By Chauncey Telese
One Two, Freddy’s Coming for You, Three Four, It’s Not a Bore!
In case you didn’t read either of my Halloween articles last fall, I am a huge Freddy Krueger fan. Last year at ComicCon I remember being excited about the teaser trailer for the new “Nightmare on Elm Street.”
I loved the idea of going back to the darker tone of Wes Craven’s breakout classic. The makeup for Freddy Krueger looked amazing and more like a real burn victim and of course, the inspired casting of Oscar nominee Jackie Earl Hayley (more on him later) to replace the legendary Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger.
Of course, I still had to see the movie which, for all I know, could’ve been as disappointing as the Dallas Mavericks (how do you get bounced in the first round to an aging Spurs team?), or my St. Louis Rams for drafting Sam Bradford number one overall (full disclosure – my Rams flask will have bottomless Sailor Jerry all year long.). I am happy to report that this new rendition of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” while not on par with the original (but to be fair, it was never going to be), it’s still a well-done remake that doesn’t just copy but adds to the Krueger universe.
In the original film, the story goes like this: Freddy Krueger was a groundskeeper at an elementary school and was accused of murdering children, so the town chased him into an abandoned factory and lit him on fire, causing him to vow revenge by killing their children in their dreams where the parents can’t protect them. This is not shown, it’s just mentioned when Nancy asks her mom who Freddy Kruger was.
In this version we see the parents of Springwood burn him alive, we see that he was not a child murderer but something way worse, and that the kids are not just being killed just because of their parents. I’d go into the teens and their relationship with each other but really what’s the point? Despite the fact that Johnny Depp’s career started with the original film, there is no one even remotely close to that type of potential to mention here (you may think I’m being mean but I know I’m right).
The only thing that really makes this movie interesting is Freddy or at the very least the threat of Freddy. It is always difficult to step into a role that many consider iconic and legendary and whether it’s fair or not there is always severe scrutiny. Sometimes people succeed like when Brian Johnson took over AC/DC or when Aaron Rodgers took over for Favre. Then there are the failures such as Brian Griese (Elway), AJ Feely (Marino), or Sammy Hagar (David Lee Roth). So how did Jackie Earl Hayley do?
Jackie Earl Hayley was Hollywood’s 2006 comeback player of the year for his Oscar-nominated role of a recovering sex offender in “Little Children,” then made a great cameo as the stoner fan of the Tropics in “Semi-Pro,” expertly played Rorschach in “Watchmen,” and had a brief but great role in “Shutter Island.” This is Hayley’s first starring role and it’s a tough gig. He plays Krueger darker then Englund and brings such an intensity and ferocity to the role (trust me he’s brutal), and yet still keeps some of the wisecracks that the original Kruger had. He also adds some humanity to Freddy and shows us how he was before he was burned. Hayley is easily the best thing going for the movie and while I can’t say that he’s better then the original I can say that if you’re replacing Robert Englund, he is the best replacement you could ask for. Basically it’s the same thing I felt when I saw Sublime with Rome two weeks ago, while I thought Rome did an outstanding job and put on an awesome show, he’s still not Bradley.
So please, go see “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” there is a copious amount of death by razor glove and serves as an entertaining night at the movies (plus it made $30.5 million opening weekend). If this doesn’t sound like fun, there is also the action movie “The Losers,” the romantic comedy “The Back-Up Plan” starring J-Lo, and the kids film “Furry Vengeance” starring Brendan Fraser (he deserves better).
“Iron Man 2”: Blasting Off the Summer Movie Season!
The time is 3:17 a.m. and I have literally just gotten home from the midnight screening of “Iron Man 2.” Midnight crowds rule by the way as they all booed the “Twilight: Eclipse” trailer, cheered “Tron Legacy,” geeked out throughout the entire movie, it was fun.
Anyway, I had to take my contacts out and put on my glasses because I could not wait to write this (you may think I’m nuts but I don’t really sleep anyway, so at least this is something constructive right?).
Moving on, summer movie season is officially here! A time where studios sit back and watch their big budgeted cgi-induced extravaganzas collect mega bucks (for the most part anyway) and many of my fellow film students complain about the fact that most of these movies are poorly written and are usually gawdawful (not me, of coarse, I know better).
The first weekend in May usually sets the bar for the rest of the summer films to either match or exceed. Well, after seeing “Iron Man 2” all I have to say is good luck summer movies because there is no way any of them can match the fun of “Iron Man 2.” To quote Tony Stark himself “It’s good to be back”.
I’m going to ignore the people who haven’t seen the first one because, quite frankly, why would you see the sequel to a movie you didn’t see, right? So, “Iron Man 2” picks up six months after Tony (played to perfection by Robert Downey Jr.) announced to the world that he is Iron Man. The government is trying to get Tony to hand over his technology to the U.S. (this is led by Sen. Howard played by the master of sleaze Gary Shandling), but Tony refuses in grand fashion at a Senate hearing.
Tony is also facing a major health crisis as the palladium inside his arc reactor (the shiny thing that is keeping him alive) is making him sick. Due to his fear of death he hands over his CEO duties to his trusted assistant Pepper Potts (an underused but effective Gwyneth Paltrow).
Meanwhile, Tony is also faced with a new enemy, the Russian Ivan Ranko (played by the fantastic Mickey Rourke), whose father helped Tony’s father (who is played by Mad Men’s John Slattery) develop the arc reactor technology, then he was deported for reasons unknown.
Ivan hates the Stark name and decides to challenge Stark. He does so via an amazing fight sequence at the Grand Prix track in Monaco (seriously it’s an awesome scene). Ivan is later recruited by Justin Hammer (played by the underrated Sam Rockwell of “Moon” and “Frost/Nixon”) who is a wannabe K-Mart version of Tony Stark. Hammer wants Ivan to build him weapons that make Iron Man look like an antique. Does this sound like a lot for a two-hour movie to do? Yes it is however, the movie never feels confusing and all the characters get a chance to shine.
I’ve been reading a lot of negative reviews about this and how all of these plot devices bog down everything that made the first one great. I respectfully disagree because most critics won’t admit that the thing they loved about the first “Iron Man” can’t be replicated. That is the discovery of something new, nobody knew that Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow could carry an action movie, nobody knew that Downey got his act together and nobody knew that a comic book movie could have the pithy dialogue worthy of “Ocean’s 11.”
Now we know this, so people are less shocked when they see how much chemistry Downey and Paltrow have or that Mickey Rourke can bring so much depth to a villain (by the way five years ago nobody would’ve guessed that the biggest movie of 2010 would star Rourke and Downey right?). So once you get over the idea that you won’t see anything new, you can enjoy the fact that director John Favreau manages to retain the lighting in a bottle he had with the first one.
He also has some other new toys to use. For instance, he gets to replace the humorless Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle in order to play Tony’s best friend James “War Machine Rhodes (that’s right people we get to see War Machine). We also get Scarlett Johansson as S.H.I.E.L.D agent Romanov who her boss Nick Furry (played by the always entertaining Samuel L. Jackson), to keep track of Tony.
All in all, for those that are fearful that ‘sequelitis’ has set in, fear not. This movie fires on all cylinders. The same comedic tone is there as well as the really awesome actions scenes. Despite the crowded plot, it doesn’t feel that way at all and everyone has a purpose for being in the movie. The nerds are also treated to some brilliant nods to upcoming Marvel films “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers.”
Stay past the credits,trust me it’s worth it. If this does not sound like your cup of tea, well, you’re actually out of luck as no other movie is dumb enough to go up against “Iron Man 2,” so use this time to clear out your DVR or watch some great NBA playoff action (I’m looking forward to a Lakers Los Suns Western Conference Finals myself). The time is now 3:56 and I must go to sleep or I’ll start hallucinating and see the twin girls from “The Shining.”
Thank you for reading and stay tuned as next week Russell Crowe and I take from the rich and give to the needy in “Robin Hood.”
Remember you can see these and other fine films at your local Edwards Cinema. Click here for Santa Clarita showtimes.