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The Whirlwind Life And Career Of Robert Downey Jr.

The life and career of Robert Downey Jr. is more of a roller coaster than any movie he’s ever made. His well-documented legal and addiction troubles nearly derailed an acting career that was skyrocketing complete with an Oscar nomination, a season on SNL and being the lead alongside superstars like Mel Gibson all by the time he was 27. His decent into a life of addiction and prison time almost became more well known than any movie he had ever made. There are four movies that are the most pivotal movies in his life and career all for very different reasons. I’m going to break them down in chronological order and why they are so important in the life and career of Robert Downey Jr.

Before I lay out the list, there are a few films I should mention first that were also important films for Downey but not as game changing. The film Air America was one of the first where he was truly a marquee star. It was a buddy comedy with Mel Gibson who was hitting his peak of fame. The second film was Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. This movie was one of the first where everyone thought he was really starting to turn the corner. His performance was highly praised, but he was still a few years away from sobriety and the fact that he wasn’t sober overshadowed his performance. Third and fourth came back to back with Tropic Thunder which earned him his second Academy Award nomination and he was the all the talk of the awards that night despite the fact that he didn’t come home with a statue. He was now famously 5 years sober and clearly at the top of his acting talents and showing how truly great he really was. The fourth was Sherlock Holmes which earned him the golden globe and provided the opportunity for his peers to celebrate him and his new life and serious commitment to his career. It was an emotional yet very deserved moment.

1. Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero was the first time he was billed with Jr. attached to his name and the beginning of some of the legendary party stories for RDJ. He has been quoted as saying this was the first time his drug and alcohol use spilled over into the production and not just during his downtime. Director Marek Kanievska told him and his costar Andrew McCarthy (who battled his own addiction problems) to go out and party to get into character. This direction probably wasn’t the reason his abuses took such a foothold but more than likely they sped things up. The film was panned by critics and even the author of the source material book of the same name. It has since gained more appreciation in the 30 years since its release, but its foreshadowing can’t be ignored.

2. Chaplin (1992)

RDJ blew the doors off his portrayal of the legendary screen icon and gave Downey his first Oscar nomination, and it was well earned. Despite all his faults, he was able to completely transform himself. It would also turn out to be one of the last films for a long time that wouldn’t be plagued by his own demons. Most critics and fans looked at Chaplin as the movie that showed what RDJ could have been.

3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

2003 is the year Downey got sober and finally stayed sober for which he credits his current wife and her support for him. Downey came to realize he couldn’t go anywhere other than prison or the grave and he has famously said that he is allergic to drugs and alcohol, he always breaks out into handcuffs. It would still be 2 years before he would make an impact and headline a major motion picture and prove to people he was more committed to his career than to ruining it. The buddy picture that was written and directed by the writer of the massive hit Lethal Weapon had RDJ star alongside Val Kilmer and proved to be a highly underrated movie and showed Downey’s comedic brilliance.

4. Iron Man (2008)

The superhero resurgence and current domination can be traced to one film, Iron Man. The juggernaut of Marvel Comics becoming kings of the box office is where it is because RDJ WAS Tony Stark. Every embodiment of that character is deep inside him, and he OWNED it. He had been sober for 5 years and was still busting his butt to prove to be people his commitment to acting. He became the biggest star in the world with this movie and solidified himself as 100 percent back in the game. It is wonderful to know that there is a whole generation of movie fans that will only know him at this point in his career. It is forever in his film contracts that he has to provide insurance for the films in the case he was ever to relapse, and his salary is held until the film is complete. He will always have to fight his demons and in a sense will always be paying for his past but thankfully all movie fans he convinced us all that he is back.

Downey Once Again Flies High In Iron Man 3

iron_man_3_new_poster (2)One of the great turn-around/recovery stories in Hollywood, is that of Robert Downey Jr. A man notorious for his addictions and legal woes has since gone on to be one of the most entertaining and biggest box office draws currently working. His resurrection has been nothing short of spectacular with some great films and performances including an Oscar nomination for his role in the film Tropic Thunder. But the feather in Downey’s cap just might be his bringing to life the comic book superhero, Iron Man and the man in the suit Tony Stark. His role of Stark in 2 Iron Man movies and the Avengers and a cameo as Tony Stark in the incredible Hulk has significantly helped push The Avengers movies forward and make Marvel Studios the leader in superhero movies.

In Iron Man 3 Downey once again dons the iron suit and takes on the quick witted and always charming Tony Stark to take on his latest foe, The Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley. Iron Man 3 takes place directly after the events of The Avengers movies tho that is more or less referenced and has no bearing on the plot or your ability to follow it. With The Mandarin viciously attacking various spots throughout the country he soon directly targets Tony Stark and those b23052e3-1094-3302-8be9-1cef2e1d1ae2whom he cares about including his love Miss Pepper Potts played by Gwyneth Paltrow. After his former body guard and head of Stark Industries security, Happy Hogan is severely injured in one of The Mandarins attacks, Stark calls him out publicly, leading to an attack on his home almost killing him and Miss Potts. He is then sent on a personal mission which leads him to Tennessee where he is alone and without the use of his lab left to repair his suit and try and stop the heinous mad man. With the help of a young boy who remarkably shares Starks love of mechanics and engineering he is once again able to do what it is that Stark does.

This is the first of the three Iron Man films not directed by Jon Favreau and therefore naturally has a different feel to it than the first two. Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black who had previously worked with Downey on the mystery/comedy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and is more well known for his writing such as the Lethal Weapon series. Black brings a tougher more real element to the Iron Man franchise. This element of realism fits well at this point in the franchise because of the events of The Avengers and Tony’s deeper and growing love for Pepper. Dealing with a form of post traumatic stress disorder and the fear of not being able to protect those he cares about is not the side we normally see from a superhero. This is the side of the story that Black brings to Iron Man.

mandarin-iron-man-3Make no mistake the sharp wit and humor of Stark is still a plenty and everything we have come to love about Stark and his alter ego Iron Man is still present in this edition of the series. The action and battle scenes are second to none with spectacular effects and no shortage of explosions to keep everyone enraptured for the whole two hours and twenty minutes. Shane Black and the whole crew aren’t without their surprises as well, within the story and even with their Avengers ties after the credits. One thing is for sure, we know The Avengers 2 is happening but what we don’t know is if this is the end for the Iron Man franchise. With all that said, it is the perfect beginning to the summer blockbuster season.

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The Avengers Entertainment Value Is Top Dollar

Tremendous hype surrounding a movie can be a very good thing. Usually it guarantees some big box office numbers for at least the opening weekend. But this is not always the case. The downside to so much hype around a movie is that many people tend to make up their minds before even setting foot in the theater. When this happens it takes a very well made movie to up peoples expectations.

Three weeks ago one of the most hyped movies, if not the most hyped movie, of the year opened with The Avengers. Opening weekend in the US (it opened throughout the world the week before) broke every opening weekend recored, taking in $207 million. It would go on to make another $100 million in it’s second weekend and cruise to $1 billion world wide in no time at all. This for all purposes, is a movie that lived up to the hype and more.

I chose to let the hype die down before viewing the movie for review purposes, so as not to get caught up in everything BUT the movie. Yesterday was the day to view The Avengers and try not to get caught up in the Avenger storm.

Based on the comic book which is a compilation of several different comic book characters, The Avengers is a secret team of superheroes put together should the world be on the brink of disaster. There wouldn’t be much of a movie if the world didn’t come to the brink of disaster when Thor’s brother Loki comes to earth to obtain the most precious source of energy in the world known as the tesseract. When Loki controls the mind of some of S.H.I.E.L.D.s personnel to help with his sinister plot, director Nick Fury initiates the avengers program. After some difficult persuading the avengers do in fact come together. The movie climaxes with an epic battle throughout New York City.

With the possibility of this movie being an epic failure, director Joss Whedon was very fortunate to have actors from each of their respective characters films, with the exception of The Hulk who had two different Bruce Banner’s but was superbly cast with Mark Ruffalo. The talent and good acting by each person in their roles helped tremendously with the success of this film. With Robert Downey Jr. all but leading the cast as Iron Man/Tony Stark in a role he has really come to own, each one was exactly who was needed for their roles. The introduction of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye was a great choice. He is on the rise in popularity and a fine actor in his own right.

The story is not one that is complex and difficult to follow. It is almost the quintessential superhero story line that has every twist and close call we have come to know and love with these types of movies. Don’t look for a surprise ending but also don’t expect to be bored with a plot line that is too simple. The purpose of this movie is the effects and action and just seeing a lot of favorite superheroes together at once and Joss Whedon executes that perfectly.

It is a fun exciting 2 1/2 hours and money well spent (for the 2D we did not see the 3D). It’s everything everyone wants in a summer blockbuster movie. It is not hard to see why it is pulling in the money it is. It is just another case of giving the movie going audience what they want and making it well.

There is still the possibility that all the records that The Avengers has set could be short lived come the end of July when Christopher Nolan unleashes his final installment in the Dark Knight series. That aside, The Avengers, up to this point, is not only the best summer blockbuster but the best movie SO FAR this year.

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