Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just Wright

I'd love to hear a song from Common and Queen Latifah.
But a movie, I had my doubts.
I expected a disaster from the director of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 but Just Wright was still a let down.
First off, Common is not an NBA star and it rang false from the first shot of him with a basketball. And a big time star? They couldn't have tried something more believable, like he's a good player, they really went for the best player around. Two-time league MVP, Nets' franchise player. And even more unrealistic, the Nets are a contender??!?
With that in mind, I could have moved on if the story was good, but it's the same tired story we've all seen before: "unattractive" girl surprises everyone and gets the awesome, hot guy.
Are we really teaching a lesson with that or are we just showing that women can be shallow too?
Latifah's character is supposed to be some homely woman who is every guy's buddy and it's so unlikely a ball player would fall for her.
After all those Covergirl and Revlon ads have told us how pretty she is, now we're supposed to buy her as the ugly ducking?
She might not be the conventional beauty, but she is certainly no one's ugly.
But the biggest problem might just be the directing though.
Sanaa Hamri clearly knows how to build a shot and work with the camera, but she has talented actors giving lackluster performances throughout the entire film.
That kind of consistently poor acting can only be attributed to the director.
Every NBA cameo in the world couldn't save this wreck.
I'm reluctant to really hate this movie because I like so many of the people in it and am a big fan of Common's music, so I'm giving Just Wright a D+.
--John Berry, online editor--

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Iron Man 2

Fan boys (and girls) can rest easy.
Jon Favreau delivers on the promise that he made with the open end of his first Iron Man movie. Again, it seems like the fact that he is clearly a fan of the subject matter is shown in his reverence and respect for the story he is telling.
Iron Man 2 is every bit as fun to watch and tech-nerdy as the 2008 film.
The basics: if you liked the last one, you're probably going to like this one.
It mixes the humor, action, drama and epic scope that made the last one such a surprisingly great film.
Robert Downey Jr. is actually even more perfect as Tony Stark in this one, with the same mix of narcissism and joviality that made him dead on for the role to begin with, but improves on the last performance with a role that delves a little deeper into the demons deep inside Stark that made the comic book character perpetually compelling.
The rest of the cast bring the typical Marvel references to secondary characters that are mostly enjoyed by nerds who grew up with comic books and superhero cartoons: Black Widow, Nick Fury, War Machine, Whiplash, Jarvis, Justin Hammer and even a very brief (and not-so-subtle) reference to the son of Odin.
Tony Stark has a wonderful dilemma of which super-hot redhead he wants to be enamored with in Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts and Scarlet Johansson's Natasha Romanoff/Natalie Rushman/Natalia Romanova.
The replacement of Terrence Howard still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, but Don Cheadle is a great actor so he does a fine job with James Rhodes, though I still argue that Howard's portrayal was smoother and cooler, even if Cheadle's Rhodey gets to actually wear the suit.
Mickey Rourke's Whiplash is seriously menacing, even if he's a bit washed out by being one of the enemies instead of the only enemy that Iron Man faces.
Like many superhero movies, they try to put a little too much story in not enough space, so elements that could be better get a bit marginalized, like Rourke's evil genius which could have been spotlighted a bit better.
This film is clearly going to be not just one of the best action movies of the summer film season, but it lays a lot of groundwork for the Avengers movie that is scheduled for release in 2012.
In spite of trying hard to include a bit too much awesomeness, Favreau and crew manage to present us nerds with the right mix of story and action to make his second Marvel foray just as good as his first, which really took audiences by surprise that "Gutter" had that much genius in him. As much fun as it is to watch Favreau act, I really hope he keeps directing if we're going to get quality like these, and Made, out of him rather than Zathura.
Now I'm looking forward to Cowboys and Aliens in 2011.
Iron Man 2 gets an A-
--John Berry, Online Editor--