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


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.

Cloverfield (2008) - Matt Reeves


A unique look at the Giant Monster genre from Bad Robot!

Director: Matt Reeves

Producers: J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk

Writer: Drew Goddard

Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David and Mike Vogel

Studios: Bad Robot Productions and Paramount Pictures

Release date: January 18, 2008

Country: United States

Budget: $25 million

Box Office: $170.8 million

Cloverfield is a 2008 giant monster movie from Bad Robot, the production company responsible for Lost, Star Trek and Alias. The viral marketing campaign that launched ahead of this movie was tremendous! It had fans actively search the internet for clues like articles, videos, blogs, etc. that created amazing hype. I have to admit that I had gotten swept up in it too. I was a big fan of Lost and loved drawing comparisons and relations between these universes. I still do.

The film is presented in a found footage format, much like The Blair Witch Project from 1999. The characters are all young adults living in New York City. Rob and his friends Hud, Marlena and Lily are all fighting for survival as their home city is being ripped apart by monsters.

Cloverfield is a tremendous effort. The shaky camera is a definite negative but I found it practical and forgivable. However, I remember some stories of moviegoers passing out or leaving to vomit from motion sickness. If you have a sensitive tummy, I would suggest giving Cloverfield a pass, or maybe just take a Dramamine. This is the greatest American kaiju film to date.

The acting is typical of a film like this. Not terrible, but no one is fishing for an Oscar here. We are treated to TJ Miller’s breakout performance as himself. Jessica Lucas was alright, but Lizzy Caplan and lead, Michael Stahl-David, were the best of the film. Lizzy was great as Marlena. I really enjoyed the dynamic between her character and Hud, TJ Miller. They all did a great job, but Michael Stahl-David carried this whole film on his back. As our lead, Rob spends the most time as the focus of the film. Stahl-David does a great job of blending into the universe and becoming a great character.

The movie is terrifying and depressing. The Cloverfield Monster is huge and wreaks some awesome havoc to New York. The destruction scenes were subtle and masterfully done. The head of the Statue of Liberty in the street is such an iconic image. The little monsters were vicious and they had that nasty bite that killed you in a pretty grotesque way. The ending was full of dread. Do yourself a favor and stay through the credits. Listen to the quiet voices. This is more than just a movie.

The Wrestler (2008) - Darren Aronofsky


The Wrestler is a intense look at the life of a down-and-out wrestler.

Directed: Darren Aronofsky

Produced: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

Writer: Robert Siegel

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Studio: Weisblum
Production Co., Wild Bunch, Protozoa Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Release date: September 5, 2008

Country: United States

Budget: $6Million

Box office: $44.7Million

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The Wrestler is an independent dramatic film from 2008, directed by Darren Aronofsky. It stars Mickey Rourke as the lead character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Randy is an aged performer that appears to be edging closer and closer to the end of his rope. It's a realistic and depressing look at professional wrestling, and the effect it has on the superstars from the past. I had attended an early screening of this film at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood in early 2008. It was tremendous. Everyone was emotionally moved and we all stood and applauded. It was a shoe-in for Best Picture. Unfortunately, 2008 was an insane year for movies and it had incredible competition with films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader. The Wrestler didn't even make it into the running. Don't feel bad though, neither did The Dark Knight. 

In this movie, we follow The Ram in modern times. Old. Poor and too far disconnected from the world he lives in. He isn't doing too well and is only pulling in a few sheckles by wrestling on the independent circuit. Regardless of his declining health both mentally and physically. We see the impact of his lifestyle on himself and his own family that he has harmed. Randy is trying to figure out which way he should go in his life. Does he take a normal 9-to-5 job, or does he stay wrestling regardless of his ailing health. 

This movie is filmmaking at its finest. Mickey Rourke puts in the performance of a lifetime. He had literally become a professional wrestler for this role. This was incredible. The emotion. The raw emotion that is put on screen is heavy. It has weight. Rourke has such a great performance that he had a small career revitalization after the release of this film. It's hard to watch and not be hit in the feels. Also we have tremendous performances from Evan Rachel-Wood as the daughter of Randy, and Marisa Tomei as his love-interest. All of them are so fantastic. This is acting at its best. Aronofsky does a tremendous job of capturing a very secretive business and shows how it works on the inside. It's an eye-opening look that will definitely get you talking.