Lean, mean, funny and chockablock with fast-twitch demolition spectacle, 'The Expendables' represents a grand finale for several generations of action cinema stars (Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.). Although there are obvious political influences at play, the film walks a fine generic line of idealism that errs on the side of graphic novel cartoonishness without succumbing entirely to style. Grade: B.
Director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Theroux deserve credit for trying to infuse the sequel to 2008's 'Iron Man' with equal parts pleasure, wit, intelligence, silliness, self-awareness and steely action-movie grit. In other words, Favreau tries to make it a worthwhile vehicle for the acting ability of his star, Robert Downey Jr., succeeding enough to make this enjoyable by the standards of summer-movie comic-book adaptations/sequels. Grade: B-.
Bret Easton Ellis' novels translate nicely from page to screen. The author's obsession with pretty surfaces — from faces to food to designer clothes — is catnip for an industry/art form that thrives on images. The same can't quite be said of Gregor Jordan's adaptation of 'The Informers,' which is based on a collection of loosely connected short stories Ellis wrote during his college days. Grade: C-.
Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a world wrestling champion 20 years ago. Now he shuffles along between bouts, accepting the goodwill and respect of the up and comers in the game. Rourke and Marisa Tomei earn accolades by joining Aronofsky on a journey that imitates documentary filmmaking in its approach rather than attempting to wring unnecessary sentiment, and they all beat the odds. Grade: A-.
Best known for complex, visually arresting films, Darren Aronofsky scales things back for 'The Wrestler,' the emotionally engrossing tale of Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke). Aronofsky was happy to talk with CityBeat about Rourke's sensitive, go-for-broke performance as well as the science behind procuring the appropriate '80s Hair Metal songs.