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Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Movie Season Kickoff: IRON MAN 3

It's the summer movie season! Oh man. I love this time of year. I'm sure there are film purists out there who shy away from the explosions and fight scenes and broad comedy that typically fills the summer movie offerings, but not this guy. I love big blockbuster entertainment. I love it when it's good, I like it when it's ok, and when it's really bad I just don't see it.

The summer movie extravaganza kicked off early this year with Iron Man 3 a couple weeks back. Being as it just rolled past the BILLION DOLLAR mark I assume you've all seen it. I was fortunate enough to get to see it opening weekend with my dad while he was in Austin visting from Alaska. He was confused by the plot and a bit bored with the constant special effects, but he claims he still liked it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I have long been a fan of Lethal Weapon and Last Boy Scout, which were written by Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black. I'm also a diehard fan of his 2005 'comeback' film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Heat). His signature brand of hardboiled tough guy dialogue is laced with an edgy and sardonic wit, and it seems tailor made for the mouth of Downey Jr. Here in the Marvel world the edge is toned down ever so slightly, but I was still very happy with what ended up on the screen, and especially the way Black subverts several movie cliches. Having Tony Stark call a young kid a 'pussy' because he's sad about his dad dying was dark, startling, funny, and very Shane Black. Longtime fans of Black will be happy to see that this film takes place at Christmas time.

I'm going to get into the villains a bit here, so if you're one of the 14 people on Earth who haven't seen Iron Man 3 yet, and you also happen to read my blog, which has to be like, 1 in a hundred billion odds, then stop reading now. What was with the Mandarin? That was kind of fucking stupid, right? Understand, I'm coming at this from the perspective of somebody who's never read an Iron Man comic. Didn't know anything about the Mandarin before going in. However, if I had read the comics, was a fan of the character, I think I would have been pretty goddamn furious that they turned such an allegedly iconic villain into a joke, a B-plot that amounted to little more than the great Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, BloodRayne) hamming it up in a waste of a brilliant actor. That aside, what they DID get right was casting Guy Pearce (Hurt Locker, Time Machine) as Aldritch Killian, the real villain of the film. Let it be known that I'm biased to start, as I've been a huge fan of Pearce since I saw Memento in 2001, which prompted me to go back and check out L.A. Confidential and Ravenous, and I've been on board ever since. I've long been waiting for him to get a juicy role in a big movie, and although I would've loved to see him as the Riddler in a Nolan Batman, he absolutely makes the most of his role here. He's great when he's playing it suave and slick like a Bond villain, and he's great later on when he gets a chance to be brutal and savage, going head to head with Iron Man. Also worth noting is James Badge Dale (24, Shame) as the main henchman, a mercenary of sorts that works for Killian and has been dosed with a weaponized experimental treatment that gives him crazy fire-powers. His stony face, cold eyes, and seeming invulnerability made him a suitably intimidating adversary. He had the kind of presence where you knew shit was about to go down if he showed up.

I realize I haven't said much about Robert Downey Jr or Gwenyth Paltrow, but what is there to say really? Downey Jr. basically is Tony Stark at this point, he's as good as you'd expect him to be in this. Paltrow spends most of the movie tied up in a sports bra showing off some legitimately impressive abs, but gets some time to shine late in the third act. Don Cheadle proves once and for all that he deserves his own Iron Patriot spin-off movie. As much as I love Terrance Howard, Cheadle truly makes the role his own this time around.

Ok so that about wraps it up for Iron Man 3. I thought it was good, I had my nitpicks, but all in all it was a fun time at the movies, and what the hell else do you expect from a movie about a billionaire playboy who flys around in a suit of armor and fights supervillains. Well done Mr. Black and crew.

Going to see Fast and Furious 6 on my day off tomorrow, will try and get a write-up of that on here as soon as I can.