I am a huge Matt Damon fan. While Philip K. Dick adaptations are notoriously hit or miss even the misses often fall under the banner of “interesting failure”.
(The prior statement ignores the fact that I once sat through “Paycheck”. I wish that I could exist in one of Dick’s worlds where they can wipe out the memory of pointless experiences. “Paycheck” would be near the top of the list of cinematic experiences that I would purge, right next to “Man Trouble” and “Revenge of the Sith”.)
I was unable to see “The Adjustment Bureau” in the theater, which at this point is par for the course. That is a shame. While I watched it on screen that is larger than I ever thought could exist in a house as a teenager, it was still far too small to compare with a silver screen. All I could think was it would be interesting to see it as it was intended to be seen.
The size and scope of New York is a huge part of the story and while that was reflected in the home viewing I feel that it would have had a greater impact on the large screen. Much like “Braveheart” and other films that have iconic landscape shots something is lost when you don’t see it at the theater. The mountains of Scotland and the towering skyscrapers in New York are not merely supposed to be the size of your head, they are supposed to dwarf you.
Mise en scene and story aside, “The Adjustment Bureau” works because of the chemistry of the two leads, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Their connection is believable from the first scene that they share together. Unlike many romantic films I never questioned why they were drawn to each other. In an age where romantic leads are often put together based on Q scores or box office power it was refreshing to watch two people with chemistry to burn.
That is not to say that the romance is the only interesting part of the film, after all the film is based on a Philip K. Dick short story. I personally like titular organization aspects of the film. Part sci-fi, part ecclesiastical, the Bureau worked for me. This was helped by the casting of those who are trying to make sure that Damon’s David Norris stays on the path that the commissioner set out for him. John Slattery and Terence Stamp are excellent in their roles of middle management members of the Bureau.
“The Adjustment Bureau” also bucks a modern-day trend and does not over stay its welcome. It clocks in at 1:45 which gives it the opportunity to build tension and story without the 21st issue of bloated, needless story elements. I highly recommend giving “The Adjustment Bureau” a chance.
“The Adjustment Bureau” is available from Netflix on DVD.
I loved “Iron Man”. It was surprising because even though I am a have always been a huge Marvel fanboy, I never connected with Tony Stark or his superhero alter ego. The first film was a very well done origin tale. Robert Downey Jr. was perfect as Tony Stark and director Jon Favreau paced the film in a perfect manner. The highest praise would be from my wife, who is not a comic book fan; she loved it.
I could not wait to see “Iron Man 2″. However life once again got in the way, and I had to wait for DVD. I had read the reviews and, “the film was less focused, lackluster at times”, were common threads. I had hoped that the critics were just being rough on the sequel of their darling. Sadly that is not the case.
“Iron Man 2″ is a good film. It just feels like it is trying to be too many things.
It brings the familiar superhero sequel story to the table; the hero who is reluctant to continue. It is a bit tiresome at this point. There has to be another story worth telling in a sequel. With “Spider-Man 2″, “Superman II” and “The Dark Knight” all having similar threads, this is well worn territory.
In addition to the familiar tale, “Iron Man 2″ is saddled with setting up the larger Marvel Universe and the upcoming “Avengers” film. While the fanboy in my loves the idea of the filmmakers making the film world larger than just Iron Man, it tends to be distracting. The best word to describe “Iron Man 2″ would be unfocused.
As unfocused as it can be, it is filled with great moments and performances.
- Robert Downey Jr. is again money in the lead role. He is Tony Stark, and although the “walking away” storyline is all too familiar Downey does well with what he is given.
- Sam Rockwell was my favorite performance in the film. He played Justin Hammer, the inferior foil to Tony Stark in the industrial world. He stole the show every time he was on the screen with his neurotic, slimy rap.
- I loved John Slattery’s performance as Howard Stark. I am a sucker for father-son angles and this film delivers on that end. The look on Downey’s face when he realizes how much he meant to his father is perfectly heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
- The final battle between Iron Man, War Machine and the drones was well staged. It made up for the lackluster final battle between Iron Man and Iron Monger in the first film.
- The supporting cast, which is enormous, play their parts well. I would’ve appreciated less clutter, but the clutter is often entertaining.
Still, “Iron Man 2′s” great parts do not add up to a complete sum. Sometimes I feel spoiled by the flood of superhero films. To have a film like “Iron Man 2″ when I was 12 was but a dream while I read the “In development” pages in “Starlog”. But in a Post “Batman Begins” and “Spider-Man 2″ world “Iron Man 2″ just does not make the cut.
Recommended with some reservations. I recommend waiting for pay cable or hitting up RedBox if you need to see it.