Tag Archive: robert downey jr.

Infinity War

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

So Friday night, my daughter and I went to see Avengers: Infinity War. Even though I had bought tickets the night before, we still had to wait outside in a long line to get in to the theater before the show.

Avengers Infinity WarI have to admit I went into this movie with some fears and preconceived notions. I wasn’t sure if this was the last movie, that it would end the series. I wondered how bloody it would be or if it would be too much for me to watch.

I walked in with these fears because this movie was going to be heavy. Thanos, a super villain, is a character who is trying to find balance in the world and he tends to invade various worlds. He almost always instantly kill half of the population with no rhyme or reason as to who is killed.

But now he is trying to collect six infinity stones in order to put his plan of equal destruction throughout the universe without having to leave the comfort of his home. We watch as Thanos tromps his way through the universe working to get the remaining of the six stones.

That is all I can say without getting much more into the story line. It is too complicated.

I can tell you this. Do not go in blind.

There are a lot of characters from the Marvel universe, some from the first Captain America movie. Others come from the Thor and Iron Man movies. Newer characters who have had only one or two movie so far are here as well.

If you don’t go on a Marvel Universe binge before seeing this movie, you might want to create a score card. There will barely be any clues as to how various characters relate to each other. As they interact with each other you will only notice some friendliness between a few and animosity between others.

Honestly, it is easier to go on a Marvel Universe binge.

Avengers Infinity War 2Once you do, go see this movie because it is great. It asks the difficult questions of mortality and survival and why anyone would continue fighting when it appears nothing is left. This is not the usual light-hearted comic book fare. It is heavy with light moments thrown in. And there are moments when the crowd in the theater cheered because favorite characters showed up. There are other moments when the crowd voiced their disappointment over happenings in the movie.

This is one movie that will stick in my head for quite some time. I will think about different characters and what they were willing to do to fight evil. I will think about the Rapture and how this movie reminds me of those aspects.

I might even go see this movie again to catch all the little things I missed that might lead to clues about the next Avengers movie which is currently scheduled to be released a year from now.

I am looking forward to it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Civil Disobediance

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

With Pumpkin Fest coming and the theme being Pumpkins in Paradise, my mind keeps playing the old Jimmy Buffet song, Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

Wrong, so wrong and yet there it is.

pumpkin-fest-porchInstead, I am trying to focus on the fun aspects of the annual fest with the parade going by my house, pumpkins on our steps for decoration, and the need to make sure all cars are properly parked and out of the way before parade time.

Well, at least our steps are filled with pumpkins.

But this week has also seen the release of the latest Marvel Comics movie, Captain America:Civil War.

For fans of action movies and movies with a bit of fantasy, this is a winner.

I like Marvel for allowing characters to grow and develop. I like that they explore themes and realistic emotional scenarios. Most of us may never deal with aliens trying to take over our world. But we do have family members dealing with post-traumatic stress. And for those who follow politics, we know people who may like each other but really disagree on how to keep America safe.

In fact, that issue drives this movie. Because of the events in past movies and lives that have been lost and cities that have been damaged beyond repair, it has been decided by the UN that superheroes need to register and that they will only ‘help’ in situations in which they are called upon to help.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with this policy and feels superheroes need to be reined in. But Captain America (Chris Pine), the WWII hero, feels this is the wrong way to go. He is a veteran of the war in which people were separated out for their differences and does not want to be impeded to give help whenever help is needed.

Captain America Civil WarThe fight becomes brutal and personal when Bucky, the Winter Soldier, resurfaces as the possible culprit of a nasty bombing and assassination of an African king. There will be long time repercussions from this event. Soon, people are divided and they are recruiting new and old members to join the fight.

I find this to be a well done addition to the series. It is the last of the Captain America movies, although not the last time for us to see Captain America. It features the inclusion of new characters (Ant-Man and Falcon) while unveiling a few new friends (Spiderman and Black Panther), one of whom are clearly in awe of everyone he is fights for and against.

It is an entertaining movie with it’s one-liners and smart retorts. Characters still speak to each other as friends, even when they hate each others’ guts. There are plenty of explosions and fights to the death, including the last big fight between Cap and Iron man.

This may not be a movie for your youngest child or one that has a short tolerance for the action violence. There is one spot that might make a protective parent wary. But in the end , I enjoyed the movie for being willing to ask tough questions about power and the wielding of it.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Big Action Adventure

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When your family is made of boys and their friends, action-adventure is going to be the most frequent movie selections.

In the last week, we saw two of the biggest movies in that genre.

Star Wars The Force AwakensI thought when I brought home Star Wars:The Force Awakens that this would be our Friday night movie. But no!!! The case was snatched out of my hands, barely leaving my digits intact. The movie was watched that night by the teen boys. It was watched the next day by my husband. It played a third time because the 11-year-old did not get to see it. I managed to watch bits and pieces each time till I got most of the story and saw the final revelatory scene.

What a movie! What action! What storytelling!

A part of me thought about how so much is similar to the original story. A child is in dire straits, making money by salvaging or repairing the items left behind. Their parentage has slim links to anyone else. And yet this young person is smart, resourceful, and filled with an unknown power.

There are differences in this tale. There is a villain who comes from the bravest and righteous of people. Someone formerly with the Empire’s army can no longer stomach the evil he must do. And I feel myself being pulled into the story, the conflicts, the grandness of it all despite seeing how it is a re-tread. Knowing that the sequel does not come out before 2017 is nearly painful.

We also saw Captain America: Civil War. We went to Movies 10 which now has these wonderful reclining seats. My husband loved the seats. I would have liked it if you could only recline the back. In the end I sat with the recliner at full relaxation mode, still unsure if I liked it.

Captain America Civil WarIn this final film of the Captain America trilogy, many nations are calling for responsibility from the Avengers for the damage and death their battles leave. Individual members of the Avengers are being asked to sign the Accord to provide safety. But Captain America refuses. And when the international group is targeted by a bomb, his friend Bucky is identified as the mastermind.

Cap knows this to be wrong and he makes a choice that will pit fellow avengers against each other. It leads to one epic battle that will lead to another.

It is strong storytelling with dialogue that reminds us these people are friends, life long friends in some instances. The nuances are important with a cast this large, we actually learn about them and their motivations. The action is thrilling as well although at times I was left wondering if a person could really do some of the bits they did.

As for the movie, I once again came away impressed with the Marvel Franchise. Characters are allowed to grow and develop, over time they change their opinions, show their age. Stan Lee makes his usual appearance that allows humor to slip into a serious scene that can happen between friends.

Both movies are long, meant for pre-teens and older who will obsess over the characters. I would not show them to younger children in part because of the violence and because these are movies over two hours in length.

Both are thrilling and exciting. But the more meaningful will always be the Marvel series.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Looking for a Good Mystery

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


Do you have a favorite type of book or movie?


Book Denise SwansonFor me, it is mysteries. Love them, can’t get enough of them. I am happy to read a number of book series including Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison.


So how did I develop my love of mysteries? It started with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in the movie series of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps it was because Sherlock was always certain, always sure. He was always a gentleman with the ladies, always stand up with the men. And Dr. Watson as portrayed by Nigel Bruce seemed to be a bit of a lovable bumbler. It made me wonder why such a sharp man would want to have Watson around unless it was because Sherlock never had to work hard to understand him.



Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Since the movies with Robert Downey Jr. that was directed by Guy Ritchie, it seems that we are in the middle of a Sherlock revival. The BBC has a new Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch who lives in modern day London. Martin Freeman plays Watson as a wounded war veteran who pretends he wants a boring life but is energized with every case Sherlock drags him on.


In America, we have Elementary starring Johnny Lee Miller as the consulting detective who recently came out of rehab. His Dr. Watson is played by Lucy Liu starting off as his ‘sober companion’ but has now become his colleague. She, too, is excited about the cases Sherlock follows, but more importantly she cares about Sherlock as a friend.


In the movie starring Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the time frame is in late Victorian England but we see the rougher and dirtier parts where Sherlock solves his crimes and finds relaxation through boxing. Law plays Watson as a smart man with a gambling problem who is frustrated by Sherlock and yet needs to protect the detective.



Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

What all three have in common is that some of the layers of truly gentleman-like behavior have been stripped away from Sherlock. He is capable of having manners but he is so focused on the task at hand that using those manners fall by the wayside. This might strike some as completely rude behavior or perhaps a hint of Asperger’s Syndrome on the Autism spectrum. Some might call it being book smart and street dumb. I doubt that last remark because all three versions of Sherlock could take care of themselves if left on the streets alone.


In the kitchen is another matter entirely.


One thing I have been told is once you have seen Cumberbatch play Holmes, it will be hard to go back to watching Miller play Holmes on the CBS TV show. Well, I believe that one should not necessarily judge one version against another. You must judge how each version operates, you must judge the show by the rules it lives by, and if that version does what it sets out to do.


The goal of each of these new versions is to bring Sherlock Holmes to life with a modern sensibility of how people emotionally work. Two of these series makes it clear that Holmes uses hard drugs to find peace. All three show a man who is rude and abrasive but not totally devoid of human feelings. All three show a man who loves a challenging puzzle and works hard to solve it. All three show a man who has managed to attach one friend who is willing to go the distance for him.


To see that character fully formed is why I watch whichever version of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes I can find.



Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.


Iron Man 3 – Dealing

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


Our family weekend consisted of plans that ended up getting squashed and re-configured.


We started with a plan to see Iron Man 3 at the drive-in theater in Gibson City. The Harvest Moon is our favorite for the great green spaces as well as the fine concession stand food.


If you have never had a Funnel Cake Sundae, you are missing out.


However, six people in a minivan trying to watch a movie while it is cold and rainy is not my idea of a good time. So instead we packed up the family and a friend to head over to Movies 10.


What we found was a Tony Stark trying to deal with everything he saw during the fight with the Avengers in New York. And he is not succeeding at it. Tony is up for days at a time and when he sleeps, all he can dream about is New York.


But when an explosion at the Chinese Theater injures his friend, Tony sends out a message to the man claiming responsibility, the Mandarin, that he will find him and bring him down. Meanwhile, we learn about an experiment to create super humans that has one fatal flaw.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

If anything, this movie is about masks. The masks men like Tony Stark and the Mandarin use in order to complete their objectives. It is also about masks that some of us wear while appearing to be a normal person. What heroics or villainy lies in our hearts is not always reflected in the clothing we wear. The most deceitful character, in my mind, is one you did not expect at all.


The action was incredible, as always. A full-fledged attack on Tony Stark’s Malibu home is devastatingly great. But the scenes of previous terrorist attacks by the Mandarin are perhaps the most profound. They are gripping in the sadness of loss of life for those people who were not a target per say but merely collateral damage.

Now, I know there are fans of the comic book that are going to be disappointed. They are not going to like how the Mandarin is portrayed, how it leans far away from the original story. But trust me when I say that this reveal of the Mandarin is everything we might want to believe of current figures that use/used televised messages. It is a dirty move and it is brilliant.

For our family, it was a good movie. Our eight-year-old watched it although if you think your child is more sensitive, I would recommend skipping it. I would have done that when my oldest was this age but now my youngest watches these movies with the older kids. It makes him feel as if he is just like them.

While I put my foot down for R-rated horror or intense action movies, Iron Man and the Marvel comic movies manage to keep the blood and gore to the imagination. That I can live with.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

On The Hunt

With Christmas over, the hunt for perfect gifts is over as well.

As I have been hunting around for presents, I have taken on a near ‘buyer beware’ attitude. The other  week when I was in the stores I thought I had found the perfect present for my mother.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

It was a “Sherlock Holmes” set on DVD with four movies, episodes from an old TV show, and a featurette. Right on the box was a picture of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. These two men were and will always be what I think of first when I hear “Holmes and Watson.”

On a closer look, I read the titles and realized that Nigel Bruce was in only one of the movies. The Hound of the Baskervilles in the set which meant these were all of the lesser movies. That was very disappointing. So I put the box back on the shelf and moved on. If I am to give my mother a box set of Sherlock Holmes movies, Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone have to be together.

Thanks to the Guy Ritchie movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as the British detecting duo, interest in Sherlock Holmes has been renewed. Ritchie’s version of the detective is less clean, less proper than Rathbone’s version. Then again, Rathbone was a Shakespearian actor and carried that Victorian gravitas with him.

I like the Downey Jr. version of Sherlock, it makes him more approachable and understandable in some respects. I see a man who has many interests, many abilities but with a touch of the lack of social niceties. He knows enough how to be in society but only because he remembers what happens when it does not work out well.

There is a new edition of Holmes on TV in the CBS show Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as the detecting pair. The premise is that Sherlock has recently left rehab and Watson is a former doctor who is his ‘sober companion.’  The British citizen has a beautiful but messy grey stone and consults on cases with the New York City police. His contact there is played by Aiden Quinn.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Sherlock is rude, brusque, incredibly smart and highly annoying. Watson is constantly frustrated at his behavior, amazed at his deduction abilities, and constantly thwarted in her efforts to help Sherlock on his path to sobriety. But they work well together as partners when it comes to solving crimes. The writing is crisp and fast moving without giving a person whiplash. There is not a box set of this series – yet. I tend to watch it on my computer since I never get to watch it when it is actually broadcasted on Thursday nights.

The other night, the husband and I went out to see a different British detective in the movies. We finally got out to see Skyfall starring Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench. The opening sequence of this movie is worth the price of admission. The story focuses more on M and her career at MI6 but Bond is right there in nearly scene trying to figure out who is trying to destroy M.

This movie still has those fantastical chase scenes and an incredible villain in Javier Bardem. But the realistic point are the meetings and hearings that M is forced to attend to give testimony regarding her agency and if it is necessary any more. I was thrilled with all aspects of this movie and heartily recommend it to action movie fans. In my mind, Craig may be the best Bond after Sean Connery.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


The Avengers is one movie that had a huge build-up.


It has been years in the making, starting with the first Iron Man movie in 2008. In Iron Man 2 we met the Black Widow, a spy whose beauty matches her skill.  Last year we were treated to the first Thor movie which had audiences falling in love with an arrogant man forced to learn honor through difficulty.


And I cannot forget Captain America. The hero from years past charmed us with his earnestness as he fought Nazis and secret organizations.


This past weekend, the Marvel characters came together in The Avengers. 


Loki is a Norse demi-God who wants to rule Earth and the rest of the universe. He has teamed with other evil creatures that are looking to control Earth.


While Loki is capable of controlling some people to do his bidding, there is a group of people willing to do whatever it takes to keep earth safe. That team is called the Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America , Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk. They have been brought together by Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.


But Loki is tricky. He likes chaos, he likes creating disturbances. He is capable of doing that to anyone. With a touch of his scepter on the heart, he can make just about anyone follow him.


We saw the movie in the drive-in and loved it. I was happily surprised to see six different back stories weaved in to something that made sense. Plus, it was clear that people had history together in their comments and body language. Not every one liked each other, but with the proper motivation, they were able to work together.


The movie was long but thanks to a tight screenplay that gave a real voice to each superhero and interesting, compelling action sequences, the movie never feels as long as it should. Just as Jon Favreau did with Iron Man, director Joss Whedon has put in a certain amount of lightness with all the seriousness of a comic book movie.


Now the question you might be asking is “do I have to watch all of the other movies to see this one?” My answer would be yes IF you do not have a thorough knowledge of the Marval comic characters. I was not familiar with Iron Man before the movies nor was I all that knowing about Captain America. Because of a youth spent watching Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, I understood The Hulk and enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s performance.


On the other hand, we went with friends who were not familiar with the whole story and they enjoyed it. Part of it was the experience of being at a drive-in but the movie was exciting. The other part was the stunning special effects that created leviathans and creepy ice guys to cause trouble.


Strangely enough, I found the movie to be mostly kid appropriate. It has a PG-13 rating, mostly for the action shots. If your child is not used to such movies, then it will not be appropriate. However, our 7-year-old watched and loved it. Granted, he has also seen many of the movies leading up to this one and knew what to expect.


A good story with great dialogue and thrilling action along with characters that are more than cardboard cutouts make for a great movie. It is everything I would want for a summer blockbuster movie and much more.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

What Did You Like Best?

I keep reading stories about the last year in movies and how it was lackluster. But I find critics say that every year. As a former critic, I know how easy it is to get jaded.

Every year there are bad sequels and bad re-makes and bad old-TV series-made-into-movies. What? You thought The A-Team and Hot Tub Time Machine were going to be good movies?

While some movies were disappointing, there were a few that I really loved.

Toy Story 3

What a great ending to a great series. Pixar, the makers of Toy Story, always seemed to get that toys are very real to kids. Each toy has its own personality, its own quirk and that is why we love various toys. But more importantly they never doubted the capabilities of their audience to understand that those qualities may be different from what we perceive.

Andy gazing at his old toys, Picture from IMDb.com


There are so many elements, so many details that goes into this last movie. It is a coming-of-age movie, an ending but also action-adventure with a heist element. We mourn who is gone and celebrate with who is left. We cry with relief and sadness and happiness. It may be one of the best movies of the entire year.


Christina Aquilera wants to be so much more than a fine singer, she wants to be an actress as well. This is a first good step in that direction. Starring with the ultimate singer-turned-actress in Cher, Aquilera is a small town girl from Iowa who wants something more from her life. A one-way ticket to L.A. is the first step. A waitressing  job at the best burlesque house is the next.

Cher and Christina Aquilera in Burlesque, Picture from IMDb.com


That is where she meets Cher who mentors her along in the way of make-up and performing. And when Aquilera lets loose on the pipes, all bets are off to discovering how successful she will be. Forget reality while watching this movie because you know some of what will happen. Stay for Cher’s solo, Kristen Bell’s anger and Stanley Tucci’s every scene.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

I know that everything in the book did not make it into the movie. I was looking forward to some things that did not make it. But this movie did what it had to do. It gave us the fill towards the end. It lead us from school life to real life for Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Daniel, Rupert and Emma in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Picture from IMDb.com.


We are now set up for the final movie, the final episode. We are ready for the huge battle we know must come. And if it all goes the way I hope, David Yates will be praised forever as one of the best directors of one of the best movie series ever.

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr. has seen a renaissance that has been remarkable for the roles he is getting and what he is doing with them. In this movie, Downey had to contend with the specter of Basil Rathbone and made his own mark. I wondered if he was giving Sherlock a bit of an Asperberger’s twist with his incredible focus on a single subject and lack of social niceties.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. in "Sherlock Holmes," Picture from IMDb.com


Jude Law also has some hurdles to cross as he makes Dr. Watson different from the Nigel Bruce charactization. We follow the story of a woman from Holmes’ past whom needs Holmes to do some investigating. Plus, the two men are dealing with an estrangement as Watson finds a woman he wants to marry. I was entranced and loved how Guy Richie envisioned the story.

There are so many other movies I need to see. I am looking forward to Rabbit Hole, Country Strong and True Grit, among others.

 What movies did you love in the past year?

One of those nostalgic activities we like to participate in is going to a drive-in movie theater.  

A Drive-in Marquee. Picture by Earl 35.


Yes, they used to be plentiful and nearly every small town had one. It has a Norman Rockwell feel to it. In the 50s and 60s that is where you went on a date. But something happened to the industry in the late 70s and 80s. The land became more valuable for development and people were not going to as many drive-ins.  

A few have remained that have become classic venues. How do they do it?  

My personal experience is that the great drive-ins treat their customers right by having green areas for play before the movie, concession stands that do not over price you to death and security that makes their presence known without bullying. It is not rocket science. Treat the paying customers right and they will come back!  

We went to the Harvest Moon Twin Cinema located in Gibson City, Illinois. We like going there and have recommended it for years to friends. We even saw one of my daughter’s girlfriends there with her family. So Sara watched the movie from their car and visited with her friend at the same time.  

This was a special double-feature weekend. Screen One was showing The Prince of Persia and Robin Hood. Screen Two was showing Shrek 4 and Iron Man 2. We went for Shrek and Iron Man. Who can resist a Scottish Ogre and Robert Downey Jr.?  

Take a ball or a frisbee for the green area. Picture by Solicity


The movies were good but the experience was better. We had a family Frisbee game in the green area and had to avoid the football throwers. There was a sandwich run to the concession stand and fresh melon in the cooler. We sat in our chairs and watched the movie in all the comfort we could want. Our youngest rolled himself up in a blanket on the ground during the first movie. Later, he sat on my lap.  

On the way out we threw our garbage bag (given to us at the entrance) on the semi trailer that had a target sign. My 13-year-old missed with the two bags we had but they landed on the trailer. And yes, there were mosquitoes but we sprayed ourselves with poison to keep them at bay.  

I appreciate that this owner makes us clean up after ourselves. I love his merry-go-round that comes from the 1940s. The bathrooms need to be modernized but that is for the future.  

What I hope is that the company keeps going so that when I have grandchildren, I can take them to experience watching movies with no air conditioning, plenty of bugs and the chance we will have to run into the car because of rain. Not that it will stop the movie from playing because it won’t.  

Looking for a drive-in near you? Try this website http://www.drive-ins.com.  

Share your favorite drive-in movie memories in the comment section.  

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.