And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


The Avengers (2012)
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Iron Man 2 (2010)
Rhode Island Red

Tony, sporting the Rhode Island Red

Given that Iron Man 2‘s already a Designated Hit of the Year, nothing I can say will make the least bit of impact on the film’s bottom line. I find that rather freeing, because I don’t have to pretend the film is some amazing stand-out example of its genre. It’s not bad, but it’s still a fuzzy-headed rehash of tropes that should be familiar to anyone who’s watched a superhero sequel. The Villain Hypertrophy, the mawkish sentiment, the origin of A Sidekick, the Hero striving against his Fate, trying to shore up his Legacy against Death’s inevitable encroachment while simultaneously learning how to play well with others – it’s all here. And it’s all so mind-numbingly safe I had to slap myself with a Netflix envelope just to recall why I was here. Continue reading



Sherlock Holmes (2009)

I could care less about Robert Downey Jr.’s personal reformation into an Action Hero and franchise flagbearer. He must be doing something right, though damned if I can find two movie critics who’ll agree on just what that is. Most dismissed his turn as Sherlock Holmes, and dismissed this film as a bit of mindless fluff meant to tide us over until Iron Man 2. Read Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll find this film suffers from the usual consensus: it’s a bit of fun, sure, but in no sense civilized. And it ruined Sherlock Holmes.

Both of these readings are false, the product of a false consciousness that lets actors and directors walk away with all the credit or the blame. This ignores the real lesson Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories teach because it has to do with plot…and if that were important we’d all be watching smarter films (instead of, say, Iron Man 2). All of Doyle’s stories are wound Swiss watches of plotting, simultaneously illustrating and espousing upon Sherlock Holmes’ vaunted methods of Reasoning. Tonight, then, let us assay this Sherlock Holmes‘ plot, in the hope of understand why this film managed to disappoint almost everyone who saw it. {More}



Iron Man (2008)

In another unexpectedly pleasant surprise, Iron Man turned out to be perhaps the strongest of this passing summer’s superhero movies. I say “perhaps” because, while it lacks The Dark Knight‘s length and The Incredible Hulk‘s emotional sequel-baggage, Iron Man never rises to anything other than the low-tide line of my expectations. Movies are like that these days. I’m spoiled. We’ve all become spoiled by the expectation of eye-gouging special effects. I’ve believed a man could fly all my life; seeing it no longer impresses me. Much.

This movie impressed me…but not with its showy, summer-movie action scenes. No. Instead, Iron Man outflanked me, scaling the battlements of my cold, critic’s heart by reminding me why I used to drag my ass out of bed a six a.m. on a Sunday morning to watch the Iron Man cartoon that played on the Fox affiliate of my youth. Why, in other words, I liked Iron Man in the first place. {More}