Monday, May 12, 2008

New in Theaters: Ironman

Remember what I said about superhero movies, and how we're getting tired of them? I lied. Or at least, Ironman was unique enough to cause me to change my mind, which is impressive enough in and of itself.

From an average action-movie goer's perspective, this film had a very different nature than the recent barrage of hero flicks. Of course some of the obvious differences:

  • Tony Stark is not a "good guy." The "good guy" has values, morals, etc. (Think, "With great power comes great responsibility.") Stark has none of these.
  • Tony Stark is normal. Or at least, as normal as a rich playboy can be. Really the other main superhero with wealth would be Batman, but Batman has a very eccentric history (your typical rich kid doesn't wind up picking flowers on the side of a mountain to become a ninja.) In other words, Tony Stark isn't special. This is key to the draw of Ironman.
  • Stark is not given a gift. Being given/born with a gift is fine for a superhero, but overused. (Think Spiderman/Superman/Fantastic 4/X-men/Heroes/etc.) Ironman has the same draw as Batman in this regard, both of these two "do-gooders" had to create their character, it wasn't created for them.
The above 3 plot differences, plus Robert Downey Jr. as Stark, makes this one worth seeing.

Downey Jr. really shined in this one, giving a "polished bad ass" effect to Stark's character. Yes, that may sound like an oxymoron, but it seems the appropriate description. Downey is one of the kings of sarcasm.

The biggest issue with the movie was the cinematography at the final climax...particularly the scene where the Arc Reactor is triggered and explodes. From the look of the cinematography, Ironman was closer to the reactor than the larger iron-clad villian. Stark was directly above the reactor practically, and his former business partner was a little ways off on the roof. However when the explosion happened, Stark survived (with only half of his suit left) and the villian (with suit still intact) was killed. Not exactly practical...but also not really a huge deal because few people will stop to think about that in the middle of the theater. Nonetheless, it's nothing a small change in camera angles can't fix.

Over all, a must-see.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Essence of Film


Modern America is obsessed with them. An unfortunately large number of American-made films are nothing but a collection of visual effects and melodrama-based flicks that lack a deeper meaning or art. Foreign films are losing their prestige, too, but at a somewhat slower rate.

Just look at the trends...any time a popular movie comes out, a average half-dozen cheap knockoffs come not long after. Superhero movies can be great for entertainment, but really, they're starting to get old when they're coming out this fast. Same for you zombie movie many possible names for the same virus type can we come up with?

Now here's where we pull over. People can be creative with zombie movies, or superhero movies, and even (rarely) chick flicks. I love it when this happens, and it helps the typical movie-goer broaden his perspective. And of course, some movies are good for just plain entertainment. But this is key:

Porter van Duran's First Law of Film: If a movie doesn't represent quality art of some form, it is worthless

Art can be many things. Comedy is an art in my opinion, and it has been largely butchered by the typical comedy film these days. Outstanding acting, intricate plots, hidden messages, causing people to ask questions...all of these are signs of art in a film.

So, my readers, what should you expect from me, Porter van Duran? Critical scrutiny? Yes. Honest likes and dislikes? Yes. The occasional scathing reviews typical of a critic? Most definitely.

Porter van Duran's Second Law of Film: A film is not worthy of being called a film unless it has gone beyond a flick