So today kicked off the 2008 season for the Super Summer Movie Fun Club – Go! This clandestine organization gets together every week during the summer to see the latest and greatest Hollywood has to offer. Generally speaking, summer is when all the big movies we’ve been looking forward to finally come out; you’d think this would result in a couple of joyous, slap-happy months, but it seems like the big movies just get worse and worse and all our excitements ends with us crying in our ice cream afterwards. The good news is we now have a word to describe all of our summer movie emotions rolled into one: Anticippointment. Won’t you join us?
Anyway, Iron Man was released this weekend and the Super Summer Movie Fun Club – Go! was there, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst…
We descended upon the AMC Burbank 16 at high noon and picked up our tickets for the 2:35 showing; we figured the extra wait would be worth it for digital projection (not all the screens were DLP) and plus we needed time for lunch!
After the usual debate over the best place to eat, we ended up at the last place on the block – The Burbank Bar and Grill. Service was slow and the food was mediocre but, then again, if you want good food, don’t eat at an establishment with the phrase “bar and grill” in the name (see previous reference to anticippointment). I had the club Sandwich but only finished 3/4 of it (the leftovers may still be sitting there if any hungry readers are interested).
We then legged it over to the theater, where the long line we joined progressed down a very narrow, uncomfortable corridor (imagine stretching the last few seconds of the Trash Compactor scene from Star Wars into half an hour and you’ll get the idea).
The fun had already started!
An usher worked his way down the line, tearing our tickets in half in advance. He checked back again later to make sure everyone’s ticket had been torn, although I am confident most of us would have been up to the challenge had he not been there. We were finally let in and, much to our surprise, discovered the theater was really small. Silly us for thinking the digital theater would be one of the larger ones! We had to scramble to find seven seats together, but luckily Dave and Kevin spotted an empty row of seats and risked their lives to dive across them until the rest of us could catch up.
As Steve and Dayna were making their way to the last two seats in our group, some crazy broad who had already finished half her popcorn tried to grab them. Dave told her they were being saved and she cried “that’s really not cool,” almost spraying half-chewed popcorn over all of us. She took issue with the fact we were saving seats for people who were not there yet, so we all pointed to Steve and Dayna (now less than ten feet away) and screamed “it’s for them!” She shook her head and walked away, once again declaring, “that’s still not cool.”
“Not for you, anyway,” I shouted.
Finally we settled in, the lights dimmed and we were treated to a preview of the summer that lay ahead – trailers! Here’s my thoughts and predictions:
You Don’t Mess With Zohan: I think we all agree that although we would rather not be caught laughing at more of the same, old, tired Adam Sandler schtick, sometimes you just can’t help it! No matter how bad some of his movies may be, there are always enough outlandish, truly funny moments that you don’t completely hate yourself for going to see it. This will be no exception.
The Dark Knight: If we can only have one truly great movie this summer, this is the one we want it to be. The trailer makes me worry it may turn out to be nothing more than an adept, explosion-filled action movie, but I’m hoping that this is another example of Fight Club Trailer Deception – where the studio, deathly afraid of a dark, intelligent movie, cuts together a trailer to make the film look like a brainless bullet-fest. Fingers crossed.
The Love Guru: This looks like a two-hour movie derived from a skit that wasn’t good enough to be included in the last fifteen minutes of a Saturday Night Live episode. If this sucks as hard as the trailer Mike Meyers may have to make a career out of voicing Shrek for the rest of his life.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull: Like Batman, we want this one to be good, but we all know it won’t be. The trailer was ok, but so were the trailers for the Star Wars prequels! I have a feeling this movie is going to be so jam-packed with glib references, in jokes and actors from the previous three films there won’t be any time left for the two-star movie it’s trying to be.
So, folks, that about wraps it up for the summer movies.. .oh wait, I was supposed to review Iron Man! Um… it was great until the last 15 minutes when it degenerated into the cliche-ridden parody of a super-hero movie that it had so deftly avoided for the first hour and a half. But still good, you should see it.
UPDATE: Super Summer Movie Fun Club – Go! members are sending in their reviews! Here are the latest:
Iron Man strikes just the right tone at telling a story that is current, yet not politically preachy. Powerful, yet not graphic. It’s full of hi tech gadgetry fun, but still has real characterizations that interact well. Some might think the Third Act is a little contrived, and by the numbers… but the execution of it is top notch and entertaining. My Second Favorite superhero movie.
The movie made me want to BE Iron Man, which is the point of a summer movie. As expected, Robert Downey Jr carried the movie, but everybody else was excellent as well. I was mostly struck by the surprisingly strong hand Jon Favreau showed in directing the movie. Tonally spot-on throughout, true to the character and the universe. Technically, the guy knows where to put the camera — lots of stacked frames and north-south directing; the Audi R-8 porn was nice, too.
The unconventional casting of Robert Downey, Jr, as a flawed superhero pays big dividends. He brings a lively combination of charm, dickishness, wit, and vulnerability to the traditionally thankless role of the hero’s alter ego. The distractions of director Jon Favreau’s extended cameo, a workmanlike score, and a rather conventional third act are no match for a wonderful cast, good pacing, excellent visual effects, and a smart (and surprisingly funny) screenplay. Definitely a top-tier superhero movie.
Summer kicks off on a better than expected note with Iron Man; Robert Downey Jr. absouletly makes this film. He’s the pefect, unexpected choice and I think he actually improves upon the Marvel charater. And character does seem to come first, even though the third act was by the numbers – enjoyable, but by the numbers. Jon Favreau’s handeling of the material was for the most part spot on, and he ends up making a film for adults that kids will also enjoy.