Monday, 28 March 2016

The Incredible Hulk

UK Release Date: 13th June 2008

Bruce Banner, a scientist on the run from the U.S. Government, must find a cure for the monster he emerges whenever he loses his temper. However, Banner then must fight a soldier whom unleashes himself as a threat stronger than he (

Director: Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Unleashed, Transporter 2)

Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt

It boils down to this: what makes The Incredible Hulk incredible? Is it the newly appointed Edward Norton? Or love-interest Liv Tyler? Actually, it loses out on incredible credibility, as Norton's Bruce Banner chooses to flee rather than fight. He's a passive man on the run from the U.S. Army, looking for a cure. His ability to change in to a raging muscle-man is what they want.

TIH covers the origin story in the opening credits (sensible move, we've seen it before with Ang Lee's The Hulk). Banner's brute only surfaces when the army won't leave him be. Leave him alone they do not, as they crunch the middle act in to overdrive. Super-human military nut-job Tim Roth makes a cool central villain (the showdown is glorious). Tyler trades whimsical damsel for astute catalyst. It's our second helping on the lead-up to an Avengers movie. Leterrier's effort is a noble one, as Marvel know what direction they're heading. And did anyone think that Norton would make a fine Banner? I didn't see that one coming.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Iron Man 2

UK Release Date: 30th April 2010

With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father's legacy (

Director: Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlet Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell

If you appreciated Jon Favreau's Iron Man, then you'll love IM2. There's not much new on show, but once had a taste of what Tony Stark has to offer, you'll know what to expect. Although Robert Downey Jr.'s character thrives as a philanthropist and making the world a better place, unrest broods in the background. Two villains occupy Stark's attention. The maniacal Ivan Vanko (Rourke), who disproves Stark's theory that every country in the world is far behind his technology, and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), the CEO of a competing weapons/defence manufacturer. The one that sways heads is Scarlet Johansson, the Marvel Universe's much needed heroine (sorry Pepper).

Ultimately IM2 is only as strong as its hero, so pretty damn strong then. Having less superhero smash-ups and more human character development is attractive to comic-book fans and movie lovers.


Iron Man

UK Release Date: 2nd May 2008

After being held captive in an Afghan cave, an engineer creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight evil (

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey  Jr., Kevin Bridges, Terence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow

Robert Downey Jr. is more than fitting as the rich, intelligent, swagger-man Tony Stark. Iron Man is just a suit, so Tony is just a person. He's not a superhero, he's a man thriving in decadence, an entrepreneur with personal gain. His business, Stark Industries, manufactures and sells weapons for war. It takes his kidnapping and subsequent three month imprisonment to realise the wrongs in his life. The suits helps him right his wrongs. Obadiah Stane, work partner and friend of Tony's Father, is against Tony's decisions. With his shiny, bald head, Bridges is a brooding, intimidating figure, taking some of that huge burden laid upon Downey to do so well. 

The finest aspect for me (and some may disagree) is director Jon Favreau's spends more time with the man than the suit. It's about the characters, and it pays to see some real heart in a Hollywood blockbuster.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Gone, Baby, Gone

UK Release Date: 6th June 2008

Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally (

Director: Ben Affleck

Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris,

The Affleck Brothers have collaborated on a deeply political and morally moving story. Ben directs this morbid feast. Private investigators and romantic-partners Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan are on the look-out for a missing girl in Boston. Not much else is known, keeping us at a frustrating arm's length. Casey is an under-rated actor, juggling toughness with anxiety, the rights with wrongs. Gone, Baby, Gone will have us divided, scrupulously contemplating whether Affleck and Monaghan make the right decisions. Both Affleck's have heads spinning and temples aching. Boston has never looked so bleak and uninviting. Avoid watching if you're planning a trip there.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Hail, Caesar!

UK Release Date: 4th March 2016

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line (

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis)

Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Raplh Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlet Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum

The weird and hugely wonderful Coen Brothers strike again with a movie that's as odd as it is dry. The movie focuses around film studio 'fixer' Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). Any complication the studio has, he will suppress. Many burdens need tackling on this particular day; a star on their latest blockbuster goes, twin reporters working for different papers harass him, an insufferable actor who lacks talent, and an actress lacking romance. Brolin crosses the tees and dots the eyes, linking all the other film's participants into one erratic comedy. The dialogue flourishes, the farce entertains and the production's a blast to the past, with a few hidden easter eggs to boot.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Green Lantern

UK Release Date: 17th June 2011

Reckless test pilot Hal Jordan is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers that inducts him into an intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps (

Director: Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, The Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale)

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Taika Waititi

Green Lantern deserves some credit. It tries, and it tries hard. Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has his work cut out for him, his Green Lantern's completely outs-muscled by DC favourites Batman and Superman. He's chosen by the universe's greatest to represent Earth, tackling a bulbous headed professor (Peter Sarsgaard), a giant tentacle-looking creature, a romance with fellow pilot Blake Lively and some been-there-done-that daddy issues. This film only dapples in its plot points, but none quite gel. Harder to believe is Hal left on his Lal to save the world. TGL's leader Sinestro (Mark Strong) and his buddies are left out of what could have been an epic showdown. 

Some good scenes are amongst the mundane, and the CGI is terrific. Hal Jordan though, promptly suffers, left without an audience to care for him. The Green Lantern is good, but never coming out its superhero origin, romance, showdown-with-villain formula.