Billy Soistmann

Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Review: Iron Man 2

In 2010, Action, Comedy, Comic Books, Jon Favreau, Paramount, Reviews on May 6, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I’ll be honest. Iron Man 2 surprised me. After such a brilliant start, I was worried that the sequel would either fall flat or try too hard. However, the movie delivers exactly as a summer blockbuster should. Although I have always been adamant that a great film should have something deeper to say, the true purpose of a film is to tell a story, whether it is entertaining, sad, or scary.

Iron Man 2 has no proverb it is trying to get across. No insight into the human condition. What it is is pure entertainment. Now, I hesitate to say this because normally I would attack a film that attempts solely to entertain. But, there is a difference between mindless entertainment and an enjoyable movie such as this one.

This sequel to 2008’s Iron Man is an action-packed tale of how Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) attempts to deal with the ramifications of being Iron Man, as well as a life-threatening medical condition, a competing weapons contractor (Sam Rockwell), and a very bitter Russian physicist (Mickey Rourke).

The film opens in Russia as a very angry Mickey Rourke begins building some kind a weapon and continues into an amazing shot (which you can see embedded below) of Iron Man jumping from a plane into the grand opening of his Stark Expo. The kinetic energy in this sequence really sets the mood for the rest of the movie.

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As the film progresses, there are several great action set pieces as well as a lot comedy. Sam Rockwell delivers a hilarious performance as the wannabe Tony Stark. Overall, the acting was good. Downey Jr. is fantastic, as usual, and director Jon Favreau also has a sizable part. Mickey Rourke is a great villain, although sometimes that accent was just ridiculous. Paltrow is good as the straight-laced Pepper Potts, but Scarlett Johannson, on the other hand, delivers an cringe-worthy performance as Stark’s new secretary with a secret.

The main problem this movie has is its plot. At times, the film could have been paced much more smoothly. Especially in the second half, I felt as if the story became too rushed. However, these issues never reach the level of the atrocity that was Spider-Man 3. The film remains coherent, and interesting, throughout.

The bigger error, however, comes from the science. In Iron Man, if you believed that a device as powerful and tiny as Stark’s arc reactor was possible, the rest of the movie made sense, at least from a technical point-of-view. Unfortunately, the sequel throws this out the window. This isn’t a huge deal, but does detract from the believability of the story, which, frankly, matters little considering the movie’s superhero roots.

So, where exactly does this film succeed? It doesn’t have a fantastic story, but the plot is interesting, the characters are great, and it’s just so much fun. This movie is a blast and, although it wasn’t on par with the first film, Iron Man 2 is a great way to start off the summer movie season.

Toy Story 3 Trailer #2

In 2010, Animation, Comedy, Coming Soon, Disney, Family, Lee Unkrich, News, Pixar, Trailers on February 11, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Here’s the new trailer for Toy Story 3:

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I cannot wait for this movie. Toy Story, the first computer-animated feature-length film, as well as its sequel, Toy Story 2, were magnificent movies with a real heart and the new installment is looking just as incredible. Pixar is a great studio and I can’t imagine them rushing a story through just to get cash.

Toy Story 3 looks like an even grander adventure than its predecessors, as the toys are sent to a Day Care Center and must get back to their beloved owner, Andy.

Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich and starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, hits theaters June 18th.

Meet the New Characters in Toy Story 3

In 2010, Animation, Buzz, Comedy, Coming Soon, Disney, Lee Unkrich, News, Pixar on February 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Earlier today, Lee Unkrich, director of the upcoming Toy Story 3, posted an intriguing picture of 14 new characters that will be appearing in the film. The film focuses on the toys as they begin a new life at a day care center when their beloved Andy goes to college. Presumably, these new cast members are toys from the day care.

Here’s the image (click to enlarge):

Right now, we can see two new characters, Peas in a Pod and a Ken doll, while the rest are hidden in silhouette. Any guesses as to what any of them will be? Please post your predictions in the comment section below.

Review: The Brothers Bloom

In 2009, Caper/Heist, Character-Driven, Comedy, Noir, Reviews, Rian Johnson, Romance, Summit Entertainment, Thrillers & Mystery/Suspense on February 6, 2010 at 8:07 PM

The Brothers Bloom is my kind of movie. When I selected the film from my local Redbox, I expected to enjoy it. I mean, it’s a comedic con-man story. I figured it would be good, but I never expected to be so enthralled. Trying to describe the film cannot do it justice. All I’m going to say is imagine the perfect mixture of Big Fish, Matchstick Men, and Chinatown.

To be clear, this is not a perfect film. I have seen better films recently, but The Brothers Bloom is my favorite film of the year. And I don’t feel uncomfortable drawing this distinction. There is definitely a distinction between good movies and those you like the most. I’m not going to go into that right now, but, to explain, Star Wars is my favorite movie of all time, yet The Godfather is the greatest film I have ever seen.

So, why did I love this movie so much? For the life of me, I cannot pinpoint a specific aspect of the film that made it stand out, and that in and of itself is one of its strong points. Everything – the direction, the cinematography, the acting, the writing – comes together and creates this fantastic blend of mystery, fantasy, and comedy.

The opening sequence brings you straight into the brothers’ world. With a fantastic narration by the magician Ricky Jay, we see Stephen, 13, and Bloom, 10, as they craft their first con, and already we have a good idea of the relationship between the two, as well as their differences, which is at the heart of the film. In the next scene, we see the brothers 25 years later, at the top of their game. They are true con men, and the movie has fun with a quick rewind to explain what we just saw. After these introductions, the plot really picks up when Stephen goes to Bloom with one last con.

The story itself isn’t entirely original. It is a typical con man story, but the movie is just so much fun and still has something deeper to say. The performances are good throughout, although no one specific stands out. The film also looks great, with a clever closing shot that really gives closure to the story. However, I don’t want to go into more detail about the technical aspects of the movie.

It all comes down to tone. The entire film gives you this feeling of wonder and that is what movies are all about. No matter how technically perfect or how many layers of meaning one can find in a movie, it makes no difference if it doesn’t provoke any emotional reaction. I can’t articulate exactly why I enjoyed this movie so much, and that is part of the reason it is so memorable. The Brothers Bloom is a magnificent film, with a perfect mixture of fantasy, comedy, and emotion that I absolutely loved.

The Best Summer Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

In Comedy, Coming-of-Age, Documentary, Features, Garth Jennings, Independent, Paramount Vantage, The Forum, ThinkFilm, Werner Herzog on September 12, 2008 at 2:24 AM

(This is an article I wrote earlier in the year for another publication. I have estimated a date and added it here late so please excuse any time discrepancies.)

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In addition to the box office hits featured above, this summer featured some excellent “indies,” films not funded by the Hollywood studio system, which weren’t as widely viewed. Among my personal favorites were Encounters at the End of the World and Son of Rambow.

Encounters At the End of the World:
On June 11, Encounters at the End of the World opened in select theaters. It was directed by Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of GodFitzcarraldoGrizzly Man), who was inspired to travel to Antarctica after seeing footage from beneath the ice taken by his friend, a diver in Antarctica. After joining the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, he and his cameraman were flown to Antarctica. The movie consists of Herzog’s narration, interviews, and breathtaking cinematography of Antarctica.

“Encounters” is an unusual documentary because it has very little plot to tie it together. It’s amazing how a skilled director such as Herzog can skillfully pull together interviews from a variety of people and still get his message across to his audience. Among the interviewees are a philosopher/fork-lift driver, a linguist on a continent with no languages, and a reclusive scientist studying penguins. In addition to the amazing images of the continent and interviews with the people that live and work there, Herzog’s comments are intriguing. I would highly suggest that you see this movie on DVD November 18.

Son of Rambow:

On May 2, Iron Man debuted to kick off the summer movie season. What you probably don’t know is that, on the same day, Son of Rambow, an indie-comedy written and directed by Garth Jennings (The Hitchiker’s Guide To the Galaxy), also opened in limited release. The movie focuses on two boys, Will, whose parents don’t allow him to watch TV or movies, and Lee, the school bully. They are inspired by Rambo: First Blood, and decide to make a movie. As word of their movie gets out, more and more kids want to help, and eventually their project gets out of hand.

Son of Rambow is a heartwarming tale about friendship and how two very different friends can help each other, despite disagreements. It is currently available on DVD.

While this summer was full of big-budget, box office hits, there was also a fantastic selection of films that, unfortunately, missed their proper respect at the ceneplex. In addition to “Encounters” and “Rambow”, check out these other indie films of note: American TeenBagheadThe Promotion, and Mongol.