It's 3am, Friday, May 7th, 2010. I've just watched Iron Man 2 in IMAX. It's officially the first day of the summer movie season...and only 99 days and 99 movies to go! A few notes before we get rolling. Why in the world would I willingly volunteer to watch 100 movies over the course of 100 days? When the idea was first proposed here at Fandango, actually, I was super excited about it. There's just something about the endless summer, endless movies concept that appeals to the journeyman surfer side, the fanatical movie buff side, the whole "what the hell is he thinking" side. Plus, really, a lot of my life has been about taking on crazy movie-watching projects.
When I was a kid in the '80s, I and my buddies would spend every Friday night riding our bikes down to the local video store, and renting eight or nine movies to watch all night long. Sometimes there would be a theme (e.g. - Emilio Estevez night, the Kevin Bacon marathon, or in the early Bill & Ted days, we'd wax on about the great acting potential of a young Keanu Reeves...seriously). Other times, it would be a random collection of movie hits like Robocop and The Road Warrior along with absurd, obscure stuff like Night of the Comet and Lifeforce. We'd always save Psycho for the 3am time of night, and always fall asleep 15 minutes in, and would then have to rent it again, and again, and again. At age 22, I finally managed to see the entire film.
Anyways, it was stuff like that, or taking on a bet at USC with my roomies to watch movies 24 hours in a row (which I won, woohoo!) that convinced me that this 2010 experiment could be a lot of fun.
A big reason to do this is to find out what "the ultimate summer movie experience" really is, and to test my limits of moviegoing, writing and sheer logistical planning (after all, the rest of my life and my regular job will keep on going). I hope you'll join me on the odyssey. Whether it's day 32 or 87 (please let it be 87), I know I'll reach some moments of ridiculous despair where I'll need encouragement to keep on watching. Hopefully, too, I'll get to meet a lot of you avid moviegoers out there (we should have some cool stuff to give out, so I'll let you know about that as well). Of course, this is also a chance to survey every movie debuting this summer. There are less than 100 wide and indie movies coming out this season, but we'll hit some film fests, one-offs, revival houses, and cool theaters in all of your neighborhoods, plus some other recent popular releases I needed to catch up on anyways (see first week's schedule, when only juggernaut Iron Man 2 and a couple of smaller films open in theaters).
But, Chuck, did you actually see a movie on day one? I know that was a long intro, but yes, I really did just see Iron Man in IMAX with a sold out crowd at Universal CityWalk right outside Universal Studios. How was it? Good. Great? Eh, just good. The bottom line: If you're a Robert Downey Jr. fan, and you're up for some loud action spectacle, wrapped around a shaky plot with one-too-many Marvel characters, but plenty of fun performances, then line 'em up boys and gals.
Better yet, see it on opening weekend if you can. The best way to watch this one is with a full crowd and good friends. Despite an overly crammed story involving a hyperkinetic weapons manufacturer, the guy from The Wrestler as the guy from The Wrestler with electric whips, a sexy super heroine, and our regulars, this one does manage to satisfy. Whenever it feels slack, Downey Jr. adds a perfect quip or grace note of flawed humanity to reel it all in.
On a scale of one to five, Iron Man 2 merits a solid 3. The crowd at CityWalk and the theater itself (an original IMAX auditorium instead of those retrofitted smaller things) rank a solid 5. And to Ben Boulton, a nurse aide and performance artist from Paducah, Kentucky who came decked out in sweet Iron Man gear before the showing, bravo, my friend. We also hear he makes a mean SnakeEyes from G.I. Joe.
A mental note to self from Day One: while I'm glad my buddy Rich was down to pay for food, drinks and a Starbucks apple streudel in exchange for a free movie ticket, next time, need to remember to skip the dessert and get in line. Watching IMAX from the second row, while great for the groundshaking awesomeness that is the Tron trailer, makes you wish an hour in that your seat would fully recline and they would just project a second image on the roof. Day 15 may need to be Iron Man 2 again, but from a few sections back.