Friday, May 4, 2012

Quick Takes: "21 Jump Street", "Iron Man 2", "Captain America"

"21 Jump Street"
Directed by Phil Lord & Chris Miller

Channing Tatum has been a massive anomaly and point of confusion since the start of his existence. He's not especially influential in his action roles, and plain sappy and dull in his romantic roles. The guy simply was not meant for serious work, so it's no mistake that "21 Jump Street" finally gives the guy something that he can thrive in. Spinning off of the old television show, it ultimately ignores that small fact to embrace something funnier and more interesting. The high school stereotypes of old have changed dramatically in years recent, and the power structure of schools is less and less with jocks, and more with charismatic members of band and drama.

"21 Jump Street" is not at all about intensity, and is more about two polar opposite personalities having to come to terms with aspects of themselves that they have not realized before. Jonah Hill often times falls to idiocy in comedic roles, but the man is on a mean streak recently. "Moneyball" showed that he had serious chops in him, and this film gives him some sweet and affectionate chemistry work between him and Tatum. As said before, Tatum is the guy who truly rocks this film. His typically dopey work is hilariously on time here, and the guy really is a born comedic actor. Don't be afraid to defame yourself Tatum. It may be where you belong! And Brie Larson is just darling. The girl had me at hello.

"Iron Man 2"
Directed by Jon Favreau

If I may be perfectly honest, "Iron Man 2" isn't nearly the evil of all evil that many would like to condemn it. True, there are aspects that do not work about it, such as the obvious lack of conviction in Mickey Rourke's Whiplash. That's a botched character depiction, but matching up with "Captain America", it's quite a good pair cinematically. Tony's relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow is plotted rather well, and the two find very sweet ways of showing that. And Tony's fall from grace, even in the crude way that Favreau chooses to show it, is quite effective. As Steve Rogers represented the glorious selflessness of America past, Tony is the selfishness of America present. In other words, there's a lot he's got to learn. He's like Don Draper. Just when you think he's learned, he makes a crucial mistake at the last second.

"Captain America: The First Avenger"
Directed by Joe Johnston

Cant I say that "Captain America" is my favorite film in Marvel's current canon without raising rage. I've had quite a journey going along with it, from the general anger before seeing it, to the slight satisfaction in seeing it initially, to the pure joy it elicits from repeated returns. Is it ridiculous and silly? Absolutely, but in Joe Johnston's book of campy genre tricks, he's at his best with this material. This isn't a boring take on period machinations. It's an absolute all out riff on Nazi ambition gone crazy to the extreme. And the Steve Rogers character that could have been so ridiculously sentimental has such a charismatic edge to him. Honestly, Fuck Human Torch! This is where he belongs!

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