Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Tropic Thunder

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:34 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Tropic Thunder this weekend.

Now, I’m not a huge Ben Stiller fan, but some of his stuff is pretty funny. Granted, sometimes, he goes a little too far, but, mostly, he’s just okay in my book. Well, with Tropic Thunder, even when he goes too far, he’s funny. Yes, in spite of what amounts to little more than a really big cameo part by Tom Cruise, who I truly find distasteful at best, Tropic Thunder was a winner for me.

So, here’s the premise… A group of over-paid, big-name Hollywood actors making a book, that none of them have read, into a war movie. But, the movie, the meta-movie, makes fun of these guys and the whole Hollywood machine. Frankly, it’s the perfect movie for Robert Downey, Jr., who’s been the ultimate outsider in movies and Hollywood for years. And, Ben Stiller must have really hit a nerve or two in LaLa Land with this on.
The movie opens with faux advertising and trailers from the characters in the movie. They start them seamlessly from the actual trailers before the real film. Then, they get into E! News, talking about the film the characters are making in the movie. Ben Stiller plays a fading action hero. Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian method actor who’s an Oscar winner, but a little crazy. He gets a “surgery” to make him look black so he can play a black man in the film the characters are making. Then, there’s Jack Black who plays a coked-up comedian who’s only skill seems to be wearing makeup and farting. He’s hilarious. And, of course, there’s the rookie and the rapper. Oh, and Nick Nolte who plays the handicapped Vietnam vet who wrote the book that only the rookie has read. In fact, it comes out that he’s the only one who read the entire script at one point!

So, add these guys all together in the jungle in Vietnam and mix in Matthew McConaughey as super agent Rick Peck aka “The Pecker” who’s trying to get Stiller’s character his Tivo from vile producer Les Grossman played by a frighteningly realistic Tom Cruise. (Honestly, I think we get to see Tom Cruise’s real, bald head in this movie! I guess Scientology can’t cure everything, eh?)
Well, when Hollywood, and actor’s egos, get in the way of making a good film, the director takes Vietnam vet Nolte’s advice and takes the movie out into the jungle, guerrilla style, things get a little out of control. Things start to go really wrong when the director steps on an old, French land mine and the guys just, well, they just don’t get it. They think it’s all to get them into character. As they stumble along, acting out their movie with real-live heroin manufacturers in the jungle, a lot of things are revealed to be somewhat other than they first seem. Those reveals are where the real hilarity ensue.

Look, I don’t want to spoil this movie for you and I really recommend that you see it. It’s funny in ways that I cannot capture with my description of it here. It is a great, but subtle, parody of every war film made since Apocalypse Now. More than that, though, it’s a very funny commentary on both Hollywood in particular and our consumer, entertainment oriented society in general.

Oh, one thing, it is very much NOT politically correct at all. There is gratuitous use of verbal slurs in regards to the mentally handicapped. Also, it won’t surprise me if the NAACP or someone very much like them gets all bent out of shape about the way Robert Downey, Jr. plays an actor playing a person of another race.
But, if you can get past those things, it’s a very funny movie. Honest.


Review: Iron Man

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Iron Man Friday night.

I love comic books and used to read lots of them on a regular basis. Iron Man wasn’t one of those I followed, but he was such a big part of the Marvel Universe that he was more than a “blip” on the radar of comic fans. The movie was great.

First of all, what’s not to love about a millionaire-playboy who’s also an engineering geek? An early scene shows him blowing off an engineering awards ceremony to play craps in Vegas while flirting with hot chicks. Oh, and did I mention he’s a bit of an alcoholic? They don’t play this up much in the movie, but there’s enough of it there from the comic book to add an extra dimension to
Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark and makes him an interesting character. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Downey is a recovering addict himself.
And, as someone else pointed out in one of the many, many reviews of this movie, they actually show Stark doing engineering design work! How cool is that? I’m betting there were some geeks in the audience that would have really liked to have his customized CAD environment. True 3D? Voice activated with interactive, touch-based controls? It made me want to design something.

But, don’t forget, this was an action movie! Boy howdy was it! It starts off with Stark getting captured by terrorists in the desert, jumps to a flashback to show us how he got there, then switches back to the terrorists who are forcing him to build a missile for them, like he designed for the U.S. military. Instead, he builds the Iron Man v1.0 suit from scraps. Naturally, he uses it to break out of his desert cave prison and return to the “civilization” of the West Coast Hollywood military industrial complex. And, of course, he’s a changed man. He vows to stop building weapons and promises to use his amazing engineering powers for good, not evil. Sadly, his partner in the business has other ideas. So, while Tony is falling in love with his gorgeous assistant, Pepper Potts, played by the “ow-it’s-so-bright-it-hurts-my-eyes” beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow, Obidiah Stane, his erstwhile partner, played by Jeff Bridges, goes into the desert to recover the abandoned Iron Man v1.0 armor.
Naturally, an epic battle ensues, but I’ll leave the rest for you to see in the movie.

Let me add, though, that the special effects were fabulous. The technology was spot on and absolutely believable. Robert Downey, Jr. was a totally believable Tony Stark and, frankly, was the perfect choice for this film. He was brilliant. Rumor has it that there’s already talks of an Iron Man 2. I hope so!
Also, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stay all the way through the credits. There’s a cameo at the end which sets up both Iron Man 2 and the long rumored Avengers movie. I think it happens to be a crossover from the latest Hulk movie, too, though I’m not positive about that. Yet.
Oh, and look for a very funny cameo by Stan Lee playing a Hugh Hefner-like character! Go Stan! Excelsior!

In short, if you’re a comic book fan or a science-fiction fan, you absolutely need to see this movie!

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.