I will start with the latest in the Iron Man series, starring the always hilarious Robert Downey Jr. I am not a massive Iron Man fan I will admit, – the first one I can barely remember, and the second I wish I couldn’t remember as it was just not very good. However, The Avengers was my movie of the year last year, and Iron Man (and Mr Downey) played a huge role in both the fun and the action that made that film fantastic. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new outing.
So, how was it? I hear you asking (in my head. Kind of like voices in my head, but not the crazy ones, honest). Answer: it was mighty mighty good, and a hilariously fun ride. This is pure action and spectacle, but if you like villains blowing things up and a super hero trying to stop them, then you can’t go past this for a fun use of your time. The highlight? Not the things blowing up, not the Iron Man suits, not even Mr Downey himself, but just a superbly funny and fast paced script. The Avengers was funnier than any action movie I had ever seen, and director/writer Shane Black has stepped up to Joss Whedon here and said ‘I can do that too’. I have to see the movie a second time because I was laughing so hard I missed other funny lines. The jokes came thick and fast, and allowed you to laugh your way over any spaces where the plot may have been lacking somewhat.
But the plot wasn’t really lacking in much. Tony Stark aka Iron Man, suffering from PTSD after his activities with the Avengers in New York (and I loved how they recognised that a human being caught up in all that craziness with aliens and gods would be a little bit, um, affected) finds himself donning the suit(s) yet again to fight a rather formidable foe – a shadowy terrorist rather bizarrely (since he isn’t orange or fruity) called The Mandarin. Ben Kingsley has so much fun with that role that you wonder whether he even asked to be paid at the end of it. He is supported in evil doing (or is he?) by another nemesis in the form of scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce – also enjoying being evil, yet again). There is alot going on in this movie, and no massive plot holes that I noticed. There is a stretch where Tony befriends a young boy where you kind of wonder why they linger so long on it – but that bit happens to have the best jokes of the whole movie, so you don’t mind at all (also, going to these movies with comic book geeks has its benefits – using geek in a thoroughly complimentary way – it appears there may be more to the kid, in the Marvel universe, than it may seem).
So, a thoroughly fun watch. Not quite up to the spectacular wondrousness of The Avengers, but pretty damn close. 4 & a half colourful M&Ms.
I will now change direction from a Marvel actioner to a marvellous attempt to create a new genre: the Zombie Romantic Comedy (Zom Rom Com) – Warm Bodies. I have spoken before here about my excitement for this film, based on a hilarious looking trailer and a new found interest in zombies. The film tells the story, in parts by narration – which works well here – of a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult). He thinks his name started with R, but that’s all he can remember. He spends his days shuffling around an airport with other zombies, occasionally having ‘conversations’ with his best friend M (Rob Corddry), and sometimes heading into the city for a feed. Obviously not at McDonalds, unless there are some humans to eat there. On one of his missions he ‘meets’ a human girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer), and eats the brain of her boyfriend, which gives R all of her boyfriend’s memories. And that’s where things get interesting.
One would imagine getting audiences to buy into a zombie as a romantic prospect for a female lead would be hard work, but they make it look easy here. The narration helps, with Hoult able to sound much more human and also providing some great hilarity (‘Don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy’). Hoult himself also does a great job. If they had tried to get, say, Taylor Lautner, to play this role, it just wouldn’t have worked. Hoult has a kind of alternative other-worldy look normally anyway, and that comes through as the zombie starts to become more human. And he is ably supported. Teresa Palmer, in a little bit of a Bella Swan role here, but with less of the moping, does a decent job, and John Malcovich is suitably menacing as her protective father/head of the human resistance. Comedic support – and I cannot emphasis enough how amusing this film is, it is worth going for the laughs alone – is provided by Cordrry and Analeigh Tipton, as Julie’s best friend.
The screening I went to was made up mostly of teenage girls (yes, I felt VERY old) and they all seemed to lap this up. I would suggest though that they aren’t the only demographic who would enjoy this – anyone who enjoys a good laugh and anyone with a passing interest in zombies will find this completely fresh take on the genre really interesting. And any Shakespeare scholars out there? It may make you shudder to your bowels to know there is more than a passing ‘based on Romeo & Juliet’ vibe here, but they don’t hit you over the head with it, and I loved identifying the wee connections. Overall, a fun Sunday afternoon watch. 4 M&Ms from me.