Iron Man 2 - I had high expectations for this one, considering that the first Iron Man is just about my favorite superhero movie ever. Then again, we all know what a pitfall superhero sequels can be, which are given to overambition or, worse, are content to cash in on the success of prior installments. Put Iron Man 2 in the first category. Director Jon Favreau mostly gets it right; IM 2 does everything that the original does, only not as well. Good story, but too much crammed in. The characters are solid, but again, a few too many. As much as my male self enjoys Scarlett Johansson in any context, her character seemed a bit tacked on. More to the point is Gwyneth Paltrow, awesome again as Pepper Potts. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell team up against Iron Man and together make for a decent complement of villainy. Each has a bone to pick with Tony Stark, but I usually prefer one bad guy with a lot of character development. One thing that Iron Man has that is truly rare--a protagonist who is more interesting than the bad guys.
I was delighted, though, that the film didn't suck. In no way can it match the slick, stylish, snappy and emotional original, but Robert Downey, Jr. has certainly embraced the opportunity to play what should be one of the great recurring movie roles of our time. His Tony Stark is irreverent, brilliant and, at times, haunted. Oh, and I gotta say, the portable Iron Man briefcase suit is a pretty awesome touch. 3.0 McBones
Dead Snow - I'll take in a good zombie comedy anyday, especially one about undead Nazis and a pack of spoiled Norwegian brats vacationing in the snow capped mountains of Norway. While the story and the main characters are just a cut above average, Dead Snow is worth seeing for its all around flesh eating competence and for the acting clinic put on by Bjorn Sundquist, who for five minutes slurps coffee, quaffs beer and rolls cigarettes with the artistry of a true master. Hand him the McBoner now! 3.0 McBones
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - The more I watch it, the more I am convinced that it is the greatest western of all time. Epic, sprawling, at times elegaic (watch Eli Wallach get beaten to a pulp as a band of imprisoned Confederate soldiers play a mournful lament). Sergio Leone's masterpiece only improves with age, as does Ennio Morricone's seminal score. The GBU features some of most desolately beautiful sets and parched landscapes. The three leads excel, but this is Eli Wallach's moment to shine. As Tuco (the Ugly), Wallace snarls and gestures and drinks and romps his way through almost three hours of cinematic nirvana, crafting a tour de force antihero. The plot (three vagabonds lusting after buried gold) is solid but almost incidental in this character study. 5.0 McBones