Screened Out: Action pact

Screened Out: Action pact

StephenMillerHeadshot_560873495.jpgIron Man 2
(Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson)
The hero is made of iron, but his script is as thin as paper. Action sequences are explosive, the acting is stellar, and director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Elf) again shows he’s ready to play with the blockbuster big boys. These elements shore up a corroded story flimsier than an aluminum can.

Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, the Iron Man who finds that his superpower is also killing him. That terminal prognosis motivates him to be an immature, narcissistic jerk, especially to saintly assistant Paltrow. Still, this hero pulls some slick moves when a nefarious Russian genius (Rourke) and an evil arms dealer (Rockwell) join forces to bring Iron Man down.

SOIronman_110137506.jpgThis is one of those movies with six million senseless subplots. There’s the secret SHIELD agency, with members Johansson and Jackson. There’s goofy boxing shtick with director Favreau. IM2 doesn’t bog us down with science, representing invention as lightning-quick process assisted by supercomputers.

People really don’t go to summer megaplex flicks for inventive storytelling or sound logic. In fact, a little stupidity may comfort some audience members. Really, given that “lowest common denominator” approach, there’s no reason IM2 won’t make hundreds of millions worldwide. It’s a good thing the all-star cast is aboard, aided by a few funny lines, and led by an able director. If this wasn’t the case, the success of such a rust-bucket plot might make one kind of bitter.

The Losers
(Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Jason Patric)
This comic book film gets two stars if your brain is working, three stars if you decide to mentally check out. And let’s admit it: we often go to action flicks so we don’t have to think.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his A-Team-like compatriots are secret soldiers working for a CIA insider (Patric). Big surprise: they get set up and have to go rogue. Problem is they’re stuck in Bolivia until sexy Saldana (Avatar) comes along with a limitless supply of cash and resources. She also has a vendetta against mastermind maniac Patric.

The movie’s biggest problem is that the plans each team executes are genius, but we just don’t get to see the planning itself. This makes the plot permutations impossible to follow.

Still, the requisite two “unexpected” twists are nicely handled. The actors—especially Patric—seem to be having a blast playing their broad, shallow characters. The action is scientifically impossible (think Die Hard 3), but it’s still pretty exciting to watch. Plus, The Losers boasts one of the sexiest men in Hollywood (Chris Evans, who doesn’t go shirtless here. Let’s hope they fix that next summer when he takes the lead in Captain America.)

So, if you’re looking for forgettable fun—and at some point, we all are—The Losers is not a bad way to blow ten bucks.

(Starring Kim Hye-ja, Do-jun Weon Bin)
Ah, the fierceness of a mother’s love! I know we’re just starting the summer season of cinematic excess. But if you want to take a break from the wall-to-wall action, I suggest you try some creepy South Korean mommy-lovin’.

Kim Hye-ja is the afore-mentioned mother. She owns an alternative medicine store, and she stands guard over her handsome, mentally handicapped son (Do-jun Weon Bin). In fact, she controls his diet, she watches him pee (for health reasons), and she insists he sleep next to her. All this mothering might not be a bad thing. After a rare night on the town, Sonny Boy gets accused of murdering a local teenage girl. He’s so unaware, he signs a sloppy confession provided by the overworked police. Immediately, Mommy Dearest steps in and starts her own investigation.

Mother possesses a certain strangeness which may make more sense to a Korean audience; to an American crowd, it makes the whole experience eerier. The story contains a couple oddball tangents that take up quite a few minutes of celluloid. These subplots do provide suspects and mood. However, they don’t really have anything to do with the core mystery.

This subtitled film by director Bong Joon-ho (The Host) is small and gritty.The acting—especially by Hye-ja—is heartbreaking and mesmerizing. In the end, the all-consuming commitment of Mommy makes this foreign thriller a worthy dramatic diversion.


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