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“The Expendables”
a review by Darby O’Gill

It’s the Ocean’s Eleven of action movies! But sadly the comparison ends there. If only the movie could be nearly as good as its marketing hype. Although, I do like the fact that Sylvester Stallone is trying to bring back the old school action movie format. The Expendables definitely has the old school feel, but unfortunately it also feels like they might be pulling there punches when it comes to the violence. Sure the action sequences are incredible, but there’s also this grittiness that seems to be missing that I fondly remember from the old Commando days. That’s not to say you don’t get graphic violence in The Expendables; there are plenty of bloody head-shots to be had, but in this day and age you need to step it up if you want to stand out.

The Expendables is about a group of mercenaries that are hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Of course things are not what they seem, and Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of brothers find themselves in way over their heads. I also want to make it perfectly clear that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are in this movie for a whole five minutes. This is not the ultimate team-up the trailers would have you believe, and half that scene has already been shown in the trailers and TV ads. Those of you overly hyped to go see this movie are going to see it not matter what I say. But, that’s fine because that’s the whole point of the movie. If I was still a 12 year old boy that had to sneak into rated R movies, I would probably love it too. Hold on! Before you even start writing your hate comments, because I just insulted you by calling you an immature 12 year old, let me explain. I think the reason, for me anyway, that the old school action movies were so badass, was because you weren’t supposed to be watching it in the first place. When we were kids we didn’t have the internet. We had to sneak off to the video store and rent a bunch of Disney videos, while cleverly slipping a copy of Raw Deal into the middle of the pile, and just hope that no one at the counter notices it during checkout. Kids today… Holy shit! Did I really just say that! Fuck, I’m getting old. (sigh) Kids today have it way too easy. They can Netflix anything without even leaving their house. Hell, they can even stream it instantly. Where’s the adventure in that? I had to sneak out of the house, ride my bike 5 miles, and hope that the clerk at the video store didn’t deny me the rental. We’re talking at least two weeks of plotting and planning here. Okay, I’m getting a little off the point. The point is, even though those action movies of the ‘80s were incredibly awesome, there were other elements that added to our enjoyment of them at the time. The Expendables tries to bring back that old feeling, but it falls short. Not only because times are different, but also because the movie just isn’t that good. The story and characters leave a lot to be desired, but they’re watchable. But, let’s be honest. It’s the action that counts, and it’s also the one thing this movie has plenty of. But is it enough? I would have to say, no. It just doesn’t get to that point where I say, “Wow that was a great ride!” I know. I know. It doesn’t matter what I say, you’re still going to see it. Well, I hope you have fun.

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“Iron Man 2”
a review by Darby O’Gill

A lot of things can go wrong, and often do, when making a comic book movie sequel. But gladly none of those things seem to be happening in Iron Man 2. Most comic book movies, namely the 1990’s Batman sequels, tend to find themselves spreading their stories ridiculously thin when adding way too many new characters to a storyline, but director Jon Favreau somehow manages to avoid this pitfall. Not only does Iron Man 2 work, but it also manages to do so while maintaining it’s fast pace, and it’s very well executed sense of storyline. Even with a handful of new characters being introduced, at no point does the audience, or the storyline for that matter, feel bogged-down by a bunch of origin story telling. I think Iron Man 2 should be the text book example of how to tell complex storylines to an audience without spoon feeding them at the same time.

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., not only finds himself dealing with the U.S. Government wanting the ownership of the Iron Man weapon, but also the fact that the very thing saving his life, could very well be killing him at the same time. If that weren’t enough, the Avenger Initiative has also started to lose their faith in him as a proper hero, and begin to question his future role in the Initiative. Topping it all off, Stark finds himself paying for the sins of his father, and dealing with a new enemy known as Whiplash, masterfully played by Mickey Rourke.

Now I figured with the addition of so many new characters, characters we’ve already met like Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, would become secondary characters; making way for the new ones. But, I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case. Pepper’s character plays just as big of a role, if not bigger, in this film as she did in the first film. Also Don Cheadle’s replacement of Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James Rhodes was seamless. I really liked Cheadle’s choice to play Rhodey the exact same way that Howard did. It really made the role more about the character, and less about the actor playing the character, which is not something all actors would choose to do. Scarlett Johansson is well under played as the Black Widow, but in a good way. The movie doesn’t rely on her as new eye candy, but rather uses her as needed for the story, which is a refreshing change of pace for movies like this. Which brings us the show stealing performance of Sam Rockwell; I don’t know what else to say other than… Wow! He really does bring his ‘A’ game to his performance as Stark Industries’ rival competitor, Justin Hammer. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. That guy needs to work more! Last but not least, Robert Downey Jr. continues to effortlessly capture the essence of Tony Stark, a role he was clearly born to play.

Is Iron Man 2 better than Iron Man? It’s hard to say. They’re two completely different movies. In the first Iron Man, there is this nice slow story pace that helps to ground the movie, but in Iron Man 2 you hit the ground running and it just feels right. With most sequels it’s easy to say which one is better, but with this one it’s truly is a continuation of the original movie, and feels like they are one and the same. Yes, I do realize that I just contradicted myself by saying they’re completely different and yet the same movie, but it’s true. I really hope all the other franchises out there are paying attention, because this is how it’s done. I think it’s safe to say that the 2010 season of summer movies is officially upon us, and the bar has been set very high thanks to Iron Man 2.

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