure to the rising star of Hicks, I can only assume there were some issues with the Kinison estate to use footage of him (he died of a drug overdose in 1992) or perhaps his influence has been over exaggerated over the years. A great documentary for the fan and freshman alike, inevitably here are some more clips of the great man in action to brighten up your Monday evening:
And some more:
May you live in interesting times, politically speaking. Unfortunately for me that has meant disruption to my previously arranged cinema visits, I curse the real world for interfering with my celluloid enhanced, visually mediated fun. I did have tickets to see The Birds with a post screening Q&A at the NFT this week, alas I missed the former due to work related nonsense but managed to arrive in time for the latter - since I have tickets to see Rear Window next month I shall roll my Tippi Hedren / Hitchcock Q&A comments into that post rather than construct a potentiallly thin entry on what was a slightly disappointing evening.
It’s the chessboard movements that make it work. Anywho, linking Kirk Douglas as a chain from Ace In The Hole to Paths Of Glory might be lazy but please cut me some slack gentle reader, a fifty hour work week for two months scrambles my attention skills. The good news is that there should be a lot more activity around here next month as the NFT centenary of Kurosawa’s birth begins – I have tickets to three films and may complement this commitment with another to craft one of those old style ’masterclass’ posts, its been a while since I constructed one of those entries and I cannot imagine a more perfect choice of attention. I have also managed to secure tickets to a fabulous sounding event that celebrates the 90th birthday of Ray Harryhausen, hopefully I’ll also be back on track with a planned double bill viewing this weekend – that’s an intriguing combination….
A very slim post I’m afraid as I’m busier than the proverbial one-legged man in an ass kicking contest, however I wanted to try to get something published this week. Emily Blunt, a Philip K Dick adaptation, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, ominous blokes in hats and Emily Blunt are certain to pique my interest. It looks like its been shunted back from a Summer to Autumn release which might mean it’s a little too cerebral for blockbuster season, it has a sort of Dark City vibe to it and a first time director – I’m intrigued.
Oh well, it doesn’t sound great and that trailer isn’t hugely inspiring but I’ll probably give it a visit. Its reminded me of a film I caught on the off chance in Leicester Square back in 2002 and enjoyed, another low key PKD adaptation called Cypher which I think deserves a revisit as one of those turn of the millenium, paranoid dystopian SF fable type pictures. I wonder how they will stack up against Inception, now that’s a trailer that has me counting down the days….
Well let’s look at the positives – the BNP were humiliated which is a reassuring sign of just how effective the racist right-wing press are in this country. The Greens made a historic win and get their first MP but most importantly there is no Tory majority – considering the polls I don’t think a more pleasing result was feasible. Over the next few days it should be interesting to see how the political elite contort themselves into various uncomfortable positions in a desperate grab for power, all in all not too dissimilar to this:
I’m sorry. I’ve been wrestling with the potential fallout of posting that trailer but fuck it, it’s Friday, I’m tired after a gruelling week of work with another to follow and I just don’t care. Besides, this is a film blog and The Human Centipede has been getting enormous amounts of coverage in the genre and cult blogosphere so who am I to boycott what looks like a particularly stupid but potentially amusing slice of body horror? As an old school exploitation fan I did find the ’100% medical accurate’ disclaimer amusing…
What’s at stake today? This may give you some idea, an old manager of mine moved on to Hammersmith & Fulham Council from Richmond and I’ve heard similar stories. Still, here’s some fun which makes sense if you read that article which serves as a glimpse of our (potential) new political overlords:
I don’t want to sound too ‘studenty’ but here we are. For the record I am not advocating a win for the incumbents either, the last thirteen years has had some good points but their failures, betrayals and continuation of Thatcherite polices is an utter fucking disgrace – not to mention an illegal war, financial catastrophe and a dead scientist. So, for whats its worth I’m predicting a slim Tory majority, a swing to the Lib Dems that doesn’t translate into much in the way of extra seats and hopefully, just for a laugh, our first Green Party MP. Things are also looking interesting in my manor but I doubt I’ll make it through to see that result which is due at 3.30am….
I don’t know about you but I could use a laugh, in around 36 hours a new, intensely difficult paradigm will begin in the UK that is certain to prevail for the next few years – this country hasn’t been so bankrupt since 1946 – and unless one of a trio of plans I have been progressing don’t come through then there is every chance that my career, in its current incarnation, is over.
So let’s have a laugh and look forward to the riots and gutting of the public sector, the guillotining of services, the inevitable deaths of the elderly, the people forced to quit their careers to take care of their aging parents and grandparents, all this social upheaval occurring whilst we continue to prop up the finance sector who continue to pay themselves billions of pounds of bonuses – awesome eh? I’m thinking of starting a slush fund to hire Machete to get us some payback, who’s with me?
I was a little mystified at the devotion and love that the first Iron Man movie generated a couple of years ago, it was a fun, entertaining blockbusting romp no doubt but the claims of it being one of the best tent pole releases of recent years didn’t chime with my opinion, I mean c’mon it was no Dark Knight now was it? The inevitable sequel was released this weekend to mixed reviews and some curious readings of its cultural cache, I thought the first Star Trek re-boot was supposed to be the quintessential Obama film with all its multiculturally blazing optimistic vigour, at the risk of sounding hypocritical I think that sometimes you can read too much into things – then again the brilliant Philip French makes some interesting points here. I was in the mood for some Hollywood fluff, some pleasing eye candy and SFX to while away the bank holiday weekend, I’m therefore sad to report that with a few provisos Iron Man 2 suffers from a distinct cast of sequelitis, it is unfocused, messy and clumsily handled, much of the charm and wit that the original employed to win over its viewers is largely absent.
On the surface, things are going well for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and his technological titan Stark Industries as he unveils a scintillatingly prestigious World Expo in New York, an event akin to a Led Zeppelin reunion concert crossed with the latest corporate extravaganza from iSteve iJobs. Loved by the public and media alike Tony is seen as being personally responsible for ushering in a unrivalled period of world peace but beneath the surface things are falling apart. The introduction of the Iron Man weapon has triggered a secret arms race with North Korea and Iran working on similar prototypes. The US executive are attempting to co-opt the technology for its military benefits against Tony’s protestations. More seriously Stark’s health is seriously deteriorating, his blood being incrementally poisoned by the energy consumption that his advanced pacemaker requires to keep him alive. Threats of a more tangible nature are evident in the figure of Whiplash (an incomprehensible Mickey Rourke), a Russian super-villain who craves revenge on the Stark dynasty after his fathers contributions to the firm were sidelined by Tonys father twenty years ago which left him exiled in a Soviet gulag. A coup is being engineered by the pernicious Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to seize the Iron Man technology and accelerate his career in the Pentagon, his teaming up with the spiteful Whiplash to achieve their intertwined ambitions provoking a serious threat to our heroes ambitions. Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper Pots and Don Cheadle usurps Terrence Howards role as Lt. Colonel Rhodey (one improvement from the first film as Cheadle is far more interesting and amusing) and new blood is introduced to the franchise in the form of Natasha Rushman (a pneumatic Scarlett Johansson), an enigmatic lawyer in Stark Industries who may or may not be what she seems – I don’t think I’m alone in considering her as easily the films most spectacular special effect.
Yes, there’s a lot going on and that’s probably the films main failing. I saw this on a bustling Sunday night at the local flicks and the silence of the audience spoke volumes, at least until the end sequence but we’ll get to that. Robert Downey Jr’s charisma that centred the original installment is seriously lacking, he really was the charming trump card of the first film and his mumbling over humor free dialogue pales in comparison to the originals chemistry. The plot trajectory is nebulous at best, the film is plagued with mostly confused scene arrangements that map the course of the films two hour run time. The main failing for me though was what exactly you want to see from big blockbusters such as this, all I realistically want or expect from a big Hollywood franchise is for the fights and SFX to be cool and exciting – I’m easily pleased. The CGI is mostly efficient and delivers, however the set pieces with one exception are insipid and dull, the Grand Prix sequence covered in the trailers is anemic and to keep things spoiler free I won’t detail any of the other kinetic moments, suffice to say they don’t manage to achieve much in the way of interest or intoxication. Predominantly the film lurks in a zombie like paralysis, not even the presence of the usually excellent Sam Rockwell can salvage the interest vacuum that has developed over the preceding ninety minutes of screen time.
All that said I must concur that the film improves dramatically in the last twenty five minutes or so, some discerning gags materialise, some excitement is generated throughout the final showdown, we eventually see The Black Widow strut her stuff and some clever toyings with the superhero genre emerge, holistically however its all too little too late as there is no emotional investment in what’s at stake, in fact there is very little idea of anything being in jeopardy or what the consequences of defeat for our heroes would be. In full nerd mode I’ll also confess to some juvenile agitation at seeing Iron Man, The Black Widow and Sgt. Fury exchange pleasantries in a brief diner set scene, there is a nod toward another imminent superhero series in one flippant moment and for those of you so inclined be sure to stick around for a brief coda after the credits which sets up the next franchise and provides another step forward to the anticipated Avengers movie. Iron Man 2 is not a disaster of Daredevil, Elektra or Incredible Hulk proportions (the re-boot, not the Ang Lee version I hasten to add) but it does fail on a simple, visceral entertainment level, the Marvel boffins are seriously going to have to up the ante to match the Disgruntled Competitions recent big screen efforts….