Iron Man 2 (2010)

Rated PG-13: For Violence and Some Language

Running Time: 124 minutes (2 hours and 4 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on May 7, 2010 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios, Fairview Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures

"Iron Man" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

Writer: Justin Theroux

Director: Jon Favreau

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts
  • Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
  • Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko / Whiplash
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War continues, but since neither me nor Dad could find our D.V.D. for The Incredible Hulk, we decided to skip that one first and head on to what has been described as one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most inferior entries, and a letdown of a follow-up to the film that started it all.

The defendant has been accused of having a very needlessly complicated plot, while also having no focus at all in developing both old and new characters, all in an attempt to make way for the bigger universe. So help us God, we will get to the bottom of this. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is now in business for the case of Dateline v. Iron Man 2!

Also ... ahem (in Samuel L. Jackson' voice) ... "mister, or miss, or missis Reader, I'm gonna have to ask you to exit this blog post" ... ahem ... because spoilers are coming your way!

What is the movie about?

With his heroic identity made public knowledge, Tony Stark, played by Downey Jr. (Soapdish), is being hounded by the government for his technology's potential to become weapons in the hands of various other supervillains. One of those attempting to replicate Stark's Iron Man technology is  the incompetent weapons developer and Stark's corporate rival Justin Hammer, played by Rockwell (Galaxy Quest).

Tony's personal life is even made more complicated when the Arc Reactor, the very device that is designed to keep him alive, is also poisoning his bloodstream, and will soon kill him. His uncontrollable fear of death strains his relationships with his closest friends Pepper Potts, played by Paltrow (Great Expectations), and James "Rhodey" Rhodes, played by Cheadle (Ocean's Eleven), forcing S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Changing Lanes) to send one of his top agents, Agent Natasha Romanoff, played by Johansson (the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell), to spy on him.

But when a villainous genius named Ivan Vanko, played by Rourke (The Wrestler) threatens to tarnish Tony's legacy with his own version of the Arc Reactor, Tony must get a grip and save the world once more from those who seek to use his inventions for nefarious purposes.


What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • The cast is as game as ever, especially the latest addition that is Sam Rockwell.
At first, I thought Iron Man 2 is a more or less okay enough of a sequel, but on second viewing, I can really see why a lot, and I mean, a lot of fans would say that this sequel is really not as superior as its predecessor. Looking back on my most recent viewing of the film, I just realized that the only reason why I was mildly pleased with the flick was because of the cast's performances. No seriously, their performances are actually the only thing that is keeping this film from reaching DC Extended Universe levels of unwatchable.

Of course, we all know that Robert Downey Jr. is the living, breathing manifestation of the Armored Avenger, but for me, it somewhat felt like his performance was undermined by the very confused film script, but we will get to that later. Downey Jr. obviously did everything he can and he just went with it, from eating donuts on a giant donut, to peeing his pants on his own alcohol-filled birthday party, but at least his chemistry with Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow is really good. Personally, I think the best scene showcasing Downey Jr. and Cheadle's acting is during the climactic battle, wherein both Iron Man and War Machine debate on who should be "the big gun". It is a simple and funny exchange that highlighted the two characters' brotherly bond. I would also mention the battle between Tony and Rhodey during his birthday party, but it really did not have that "my friendship is on the line" type of tension.

But of all of the performances, from Downey Jr.'s committed performance, to Cheadle's much livelier approach to Rhodey, to Paltrow's ever charming portrayal of Pepper Potts, I think the one that truly stood out for me was Sam Rockwell's hugely underrated performance as the bad guy wannabe Justin Hammer. It really is funny that Sam Rockwell came "this" close to donning the Iron Man suit before Downey Jr. came, and seeing him here, being the overly child-like, overly pretentious, overly spoiled "anti Tony Stark" is casting at its finest. I do believe that Rockwell deserves way more credit for his role here, because among all of the villains in the M.C.U., he is the one of the only few actors who managed to give his character a distinguishable personality. Kudos also for Rockwell's impeccable comedic timing. That scene wherein he asks his butler Jack, played by food stylist Jack White in his only on-screen role, to test and see if the Hammeroid's head was indeed a helmet is just comedy gold.

Also, I think people overlook the efforts Mickey Rourke, the guy who wowed audiences everywhere with his performance in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, for playing Whiplash. His scenes, while unbelievably cartoonish, have some shades of commitment. There are scenes that show that Ivan Vanko is more than just the vengeful fiend, but a tormented soul, much like Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) from Black Panther. I have read some articles saying that he wanted to do some additional scenes to flesh-out his character much more, only for them to end-up on the cutting room floor, which is very tragic, considering that Rourke might have been trying to make his character more than just a one-dimensional baddie. You did your best, Mister Rourke.


The Prosecution:

  • Black Widow and Nick Fury have absolutely no reason to be in this film. (And all characters are underdeveloped.)

Allow me to make it clear to everyone, all the way to the back, that the Justin Theroux's script is all over the place. Thanks in no small part to the M.C.U.'s once antagonizing sickness that is "corporate meddling". There are a lot of things that could have been great in this film, but they all ultimately end up falling head first to the ground.

One of the most common pieces of criticism that I have read about this film is that it tends to try and establish the shared universe concept that we know is already taking its course, and yes, those claims are correct. This claim is clear as day through the unnecessary appearances of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Neither of these mentioned characters have made significant developments in the film, and while Black Widow had one standout fight scene against the Hammer Industries security personnel, Nick Fury's appearance can pretty much be scrapped, and the movie itself would not be different.

And because of these forced inclusions, one cannot help the feeling that the characters that really matter to the film's narrative as watching as their respective story arcs are dragged and beaten to a pulp. This goes even for Tony Stark himself, because the last time we saw him, we see him taking Ho Yinsen's, played by Shaun Toub (Stretch) advise on not wasting his life, only for him basically do that instead of saving the world. Arguably the biggest developmental casualty here is Whiplash's, because let us face it, he is clearly not in the same league as any of these villains: Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston  (Midnight in Paris), Helmut Zemo, played by Daniel Brühl (Eva), Ego, played by Kurt Russell (Big Trouble in Little China), The Vulture, played by Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice), Hela, played by Cate Blanchett (Carol), and obviously, Killmonger. He is just pretty much your run-of-the-mill guy out for revenge. Sadly, that is all to say about his character.

Heck, even Pepper Potts and James Rhodes have almost nothing to do but worry about Tony's self-destructive behavior. Shout-out to Jon Favreau though for having some of the film's more fun scenes, and his comedic side-by-side fight with Black Widow is quite a delight.


  • Despite being cool visually, the action is really underwhelming, which is a shocker.
The first Iron Man had a lot of fun action sequences that are enough to balance out the character developing moments, including Tony's escape from his captors, Tony's rescue of a village, Tony's escape from a couple of military fighter jets, and Tony's final battle with the previous film's main antagonist. Iron Man 2, on the other hand, is surprisingly lacking in the action front, which is actually pretty strange for a superhero movie. If you have watched this movie, there are only a total of three short, and somewhat underwhelming, stakes-free action sequences, including the one in the race track, the one with Rhodey taking the template for the War Machine armor, and the final battle against Whiplash. 

While none of them are actually just as fun or thrilling as what the first film showed, these three short fight scenes are still worth your while, but these three key scenes really did not compensate for the more dialogue-heavy scenes. The first fight with Whiplash is actually pretty awesome, especially his cool entrance, with the scene made even more entertaining thanks to some surprisingly hilarious, if albeit uneven, moments with Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan and Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts. Up to this day, my sister and I still find the truth that Whiplash manages to survive getting hit by a car multiple times as still strangely funny. (Thanks Screen Junkies for making it even more humorous.) But sadly, it was very, very short, and you barely even get to see Iron Man in action during this scene.

And while the climactic battle just boils down to the C.G.I.-filled beat 'em ups that we are mostly used to, without these very brief twenty-three minutes or so, which is made a little bit more interesting thanks to Downey Jr. and Cheadle's brotherly banter exchange, Iron Man 2 might actually become the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, but that honor belongs to another film, which you will find out soon. (Here is a hint. It is in the labels.)

Also, while the use of C.G.I. strips the realism that was established in the first film, which is the reason as to why I felt little stakes during the battle scenes, the designs of both Iron Man and War Machine's remain as lively as ever, although I do find Whiplash's suit sort-of uninspired. While it makes sense for Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), to sport an all-black knockoff suit in the first film, I expected the new suit to be ... different, and not just be another black knockoff suit, but with electric whips. And yeah, the villain has a short schedule, but could he not have at least done a better paint job? Since the character is based on Crimson Dynamo, should he not have crimson paint on his suit? 
  • The film tries, and fails, to juggle two major story arcs at the same time.
And this is where the film ultimately derails, right at the very beginning when they all thought that juggling two nearly distinct story arcs was a good idea. At the beginning of the movie, audiences were lead to believe that it is about Tony Stark's coming to terms with the inevitability of death, but then in the next scene, it is all about Tony Stark having to deal with the fact that people all over the world might be trying to replicate his work, but then later on, it is about one man's thinly sketched revenge plan against Tony Stark, but then much later, it is all about Tony Stark potentially becoming an Avenger, which we all know was a foregone conclusion to begin with. Come on, he is Iron Man, one of the founding members of the team.

The two arcs that I am referring to are 1.) Tony's coming demise, and his attempts to do the best that he can to leave a worthwhile legacy, and 2.) Tony's father, Howard Stark's, played by John Slattery (Mad Men) secret formula for a new element, and how the sins of his father lead to the main antagonist's downward spiral to villainy. As much as I am a hypocrite to this advise, but you cannot have it both ways. Iron Man 2 could have been so much better if the script stuck to only one of these main story arcs, and still have the liberty to introduce Black Widow to mainstream audience. You can also feel how rushed the conclusion was, when an element that is impossible to synthesize is synthesized in a montage.

If they were to take route one, which is the "legacy" arc, the first thing I would write in the script is to not have Tony Stark spend the entire movie acting like he does not have a heroic responsibility to do. Instead, I think the movie should have just taken the route of adapting one of the core basis for this film, which is Armor Wars, wherein Iron Man is on a race against time to retrieve his stolen blueprints, and to mix that up with the Arc Reactor subplot, Tony just wants to retrieve the blueprint for the new element. Justin Hammer, in turn, can be made much more developed here, as he will be revealed to be the mastermind behind the theft through Whiplash, who sold it to other bad guys, and the film can then pretty much follow the film from there, minus all of the boring stuff.

If they were to take route two, my favorite, which is the "new element" arc, they should make Whiplash also dying of the exact same sickness that Tony is experiencing, and instead of sharing with him, he decides to make one for himself, and make another to destroy Iron Man and everything that he holds dear, which in turn makes Whiplash a much more formidable villain. In addition, they can just make his attacks on Stark Industries mysterious, so as to keep the stakes high, while Tony should remain almost unaware of his father's secret documents's existence, which Whiplash is aware of.

The Ruling: Guilty!
While not the worst entry in the franchise, and while not without its redeeming factors, Iron Man 2 is sadly a victim of too much dangling plot threads, and way too little character developments.

And that is it for our official movie review for Iron Man 2. Considering that we are becoming a tad bit stricter in our reviews, I might as well re-evaluate some of our past reviewed films, including Justice League, because last time, I might have been a tad bit soft on it the first time. We still have a lot more movies to cover, so be sure to stick around for the first movie in the God of Thunder's rollercoaster of a trilogy.

Before you leave, listen to three of the featured AC/DC songs from this film, considering that the music, and John Debney's work, did help a bit with the flick. Fun fact: Dad and I won the album version of the soundtrack. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Iron Man (2008)

Rated PG-13: For Violence and Some Suggestive Themes

Running Time: 126 minutes (2 hours and 6 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Science Fiction, Superhero 

Released on May 2, 2008 (US Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios, Fairview Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures

"Iron Man" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

Writers: Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and Art Marcum and Matt Holloway

Director: Jon Favreau


  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Terrence Howard as James "Rhodey" Rhodes
  • Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger
  • Shaun Toub as Ho Yinsen
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts

Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War begins now! With only roughly a week left until the biggest crossover of 2018 comes knocking in theaters everywhere, we decided to take a look back at the movie that was expected to fail, but has instead become the one that kickstarted a multi-million dollar franchise!

Common accusations for the defendant include setting-up the many flaws that other installments will follow. So help us God, we will see if this really is one of the best superhero films of all time! Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is now in session for the case of Dateline v. Iron Man!

Also, in case it is not that obvious yet, a ton of spoilers are coming your way!

What is the movie about?

Tech-savvy weapons designer and womanizing billionaire Tony Stark, played by Downey Jr. (The Judge) finds himself where he himself has unintentionally ravaged with his own weapons.

Now at the mercy of a couple of terrorists who want him to build weapons of mass destruction for them, Tony, with the aid of fellow prisoner and genius Ho Yinsen, played by Toub (Crash), must become Iron Man, and put an end to their plans!

The plot thickens when, on the other side of the globe, Tony's best friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes, played by Howard (Wayward Pines), and Tony's assistant Pepper Potts, played by Paltrow (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) discover a deeper conspiracy within Stark Industries in the form of Tony's trusted adviser, Obadiah Stane, played by Bridges (The Big Lebowski).

What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • A little Ramin Djawadi is always a blessing.
Ramin Djawadi, the man behind two of the best theme songs in television, namely for both Game of Thrones and Westworld, and the man whose work at the pretty mediocre Pacific Rim just made it worth the watch, helps in bringing the movie to life with his electric guitar-centric musical work. While people do give the soundtrack way too much hate for its use of the instrument, I find it rather perfect for the movie, considering that rock music helped define the titular hero's character.

However, unlike all of the three previously mentioned works, Djawadi's output for this movie is admittedly not on the same level. Hey, I am not saying that his work here is awful or terrible, or any other words that are synonymous with those two adjectives. Personally, I felt that, despite his scores fitting thematically with the movie, and despite having exerted clear and obvious effort, the soundtrack feels something like I have heard from a bunch of other action movies that I have watched. In other words, it sounds unoriginal and uninspired.

Despite this, however, Djawadi, an adamant Iron Man fan himself, still does the best that he could. In fact, most of them, especially the tracks "Driving With The Top Down", which is made as the official theme song of the movie, and the updated, jazz version of the classic Iron Man cartoon theme song, are more than enough evidence to prove that Djawadi did not just phone it in for this project.

  • Awesome action, awesome costume designs, awesome visuals!
Imagine my surprise when I found that, years after watching the movie, more than half of the film is actually improvised, simply because director Jon Favreau and the rest of the production team wanted to focus more on the action and the story. I even remember reading one article about actor Jeff Bridges stating that he did not like the "student film" approach that they took, but was nevertheless glad that his efforts were not in vain. I will get back to their improvised performances later, but in the mean time, let us take the time to appreciate all of the crew's hard work at making some of the best, realistic visuals in a blockbuster film.

I do admit that I love how not much computer-generated imagery was used, except obviously for the costumes and the brief scene featuring the holograms in Tony's workshop. It helps give the movie a much more tense atmosphere, and you can actually see Iron Man battle evil without much of the unnecessary shaky camera angles and flashing lights that most CGI-filled action films have used. From Tony Stark's armored escape from his captors, to his battle against a group of terrorists ravaging a lowly village, to his final battle against his mentor, Obadiah Stane, never was there a time when you are watching the movie that you would feel bored. My personal favorites for this movie is actually the final confrontation between Iron Man and the Iron Monger, plus Tony's rescue of Ho Yinsen's hometown, because that part not only showed Tony's true heroic side, but also we get to see one of the coolest "walking away from an explosion" shots that I have ever seen. Sure, it is pretty typical, but cool nonetheless.

The costume designs are also a plus for me, because of the realism that the designs manage to carry, and as such, none of the designs look like  sprites that are taken straight out of a video game. The shots of Tony's face inside the armor is also a major game-changer. Besides, it would have been really boring if all we see is the exterior of the armor.

  • The story, simple as it may be, is timely and thought-provoking.

The entire "hero's journey to humility" and the whole "corporate hostile takeover" story angles are nowhere near to originality, and these two are actually the most frequently used premises in the movie industry, least of all a superhero movie. However, I believe the one thing that made Iron Man stand-out from its less than inspired counterparts is its realistic atmosphere, which we have mentioned has also been evident in the film's lesser use of C.G.I. In addition, because the last thing we, as an audience, really need for our entire lifetimes is an unnecessary retooling of comicbook properties, so it really is nice to see that the film, while making some necessary changes, remained true to the spirit of Iron Man.

A common theme in Iron Man stories is that technology, for all of its benefits, will also bring about dangers to everyone. This film tackles it almost perfectly through Ho Yinsen's sacrifice, who intentionally got himself killed in order to be reunited with his family in the afterlife, and even one of Obadiah Stane's lines about Tony giving the world the best weapon there is.

Its not-so subtle social commentary on the "War on Terror" is actually pretty timely, and while most of us know that Iron Man had tackled stories pertaining to the Cold War, the contemporary updates applied to his story makes him a much more compelling character. Iron Man is a personification of corporate evil turned into corporate good. Tony's announcement that his company will no longer be making weapons is arguably the best to showcase the film's theme.

And rewatching this movie is even more meaningful after you watch all of the future M.C.U. films, not because this is the first installment, but rather, this is where Tony Stark's journey begins. This is where we first saw a man become something else entirely, and this is where we first see Tony go on his world-saving journey, growing as a character after experiencing various failures and successes. Although we still see him stumble in future installments, it really is nice to see how much his character has developed, and it all started here.

  • Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man! (And the improvisation really did not hurt, either.)
And as we have mentioned before, this entire film has 99.9% improvised dialogue in all of its scenes, which actually pays off very, very, very well for this flick. This is also one of those instances when humor in an M.C.U. film does not feel out of place.

When I first watched it back in 2008, I had absolutely no idea that improvisation was used here, because back then, I cannot notice the differences between a "scripted scene", and an "improvised scene". And now, on my succeeding viewing of the film, I recognize that, despite the obvious challenge for the actors and the actresses, they are all able to pull it off. Think about it. No script means they have to make random stuff up on the spot, and no script means numerous potential takes. Through this, their acting prowesses have come to light, and thanks to their committed performances, each of the characters, especially Robert Downey Jr., has managed to stand out!

One of my most favorite scenes from the film is when Tony Stark returned home to announce that Stark Industries will no longer be developing weapons. Not only was it funny to see people play along by just sitting down just because Downey Jr. told them so, but it was also one of those scenes that truly fleshed-out Tony's character, and his entire dialogue about how he witnessed "Young Americans" (referring to the soldiers who tried to protect him) were killed by his own weapons, is just heartbreaking. Watching this, and his audition reel for the movie, Favreau was right to cast Downey Jr. in the first place.

Robert Downey Jr. auditioning for Iron Man 

Jeff Bridges, despite being basically cheated out of the contract when he first believed that he was going to return for the sequel to be an even bigger bad, and despite playing a "by the numbers corrupt co-worker" villain, delivers one of the best lines in this movie, with a box of scraps! (Plus points if you understood that reference) It really is a shame that Bridges will not return to the role anytime soon, since he did manage to make a very cliched role into something worthwhile.

Terrence Howard, whose behind-the-scenes drama has unfortunately forced people to doubt his capabilities as an actor, did a decent job as Rhodey, especially at their early exchange about trying not to drink. Although, I have to admit, the performance of Don Cheadle (Reign Over Me) is much more effective, in contrast to Howard's work, because for obvious reasons, Cheadle and Downey Jr. have better, best friend chemistry. Still, it would have been quite interesting to see Howard in the War Machine mantle.

Shaun Toub also does a remarkable job at performing a brief, but meaningful role to the big screen, and although those who are familiar with Iron Man's origin story might have seen Ho Yinsen's demise as inevitable, Toub's delivery of his final words, revealing that his family is already dead, is absolutely brilliant. And for Gwyneth Paltrow, who managed to make Pepper Potts more than just a love interest for the main hero, she remains as one of the best written female characters in the franchise, and her chemistry with Downey Jr. is stellar. 


The Prosecution:

  • Being the first M.C.U. film, it ultimately displays the many cliches that future installments will use.

I honestly just have one problem with Iron Man, and that is it gets really predictable. Even if you have not watched this movie before, even if you have not watched all of the other M.C.U. flicks, which I certainly doubt you have not, you really cannot get rid of that itch that, for all of its thought-provoking commentary and for all of its amazing performances, Iron Man more or less just follows the "been there, done that" hero's journey narrative, wherein our hero gets betrayed, gets even. The amount of improvisation applied for this flick does help with keeping thing interesting, but in the end, the narrative tiles are set at first glance. This is not really much of a serious problem, because there really is no use at changing things overtly, to the point that it barely resembles the original comicbooks. Just sit back and enjoy the movie, and the cliches would not even be troublesome.

The Ruling: Not Guilty!

A smart and energetic cinematic realization of a nearly forgotten comicbook property, Iron Man not only brings to life Robert Downey Jr.'s acting career, but also a cinematic juggernaut that we all know today!

And there you have it. Our official review of the first Iron Man movie, and the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Since this is a countdown for the long awaited crossover, expect for more of our upcoming posts to be related to the franchise, and expect more reviews of the remaining installments that we still have not yet reviewed.

In the meantime, it is a little known fact that most Iron Man animated properties have some of the best theme songs. For your inspiration, here are two of them, one is from the 90s cartoon show, and the other is the one that you saw on Nickelodeon with Tony Stark as a teenager, and are all played to the various shots of the trilogy! Plus, since the theme song for this movie is just great, here is a heavy metal rendition of it, which is also available on Spotify! Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Concept artwork for Holden Bradford; Created by Laura David

This post is a continuation of Story Pitch: Chasing Scarlet (Part 2 of an Original Work). Click here for the second part. Also, welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is the third part of our story pitch.

Act 3: The Outcasts

Transitioning to the third and final part, Holden and Cassie invite James, who finished reading "The Upgrade", to the upcoming inter-school prom night, in an attempt to keep him away from his self-loathing induced workaholism, to no avail. Holden and Cassie also recall the people who are in pursuit of artistic life choices are discriminated by those who are in pursuit of scientific careers, causing a cycle of revenge that later on influenced the students of C.C.U.S.S., E.A.S.T., and even S.A.G.E.L.

Back in the past, a few days before the official internationals round of their research defense, James, Holden, Cassie, and Martin rehearse once more. This time, they discuss their motivations behind their stands, with James cryptically mentioning that all he wants is to be "a hero", which is something that Martin has promised that he will become once they manage to get their research paper approved. The fact that all four representatives of E.A.S.T. were expelled for their failure to prove their innocence was enough for both Holden and Cassie to feel bad, after pleading to Martin to perhaps offer an apology over how much damage that they have caused. Martin instead revealed to the both of them that he did steal the research notes from E.A.S.T., which lead to them having to finish their paper in the first place, and it was James' near-flawless improvisation in the locals round that actually managed to qualify them. The latter was something that made Martin surprised, seeing James as just a typical boy scout at first.

Holden Bradford is an amalgamation of a lot of
my closest male friends, including Von Castillejos, 
Gabe Cruz,
Terel Crisostomo, Raf Cuesta, Edward Sioson, Dars Velasco, etc.
Created by Dane Reyes
When Holden and Cassie, his two remaining best friends, left, James did not follow them, a deed that made James question his loyalty. He was nevertheless persuaded by Martin to stay after telling him that all of his hard work, all of his efforts to finally have himself recognized will bear fruit.

While taking a break again at The Ticktock Corner, James is again, for the third time, knocked-out with the experimental blueberry tea, and he is then taken to the kitchen area of the fast food restaurant. There, James is greeted the sight of all four of the E.A.S.T. representatives, including Francine and Daniel, with the latter two angry at James for manipulating E.A.S.T. into hurting them.

Under the influence of the blueberry tea, James imagines himself in a bizarre form of the Holy Eucharist, all the while recalling how he became friends with Holden and Cassie. Here, after moving out of their house with Ria, James decides to serve as a knight at the school church, seeking a means to do something else besides writing. There, he meets Cassie, then a PowerPoint presentation operator, who was intrigued by his English speaking ability, who then introduces him to Holden, a reader and also an English speaker. Ria decides to help James get over his social anxiety by joining them, and they are later joined by a pre-child star Mindie. All five of them later come together to form what they call "The Outcasts". At the end of his flashback, James remembers how they disbanded because of Lee, who became Mindie's girlfriend and Ria's supposed close friend, leaving only Holden and Cassie to be with the increasingly frustrated James.

After a debate among themselves, Lee, furious at James for being the cause of her relationship's end, personally asks James to help them bring down Martin in the upcoming competition. Given there should be a maximum of four members per group, Ria, Lee, Mindie, and Cap will personally ask their school to have them reinstated as the official debate team of E.A.S.T., while James, Holden, Cassie, and Francine, who wanted to express more of her political affinity in the debate, will provide assistance in debunking their opponents' work as an independent group, as the rules state that a group can inquire during a defense. Despite this, James seemingly coldly denies, saying that he has made it this far to get what he wants, and proceeds to leave, forcing the rest of them to ask the inexperienced Daniel to be James' replacement.

After a few nights of contemplation, C.C.U.S.S., now composing of Martin's "close associates", all of whom are actually students he helped to cheat in order to secure a shot in local popularity, the reinstated E.A.S.T. team, and the currently unnamed group of Holden, Cassie, Francine, and Daniel, the latter four are dressed-up in knight armor as a sign of "nobility", come together to defend their stances. This final round will help determine the ultimate fate of The Henrietta. Shall it be reprogrammed, or shall it be destroyed?
Cassie Yates is an amalgamation of some of my closest
female friends, including Janette Calub, Laura David,
Meek Marasigan, Pat Reyes, Trisha Villanueva, etc.
Created by Dane Reyes

Halfway through the defense, Daniel becomes aggressive towards the opposing side, C.C.U.S.S., after being disrespectful to his girlfriend Francine, causing Daniel to be disqualified from the group, and leaving their team lacking in one member for them to debunk C.C.U.S.S.'s work.

Gaining second thoughts, James decides that he must join his friends in the next thirty minutes. Martin, however, forces him to either join him and be as popular as him, which is what he always wanted, or join his friends and remain forgotten. Martin then reveals that he himself is not as so famous as he thought, as James learns that Martin is being emotionally abused by his girlfriend, Saturnina "Nina" Salkind, who make use of her untreated Henrietta symptoms to manipulate Martin to be her "famous boyfriend".

Disillusioned after Martin tells him that "your guilty conscience won't redeem you", and that "your 'friends' won't think twice about leaving you, so stick with me, a fellow loner like you", James bails, and seeks another knight armor from The Ticktock Corner.  James returns later, announcing that he will be replacing not only Daniel as a member, but he will be taking over Holden's position as the leader. he then gladly declares to the judges that they can "call us whatever you want, but if you must know our name, we're the Outcasts!" James' comment makes his friend proud.

As the debate progresses further, with Martin recruiting an understudy, and with Daniel recruiting some of the other S.A.G.E.L. students who are frustrated at martin's deception, James, Lee, Holden, Ria, Cap, Cassie, and Francine claim victory over Martin and his team, leaving Martin with the thought that he will now be alone once his girlfriend leaves him when she finds out that he lost. As his friends allow their school photographers to take their photos, James, recalling Daniel's invitation to Lee that "all who have shame shall speak" in The Ticktock Corner, James tells Francine and Daniel that he will "see you two in the morning". As James walks away from his friends, out of shame for his actions, they stare back at him, with Holden stopping Ria from chasing her stepbrother.

Back to the present, Holden and Cassie invite James, who finished reading "The Upgrade", to the upcoming inter-school prom night, in an attempt to keep him away from his self-loathing induced workaholism, to no avail ... at first.

After finally convinced that he should not be leaving the people who cared about him from the beginning, James decides to make it to their inter-school prom night, which is going to be a form of "amendment" between C.C.U.S.S., E.A.S.T., and S.A.G.E.L. There, Ria has a sibling-to-sibling conversation with James, with Ria saying that he is planning to tell Lee that she is her biological sister, ending with James telling her that he "won't stop you from getting your happiness", and that he "should've learned that a long time ago". However, James reaffirms that "we will always be your family". Ria instead chats with Lee about other topics, not telling Lee about the truth that could slightly die down her dying hatred for her more approving parents. As all the reunited members of The Outcasts enjoy the evening, James, finding appreciation from everyone, even from people outside of his friends, asks Lee, remaining friends with Mindie, for a chance to dance with her, which she accepts after taking pictures of "important" people.
Concept artwork for Cassie Yates; Created by Laura David

This part, and he overall story, ends with The Outcasts reaping the success of their newly established "Henrietta Program", which makes all of them rich and successful. As the years go by, Ria has returned home to be with the Wheelans, but went on to become the new CEO of the Carter Consortium after being personally suggested by Lee, who instead wants to follow an artistic path, to her parents, while also not telling the Carters her true parentage. Ria reaffirms that he is, and always will be a Wheelan.

Lee's absence, and Lee's new relationship with unrequited lover Cap, made James sad, which forced him to return to his workaholism again. Despite being closer to his friends, and remaining in contact with them as the years go by even further, James is once more left with nothing but his writings, and almost no recognition from the other parts of the community. The moment Holden and Cassie left in pursuit of other interests, James knew that they all just have to grow-up. Mindie, on the other hand, has found joy at the fact that her status as a child star inspired people, and has instead become an acting teacher. 

Living the lowly life of a journalist, James meets with Lee again, who is now legally married to Cap, and is now a psychiatrist treating an insane Martin. They both chat about their experiences while they are aboard the exact same train that James rode in the beginning. They simply talk as the sun begins to set, letting the train take them to wherever they please.

And that is it for our three-part story pitch. Before you leave, listen to this song that helped me realize Lee's character personality in the story. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


"Chasing Scarlet" and all other related elements such as characters are properties of Reuben Pio G. Martinez, while the artworks made by Laura David and Dane Reyes.

© 2016 - 2018 - All Rights Reserved
Concept artwork for Lee Carter; Created by Laura David
This post is a continuation of Story Pitch: Chasing Scarlet (Part 1 of an Original Work). Click here for the first part. Also, welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is the second part of our story pitch.

Act 2: Lee Carter

As the second part transitions, the present Lee Carter circles around the city, taking pictures with her beloved camera in preparation for the upcoming inter-school prom night, hoping to find pictures that remind everyone that Crossmore City is a "dream city". After overhearing James present a monologue outside of The Ticktock Corner, Lee recalls how the virus spread, starting from an explosion underground that caused the growth of a giant tree at the center of Quentinstown. The roots then begin to grow towards other plants, creating new forms of fruits and vegetables. While initially edible, the fruits and vegetables actually carry dormant bacteria that activates once coming in contact with saliva, slowly maturing and becoming lethal to people.

Lee Carter is based on my dear artist friend and former classmate,
Jaisen Cortez

Created by Dane Reyes
Back in the past, James and Lee's respective teams practice with their prepared defenses for the nationals round. In this exercise, each of the team members must be able to come-up with a decent enough proposition when a random event pertaining to The Henrietta came about. Each of them are preparing their presentations at the storage warehouse area of Quentinstown, where everyone's experiments and presentations are hidden for safekeeping.

When James volunteered to purchase some food for his team from The Ticktock Corner, Lee and Ria surprise him once again, and once more, he is knocked-out with the experimental blueberry tea, later revealed to be a product of Cassie's father's experimentation.

While under the influence of the blueberry tea, and while a band from C.C.U.S.S., and another from E.A.S.T. begin to play outside of the warehouse, Lee and the rest of E.A.S.T. begin to interrogate James about what C.C.U.S.S. is planning to do, as Lee claims that Cassie has overheard a conversation between him and James' more-or-less idol and role-model Martin. James reveals that Martin privately asked him to help him in his sabotage plot, involving the hiring of the S.A.G.E.L. students who were upset at not fulfilling their contract. Through them, they will frame E.A.S.T. by spreading to social media about their "misdeeds". According to James, in order to prevent this from happening, the only way to stop the broadcast is to destroy the sabotaged computers in the warehouse, which the four then decide to set out do after some planning.

As the four, including James prepare to destroy the sabotaged laboratory equipment, James and Lee take their sweet time to debate among themselves on who among the two of them are truly "the root of all evil". At first, their discussions mostly tackle The Henrietta, with James once more pointing-out that E.A.S.T.'s research will prevent change from actually coming, with Lee saying that the people in the society needs to change first before The Henrietta is actually reprogrammed, to which James says that "social change follows when practical change does its job". 

Things become increasingly personal when Lee berates James for him jumping to conclusions that Lee is "just like any other spoiled rich girl, to which James explains his side of the story. Lee points-out that James' hatred for her stems from the fact that Mindie, one of James' oldest friends, came-out as a lesbian and chose Lee over him, to which James snarks "You think this is a young adult novel?" Lee goes further into her backstory about how her parents pulled her out of the public school that she studied in, where she first met Cassie and Ria,  who was impressed with her intellect, and forced her to embrace science over arts, making her into the scientific mind that she came to be.

Francine Gallagher is partly based on two of my friends,
Dane Reyes and Athena Macatangay.
This character is renamed Mindie MacKreidie.
Created by Dane Reyes
James actually reveals to Lee that the reason why he is angry at Lee is that Ria has chosen her to be her best friend, rather than her own stepbrother. While James did not mention it directly, James said that she chose "some other family over her actual family", showing that James, who was informed by Ria when they were younger, that Lee is Ria's biological sister. Their argument begins to settle when James admits to Lee that all she wants is to prove that he to can be as great as Lee, for Ria to see her differently, for their parents to have an "above average" son, for him to do something with his life. All of these claims are what Martin, his mentor, lead him to believe. Lee then stops for awhile and tells James that he "is not Martin, nor me, nor anybody, but just James", and that "you seem like a nice guy, on the inside, so maybe you can be that nice guy now and help your sister". James looks down in shame.

Meanwhile, Holden and Cassie, and Ria and  Mindie discuss respectively about James and Lee's rivalry from their perspectives, all the while comparing the experience to the urbanization of Crossmore City.

Holden recalls how his parents struggled in getting money at the onset of the outbreak, eventually leading to them to get enough money through "the grace of God" when Holden's fully developed talent for music lead them to gain enough fortune to recuperate for their losses. Holden's newly found faith also convinced his family to become a part of a Christian community.

Cassie, on the other remembers how her biological father abandoned her and her mother for someone else, only to come back in later years, drunkenly stalking them after his mistress dumped him. Cassie's stepfather, a police officer, eventually filed a restraining order on her father.

Through this conversation, both Holden and Cassie reaffirm their belief that they need to keep watch over their friends, and for Cassie, to "not see another family get torn apart".

Ria reveals to Mindie that she remembers the night that she was abandoned in front of the Wheelan household when the epidemic first came about. When her parents said that the Wheelans can be the perfect family for her, Ria is also aware that they may not come back due to the financial pressure that the epidemic has brought upon. Mindie, who believes that Ria's desires for Lee's sibling affection borders on materialism and narcissism, also reveals that, despite being in love with Lee for her endless support, from her humble beginnings, up to her current state, she does not like the fact that Lee gives her the same kind of affection that almost feels like idolization, the very thing that she wants to distance from.

Concept Artwork for Mindie MacKreidie; Created by Laura David
After finally rounding-up all of the computers, and restraining the S.A.G.E.L. students who are aiming to fulfill their latest contract, E.A.S.T. are caught-off guard when they learn that there was no sabotage plan. They destroyed harmless equipment after believing the lies that Martin had personally told James to tell them. They are all then ambushed by other S.A.G.E.L. students, who, acting as the "referees" of the competition, have come to disqualify them personally for breaking the rules.

This part ends with, despite their best attempts to flee, and despite James' suddenly growing conscience, Ria, Lee, who became caught-up in the thought of seeing The Henrietta destroyed, Mindie, and Cap are caught and are officially disqualified from the international round of the competition. In the aftermath, James, Holden, and Cassie are left distraught at what has happened, while Martin claims that he is proud to have someone like James.

Transitioning to the next part, James, after finishing his latest monologue, reads an adult comicbook titled "The Upgrade", which strangely enough, he used to read as a youngster. It tells the story of a a robot wanting to return to humanity, after being exiled to the moon for being obsolete. In an attempt to return to Earth, the robot attempted to replicate all of the other upgrades that all of the other robots have that he does not, in order to rescue a lost human astronaut there. Alas, he is too late to save him, as he has now returned to Earth, leaving the robot alone and lacking in identity.

And that concludes the second part of our story pitch. Wait for our third and last part, and be sure to enjoy this song from Kendrick Lamar, in one of his more positive songs from "To Pimp A Butterfly". Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

"Chasing Scarlet" and all other related elements such as characters are properties of Reuben Pio G. Martinez, while the artworks made by Laura David and Dane Reyes.

© 2016 - 2018 - All Rights Reserved