Iron Man 2
   Director: Jon Favreau, Paramount Pictures, Rated M, 124 mins

The much anticipated blockbuster sequel to Iron Man has finally hit the big screens and it certainly doesn’t disappoint - proving to be an exciting rollercoaster ride filled with great special effects and plenty of spills and thrills.
   Once again, director Jon Favreau has teamed up with Robert Downey Junior (Sherlock Holmes) as Tony Stark, the Man of Iron as well as with Academy Award actress Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love) as the CEO of STARK industries (and love interest), Pepper Potts.
   With the world now aware of his double life, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from a US Government Senate Committee led by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) to release his technology to the military.
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   Stark refuses, claiming his competitors are coming close to adapting his technology.
   It is not too long before he confronts a powerful new enemy in the form of a vengeful Russian scientist, the heavily tattooed Ivan Vanko (played by Academy Award winner Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler).
   Vanko has recreated the Iron Man technology and the two come face to face at the Monaco Grand Prix - a meeting made even better by Vanko’s whip like energy blazing weapons.
   Together with Pepper Potts and buddy James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Iron Man must use all the technological skills at his disposal to eliminate an enemy that has developed not only similar technology but has the backing of a rival weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell, Moon) who also wants Stark out of the way.
   Following his successful direction of the first Iron Man, Favreau has this time returned (appearing again as Stark’s bodyguard) to further develop the personalities of the three major characters (Downey Jnr, Paltrow and Cheadle).
   He also introduces new villains such as Vanko and Hammer, not to mention the cat–suited femme fatale Natalie Rushman (Vicky Christina Barcelona’s Scarlet Johansson) as Pepper’s new assistant.
   The scenes involving Downey Jnr, Rourke and Johansson are particularly entertaining with the action scenes coming fast and furious.
   In some respects it is one of the few sequels that actually betters the standards set by the original movie, containing a great cast and elements of many genres such as action, comedy romance and science fiction.
   Iron Man 2 should thoroughly appeal to everyone.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps


DVD
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
   Release date: 19 May
   Director: Terry Gilliam, Sony Pictures, Rated M, 123 mins

This fantastic fantasy movie was directed and written by Terry Gilliam and follows the head of a travelling theatre troupe who has made a deal with the devil inviting viewers through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations.
   The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus has an all star cast featuring Christopher Plummer as Dr Parnassus and the late Australian actor Heath Ledger (in his last dramatic performance) whose role was recast with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law portraying transformations of Ledger’s character, Tony, as he travels through a dream world.
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   There is no doubt that this is Terry Gilliam’s dark masterpiece - a beautifully made movie with surrealistic visual effects, gorgeous costumes, wonderful cinematography and stunning performances by an amazing cast especially from Plummer and Ledger not to mention Depp, Farrel and Law and Lily Cole as Parnassus’ daughter.
   The Blu-ray and DVD special features include commentary by Director Terry Gilliam, deleted scenes, Heath Ledger’s wardrobe test with optional commentary and multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes.
   The Blu-ray disc is packed with exclusive features that will bring viewers inside the Imaginarium.
   Included are the featurettes Behind the Mirror and Heath Ledger and Friends where cast and crew speak about working with the Ledger and continuing with filming after he died.
   The features also include a look into the visual mind of the Director in The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam which offers a glimpse into what it took to create the movie’s fantastical world.
   With all these features and the fact it was Heath Ledger’s last movie, this is certainly one DVD to have in the home collection.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps


DVD
Toy Story 1
   Release date: 19 May
   Director: John Lasseter, Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G, 74 mins

Toy Story 2
   Release date: May
   Director: John Lasseter, Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G, 92 mins

Ahead of the much anticipated 3D version of Toy Story 3 is Disney’s release from its vault of the Special DVD Editions of classics Toy Story 1 & 2 which star the much loved characters of Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
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   The story of Woody and Buzz is one of the best stories of friendship that cinema has ever seen.
   There is plenty of chitchat and slapstick as well as an emotional core which above anything else has been the trademark of Pixar movies which is the reason why Toy Story 1 & 2 have become instant classics.
   Like the first movie, Toy Story 2 is jam packed with incredible side characters, from the unscrupulous toy store owner out to make a killing in the collector’s market to the introduction of Woody’s pals, Stinky Pete (voiced by Kelsey Grammar), his noble horse Bullseye and sidekick Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack).
   Jessie’s story of being left behind as her owner grew up is simply heartbreaking and is one of Pixar’s best sequences.
   Equally important is Pixar’s CG animation process which has matured incredibly in the three short years between the two movies.
   The Blu-ray and DVD Special Edition discs are jammed packed with all new bonus features to thrill fans, new and old alike and are a definite must to own.
   These include Black Friday-The Toy Story You Never Saw as well favourite features such as The Legacy of Toy Story and the Making of Toy Story 1 and 2.

VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps - Toy Story 1
VIC'S VERDICT:       5 Rubber Stamps - Toy Story 2

To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.
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