I have seen and enjoyed two films recently. Some people might say they are quite different, but I think they have a lot in common: one is about a 40-year old superhero in a robot suit; the other is about a young boy’s relationship with a semi-paedophile former Nazi. You can see why I might get the two confused in my mind, so just because it’s easier I shall review them in one post.
10 May 2010 by superlative
Iron Man 2
Some people would call this a flagrant and needless attempt to extract more money from the Iron Man franchise after an initially successful film. Indeed, when watching the sequel I did find an awful lot of similarities with the first film that made me think “was there really any point in making this?”
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is once again challenged by someone using a hijacked version of his own design and must battle it out and prove his suit is better than the other guy’s. There is a vague plot slung around the whole thing, and in this second film Scarlett Johansson prances about in a skin-tight outfit to distract you from the obvious similarities with the first one.
Originality aside though, I did enjoy it, and it was a perfectly acceptable means of being entertained for a couple of hours. The fight scenes are quite cool, the special effects are polished, and Gwyneth Paltrow is reasonably amusing as the unfortunately-named Pepper Potts. Oh and that funny arm-robot that’s a bit like a scutter is back too.
It’s not amazing cinema, but it’s better than being stabbed in the face. I even quite liked Robert Downey Jr in it, despite him not being my favourite actor, as he plays the smug richboy character of Tony Stark quite accurately.
My verdict: B- (not a disaster, but could do better )
The Reader, on the other hand, was really really good, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It’s not very often that I find myself transfixed by a film, and then left pondering it for ages afterwards.
I’ll try not to give too much away, but it is essentially the story of a 15-year old German boy who embarks on an affair with an older woman. They lose contact, and years later while at Law School, he finds that his former lover is a defendant in a trial brought against Nazi war criminals.
The story is well-written and the acting is superb. I found Kate Winslet’s character Hanna believable, and quite disturbingly touching when you realise what she is accused of. I think that the conflict the audience feels towards her is a testament to the cleverness of the story and her quality as an actress, and the answers that the film doesn’t give you allow you room to ponder and interpret it as you wish. In a way you’re drawn into the mindset of the male character, who experiences the same mixture of emotions as he tries to reconcile the woman he thought he knew with the woman he encounters later in life.
Quite rightly, Kate Winslet won an Oscar for it, and I also enjoyed the performance of David Kross, her gratuitously naked young lover. And before you say “doesn’t that make you a bit of a paedo?”, the actor wasn’t actually 15 when he made it, he was about 18, so that makes it alright if I had a bit of a look.
My verdict: A (polished and intriguing)