Iron Man 2 (#110 of 5)

Box Office Rap Thor: The Dark World and the No-Marketing-Required Blockbuster

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Box Office Rap: Thor: The Dark World and the No-Marketing-Required Blockbuster
Box Office Rap: Thor: The Dark World and the No-Marketing-Required Blockbuster

Although Thor: The Dark World doesn't hit North American theaters until this Friday, it's already amassed $109.4 million from 29 overseas territories in just its first weekend. Opening Hollywood films internationally before debuting them stateside is a trend that's existed in some capacity for a number of decades, but it's only become a more common practice in the last few years, beginning with Iron Man 2 in 2010, which saw release in nearly 70 foreign territories weeks before domestic theaters.

The prevalence of American films in foreign markets has existed essentially since the start of World War I; as film scholar David Cook tells it, European studios were forced to shut down production since the same chemicals being used to manufacture celluloid film were needed to make gunpowder, while the American film industry faced no such problems, making over 90% of the world's motion pictures by 1918. Nearly a century later, little has changed, with mega-budget, Hollywood actioners now dominating the global marketplace. Lynda Obst discusses these trends in her recent book Sleepless in Hollywood with what she calls the “New Abnormal,” where Hollywood studios are heavily reliant on foreign markets to see profits and now produce content with dozens of marketplaces in mind. Thus, international casts in spectacle-driven vehicles are preferred, while U.S.-specific blockbusters are becoming a rare breed (look to White House Down, The Lone Ranger, and R.I.P.D. for recent failings on this front).

Box Office Rap The Wolverine and Post-Comic-Con Malaise

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Box Office Rap: The Wolverine and Post-Comic-Con Malaise
Box Office Rap: The Wolverine and Post-Comic-Con Malaise

While DC and Warner Bros. stole headlines this past weekend with plans to integrate Batman into Man of Steel 2 (a.k.a. Batman vs. Superman, or vice versa, as writer David S. Goyer confirmed), it's Marvel and 20th Century Fox that look to immediately capitalize on all the geekdom hoopla this weekend with The Wolverine, the second standalone film for Hugh Jackman's titular X-Man, which has made him one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. What's changed since the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine just four years ago? For starters, it appears that Fox has abandoned plans to make standalone films for each of their comic-book properties, instead offering X-Men: First Class as a means to reboot the entire franchise, while anchoring Wolverine on his own for two films until…wait for it…X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will finally bring all of our favorite mutants together again, marking four X-Men films in just six years.

Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects

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Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects
Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Visual Effects

A category that seems almost too easy to call. Some said that Alice in Wonderland's visual effects were more like human-rights offenses, that Iron Man 2's visual F/X team phoned it in after the first film, and that Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear didn't need to take a swim in Hereafter's impressive tsunami. And though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was strongly reviewed, is there anyone who expects the film to break the franchise's always-a-bridesmaid status at the Oscars so far? Yeah, for its Paris-bending-back-on-itself and zero-gravity scenes alone, Inception shows off the sort of iconic craftsmanship that usually takes this prize in a walk. I gather Inception is so far ahead of the pack that the only thing that can prevent it from winning is a write-in nomination for The King's Speech or the world finally waking up from this horrible nightmare where the Christopher Nolan film actually exists.

Will Win: Inception

Could Win: Alice in Wonderland

Should Win: Inception

A Movie a Day, Day Two: Iron Man 2

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A Movie a Day, Day Two: <em>Iron Man 2</em>
A Movie a Day, Day Two: <em>Iron Man 2</em>

I know, I know; I'm late on this one. I liked Iron Man enough to be a little nervous about the sequel, especially after seeing the film's star, Robert Downey Jr., marooned in Sherlock Holmes, which reached for that same mix of cool special effects, kinetic camerawork, clever dialogue, and mildly kinky characters and missed by a mile.

I didn't even plan to see the sequel yesterday. I'd set out to see Everyone Else, but my train got stuck in the station, delayed by an investigation down the line. So I walked upstairs and down the block to another theater, where Iron Man 2 was starting in 15 minutes.

As he did in the original, director Jon Favreau tells a story as streamlined as Tony Stark's Iron Man suit. The premise is set up and the hero (Stark) and nemesis (Ivan Vanko) are introduced before the credits finish rolling. The pace never slackens or bogs down in tangents or tedious exposition, though a couple of the fight scenes feel superfluous or overly familiar.

Comics Column #5B The Fragrance of Nostalgia (20th Century Boys)

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Comics Column #5B: The Fragrance of Nostalgia (20th Century Boys)
Comics Column #5B: The Fragrance of Nostalgia (20th Century Boys)

I want to talk about an interesting comic book movie today, but first I guess I should talk about Iron Man 2.

“Doing too little with too much.”

In the third installment of this column, I said this about Jon Favreau's first Iron Man film: