And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Quickie Review: Dolittle

I often skip the “kids movies” since my nieces and nephews have aged out of them. But I will generally make an exception for animation, musicals and anything with Robert Downey Jr. Dolittle has the latter. After years of playing Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and other PG-13 and R-rated characters, Downey wanted to make something his younger kids could see. Thus, we have Dolittle – a sweet, harmless, sometimes goofy film reminiscent of the family-friendly comedy adventure films of my youth. It won’t displace the 1967 Rex Harrison version (with music!), or Eddie Murphy’s 1998 take on the classic tale; but for a new generation, this re-imagining of the doctor who can communicate with animals is superficially satisfactory. It’s got enough heart and animal shenanigans to entertain the kids and placate most of the adults in tow.

Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers: Endgame

And so it ends… in a suitably epic and satisfying way. Avengers: Endgame is a superhero chick flick – part drama, part action, part tearjerker. It’s also part comedy, in that witty yet poignant style that has come to define the Avengers whenever they are called upon to assemble. Three hours of non-stop efforts to turn back the hands of time without sacrificing the future. Avengers: Endgame is a gift to the Marvel Cinematic Universe fanbase that has seen most if not all of the 20+ movies that began with the debut of Iron Man in 2008. If you don’t care for Marvel movies to begin with, then move along; Endgame is not for you. If you are a fan, and haven’t been able to get the image of superheroes turned to dust out of your head since the final scenes of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, then it doesn’t matter what I write, or say, about Endgame. You have to go. Sooner rather than later to avoid any spoilers or buzzkill.

Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers: Infinity War

I don’t know what to say. Really. There’s little to say, without giving too much away. So here’s the spoiler-free gist: The Avengers – and their superhero allies from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe – engage in what may be their deadliest showdown of all time. Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Spider-man, Captain America, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and others too, join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gemora, Groot, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, etc.) to defeat a mighty alien named Thanos who aims to eliminate half the universe. Thanos’s misguided plan for population control rests on his ability to collect all six brightly-colored “Infinity Stones” that can manipulate elements of time, space, reality, power, the mind, and the soul. If Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeds – all hell breaks loose, and a lot of people die. In other words, the stakes are higher than high for this epic action adventure sci-fi fantasy flick.

Avengers, assemble! And bring reinforcements! Victory is not guaranteed.

Review of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ever wonder what a ‘Generation Z’ Peter Parker would be like? If so, look no further than Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest (reboot? reimagining? prequel? pseudo-origin story?) of your friendly neighborhood superhero (and Avenger in training). As introduced briefly in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, English actor Tom Holland is the newest, and youngest Spidey to don the suit in what is, in essence, Smallville: the Spider-Man edition (i.e. instead of Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on TV, you get Tom Holland as a young Peter Parker navigating the challenges of both High School and superheroism on the big screen). The film certainly provides a fresh and interesting take on the iconic character and his place in the Marvel franchise; I just don’t feel like we needed it. But since we’ve got it anyway, here’s the bottom line: Spider-Man: Homecoming is perfectly entertaining for what it is (a superhero coming-of-age comedy drama action flick) and sets the stage for a Spider-Man for a new generation. Only time will tell if Holland has more web-slinging staying power than his predecessors Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3) and Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Young Spidey’s integration into the Avengers franchise could give him a solid advantage.

Captain America: Civil War

I’ve always considered myself an Iron Man gal in the Avengers universe, but man oh man, Captain America is growing on me! So while I understand the marketing appeal of a #TeamCap v. #TeamIronMan rivalry, I am hereby declaring myself Switzerland in this Civil War! I refuse to choose. And as any Avengers fan is sure to guess, you don’t really have to. The marketing gimmick – like the movie itself – is all in good fun. That’s not to say there isn’t a decent story at the heart of this latest entry in Marvel’s Avengers franchise. There is. And that’s why this movie deserves to crush DC Comics’ Batman vs. Superman at the box office. It’s full of action, drama, Stark snark, superhero banter, a few unexpected twists, and good old-fashioned themes about friendship, conscience, and moral ambiguity. Can you tell I kinda liked it?

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Fans of the Avengers – assemble! My guess is they’re already packing the midnight showings and putting this superhero superflick in prime position to knock those Fast and Furious folks from the top of the Box Office. And rightly so. Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers the goods. It’s not as good as the first one, but it serves the purpose of advancing the Marvel mythology and providing pure escapist entertainment by bringing together, once again, the world’s mightiest heroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Eye candy, sarcasm, action. What’s not to like?

The Judge

It’s got Robert Downey Jr.

Oh, you want to know more?

Okay, here goes. The Judge is riddled with clichés, runs about a half-hour too long, and doesn’t really offer up anything groundbreaking. But I still liked it, mostly because Robert Downey Jr. is so darn watchable – even more so when he’s not obscured by an Iron Man suit. The guy is aging – and acting – really well.

Chef

Written, directed and starring Jon Favreau, Chef is the feel good foodie flick du jour. Favreau stars as Carl Casper, a formerly hot young chef who’s lost his mojo, but finds his way back by starting from scratch. It’s a fun movie with a lot of heart and a fabulous cast. Besides Favreau, it boasts Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and a host of other top shelf talent. For audiences hungering for a change of pace from the special effects driven films out there, this is the ticket!

Iron Man 3

The plot of Iron Man 3 is wonky. But when you’ve got Robert Downey Jr. donning the suit, it doesn’t really matter. You’re in for a fun ride – especially if you’ve seen the previous two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, one of my favorite flicks of 2012.

This time around, wealthy industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey) finds his Malibu complex reduced to rubble and his loved ones (most notably, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts) threatened by a menacing terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Marvel’s The Avengers

I’m no comic book aficionado (far from it), but I really liked The Avengers. And that’s mostly because I really like watching Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. You’ve got to love a superhero who’s cynical, sarcastic, witty and walks around in tight jeans and a “Black Sabbath” tee-shirt when he’s not suited up for battle.

The movie also features a host of other reluctant heroes from the Marvel Comic Universe, including the Shakespearean thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the recently defrosted World War Two soldier-extraordinaire, Captain America (Chris Evans), the mild-mannered doctor-turned-green-monster-when-he’s-angry The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the brooding guy who’s good with arrows, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the psychologically damaged superspy chick in a form-fitting bodysuit, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).