Movie Review: Iron Man

Details: More information can be found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/ and https://www.disneyplus.com/movies/marvel-studios-iron-man/6aM2a8mZATiu

Score: 7/10

I recently got access to Disney Plus, which means I now have access to all the Marvel movies. Disney has conveniently laid out of these movies in their intended watching order and I’ve decided to give them all a watch through. First on the list is Iron Man, a movie so successful that it spawned the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tony Stark is technological genius. He is the head of Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer who sells weapons to the United States military. After getting kidnapped by terrorists in the middle east, Tony realizes that his business may cause more harm than good. He then constructs the most technologically advanced weapon on the planet, a high tech suit of armor powered by a nearly limitless power source. With this new weapon, he seeks to rectify the mistakes his company has committed.

Much of what I liked about this movie are the same thing I enjoyed in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. It’s the perfect balance of comedy and drama, which is a high dose of comedy with a little drama. The action is very good and the special effects — which were amazing at the time– still hold up surprisingly well.

The main attraction of this movie is Robert Downey Jr., who plays our protagonist Tony Stark. Downey does a great job portraying a charismatic jerk. His dialogue flies fast and loose. Part of that may be because much of film is flying by the seat of its pants. I watched some behind the scenes for this movie and much of the dialogue was not finalized until the day of shooting. Production simply moved too fast to slow down (probably due to financial restraints) and the actors adapted accordingly. Somehow, the dialogue and performances still felt natural and fun, though you can see a little bit of that improvisational energy that you’d see in your local improv troupe.

Overall, this was a fun movie. It doesn’t get too dark like Batman Begins nor does it get too campy like the old Fantastic Four movies. It’s the right balance of funny, action and special effects. Iron Man stands the test of time as an ideal summer blockbuster movie.

Movie Review: Soul

Details: More information can be found at https://movies.disney.com/soul and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2948372/

Score: 8.2/10

Pixar has done it again. Soul is the latest classic and masterpiece from those geniuses at Pixar. It is a unique, incredibly creative story about finding your purpose in life, before life and after life.

There will be some spoilers ahead.

Joe is a high school music teacher who dreams of being a successful jazz musician. After getting the gig of his dreams, Joe dies. He goes to the after life and meets 22 a soul who has yet to be born. Together, the two must figure out a way to get Joe back to his body so that his dreams can finally come true.

There’s just so much here that is amazingly unique and creative. Firstly, the portrayal of New York City is incredible. If you’ve ever been inside a New York City public school, you’d recognize that grungy dirtiness in the movie. They also take a lot of real world New York City locations and portray them accurately. I recognized a lot of the streets in the movie, including a more obscure one from Woodside. I think they may have even chosen real world locations for every scene in the movie. But what I love about the portrayal is that it is a noisy, dirty, grungy, accurate portrayal of New York City and that works wonderfully for the narrative. This is a story about appreciating the beauty of life and Pixar does an amazing job of contrasting that noise with narrative moment of clarity and beauty.

The other thing I loved was their portrayal of the afterlife. It is one of the most unique, hilarious, yet universal portrayals of the afterlife I’ve ever seen. The visuals they use are so abstract, spiritual and conceptual, which is exactly what a higher state of being should be. And yet, it is hilarious. It’s one part philosophical and existential, one part played for laughs. The beings that govern the afterlife all look like they walked out of Picasso paintings and behave like something not from this world. And yet, they have English accents. It’s a wonderfully creative balance between high concept and just funny enough to being enjoyable to children. That’s one of the things Pixar has done well historically; they tell stories complex enough for adults, but enjoyable for children as well.

Overall, this movie was fantastic. It’s an instant classic and enjoyable for audiences of all ages. In my opinion this movie easily ranks up there with movies like Coco and Ratatouille.

TV Show Review: The Mandalorian, Season 2, Episodes 6 through 8 (the Finale)

Details: There are only eight episodes this season so this review includes the finale. More information can be found at https://www.starwars.com/series/the-mandalorian and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8111088/

Score: 8.2/10

This season and especially this finale episode of The Mandalorian is a master class in fan service. If you are a Star Wars fan, this will hit you right in the nostalgiac feels.

Spoilers ahead.

Wowowow. These last few episode were pretty good, but that final episode… wow. That final episode is what fans have been wanting to see for a long time.

Obviously the most gratifying thing in the final episode was the appearance of Luke. Not just Luke, but Luke at the height of his power. The most important aspect of putting Luke Skywalker in this episode is that it must be played by Mark Hamill. He doesn’t need to physically be there, but it needs to be his voice. Thankfully, it is Mark Hamill. He’s in the credits and I looked it up on imdb.com. I’m so glad it’s actually Hamill because the special effects they used for his face looked terrible. However, none of that matters. What matters is that Hamill was actually there and that is enough to give it that feeling of authenticity and nostalgia all long time Star Wars fans needed.

With that said, there was quite a bit of emotion between our protagonist and baby Yoda. It was surprisingly emotional given that Luke Skywalker actually made an appearance.

A interesting side note to this series is just how many powerful female characters there are. In this final episode, pretty much every powerful character other than the protagonist is a strong, ass kicking woman. An interesting creative choice on Filoni and Favreau’s part. I had no idea he was so supportive of women’s empowerment, or maybe this was pushed by Disney and Kathleen Kennedy. Either way, I like it.

Overall, this series gave Star Wars fans exactly what they wanted, which is amazing considering how the movies mostly failed to do so. The Mandalorian is amazing. It is peak Star Wars. It is no exaggeration to say that Filoni and Favreau are carrying the entire Star Wars franchise on their shoulders.

Movie Review: Aladdin (2019)

Details: More information can be found at https://movies.disney.com/aladdin-2019 and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6139732/

Score: 6.8/10

Aladdin is the latest Disney classic to be remade into a live action film. It’s all right, but I still hate these live action films because of how transparent they are at being cash grabs. I do understand that as long as audiences continue to throw money at these live action remakes, Disney will keep making them.

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