Action

Iron Man (2008) - Jon Favreau

Release date: May 2, 2008 (USA)

Director: Jon Favreau

Featured song: Driving With the Top Down

Box office: 585.2 million USD

Budget: 140 million USD

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Iron Man is a 2008 action movie based on the Marvel comic book of the same title. It’s regarded as the first film in the modern Marvel Universe. It was directed by Jon Favreau and produced by Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures. Robert Downey Jr. takes up the lead role as billionaire playboy, Tony Stark. He is supported by a great cast; Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard all play pretty big roles. Even Director Jon Favreau steps in front of the camera in a comedy role, as Tony Stark’s bodyguard.

Tony Stark, the multi-billionaire head of Stark Industries, had been kidnapped by terrorists following the test of his companies new “Jericho” missile. However, while held captive, Tony tricked his captors and told them he was working on a missile for their use, but instead he creates armor he can use to break out. Successful and back in the public eye, Stark vows to stop producing weapons and plans on starting his new life as the incredible Iron Man. While he was away, business partner Obadiah Stane had taken the reigns of the company. Stane had been getting very wealthy with Stark producing weapons. Especially with the double-dealings he had been making. This led to Stane taking up the mantle of Iron Monger and planning on the utter destruction of Stark.

Jon Favreau approached this movie like any other independent feature. He didn’t look at it as a big-budget blockbuster, but a smaller, more contained picture. That type of heart shows through and comes across as a passionate telling of this classic comic series. It was a gamble for studio executives, but it was a home-run for the burgeoning Marvel Studios. The visual element was jaw-dropping for the late 2000’s. I guess that isn’t surprising considering Industrial Light & Magic was involved in the effects.

The acting is amazing. Robert Downey Jr. turns in a performance that changes his entire career. He is Tony Stark now. I have been watching nearly all of these movies in the theater since this one, and I couldn’t picture anyone else more perfect for the role of a womanizing, alcoholic, rich socialite. It’s a shame that Terrence Howard only played Rhodes once. I really liked his performance in this. Don Cheadle is amazing and does a much better job, but Howard has the coolness that goes side-by-side with Robert Downey Jr. They are a good team.

I really liked Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. He was silently terrifying. The lead-up to him becoming the big bad shows a great deal of good storytelling. He is manipulative and conniving. His scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow are tense. It’s was a good idea to keep this villain quieter and more subtle. It actually added to the mystery and stayed true to the comics. Stane’s first appearance in the comic books was as a shadowy figure that was working behind the scenes against Stark Industries. I liked that touch.

Iron Man is an action-packed adventure that sets the tone for the entire Marvel franchise going forward. It isn’t going to have a villain that everyone knows, but it is definitely going to entertain you on many different levels. It’s hilarious, the characters are natural and full of that signature Marvel humor. It’s beautiful, the shots are amazing and the visual effects of the Iron Man suits and battles are on point. I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t seen it yet. If you liked Spider-Man or X-Men then this is right up your alley.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) - Richard Donner

OKAY ACTION MOVIE 65/100

Lethal Weapon 4 (65)

The worst of the franchise clocks in at the longest. A long winded action romp pitting LAPD against Triads.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Channing Gibson

Starring:
Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo,
Chris Rock,
Jet Li

Studio:
Silver Pictures & Doshudo Productions

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: 
July 10, 1998

Running time: 
127 minutes

Country: 
United States

Language: 
English

Budget: 
$100–150 million

Box office: 
$285.4 million

Lethal Weapon 4 is an action film from 1997. Most of the usual crew had returned. Director Richard Donner, Musicians Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen and David Sanborn all return along with actors, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci and introduces Chris Rock and Jet Li. It’s the fourth entry to the Lethal Weapon franchise, and it happens to be the slowest paced. It’s also framed as the final entry to the series. Nostalgically capping off a tremendous action series that ran for just over a decade.

A freighter full of Chinese immigrants runs aground in Los Angeles, much to the dismay of Officers Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. They are being imported by the Triads, who are trying to get their incarcerated crime bosses onto American soil and away from China. To make things worse, Murtaugh decides to stow an entire family of immigrants in his home. This puts the entire investigation in jeopardy. Also, Riggs and Murtaugh have to work with an annoying new detective, Lee Butters. Needless to say, our heroes can’t wait to kick some major Triad ass.

Lethal Weapon 4 visits Riggs and Murtaugh at a mature time in their lives. Roger’s daughter is pregnant, he is on the verge of becoming a grandfather. Riggs has also been told that Lorna is pregnant. Both guys have to face this turning point in their lives. That tone reflects the slower pace of the film. It still has explosions and car-chases as well as a good deal of character development. The relationship between Riggs and the Murtaughs is so comfortable and fun. It’s a pleasure to see the whole group interacting. I have fallen in love with the characters.

This wouldn’t be a Lethal Weapon movie without copious amounts of action. Over-the-Top action. Jet Li is a very convincing villain even though it's his first time playing one. His showdown with Mel Gibson is tremendous. It’s one of the highlights of the picture. The chase scene that doubles-up with a construction theme is another tremendous scene. Most scenes are really well shot, but lack substance. Thats a problem that echoes throughout. While it's fun nostalgically, it doesn’t have what it takes to make a good film.

This is supposed to be the final film in the franchise. It ends with the quote from our protagonists, “We’re not friends, We’re family!” Then we get a montage of production photos and a group shot of the entire crew. It’s a great send off, but what if they wanted to return? Would you hate it?

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) - Richard Donner

PRETTY GOOD ACTION MOVIE 79/100

Lethal Weapon 3 (79)

Not the best of the franchise, but not the worst.

Directed by:
Richard Donner

Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen

Story by:
Jeffrey Boam

Starring:
Mel Gibson,
Danny Glover,
Joe Pesci,
Rene Russo and
Stuart Wilson

Studios:
Silver Pictures
Warner Bros.

Release date:
May 15, 1992

Running time:
118 minutes

Country:
United States

Language:
English

Budget :
$35 million

Box office:
$321.7 million

Lethal Weapon 3 is an action comedy film from 1992. Director Richard Donner has returned along with screenwriter, Jeffrey Boam. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are back as Riggs and Murtaugh. Our favorite destructive comedic cop duo. Joe Pesci makes a return as Leo Getz, now a family friend to the Murtaugh family, and Rene Russo makes her appearance as Internal Affairs agent, Lorna Cole. The love interest for Riggs. It’s not a film that fared as well as the previous entries, but it had a lot of heart. I loved this one as a kid, so I hope it holds up!

Roger Murtaugh is only eight days away from retirement. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy eight days. His partner Riggs ends up destroying a building and getting them both busted down to beat cops. Then they stumble onto a chase with some dangerous criminals that happen to be using new, lethal “cop-killer” bullets. The leader of the criminals is a former police Lieutenant that has some dirty cops on the force. Riggs and Murtaugh are reinstated to detectives and then paired with Internal Affairs agent Lorna Cole. The love interest of Martin Riggs.

In usual Lethal Weapon tradition we are treated to jaw-jacking between Riggs and Murtaugh, an awesome car-chase through Los Angeles, a housing development used as an action background, range shooting, Riggs popping his shoulder back into place and various other tropes from the franchise. It also boasts a long run-time of 118 minutes. The longest of the franchise to that point. It would be surpassed by Lethal Weapon 4, clocking in at 127 minutes.

Mel Gibson is the saving grace of the picture, his comedic performance is great. It’s always funny to see him muscling down his Australian accent. His Martin Riggs character appears to be tired, but Rene Russo is a good pairing for him. I enjoyed her action scenes just as much as Gibson’s. I didn’t care much for the villain, Jack Travis. He wasn’t memorable. But the ending fight scene between Riggs and Travis is a high-point in this production.

The filmmakers had been a bit too ambitious with Lethal Weapon 3. It felt like they had intended to amp up the main elements in the franchise, but ended up cramming too much into one package. The film goes on far too long and begins dragging about half-way through. While I had a great time watching the further adventures of Riggs & Murtaugh, I could have done with a tighter and more trimmed storyline that still provided the same amount of entertainment as the second film. Lethal Weapon 3 is still entertaining, but you can mark this as start of the decline of the series. Interestingly enough, wikipedia lists the late Carrie Fisher as a script doctor. Seven stars.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - Richard Donner

REALLY GOOD ACTION MOVIE 88/100

Lethal Weapon 2 (88)

One of the greatest action films of the nineteen eighties. A must watch for every action fan.

Directed by: 
Richard Donner


Produced by: Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Screenplay by:
Jeffrey Boam

Story by: 
Shane Black & Warren Murphy

Starring: 
Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Joe Pesci
Joss Ackland
Derrick O'Connor
Patsy Kensit

Music by:
Michael Kamen
Eric Clapton
David Sanborn

Studio:
Silver Pictures

Distributed by: 
Warner Bros.

Release date: 
July 7, 1989

Running time:
114 minutes

Country:
United States

Language:
English

Budget:
$50 million

Box office:
$227.9 million

Lethal Weapon II is a buddy-cop action film from 1989, and is the second installment to the Lethal Weapon franchise. Richard Donner returns to the helm and directs with a screenplay penned by Jeffrey Boam. Screenwriter, Shane Black had originally written the film, but he left the series due to various disputes. Both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover return as our heros, Riggs & Murtaugh. With Joe Pesci brought in to help emphasise the more comedic elements of the film. We also get another amazing soundtrack that harkens back to the first Lethal Weapon film thanks to Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn. Again, yes! THAT Eric Clapton.

Our heroes are assigned to protecting an annoying federal witness, Leo Getz. However, they also get tied up in investigating Arjen Rudd, a corrupt and murderous South African politician that is hiding behind diplomatic immunity and the vienna commission. It’s extremely frustrating. We also get introduced to a clueless South African secretary that becomes the love interest to Riggs.

This sequel took everything that worked in the first movie and magnified it! The comedy, the action and the story were all improved. The addition of Joe Pesci is welcomed and his character works really well with Riggs and Murtaugh. Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) is a believable villain although sometimes he starts to feel like an over-the-top James Bond antagonist, a bit theatrical for my tastes. The action is huge. They had definitely ramped it up. Giant shootouts, a lot of explosions and car chases. Michael Bay would be proud. It wouldn’t be Lethal Weapon without a final showdown and this movie has a great one.

The comedy is great. It feels so comfortable and well written. Mel Gibson is always wonderful as the Martin Riggs character. Gibson’s comedy has a familiarity that feels like he could be related to you, like an uncle or older brother that gives you a well meaning funny jab. I loved the comedy. Joe Pesci is hilarious and a great addition, Mel Gibson is on top form too. Danny Glover does the usual straight man routine of Roger Murtaugh, but is involved in the hilarious and iconic toilet bomb scene. A scene that you cannot unsee.

One thing I noticed was the product placement for things like Tales from the Crypt and Subway restaurants. That kind of thing doesn’t really bother me but it's noticeable. I had a great time watching Lethal Weapon 2. It’s an amazing sequel that hits all the checkmarks. I laughed hard and appreciated the hard-hitting action. I also love how this movie keeps pace with the original. Both are intense but this is far more flushed out. It’s a prime example of a sequel surpassing the original.

Lethal Weapon (1987) - Richard Donner

REALLY GOOD ACTION MOVIE 86/100

Lethal Weapon (86)

A full throttled action film that packs in Comedy, Explosions and intriguing storytelling. A must see for Action fans.

Directed by:
Richard Donner


Produced by:
Richard Donner & Joel Silver

Written by:
Shane Black

Starring:
Mel Gibson
Danny Glover
Gary Busey
Michael Kamen

Studio:
Silver Pictures

Distributed by:
Warner Bros.

Release date:
March 6, 1987

Running time:
110 minutes

Country:
United States

Language:
English

Budget:
$15 million

Box office:
$120.2 million

Lethal Weapon is the eighties action film that kicked off the whole buddy-cop trope in Hollywood. It’s directed by Richard Donner (Superman II) and penned by Shane Black (Predator). Our cast of stars features Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the lead roles with Gary Busey as a henchman to the main villain, The General played by Mitchell Ryan. I decided to pair the film with a nice Indica like King Louis XIII from Marley Natural. It’s a relaxing strain that provides a good deal of happiness. A good combination to dive right into a badass picture like this. The earthy tastes and piny aromas pair well with a good beer too. If that's your kind of thing.

The film follows the pairing of two LAPD detectives. Martin Riggs is a detective that is psychologically broken and emotionally damaged following the death of his wife. Roger Murtaugh is a veteran cop that works hard to support his family. They get paired together as partners working various crimes and bonding. Roger is constantly tested by Riggs’ inherently psychotic behavior. He almost gives up. However, after things go south and the duo bands together to put an end to a very dangerous group of drug smugglers called Shadow Company.

The film features cheesy action film acting and witty dialogue, mostly between Gibson and just about everyone he comes in contact with. His Martin Riggs character is iconic. He stands as one of the best cops in movie history. Danny Glover is the perfect straight man but it’s kind of unfortunate that he was so tight cast. Busey is badass in this movie. He looks awesome and does a great job of projecting himself as menacing. Tom Atkins is good too, his role is minimal, but he gives it everything. That is up until his death, which is rather goofy looking.

Lethal Weapon also has an amazing soundtrack provided by Michael Kamen and Eric Clapton. Yes, that Eric Clapton. The howling saxophone and blazing guitar set upon a sprawling Los Angeles cityscape provide an amazing atmosphere for the story. The soundtrack provides a great technique for building suspense that gets paid off with intense action scenes.

This movie is a hell of a ride. It builds an amazing world that gets explored at break-neck speed. In some cases it’s far too fast-paced to be bad. All of the faults with the film are steamrolled by the constant action. The fight scenes are brutal and unrelenting. The final showdown is a thing of pure eighties glory. I love it. It’s a classic that should be enjoyed by everyone at least once! There’s a reason that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia loves it so much.

The King Louis XIII paired really well with Lethal Weapon. It tasted so good, I ended up having an extra snapper or two. The cannabis had me feeling really relaxed and sunken into my couch. The uplifting effects had me alert and ready for the suspense of the action scenes, which were numerous. The effects were long lasting and are still prevalent when writing this review. Although it feels great, the taste and smell are the leading factors with this particular batch from Marley Natural. Check it out if you can!