I’ve only been to San Diego Comic Con once. In 2010. At the time I remember how insane it seemed to purchase tickets in September 2009 for an event taking place in July 2010. But it was an exciting life goal to cross off my list. My spouse and two closest friends were in attendance. We booked hotel rooms together and spent the weeks before planning out itineraries and scouting out the convention center. Or maybe just I did. Yeah, I think it was just me.
It’s a great experience. Not only is there a chance of spotting or chatting with your favorite writer, artist or celebrity, but you end up meeting all kinds of cool people in epic hours-long lines with the same kinds of passions and enthusiasms as you. Magic happens when people with like interests meet. I’m still Facebook friends with a couple we met in line for The Avengers panel, wherein we hugged random strangers afterwards because there was so much joy and love in the room.
Once in a lifetime was enough for me. Especially since topping The Avengers panel is pretty much impossible.
There was a moment in 2010 when we were standing in line to register and looking at the booth set-up for purchasing 2011 tickets. I almost dashed over and bought a ticket a year in advance. I thought better of it.
I don’t regret the decision. As much as I loved my San Diego Comic Con experience, there were parts of it that never jived well for me. The near-crushing at the WB booth, standing in line for hours to get some crappy trinket I wouldn’t buy with my own money (SWAG!), and the cattle like approach to meeting people you’d admire where the seconds-long interaction is a blur.
ALSO: The relentless product whoring and Hollywood inundation was stifling and frustrating. Everywhere you turned some movie or television show was jammed in your face. You essentially pay money and wait in long lines to be advertised to, all for the promise of exclusive content with leaks to the internet within days or hours anyway. You pay for the privilege of being a test market audience, radiating the promise of future box office profits to pleased investors. There is a seedy element to the manufactured fun at SDCC I never enjoyed.
We already re-capped the nerd highlights of 2011, and as the new year is nearly upon us, it’s time to start getting excited about what it has to offer. Here are 12 nerdy movies (in chronological release date order) that we’re looking forward to.
#1. Underworld Awakening: January 20, 2012.
A total guilty pleasure. Yes, I own all the other Underworld movies. Yes, I watch them on an annual basis. Come on. Kate Beckinsale in tight black leather. Cool werewolf/vampire hybrids. It might not be Oscar worthy, but it will be fun.
#2. The Hunger Games: March 23, 2012.
#3. The Cabin in the Woods: April 13, 2012.
Joss Whedon. Drew Goddard. Chris Hemsworth. Scary movie. Where do I sign up?
Iron Man 2 has been a difficult review for me to write. Firstly – my weekend was intense with a remodeling project. Secondly, my last few nights have been busy. Thirdly…wasn’t sure I had much emotional investment in the film to do any form of analysis.
Despite all that – here ya go.
Yes – the critiques are that the movie tries to do too much in it’s bloated two hour run-time. Yes, it could have easily stretched into four hours to add for lots of character development and so much more action…but it never felt like the film was wobbling or exceeding it’s grasp on the material. Unlike The Dark Knight, which had multiple endings and felt too long. Ironman 2, seemed just a bit too short.
A quick summary – Tony Stark is holding a technology expo as a throwback to his late father right in the middle of some manner of Senate investigation or trial regarding the Iron Man suit and it’s potential value as a weapon. The US military wants to get it’s grubby mitts on the technology (ala Iron Monger). Have a feeling this is going to be a re-occuring theme throughout the franchise…and it’s something that seems totally feasible to me. Yes – if this technology existed, the US Arms folks and Defense contractors would be salivating.
These kinds of details inject the Iron Man mythos, the hot-rod red suit and smarmy playboy cheese with a tangible sense of realism. Something I never felt in The Dark Knight film (to take another stab at that Comic Book Movie darling). Seriously people – get off the jock of that film. Aside from Heath Ledger’s performance…it wasn’t groundbreaking or mind-blowing, and it wasn’t the first film to treat comic book movies without kid gloves. So there.
Meanwhile – in some soviet country somewheres – Ivan Vanko is creating a modified version of the Iron Man suit (with special effects galore via electric whips) based on designs made by his recently expired destitute father, and Stark’s own papa. It appears that Stark Senior claimed all the glory for the tech and left Vanko Senior to rot in the mother country.
Vanko is out for revenge – and his clashing with Iron Man gets the best action-sequences, second only to some fancy footwork by Black Widow (Scar Jo). Sam Rockwell sleazes around as a Defense Contractor yearning to be just as skanky and clueless as Stark himself. Except he’s more eviler. It ends with lots of Iron clanking action.
ALSO: Stark’s mystery illness, hints of alcoholism and S.H.I.E.L.D. bits thrown in on top.
Robert Downey Jr really can’t lose in the role of Iron Man. Tony Stark, a smarmy genius playboy fits him like an exquisite tailor made suit. And what’s more? He’s fun to watch. There isn’t a single moment on-screen where the audience is thinking – geez, why are we still watching this guy? He chomps up the scenery, and the best the other actors can hope to do is keep up. Right? I mean, let’s just say it like it is.
Gwyneth Paltrow does her best as Pepper Potts. It doesn’t help that the original material is sexist garbage. They step up her character a bit more from the first film, and she’s accepts the CEO position of Stark Industries (is that a spoiler? If so – rather minor). The joke is – she’s already doing the job anyway. Any attempt to paint it as though she’s assumed more responsibility since becoming the CEO is kind of laughable. Whatevs – my hopes for women in this particular franchise and for the Avengers are slim. But yay for an attempt at inclusion, even if it’s botched?
I’m not to keen on how things wrapped up for her at the end of this flick.
Don Cheadle lays waste to any of the grumblings about his role with the very first line he utters on screen – “Yes, it’s me. I’m here, so deal with it.” Nuff said. He does a fine turn as Colonel James Rhodes (Rhodey), but the chemistry between Cheadle and Downey IS different. There isn’t much film time for them to establish solid rapport. We all know that was supposed to have been dealt with in the original. There were a few moments between them that felt clunky, and Rhodes *SPOILER* stealing the Ironman suit didn’t come off as well as it could have.
But the battle between the two in the Stark mansion? Awesome. Drunken Tony Stark in the Ironman suit? Awesome. War Machine? Awesome.
Mickey Rourke turns in a guttural and sincere performance as Vanko (aka Whiplash aka Blacklash aka Crimson Dynamo). This man has been on a crazy roll since Sin City – has he really sucked at anything? He doesn’t require much screen time to make his presence felt, and some of the best character interactions happen between him and RDJ in their quieter moments together.