Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robin Hood

Ridley Scott has done it again. The man knows how to make big movies, and he’s scored with “Robin Hood,” starring the ever-powerful Russell Crowe as Robin Hood, or more accurately Robin Longstride, because this is a prequel to the familiar story, and I liked it.

And with Cate Blanchette as Marion Loxley, we have another marvelous actor.

Both Crow and Blanchette have 12th century faces – hard and good, intense and strong, kindly, with steel!

It’s gritty and it’s 12th Century – life is dark, damp and short.

Be sure to stay for the credits – it’s a million-dollar sequence – the most exciting credits I’ve ever seen.

Acting is superb … great cast ... the cinematography captures the 12th Century – the mud and the warfare. Like was hard, indeed. Music is typical for a movie of this caliber – powerful stuff for a powerful story.

The story is massive, and there are some editing jumps, but the audience can follow along ... and did the French have landing craft?

The relationship between Robin and Marion could have been done a bit more effectively, but it works.

Don’t wait for Netflix – see it now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Iron Man 2

Written by my good friend and accomplished writer, Michelle Welker Scott!

The Iron Man with the Heart of Flesh

Sometimes, the most interesting thing about super heroes is not their strengths, it’s their weaknesses. And Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is a flawed human being of epic proportions. Not only is he physically dependent on the Arc-Reactor in his chest, he’s also vain, egocentric, and ridiculously impulsive. In short, he’s a fascinating character.

Iron Man 2 picks up where the first Iron Man ended, with Stark openly proclaiming his identity. Unlike Superman or Batman, Tony Stark flaunts his superhero alter-ego. At the beginning of the movie, he lands his Iron Man suit, rock-star like, in the middle of his adoring fans.

But while Tony revels in his fame and fortune, his life is crumbling. The Arc-Reactor in his chest, the thing that keeps him alive, is slowly poisoning him. The son of an old family enemy has come back to seek revenge. Justin Hammer, a corporate rival, is building a fleet of iron man suits of his own. And the US military is breathing down Stark’s neck, demanding that he release his technology to them.

For all his panache, Tony Stark is a flawed man, and his biggest flaw (other than the faulty core of his heart) is his determination to remain alone. Throughout the movie, he attempts to tackle all of his problems solo. It’s only when he gives in and accepts the help of his friends that he is able to move forward.

Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 doesn’t possess the same degree of tension that the first movie had. Stark’s inner battles, though fascinating, just do not carry the same impact as a prison break from a Middle East terrorist camp. Yet, this movie offers much more than the average sequel. The plot is intriguing, the characters are interesting, and the special effects are, of course, dazzling.

It goes without saying that Robert Downey, Jr. makes the movie, but the other actors aren’t without talent. Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Stark’s personal assistant Pepper Pots, has wonderful on-camera chemistry with Downey. And Tony’s rival, Justin Power (played by Sam Rockwell), is perfect as an annoying wannabe who will never be Tony Stark any more than the dowdy PC guy will be Mac in those Apple commercials.

If the movie gets off to a slow start, it’s offset by the high-impact ending. After all, every great pitch begins with a windup.

~ Michelle Welker Scott