Sunday, May 23, 2010

“Movie Review: 'Iron Man 2' - Examiner” plus 3 more

“Movie Review: 'Iron Man 2' - Examiner” plus 3 more

Movie Review: 'Iron Man 2' - Examiner

Posted: 22 May 2010 08:14 PM PDT

The long-awaited sequel to 2008's mega-blockbuster has finally arrived, and with it, everyone's favorite narcissist-turned-humanitarian Tony Stark. The debate has already begun as to whether or not Iron Man 2 lives up to its predecessor, or perhaps even surpasses it. Admittedly, I was not a huge fan of the first film, though I did enjoy it overall, so I would have to say that I fall into the second group.

The sequel picks up not long after the first film ends. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is enjoying his new-found fame as a superhero. Using his powerful Iron Man suit, he has brought about a new world peace that is threatened when a Russian scientist, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), decides to take his revenge on Tony for something Tony's father did to his father in the past.

Complicating things is the government's demand that Tony turn over his Iron Man suits to them. Tony continually refuses to do so, claiming that they are not really weapons and that they are his own property. On top of that, there's also Tony's business rival, a weapons expert named Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who wants to make his own version of the Iron Man suit. After Ivan fails to kill Tony using similar technology, Justin decides that a partnership with Ivan would be best in order for both of them to get what they want.

Going back to the original film for a minute, there were a couple of overarching problems that the film had that stopped it from being a great film. First off, the beginning section where Tony is captured by terrorists failed to really build up any suspense and merely left the audience to wait for him to escape. Its other main problem was its villain, played by Jeff Bridges, who, while a magnificent actor, never comes off as threatening in the least.

The sequel tries to fix these problems. First, it cuts out a lot of the exposition, and since the origin side of the story is already done, this film is allowed to get to the main story much faster. It still uses up a little too much time with Tony gallivanting around, but it at least starts one of the subplots during this section where we discover that the very device that is keeping Tony alive is actually slowly killing him.

For this film, to make sure they got the villain right, they brought in two incredible actors. Mickey Rourke, who sadly only gets to grunt his dialogue, plays the menacing Ivan Vanko, while Sam Rockwell, who's not exactly menacing, is a kind of secondary villain. Both of them have what the other wants, and both think they can use the other to get it. Ultimately, they have a similar goal: to knock Tony Stark down a peg. Well, in Ivan's case, it's a little more than that.

What had made the original worth seeing overall was the great performance from Robert Downey Jr., who fits the role perfectly because he is able to play a narcissist so convincingly. Even after he reveals himself to be Iron Man and brings about world peace, his other side still comes through loud and clear. Gwyneth Paltrow also returns as Pepper Potts. Her chemistry with Downey Jr. was something else that made the original worth seeing, and it is continued on into the sequel.

Aside from the performances, the sequel seemed to have a lot more humor to it, which was a pleasant surprise. I found myself laughing a lot more than I had during the first film. While this was a surprise, the film's ending goes down a very similar road that the original had, making it mostly predictable. What had been kind of dull about the original's climactic battle scene was that it was simply two machines pounding on each other. The sequel tries to outdo it by having several machines trying to kill the hero, which doesn't really solve the problem, but at least they try to mix it up a bit by involving other characters like Rhodes (Don Cheadle), a good friend of Tony's, as well as a couple of agents who work for SHIELD, a top secret organization.

Speaking of SHIELD, Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury, who, if you remember from the original, showed up at the very end to discuss the "Avenger Initiative." The film drops a few hints that it's leading to something: The appearance of Nick Fury, a mysterious shield in Tony's laboratory that you may have noticed in the first film, and an ending that is left somewhat open. Apparently, Iron Man is supposed to be in the new Avengers movie, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was another Iron Man film.

Many people will probably not find this one up to par with the fun of the original, but personally, I ended up having more fun with this movie, so while I gave the original a mild recommendation, I can give this one a slightly stronger one. It has some good performances as well as enough story and action to satisfy the fans. If the filmmakers fix the problems of the first and third acts and improve upon this film like they did the first, then the third could be quite something. 3/4 stars.

Starts today in theaters everywhere.


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Summer movie preview: 'Get Him ToThe Greek' starring Russell Brand, Diddy and Jonah Hill (PHOTOS) - Examiner

Posted: 22 May 2010 02:16 PM PDT

The upcoming summer preview is "Get Him To The Greek." The movie reunites Jonah Hill and Russell Brand with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller in the story of a record company intern with two days to drag an unpredictable rock legend to Hollywood for a comeback concert.

From the film's synopsis, Aaron Green (Hill) gets things done. The ambitious 23-year-old has exaggerated his way into a dream job just in time for a career-making assignment. His mission: Fly to London and escort a rock god to L.A.'s Greek Theatre for the first-stop on a $100-million tour. His warning: Turn your back on him at your own risk.

British rocker Aldous Snow (Brand) is both a brilliant musician and walking sex machine. Weary of yes men and piles of money, the former front man is searching for the meaning of life. But that doesn't mean he can't have a few orgies while he finds it. When he learns his true love is in California, Aldous makes it his quest to win her back...right before kick-starting his world domination.

As the countdown to the concert begins, Aaron must navigate a minefield of London drug smugglers, New York City street fights and Las Vegas lap dances to deliver Aldous safe and sound, sort of. He may have to coax, lie to and party with Aldous, but Aaron will get him to the Greek.

The movie opens June 4.

See some photos from the movie below:

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Hollywood Star Power Meets NASCAR Horsepower When the A-Team Movie ... - Who Won

Posted: 19 May 2010 05:15 AM PDT

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Hollywood Star Power Meets NASCAR Horsepower When the A-Team Movie Stars Join Historic Pre-Race Show for Coca-Cola 600

by Scott Cooper

CONCORD, N.C. -- The stars of Twentieth Century Fox's summer motion picture event THE A-TEAM will make a special high-octane appearance at this year's Coca-Cola 600 on May 30 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. THE A-TEAM headliners Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Sharlto Copley will deploy on a secret mission during the spectacular pre-race festivities for the 51st running of the Memorial Day Weekend race.

In addition, the four Hollywood luminaries will serve as honorary race officials for the Coca-Cola 600 and take part in various activities around the speedway prior to the main event.

The Coca-Cola 600 will be televised live on FOX at 5 p.m. EST and can be heard on the radio through the Performance Racing Network beginning at 4:45 p.m. EST.

"The Coca-Cola 600 has always been a blockbuster race on the NASCAR schedule and now we're pairing one of the summer's biggest and most highly-anticipated movies along with it," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We're adding A-Team star power to NASCAR horsepower and we know the millions of fans watching the race will love the combination to kick off the summer season."

THE A-TEAM follows the exciting and daring exploits of a colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going "rogue," they utilize their unique talents to try and clear their names and find the true culprit. Liam Neeson ("Taken"), Bradley Cooper ("The Hangover"), mixed martial arts champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and "District 9" sensation Sharlto Copley are THE A-TEAM, -- and Jessica Biel is the officer relentlessly pursuing the Team for a crime not of their doing. The film lands in theaters everywhere June 11. Visit for more information.

The only 600-mile event on the NASCAR schedule, the Coca-Cola 600 tests the endurance of both drivers and equipment each May and provides fans with more entertainment value than any other race in America.

Paying tribute to all veterans and active U.S. military servicemen and women, the pre-race show for the Coca-Cola 600 will include flyovers with vintage aircraft from different wars; a military assault demonstration by Special Operations soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C.; on-stage recognition of Medal of Honor recipients; and the unfurling of a gigantic, 11,250 square-foot American flag by families of active-duty troops.

Tickets for all May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS. Friends and family four-pack tickets start at just $39.75 per person for the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 and at $35 per person for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

For daily updates on May race activities, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter at or become a Facebook fan at

Coca-Cola 600
The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., is one of the premier sporting events in the country and one of the feature events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Approximately 150,000 people will be on hand for the May 30 event and millions more will watch and listen worldwide as the race is broadcast on television by Fox Sports and on radio by the Performance Racing Network. Ticket and event information is available by calling 1-800-455-FANS or visiting

One of the world's largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

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PREVIEW: Cannes movie marathon ends as top honours ... - Monsters and Critics

Posted: 22 May 2010 05:58 PM PDT

After a rather shaky start to the battle for Cannes\' coveted Palme d\'Or (Golden Palm), the 19-movie main competition managed to gain momentum in the final days of the world\'s leading film festival.

While few critics are willing to lay bets on the victor, the leading contenders for the festival\'s iconic awards include films from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Britain\'s Mike Leigh and France\'s Xavier Beauvois.

Other favourites to emerge from Cannes\' 12-day movie marathon include Mahamat Saleh Haroun\'s Un Homme qui Crie (A Screaming Man), which represented Chad\'s first ever entry in Cannes\' main competition.

Headed up by US director Tim Burton, Cannes\' nine-member jury is due to hand out the festival\'s top prizes at a gala ceremony set for Sunday.

But international film festival juries are notoriously difficult to predict when deciding upon awards.

Movie festivals also like to try and open up new horizons in global cinema.

The views on the Croisette, the palm-lined beachfront boulevard that cuts through Cannes, have been more divided about some possible candidates for prizes.

This includes avant-garde Bangkok-born director Apichatpong Weerasethakul\'s tale about both animism in the Thai jungle and a man celebrating his past lives: Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives). It left some festival goers perplexed, while others left enthralled.

The festival has also brought to the fore several commanding acting performances.

Among them have been Britain\'s Lesley Manville who plays a lonely middle aged woman in Mike Leigh\'s Another Year, a wry comedy about the small pleasures and disappointments of ordinary life. Leigh won the Palme d\'Or in 1996 for Secrets and Lies.

Also winning acclaim at the festival has been leading South Korean actress Yun Jung-hee for her role as a grandmother trying to find poetry in life as her world unravels in Lee Chang-dong\'s moving Poetry.

The film marked Yun Jung-hee\'s return to the screen after more than 15 years.

Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem has also been mentioned as possibly in line for the festival\'s best male acting award for his role in Inarritu\'s Biutiful.

Bardem plays a man in a race against time in the film, which is set against the backdrop of Europe\'s seamy underbelly.

With his life coming to an end, he battles to improve the lot for those around him, including those he may have treated poorly in the past, including his children.

The often complicated relationship between fathers and sons has been a recurring themes throughout the top competition at this year\'s festival.

In Schastye Moe (My Joy), Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa provides a powerful portrayal of post-communist Russia, still haunted by the ghosts of World War II.

Meanwhile, a 25-year-son\'s sense of abandonment by his father lies at the heart of Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai\'s Chongqing Blues, which is set against backdrop of the grey sprawling metropolis of Chongqing.

And 43-year-old Beauvois\' compelling Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men) is about a group of monks living in Algeria during a period of rising Islamic fundamentalist violence.

It would be hard to imagine that Cannes will not want to make a statement about the jailing of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who had been invited to join this year\'s jury.

This could strengthen the chances of Tehran-born director Abbas Kiarostami leaving Cannes with a top award for his bittersweet romantic comedy Certified Copy.

French cinema has certainly made its presence felt this year with a batch of films in the main competition.

Veteran Lyon-born Bernard Tavernier\'s lavish tale of war, religious intolerance and arranged marriages in 16th century France has also received high scores from critics.

Winning the Palme d\'Or on Sunday would represent the second time in two years that a French director has been awarded what is one of the world\'s top film prizes.

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