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Iron Man

Downey flies high!
When I first heard that there was going to be an Iron Man movie, I was skeptical. Some of the recent origin story comic book movies have been mediocre at best. The Fantastic Four and Hulk are the first two that come to mind. Batman Begins, Spider-Man and Superman were a few of those rare treats where it was done well. Iron Man is one that is difficult to do because of all of the technology involved, not only in the Iron Man suit himself, but because of the fact that the story deals with state of the art technology developed by billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.).

Director Jon Favreau hit this one out of the ballpark, making Iron Man an overnight sensation to those who were not familiar with him in the first place. This film is also the first movie to be released under the new Marvel Studios banner. Before, Marvel worked in concert with studios like Warner Bros. and Paramount to produce their properties, but this is the first to be solely made by Marvel, and then distributed by a major film studio, in Iron Man's case, Paramount Pictures.

This is one of the first superhero comic book movies that I can think of where a well-known actor who is playing the title role, actually does a good job. Does anyone remember Daredevil, or dare I mention again, Hulk.

Besides Downey playing the title character, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow round out the cast. Paltrow actually gives a decent performance as Stark's secretary Pepper Potts, and isn't too annoying like both Katie Holmes was in Batman Begins, and Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns. Howard plays Stark's best friend Jim Rhodes, a military officer who eventually finds out about Stark's 'new toy' and covers for him when his own fighters accidentally engage him, thinking he's an enemy bogey. Just from some of the events in the film, it appears evident that Howard might be back for the sequel, possibly dawning the second suit to become War Machine.

Jeff Bridges plays Obadiah Stane, Stark's mentor and partner in Stark Industries. Not only was he a friend of his father, but he helped Stark build his empire by selling weapons to the U.S. military. Of course Stark doesn't know that someone has been selling his weapons to third world nations as well, to use against the U.S. military. It is partially because of this that Stark starts to build the Iron Man suit and help get his company's weapons back in the hands of the U.S.

The battle between the large Mark I and the Mark III (red and yellow suit) is pretty good. It doesn't get dragged out too long and it keeps you entertained. The film has lots of elements of humor, all used in appropriate places. Most of them revolve around Stark's sarcastic attitude to his friends and his inventions (he talks to his machines in his lab).

There are plenty of shock and awe fanboy moments as we see the armor for the first time on Mark I, and then the machine that puts the Mark III suit on Stark in his lab. It is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Plus, be on the lookout for several agents from S.H.I.E.L.D. The ending is fantastic, with Stark saying probably the most anticipated line in the whole film, easily setting the stage for the eventual sequel.

Highlander: The Source

Ashamed to have 'Highlander' in the title
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTATINS SPOILERS - This film is quite possibly the worst film I've ever seen. Adrian Paul should be ashamed of himself. Paul returns as the much beloved Scottish immortal Duncan MacLeod. The storyline is horrible. First, the film takes place in a post apocalyptic future (first sign of failure), where only a few immortals remain. Second, the film has no flashbacks (which is canon for all Highlander stories). Third, apparently when people look up in the sky they can see the planets, larger than the our own moon. That was incredibly stupid. About a third of the way through the film, Duncan breaks his sword and buries it along with his friend Joe Dawson. Then, suddenly he finds a pair of blades with Japanese writing on it and uses those in battle. There is no reason why he should have these, and I don't see the point of him not using his sword in the story. There's no reason why he can't use it. Duncan reluctantly joins a group of fellow immortals (including Methos) to find the Source of the immortal's power. Cheesy, but okay, I'll buy. However the acting is mediocre by Paul and horrible by everyone else. When MacLeod finally gets to the Source (because of course he's the one that has to find it), it's a complete let down. The Source has nothing at all to do with the immortal's power at all. We are left with nothing. When Duncan touches The Source, it allows him to have children, but that's all. There are no answers regarding the 'Source' of the immortal's power. Which is what I thought the point of the story was about. Simply horrible. At the film's end, there's a montage that basically recaps the whole film in two or three minutes. I could have watched that and got the point of the whole movie. When I saw this out of place montage, I seriously thought the film has started over again and I missed something. I can't stress just how lame this movie was! If they ever do another 'Highlander' film, I sure hope they pretend that this one never happened.

Mr. Holland's Opus

Best movie about teachers ever!!
Mr. Holland's Opus is probably one of the best films ever made. Richard Dreyfuss does a fabulous job taking the audience through the 30-year teaching career of Music Professor Glen Holland. His brilliantly played part makes us pour out tears by the end of the film. It's not a sad movie though, they are tears of joy and accomplishment. Overall it may be somewhat sad, but you feel grateful in the final moments as Holland finally gets what he's always wanted, his Symphony to be finished and heard by others. William H. Macy also does a great job as the high school principal who is always at odds with Holland regarding teaching methods. Dreyfuss definitely got robbed for the Oscar that year and in my mind, he'll always be a winner! I have a musical background myself and this film really hit home with me, especially at the end of the film. Definitely a fantastic film!


The Epic of all Epics
One of my favorite films of all-time is Gladiator. This film was better than that. With an all-star lineup, 'Troy' tells the epic story of Homer's Iliad. Achilles (Pitt) is the rebel warrior of Greece who reluctantly agrees to fight with Greek King Agamemnon (Cox) against the city of Troy. Peter O'Toole plays the King of Troy, while Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Eric Bana (Hulk) play his two sons, Paris and Hector, princes of Troy. When Paris willfully kidnaps Helen of Sparta (Krueger) and brings her to Troy, it prompts Agamemnon to go to war with Troy in order to get her back, although the Greek King desires to destroy the city, caring little about the safe return of his brother's wife. The acting is great, as is the fight scenes, including the one-on-one fight scene between Hector and Achilles. The film is definitely worth a full price ticket, and is actually filled with more elements of dry humor than I would have expected.

Van Helsing

Awesome adventure, great monster movie!
When the credits rolled on this one, I nearly couldn't contain myself. This is a fabulous film with fantastic special effects, good acting, a strong story, and a first rate soundtrack! Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Gabriel Van Helsing is fantastic, as is Roxburgh's part as Count Dracula. Van Helsing's search to find Dracula and complete his mission is not only bold daring, but full of great creature moments and awesome action. David Wenham (Lord of the Rings) does a great job as the comic relief Friar who aids Van Helsing and Anna in their fight against Dracula and the other creatures they face. The only thing that I didn't care for was the fact that Frankenstein's monster seemed too human, and able to carry on conversations. He actually seemed to care. But that wasn't such a big deal. I found the film completely entertaining and loads of fun!

Freddy vs. Jason

Finally a great slasher flick!
When I first heard the idea of this film being made I thought it was the stupidest idea ever. But I have to hand it to the writers. This film delivers in every way that it should. The comedic gore of Freddy Kruger combined with the deadpan violence of Jason Vorhees hits right on the mark and gives us a great slasher flick worthy of the original in each series. The classic elements of horror films come together in this one. Nudity, sex, drugs, language, all the people that use those, die. Just like in the classic horror films. Those who are genuinely nice people, and show now skin are the victors. As with the other films, this one has an ending that leaves it open to possible sequels. Robert Englund's portrayal of Freddy couldn't be better in this adaptation than in any other. Newcomer Ken Kirzinger does a good job as the silent but deadly Vorhees, and the gratuitous gore and nudity is everything the horror fan needs to be pleased with this one!

Nemesis Game

Much Better Than Expected
I originally rented this direct-to-video film because it stars one of my favorite actors (Adrian Paul). I expected this cheesy boring film that would be average. Instead what I found was a movie that kept me guessing until the very end. The film has a superb ending and good acting all the way around. Sarah Novak is a fan of riddles. When she stumbles across a game where riddle after riddle are solved for fun, she gets herself in over her head when the game turns deadly. The 'Nemesis Game' as it comes to be called is supposed to end with one final riddle. If the player gets the riddle correct and writes the answer on the wall, then they are shown 'the design' of the game; a design that is supposed to make them insane. I know, I know the story sounds weird and stupid. But I assure you this is a fabulous film. It opens kind of slow but you must give it a chance to get going. Once it does, it doesn't let go. This very unique plot and inventive ending leave you wanting to know more of story at the end. At the end it leaves you saying 'wow.' This film is highly recommended.

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