Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In Which I Review Iron Man 3

Okay, okay, okay, sorry this has been so prolonged and whatnot.

I liked this one pretty well over all. It's definitely got a lot  to follow up on considering that it's predecessor was the almighty Avengers.

Tony Stark, the sharp witted, alcoholic, falling appart, genius billionaaire playboy philanthropist, is back along with the  wonderful Pepper Potts and best  bro Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes. Along for the ride here are Ben Kingsley in an, er, interesting hint hint hint role and Guy Pearce in one his best performances to date.

As far as story goes, it's not exactly faithful to comics. The Extremis storyline would have been inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the series as is, seeing as it is pretty dark,  and they fit it to be more consistent with the other films than to be exact, but it still makes for an excellent story. I do wish they'd included some of the Demon in a Bottle storyline however. As much as they clued us in on the toll of New York on Tony's psyche, I still needed more on that. Tony was almost stuck in space forever. Alcoholism has always been implied  with Mr. Stark, but I still felt that this was a tad lacking.

Acting is all great. Robert Downy Jr. truly is Tony Stark, but this time he adds a layer of depth acquired over the course of the Avengers film. Gwenyth Paltrow is on top her game here as the always enjoyable Pepper Potts. Ben Kingsley is also particularly memorable, and of course, Guy Pearce as I have already mentioned, is quite good. There's a little kid in the middle section of the movie whose name escapes me, but this kid is comedy gold. Easily one of the highlights of the film.

It's a bit of a darker take on the material that we're used to., and that's nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of people think Tony Stark is lacking in character development, but I beg to differ. He's come quite a long way since his first movie, and that is even more pronounced here in what might be the final Iron Man movie.

Would I want to see Iron Man 4?  I don't know, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of this one. Good summer blockbuster fun.


In Which I Review The Great Gatsby

I know I know, my Iron Man 3 review isn't even out yet, but hear me out.

I was looking forward to Gatsby. I adored the book, and the over the top production and soundtrack looked like pretty cool. I don't really know what I was expecting, but what can I tell you is that this movie completely blew me away in every possible sense.

Baz Luhrman, of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, directs Gatsby to near perfection. The first half of the movie is a little top heavy, the partying to excess and the mile a minute backstory, but the second half displays a true understanding of the novel's themes and a great skill for intensity and despair. I was expecting a party movie, despite all that unfolds at the end, and I was very happy to see that Luhrman chose not to gloss over the heart wrenching ending of Gatsby.

As far as acting, this one is right on the money. Leonardo Dicaprio, not normally one of my favorites, was absolutely born to play Gatsby. His mannerisms, his every utterance of "old sport", the very way he carries himself, are perfect. And while it still probably won't get him his Oscar, I'll be rooting for him. And Carey Mulligan as Daisy was a stroke of genius. I never quite understood what F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the novel, meant when he said that Daisy's voice sounded like money. Now I do. There will never be a more perfect Daisy. Joel Edgerton's Tom Buchanan is also pitch perfect for the story and a great contrast to Gatsby. Tobey McGuire seems a little lost as Nick Carroway, but when you think about  it, that's pretty appropriate in terms of his character and whatnot. Other than that, not one person is cast out of place in this film. Everyone is splendid.

A lot of fans were skeptical over the production and soundtrack of the film, which are both completely bonkers and wonderful, but definitely not of the jazz age. But here's what I say to that: They capture the jazz age ideals that Fitzgerald so embodied in his book. Yeah, it's more Las Vegas than West Egg, but that's kind of what Fitzgerald was aiming at.

I know some fans of the novel weren't into the words of the novel on screen or the heavy handed symbolism, i.e. the green light being so prominent, but for people who haven't read the book, like my dad who went with me, it was kind of necessary. It was a little overkill, but not everyone is on the same page regarding the book like a lot of the audience for things like Harry Potter and Hunger Games.

Speaking of the soundtrack, it sounds pretty darn good when used in the movie. I'm not a big Lana Del Rey fan like I said, and her song is pretty much the same as everything else she has ever released, but it works within the movie, especially the jazz version used in the last party sequence. And you gotta admit, getting her in on it was pretty cool, since she is a bit of a Gatsby: nobody knows anything real about her, the  rumors are all crazy, and she seemed to become wealthy out of nowhere. Interesting right? Byonce' and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's classic Back To Black is a mixed result, but it's pretty groovy.  Jack White covering Love Is Blindness, a U2 song, is also lovely and one of my personal favorites. But of course, Florence + The Machine's original song, Over The Love, is beyond perfect for this film. The lyrics capture the themes of the book perfectly, even referencing the green light, and it's arguably Welch's best vocal performance to date. Brava!

I was surprised by the emotional depth of the second half of the movie especially. The actors understanding of the characters, the director's careful guidance of the build up and release, and the fact that they actually went there was unexpected. You do leave the whole affair feeling sad. The whole thing has the feel of a great machine winding down to a slow halting end, that the wheels that spun fast at the beginning of the movie, when Nick couldn't get a work in edgewise, have finally spun down. By the time the logo fades to black, you're disillusioned with the jazz age too. It was completely perfect.

Go see this movie. I can't praise it enough.

And yes, my Iron Man 3 review is coming soon, stop pestering me.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

I'm Going To Talk About Iron Man 3 (But This Is Not My Review)

Yesterday, my mom, my sister, and I squeezed into a crowded theater to see Iron Man 3 on opening day. I was beyond excited. Marvel's first follow up after Avengers, with good crowd reaction thus far. I had my stuffed pig, Agent Coulson, and a bottle of Diet Coke I managed to sneak in. The promos starts to roll, and I was expecting nothing more than an excellent summer blockbuster.

The movie starts to hit it's stride. I'm sitting back, rolling with it, laughing a lot. Then, Tony is in a discussion with Rohdey when something goes wrong. I think perhaps the arc reactor is spazzing out, that maybe the Mandarin is messing with him. And then Jarvis says it. Tony Stark, you just had a panic attack.

I cried right then and there in the theater. My mom and sister can attest to it.

I don't know if you guys know this, but I happen to have an anxiety disorder. I had my first panic attack on my birthday last year. It sucks. It's not cute, it's not a quirky personality trait. It sucks, a lot. In fact, when I went to see Angers on opening day last year, I had to leave in the middle of the film because I started panicking. I hate it. And I still have that going on.

But you know got me through a lot of the unbearable things? The first day of school, the field shows in the strait jacket of a marching uniform, the unidentifiable fear that plagued me when I least needed it? Superheroes. The Avengers in particular.

To see Tony Stark struggling through something I struggle with was immensely powerful for me. I could hardly believe it when I saw it, and I applaud that film makers for their choice to include it in the film, and I also applaud RDJ's accurate portrayal.

Needless to say, I feel a lot braver now.