This was taken before the feature started.
Well, two finals down, one to go, then I'll have my first year of grad school under my belt. What happened this week? Well, we had an Elder's Quorom game night; my team rocked Cranium, but ultimately lost. That's a fun game! We don't do a lot of EQ activities (lots of branch and/or YSA activities), and it was cool to get to know all the other guys better.
I saw a real-life fox running through town yesterday, and true to form, it was clever! I'd never seen an animal actually pause and look both ways before crossing the street until now (hence the roadkill of many other species). This fox actually waited for an opening in traffic! Smart creatures. So ladies, next time a guy calls you a fox, it may not just mean that you're hot...he may be complimenting you for your assets above the neck as well.
My friend Rachel had her birthday dinner at Johnny Carino's. Let's just say that things get out of hand if I drink caffeine.
Let's see, I saw Iron Man (more on that in a second), I helped a friend move, went to a lunch one day and a dinner BBQ the next with my co-workers. The BBQ was at Francesca's house (she's my boss; really smart lady, with a good balance between business sense and personability). I got sucked into playing kickball and trampoline games with the kids (yes, I'm aware of the weight differential and I was careful). I love the South; they'll find any excuse to have a barbeque!
And finally, last night was the East Coast premiere of CTU:PROVO. We piggie-backed onto the end of the institute closing social, and between the YSA's and invited guests, we had about 30 people there for barbeque (once again), swimming, and ultimate frisbee before the movie. The latter was the most fun; my branch president and his wife have some great moves. A girl named Mary brought her big black dog, who got involved in the Ultimate Frisbee game by chasing/catching the frisbee, barking at people, and actually biting a couple of individuals who got too close to its master! It was an exciting and terrifying way to play the game, and reminded me of the scene in Gladiator where they release the tigers to increase the stakes. My team did win, BTW. We then watched the movie on a 12-foot projector screen with great sound. It was well-received, and I'm grateful to all who came and supported. The humor went over well, people were complimentary of the technical aspects, and the final fight drew audible reactions from the crowd (gasping, cheering, etc.), which moistened my heart.
IRON MAN REVIEW AND SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW:
MOVIE REVIEW: IRON MAN
The Gyst: With hard-hitting action, unsentimental morality, and a fantastic dry wit (courtesy of a great script and Robert Downey Jr.'s excellent delivery), Iron Man is the perfect film to open the summer. Which isn't to say it's a 'perfect film', but its so much fun, you won't care. **** (out of five). PG-13 (bloodless but intense action violence, a five-second makeout/sex scene).
The Full Scoop: The best superhero movies all have three things: a solid script, iconic characters, and great actors. Iron Man is well-stocked for the latter. Just look at the photo above: we're talking Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff freaking Bridges! The script is also quite good; it's your standard superhero origin story, but it has more than enough originality (both in its morality and in its snappy dialogue) to give it a boost. And while Iron Man isn't the iconic character that Batman, Superman, or Spiderman is, this movie just might make him so.
Directed by John Favreau (who brought a sense of wonder and brilliant comedy to Elf), Iron Man is set above similar films by its sense of humor and Robert Downey Jr.'s too-cool performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Yes, it has awesome effects and some delightfully hard-hitting action, but this is really Robert Downey Jr.'s show. Like Christian Bale, Tobey McGuire, and Johnny Depp before him, this is a decorated actor, well-respected by film-buffs, who is about to become a household superstar thanks to a popcorn movie. His Tony Stark makes the transformation from selfish, hedonistic playboy to moral crusader without losing his coolness or sardonic wit. Like Batman, Iron Man is a self-made superhero, a wealthy mortal with smarts and means but no powers to speak of. And while Batman Begins still holds the title for Best Superhero Movie Ever Made, I dare say that Tony Stark has more fun creating his alter-ego than Bruce Wayne did.
What more can be said about this film than has been said by the nation's critics, who've contributed to its unheard-of 94% approval rating on rottentomatoes.com!?! Obviously, you must see the film. The supporting cast is underused, but well-acted, and I cannot wait to see what they do in the next film (Gwyneth Paltrow, in particular, has fun here, and her chemistry with Downey Jr. is a kick). The action is absolutely rocking. The film's attitude is infectious, its humor: spot-on. But I do wish to emphasize that, despite its critical acclaim, it remains a very good film, but not a truly great one. It lacks the pacing of a Batman Begins, the menace of an X2: X-Men United. The film drags a tiny bit, and while the final action climax is thrilling, it doesn't carry enough emotional weight to feel like anything more than an effects extravaganza (in contrast, an earlier action piece of Iron Man's first real mission is an absolute knockout). Don't get me wrong, there's a place for that sort of "boom-smash entertainment" (Transformers), and it works just fine here. I'm not knocking the film, I'm just saying that now that Iron Man's origin is out of the way, I look forward to a second film where the villain-hero conflict has a whole movie to build some steam. Quibbles aside, Iron Man has more than enough charm, thrills, and emotional gravitas to be the can't miss film of the summer. At least until Indy and Batman pop up. Which brings me to my next item of business:
JONO'S SUMMER MOVIE PREVIEW!
Sitting in the theater on Friday, watching the previews heralding Summer Movie Season (my favorite time of the year, sorry Christmas), I was struck with one thought: this is going to be one fantastic summer. So now, for your consideration, the films on our horizon (note: this list only contains those movies I want to see. Chick flicks are not to be found unless they look any good).
Son of Rambow: Independent British comedy about two little English boys who see First Blood and set out to make their own Rambo movie. This was a Sundance darling and has been a hit with critics. Looks absolutely adorable, even if you've no love for Stallone.
Baby Mama: Tina Fey? Amy Poehler? Yes please. Looks funny.
Speed Racer: I had no desire to see this movie. Thought it looked stupid. But the latest trailer sold me. Why? Because its obvious that they're not taking this seriously at all! The tongue is firmly planted in cheeck. And that is the only way to do this. Matthew Fox's super low voice cracked me up. Plus, Christinna Ricci looks delicious.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian- Should be a fun matinee. The actor playing the Prince is obviously tailor-made to draw pre-teenage girls (Oh, those locks! The "sexy-face" posing makes me laugh; reminds me of Zoolander), but I do like fantasy, I do like C.S. Lewis, and I do like Christian allegories, so I'll be there.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull: If you're not excited about this, you and I need to talk about the sad direction your life is going. I saw the brand-new trailer on Friday, and danged if Harrison Ford doesn't look five years older than the last movie, instead of twenty! Ford is back, Spielberg is back, Lucas is back (producing, which he actually does well), John Williams is back, and Karen Allen as Marion (the best Indy girl) is back. Add Shia Labeouf (I don't understand the haters; he's great. He was the best thing about Transformers), Cate Blanchett, evil Russians, some possibly alien mythology, and a story that, like Rocky Balboa, wisely ages its hero to reflect reality, and you've got some awesome awesomeness coming atcha!
Kung-Fu Panda: Trailer didn't do it for me, but its Dreamworks, and it has the vocal talents of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, and Jackie "The Man" Chan. I'll give it a shot. Why not?
You Don't Mess With the Zohan: I like Adam Sandler okay. He's had some great ones (Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer), and some major crappers. But this looks so wonderfully bizarre, and the trailer had me giggling pretty good. Sandler stars as a former Israeli militant who becomes a hair stylist. Looks like goofy fun.
The Happening: AKA "How Shyamalan Got His Groove Back." Rumor has it that this is hands down the scariest thing he's done since The Sixth Sense, and the awesome trailer (people throwing themselves off of a building?) shows that M. Night is done with children's tales. Mark Wahlberg and Zoey Deschanel (Elf) star. I've heard this may be his first R-rated movie. Sad if true, but I could see how; this is truly scary stuff.
The Incredible Hulk: From the director of The Transporter? Right away, you know this won't have a lot of substance. But then again, it does star Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, and William Hurt, so who knows? All I know is that I need the artsy-fartsy aftertaste washed out of my mouth from Ang Lee's Hulk misfire a few years ago. Hulk smash! Should at the very least be dumb fun.
Get Smart: I loved this show as a kid. Steve Carrell, Anne Hatheway, The Rock, and Alan Arkin star. Hopefully its got the script to match its talent. Carrell, when he's on, is awesome. As is The Rock (if you're snickering at me, then you haven't seen his performance in The Rundown, which is surprisingly funny.)
Wall*E: It's Pixar. Need I say more? They have a perfect track record (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, etc.) Plus he looks so cute!
Hancock: Will Smith (AKA the world's last bankable movie star) as a drunken loser of a superhero. Could be hilarious, or it could misfire. We'll see. I like the whale gag, though. AND Arrested Development's Jason Bateman is in it, which is always a good sign.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army- I wasn't a huge fan of the original Hellboy when I first saw it, but its charm and wink-wink humor, along with fantastically creative design (creatures, sets, wardrobe) have grown on me. I'm pretty stoked for another round, especially since this one seems to be an improvement (a-la Spiderman to Spiderman 2, or X-Men to X2).
The Dark Knight: You've heard of BTS cake? This is poised to be a BTS movie. I'm trying so hard to rein in my expectations. It's only a movie. It's only a movie. It's only a movie. Heath Ledger's final performance is supposed to be one for the ages.
Mama Mia: Meryl Streep, Collin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan? Check? Gorgeous locales? Check. Abba music? Check. Should be fun.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe- I never watched the show growing up, but have since fallen in love with it on DVD. The movie is a standalone adventure to be enjoyed both by die-hard fans and newcomers. I love The X-Files: it's creepy, it's smart, and it has a sharp sense of humor.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor- I like the Mummy movies okay. This one really has me interested, because we're now dealing with a Chinese mummy, played by Jet Li. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Supercop, Tomorrow Never Dies) is in it. Brendan Fraser returns, as does the sidekick, but Rachel Weiss has been replaced my Maria Bello (also a great actress, but the continuity error is glaring), and director Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Fast and the Furious) has stepped in. This is all so bizarre, I can't wait to at least see what comes of it. It could be a colossal failure, it could be fun, it could be both.
MOVIES I DON'T WANT TO SEE
The Love Guru: I'll be the first to admit, the trailer had me laughing (the Oscar-speech bit was priceless), but it looks like this will be too much like Austin Powers; you'll laugh a lot, but feel guilty for seeing it. Too raunchy.
Wanted: Am I the only one who thinks this looks too stupid for words? I might see it, if its so bad that its good, like The Transporter 2. As it is, this Angelina Jolie vehicle looks crappy, not craptacular. Plus, she needs to eat some cheeseburgers, fast. Looks like she wandered out of a POW camp.
Next week I'm back in AZ baby!