Don’t you love it when a corporate Cyclops blinks? Marvel Films has reportedly reached a deal with director Jon Favreau for Iron Man 2, after having made some threatening noises that the sequel might be going on without him. It seems Marvel had balked at the idea of paying points on the follow-up, when it would be just as easy to get somebody who would work for the flat rate received by Favreau the first time.

Jeez! With this approach to dealing with talent, you’d think these guys had a background in comic books or something.

An avalanche of message-board outrage is likely what changed Marvel’s mind, though there were also a few dunderheads out there saying good riddance to Favreau and claiming anybody could have made the movie he did. Riiiight. Anybody could have crafted a worldwide hit of the year out of a character the general public barely knew from The Iron Giant and a star (Robert Downey Jr.) who had to be forced down the studio’s throat. Yes, indeed. Remind us when “Anybody” has another picture coming out. We like his work.


Opening Friday, July 25

The X-Files: I Want to Believe We like the idea of an X-Files movie being a stand-alone thriller untethered to the show’s twisty mythology. That’s a nice reminder to Hollywood that its big event projects rarely approximate the artistic achievement of a single hour of TV from 15 years ago. That said, we’ll start drumming up genuine enthusiasm for this particular film when anybody involved in its making seems ready to follow suit. Despite a 10-year wait, the movie is giving off the aura of something that was abruptly thrown together to beat the writers’ strike. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, star David Duchovny would only simper, “I think it’s possible that we could deliver.” And this is from the guy who made House of D. (PG-13)

Step Brothers Do we have to specify it was produced by Judd Apatow, or is it now sufficient to say it’s a comedy? Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play middle-aged underachievers who are forced to cohabitate when their respective single parents hook up. We geezers who had fallen in love with Mary Steenburgen upon the release of 1979’s Time After Time were heard to gasp when Parenthood implied she could be anybody’s mother; the idea that she’s now playing Will Ferrell’s mom makes us want to slam our heads in a refrigerator door. (R)

When Did You Last See Your Father? Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth were nominated for British Independent Film Awards for their performances in this adaptation of Blake Morrison’s autobiographical novel. The film shows us an adult son learning to accept the terminally ill papa who caused him a lifetime of grief. We were going to mention a little picture called Nothing in Common, but why break with the fantasy that the limeys invent everything good? (PG-13)

Encounters at the End of the World Hardy filmmaker Werner Herzog trudges off to the Antarctic to see what the 1,100 residents of a scientific outpost are learning about man and his environment, as they live together in this extreme part of the world. Apparently, nature is a hell of violent competition and we’re all doomed – among other insights only a German could love. (G)


Available Tuesday, July 29

Dark City: The Director’s Cut The movie that gave the Wachowski brothers the idea for The Matrix receives an expanded retrospective … just in time for having inspired the Wachowskis to mean jack squat.

The Deal Michael Sheen first assumed the role of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in this prequel to The Queen. From what we understand, the movie shows how Blair picked up his trademark white tux and Aston Martin, and became the cold killing machine the world knows today. Or is that something else?

Lost Boys: The Tribe Twenty-one years later. No Kiefer Sutherland. No Jami Gertz. No theatrical release. So what’s the big deal? Two words: Corey Feldman. We’ll just leave our wallet on the nightstand, Warner Bros., and you come take out whatever you want.

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