Movie Review: IRON MAN 3

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Iron-Man-3-IMAX-posterMarvel / Disney
2013
PG-13

“Is that all you’ve got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?”
“Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography.”

Marvel’s Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enmy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his metle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to surviv by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Iron Man 3 is cited as one of the worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. When compared to the other movies…well, I may not be smart enough to see it. I would have to watch them all again just to get a good grasp of the assessment. Which, really, sounds like a pleasant thing to do, come to think of it. Anyway, I don’t see why so many people don’t like Iron Man 3. When compared to other general action movies, Iron Man 3 is pretty good, really. Then again, I enjoyed the second Iron Man 2 when everyone else seemed to think it was a warmed-over rehash of the first one, so what do I know?

Taking place after the events of the first Avengers movie, we find Tony Stark suffering from something like PTSD, what with dying briefly due to being shot into a howling void in space and all. You don’t come back from something like that unscathed, I would think. He’s been building all kinds of Iron Man suits as part of his personal therapy in leu of sleeping, which is starting to take a toll on his family and friends, not to mention his professional life. Then, a blast from Tony’s past shows up, along with an international terrorist known only as The Mandarin, and next thing you know, his life is literally blown up, and he has to deal with things without his suits and only his wits and enginering genius to fight back. Also, Pepper Potts gets to kick a lot of butt in this one.

Again, I really don’t see the reason for the derision. Iron Man 3 was what all the other MCU movies are: a fun, engaging and well made comic book-based action movie. Of course, it was Ben Kingsley as “The Mandarin” that stole the show in the very few minutes he was onscreen, but the script was again a good one, I thought. Overall, I enjoyed Iron Man 3 on the same level as the other Iron Man movies, and that’s pretty good.

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Movie Review: IRON MAN 2

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Movie Review: IRON MAN 2Paramount Pictures / Marvel Entertainment
2010
PG-13

“Because I’m your nuclear deterrent. It’s working. We’re safe. America is secure. You want my property? You can’t have it. But I did you a big favor. I’ve successfully privatized world peace. What more do you want?”

Refusing to hand over his technology to the government pits rich inventor Tony Stark – aka Iron Man – against his friend Lt. Col. Rhodes. But when an arms maker partners with a rogue Russian physicist, Iron Man teams with Rhodes to take them down.

The second entry in the Iron Man section of the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe is, to say the very least, polarizing. While many thought that the story of Iron Man 2 was a bit close in style to the first one (and in many ways, it is), I have to say that my personal enjoyment of this second Iron Man flick was pretty high. Possibly as high as the first one, I dare say.

This may be due to my utter ignorance of the overall Iron Man comics to begin with. Really, I’m the living embodiment of being able to thoroughly enjoy something without having to know anything about the source material. I’ve said this before about many a comic book-based movie, and I’ll probably say it many more times before Death herself prevents me from writing my fetid brain droppings. Even if I did, I’d probably not let that kind of fanboy nit-pickery get in the way of enjoying a good movie. And Iron Man 2 is a good movie.

One of those factors is that, this being the second movie in the character’s series, there’s no need to build the introductions. We already know who the main characters are; no need to go back explaining the back-story (unlike a certain DC comics character, whose tragic origin has to be rehashed in almost every single movie he’s in, but I digress). There’s a couple of requisite baddies in this one: Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke, who may be just another guy in a mecha-suit, but he’s an amusing Russian guy in a mecha-suit who’s smarter than he lets on, which I found amusing. Then there’s Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell, who chewed scenery and really played up the wormy slimeball competitor of Tony Stark’s rather gleefully.

Really, I found Iron Man 2 very enjoyable, the development of not only Tony Stark’s character but of all of the other supporting cast really good, and the action scenes to be extremely satisfactory. It’s a Marvel comic book movie, for crying out loud, what were you expecting? King Lear? To be fair, though, I did kind of not like the slight bleed-over of characters from the other parts of the MCU–namely, Nick Fury and Black Widow–but, really, when building the entire world, it was inevitable.

Overall, yeah…Iron Man 2 is just as awesome and good as the first one. No real complaints here.

Movie Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: Civil War

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captain america civil warMarvel/Disney
2016
PG-13

“Ok. Anybody on our side hiding any shocking, or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose, I’m open to suggestion.”

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow and Hawkeye must pick a side.

I’ve decided, right off the bat, to begin this particular review with a hearty SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ve been warned. There, that aside…

I have to admit that I was a bit late to the game when it came to the movie adaptations of Marvel Comics’ Captain America. Since he was never my thing in the funnybook format, naturally I didn’t really bother seeing the first movie until it was out on DVD. Then, even though I enjoyed that one, I still waited for the sequel to hit the local Second Run theater house to watch that one on a big screen. With Captain America: Civil War, I went to see it opening weekend, the Saturday morning, with some of the Exalted Geeks with. Then we went to lunch and recorded a podcast of our thoughts on the movie, which you can totally listen to here. But, I’m also gonna stick my own personal thoughts on the movie here on my bligity-blog. Because movie review. It’s what I do. Anyway…

Right off the bat, I’ll have to admit that Captain America: Civil War felt more like Avengers 2.5 rather than an actual stand-alone Captain America movie. It pretty much has all the current Avengers in there, save for Thor and Hulk, along with Bucky / Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and the very first appearance of Spider-Man and the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We start with a bit of a flashback to 1991, where the Winter Soldier is reactivated for a mission that involves the theft of some liquid packets from the back of somebody’s trunk. Then, we arrive to the present day, where the current roster of the Avengers are in Lagos to stop Crossbones from stealing a deadly biological weapon, which doesn’t end well when Crossbones blows himself up and inadvertently causes the death of several dozen citizens, and injuring hundreds more. The public blame the actions on the Avengers, which leads to the world governments to enact a policy to oversee and control the Avengers due to this issue. Heading up this accord is the King of Wakanda, due to the blast killing the Wakandan humanitarian workers who were there. Due to an encounter with the mother of one of the victims who was in Sokovia when Ultron was battling the Avengers the year previous, Tony Stark is all for the Sokovia Accords, while Captain America is naturally dubious about the whole thing. Things escalate when the UN building in Vienna where the Accords is being ratified is bombed, killing (among others) King T’Chaka of Wakanda, by someone who is identified as the Winter Soldier. Captain America wants to bring in Bucky himself, peacefully, while S.H.I.E.L.D. has orders to shoot him on sight; T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, however, has an agenda all his own to take down Bucky himself, as the Black Panther. Captain America manages to find Bucky and barely escape with him; Bucky maintaining his innocence. Turns out one Helmut Zemo is the real Vienna Bomber, and while Bucky, Falcon and Cap are ultimately captured, they manage to escape when Zemo sneaks in and brainwashes Bucky back to the Winter Soldier and causes him to go berzerk again. To take Zemo down, Cap and Falcon decide to not wait for authorization and go rogue, recruiting Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man in the process. Meanwhile, Iron Man’s got his own posse, consisting of Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther, War Machine, and a newly-suited Spider-Man. They rumble at an airport, resulting in Cap and Bucky getting away, but the rest of Cap’s team getting captured and sent to a submersible prison. Iron Man discovers that Bucky was innocent all along, and catches up with Cap and Bucky as they discover the abandoned compound where the Winter Soldier project that created Bucky was at, catching up with Zemo. Zemo reveals that it was never his intention to create more Winter Soldiers, then shows the video of Brainwashed Bucky killing Tony Stark’s parents back in 1991, causing Iron Man to go mental and attack Bucky, which leads to Cap to jump in, leading to another massive throwdown in the bunker. The fight ends in a draw, Zemo is captured, and the movie ends with the team still divided and bitter.

Obviously, I left out a good amount of details that you’re just going to have to watch to find out for yourself. Can’t spoil the entire thing, now can I? Regardless, it still took a lot of words to even get that Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, which should tell you what kind of epic scope this movie was. Still, with all of these characters crammed into the movie, Captain America: Civil War still gelled completely, working in a way that a certain other superhero team-up movie that was released earlier this year couldn’t seem to be able to do with just three. When you get past the action (which was done very well) and the various comic book superhero drops (and there were many), the story was still engaging and streamlined, with character development on each one that invests you with the outcomes. Also, the story didn’t take the easy route with the resolution. It was a very dark ending, kind of the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the two new introductions to the superhero stable of the movies–namely, Spider-Man and Black Panther–they did a good thing by touching on the origins without spoon-feeding us and insulting our collective intelligence. And dare I say it…I am all on board with this new Spider-Man. Bring on the stand-alone movie. Sony, you did good by letting Marvel play with its property again. Fox could learn a thing or two by that.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a very good, very entertaining superhero action movie that you should try and see on the big screen while you can. It’s heads and shoulders waaaaaaaay better than DC’s attempt this year. If that one is still leaving a bitter taste in your head, watch Captain America: Civil War as a nice palate cleanser.