Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr

The Judge ***

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“The Judge” is a wonderful film about a family that has simply come apart through years of tragic moments. It also gives Robert Downey Jr. a break from the Marvel Universe to really sink his teeth in to a more dramatic role. Director David Dobkin, known more for movies like broader comedies like “Wedding Crashers” and “Fred Claus” shows here that he can really handle some difficult drama. I was surprised by how much this movie affected me after it was over.

Downey Jr. stars as Hank Palmer, a lawyer with questionable ethics who suddenly needs to fly to his home town to attend his mother’s funeral. This forces him to be with his brothers and father, all of whom he has not seen in years after some family drama we learn about later. His father is Joseph Palmer, the local town Judge. The first moment they see each other on screen is so cold I think I felt a shiver go down my spine. Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong are his brothers, who he receives a little more warmth from.

Soon after the funeral Hank’s father is arrested for vehicular homicide. Guess who is going to step up and represent him in court? Of course his son Hank. This is a movie after all. One of the movie’s short comings is that it is rather clichéd. The heart of the story involves the family as they slowly begin to accept one another again. There is never a true reconciliation which might not be possible considering the events that drove them apart, but they do make a serious attempt.

Movies like this really depend on the performances by the actors. Robert Downey Jr. plays a character that we don’t really like nor do we really hate. He is very good here. His father is played by Robert Duvall, who gives his best performance in years as a man who is absolutely firm in his believes and has a very difficult time forgiving anybody.

Vera Farmiga also stars as Samantha, Hank’s high school sweet heart who still desires him. She knows full well he is leaving town in a matter of days but doesn’t mind getting a little action. There is a minor drama including her daughter who may or may not be Hank’s daughter.

“The Judge” really touched me. I couldn’t really care less about the court room plot. I was more interested in this family and how they started to heal old wounds that were so big that they were still felt years later.

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Iron Man 3 ***1/2

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“Iron Man 3” marks the beginning of what Marvel Studios is referring to as Phase 2 in their cinematic universe. Their first series of films culminated in last year’s “The Avengers”, where some of their most famous super heroes banded together to defend earth from a massive invasion. I will admit that I didn’t fall in love with the first phase of films, including the first two Iron Man films. I thought they were fun movies but not exactly in the same league as say “The Dark Knight”.

“Iron Man 3” is the best of the series so far and has me really psyched for this next phase of films. Writer and director Shane Black wisely has crafted a movie that mostly stands apart from the other Marvel films. One of the issues I had with “Iron Man 2” was that it spent too much time setting up the future. This third movie focuses on putting Tony Stark to the ultimate test by pitting him against a truly diabolical adversary.

Ben Kingsley plays the Mandarin, a powerful terrorist who is unleashing havoc on all his targets. When Tony threatens him he reacts by destroying his home which unexpectedly results in Tony stranded in rural Tennessee. Not by accident I might add. The plot is complex and creative, complete with twists that nobody will see coming.

Guy Pearce joins the cast this time as Aldrich Killian, a scientist I cannot say too much about without giving away some of the surprises. Returning cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle as Pepper Potts and James Rhodes, aka, Iron Patriot.

Now as much as I like Jon Favreau, I much prefer what Shane Black has brought to this franchise. He has created a great story and merged it with some truly spectacular action sequences. The best being the moment when Iron Man must save over ten people who are falling from a crashing airplane.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows ***

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After two movies now I have given up hoping that we would get a true film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Once you accept the fact that they have turned him in to a man of action, then you will find that “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows” is a pretty fun movie.

Robert Downey Jr, is back again in the title role with Jude Law again at his side as Dr. Watson. Along for the ride is Noomi Rapace as a mysterious gypsy, and Stephen Fry as Holmes eccentric brother.

The villain this time is the legendary Dr. Professor Moriarty played deliciously by Jared Hess. In fact the best moments in this film are when Holmes and Moriarty face off in battles of wits and word play.

I guess we live in a time when audiences no longer care for a seriously diabolical mystery thriller. People want action and eye candy. I enjoy those things too but it just is not enough for me.

Iron Man 2 ***

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I think I am one of the few people who didn’t think that the original “Iron Man” was an amazing film. I liked it but I didn’t love it. I do however think it is better then the sequel. “Iron Man 2” is entertaining, and has a lot of elements that I liked, but it seems to be lacking a coherent story and fully developed characters.

Take for example the villain of the film, Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke. When he is on screen he is pretty cool. He has built a suit similar to Tony Stark, with certain upgrades, including electric whips that can slice through metal and concrete. My only problem is that he is not nearly in the film enough. He has a basic back story followed by a spectacular battle with Iron Man on a race track. After their confrontation though he finds himself shuffled to the back burner until the ending. Even when he shows up at the end, his battle is pretty cool but is also very brief.

The secondary villain in the film is Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell in a wry comic performance. He is another millionaire inventor who has lived in the shadow of Stark his whole life. His scenes with Robert Downey Jr. strike a perfect tone. But even his evil scheme plays second fiddle in most of this picture.

So what exactly is this movie about? The story mostly follows Tony Stark in his efforts to fight off the government from taking his suit and his fight to stay alive as the reactor in his chest is slowly poisoning his blood.

Gary Shandling has a beautiful scene as a U.S. Senator during a hearing where he tries to justify the repossession of the Iron Man suit for national security.

Anyway enough negativity. The movie is a lot of fun. The action rocks and Robert Downey Jr. is terrific once again. I also loved all the setup towards the impending “Avengers” movie. I just think that this could have been so much more then it was.

Iron Man ***

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When I saw “Iron Man” back in 2008, I didn’t fully realize the world it was basically a gateway in to the entire Marvel universe. I don’t think they fully realized it either. It was the first film leading up to “The Avengers”. When I saw it back in 2008 I liked it but I just didn’t love it as much as most seemed to. Watching it years later I will say that it is much better than I remember.

As Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. is finally able to break in to the mainstream. He was a fantastic character actor for years but was not able to find true box office success until “Iron Man”. It took a lot of courage for director Jon Favreau and the people at Marvel to cast Downey after his rather checkered personal history. That gamble paid off huge both in terms of ticket sales and quality. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. He makes him his own while at the same time keeping the essence of the character.

The story is your typical super hero origin story. Stark is a the owner of a massive weapon’s manufacturer. When he is kidnapped by terrorists he develops his first suit of armour to escape. This is a large, clunky device that barely works but it serves as the basis for the suit we all know and love.

When he returns from captivity, he returns a changed man. He vows to stop making weapons, much to the dismay of Obadiah Stane played by Jeff Bridges. Bridges eventually becomes the Iron Monger, battling Stark in a much larger and more powerful suit which is the climax of the film. Bridges is perfectly maniacal as Stane.

Terrence Howard plays Stark’s best friend James Rhodes. He will eventually become the War Machine. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Pepper Potts, Tony’s loyal assistant and possible love interest.

Watching the movie now 5 years later and the film still holds up very well. The action and effects are all top notch. The characters are clearly defined and well acted. I still think that this film is not quite in the league as say “The Dark Knight”, but it is still much better than I remember.