Movies Today, SA: An Iron Man is back to have you staring at goats

Five new films make their debut at South African cinemas today, including Love Happens, the Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart romantic drama that suffers from dreaded entiremovierevealedintraileritus and is 18% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Also releasing today are Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock (48% Fresh), a comedy-drama that centres on the iconic 1969 music and hippie lifestyle event, and Bollywood romcom musical Housefull.

Anyway, my 2 picks for the weekend are as follows:

Iron Man 2 - While the original Iron Man film, based on the Marvel comic, lacked the dramatic weight of The Dark Knight, there was no denying that it was the most entertaining blockbuster of 2008, and arguably one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. I certainly loved it - apart from the overblown climactic fight of course.

A sequel was inevitable, and Iron Man 2 picks up essentially where Iron Man left off. Cocky billionaire and genius weapons developer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is continuing to make waves as Iron Man. Having publicly "outed" himself as a superhero, Stark has to contend with several new challenges in Iron Man 2, including vengeful Russian villain Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), a rival industrialist (Sam Rockwell) who will do anything to harness the Iron Man technology for himself, and even Stark's own ever-growing ego as the world fawns over Iron Man.

Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Stark's loyal assistant and sometimes love interest Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle replaces Terrance Howard as Rhodey and Warmachine, and Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast as secret organisational operatives Black Widow and Nick Fury.

At the time of writing this post, Iron Man 2 was 73% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. That's good, but not outstanding. Reviewers seem to belong to one of either 2 camps.
  1. Iron Man 2 is much the same as the first film - lightweight undemanding fun while remaining a top tier comic book adaptation. Only it's all a little less fresh this time around.
  2. Iron Man seems to just be a set-up for future films in the Iron Man/Avengers franchises, and is overstuffed with characters, noise and confusion.
Personally I'm expecting Iron Man 2 to be on par with the first film - nothing more, nothing less. Out of interest, South Africa is getting to see the film a full week before it debuts in the United States, so enjoy this chance to be ahead in the movie release game for once!

The Men Who Stare at Goats - The big appeal of The Men Who Stare at Goats is that it's a military comedy with a fantastic cast that includes George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Based on the book by Jon Ronson, Goats focuses on a reporter (McGregor) who stumbles across the story of a lifetime: post 9/11, during the Iraqi War, the US military has set up a special psychic spy unit based on New Age teachings and paranormal research. Lyn Cassady (Clooney) is perhaps the oddest and most enigmatic of the recruits, adamant that he is essentially a Jedi or a warrior monk, with the ability to walk through walls, control minds and even kill a goat just by looking at it.

Judging by the film's trailers it's all very quirky and tongue-in-cheek.

The Men Who Stare at Goats hasn't received the greatest of reviews. The film is just 52% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has been called an amusing anecdotal tale that highlights the absurdity of war, but otherwise remains quite silly, superficial and "safe." Apparently the film's cast seem to be having a lot more fun than the film's audience, who have already seen most of the best scenes in the trailers.

Still, I'm getting a strong Thank You for Smoking farcical feel from this one, which isn't a bad thing at all. If you're really not in the mood for superheroes and mindless explosions as the midyear movie blockbuster season arrives, The Men Who Stare at Goats is probably one of the more witty, cerebral options available to you.


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