THE AVENGERS (2012)
What better way to follow up a double feature of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger then with the movie they all lead up to!…
One of the most anticipated movies in years, The Avengers blasts onto the screen and lives up to every bit of the hype and delivers more of the goods, then any fanboy/girl could hope for. The story picks up from the earlier Marvel films with Thor’s brother Loki (the scene stealing Tom Hiddleston) stealing the Tesseract, the cube last seen in the hands of Captain America’s villain, The Red Skull, and plotting with an aggressive alien race to use it to conquer Earth and beyond. It’s up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), along with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.E.I.L.D. to save the world… if they don’t kill each other first. Joss Whedon (TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly) is no stranger to ensemble pieces and he perfectly handles the large number of characters, giving each their fair share of the spotlight and adding some nice background to those not focused on in previous films. Black Widow in particular is given some nice depth and some solid scenes after her small role in Iron Man 2. Whedon, who also wrote the script, brings his trademark humor to full use here providing some laugh out loud funny lines and hilarious moments between characters… none of which I will spoil. Joss also weaves in some intense drama and shows a gift for large scale action with the climactic confrontation in NYC being a cinematic spectacle as are the numerous action sequences that precede it. Avengers is a massive epic movie and Whedon’s camera captures it all without forgetting his characters. The cast all shine in their roles including new Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo, whose motion capture Hulk has some scene stealing moments, and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye seen only as a cameo in Thor. The Avenger’s can take it’s place as one of the greatest superhero movies yet and is the perfect summer blockbuster providing not only spectacular action and mind blowing SPFX but, a smart and witty story to give weight to all the eye candy. Sure it has some flaws and there are some plot holes but, with all the film does give us, those can be easily forgiven and forgotten. This is how films like this should be made. Awesome entertainment! Avengers also stars Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill and Clark Gregg and Stellan Skarsgård returning as Agent Coulson and Erik Selvig respectively with a cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. In true Marvel film fashion stay through the entire credits for not one but, two post-credits scenes. A real fun blast!
4 sexy superheroines!
Drat! I was hoping for at least a cautionary spanking…
IRON MAN 3 (2013)
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS
As a fan of the first two Iron Man films and all the Marvel phase 1 films so far, this second sequel to Iron Man was highly anticipated…and therefor that much more disappointing. Iron Man 3 picks up after The Avengers with Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) suffering anxiety attacks and trying to escape his sleepless nights by constantly evolving his suits. Enter a terrorist known only as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and the sudden re-emergence of two scientists (Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall) Tony met in 1999 and soon Tony’s troubles become far more difficult than sleepless nights.
Despite an interesting start, this is when the film’s plot gets completely convoluted as Tony provokes this vile terrorist and gets his home blown to smithereens and Tony becomes stranded in Tennessee, with nothing but a garage full of tools to try to get back in action again. Now add in some glowing and literally explosive super soldiers, product of some genetic hanky-panky by said scientists and Iron Man 3 becomes something resembling a Pierce Brosnan era James Bond flick and not one of the better ones. Seeing Tony out of the suit for most of the film is fine, but the film jumps from one scene to another with a very choppy narrative flow and some of the stuff just gets plain ludicrous and silly, with glowing assassin soldiers, mustache tweaking villains and Tony somehow buying lots of goodies to make gadgets out of, yet somehow keeping up the facade that he is dead. Does he carry that much cash in the event his home is blasted to pieces and he can’t use his credit cards? Tony becomes an anxiety filled Bond trying to take down this silly conspiracy involving war vets turned human bombs and rescue a kidnapped Pepper. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous plot twist involving The Mandarin. They took Tony’s arch enemy from the comics and simply ruin him for what basically appears to be laughs…although Kingsley was good in Mandarin’s various incarnations, but that is a testament of his acting, more than the script or direction. And while on the subject, writer/director Shane Black does give us some spectacular action and he also gives Robert Downey Jr. some really great dialog to chew on and some very funny scenes, but it’s just the story is all over the place and his attempts to turn this into some sci-fi/conspiracy thriller just didn’t work. The villains never really make their motivations clear, nor do we really get a decent idea of what exactly it is they are up to. What is the point of all this? Since we never really get a clear picture, we never really get involved. Instead we watch Tony go from one scene to another trying to get the bad guys without any real emotional investment, other then our amusement at seeing Downey take down bad guys without his suit…which he rarely ever puts on. And then there’s the spectacular yet unsatisfying climactic confrontation. Unsatisfying because we never really get to know Aldrich Killain (Pearce) well enough to truly make him effective as a villain and have no real emotional investment to want to see him taken down. At the climax, Tony is practically a bystander as his automated suits do all the work. And, that takes the soul out of the suit and then it just becomes random CGI robots battling random glowing super soldiers, who have even less personality than the suits. After all we have seen and all the characters have gone through, Black wraps it all up in a far too neat little bow. Everything fixed, all better now.
At least the cast are all good in their roles with Downey having a blast as an even more eccentric Tony, thought Cheadle and Paltrow really don’t have much to do till the last act and Rebecca Hall’s character could have been easily written out without much harm to the story. All in all, Shane Black does deliver some big action and gives Downey a lot of situations to do what he does best, but for an Iron Man film, it’s just too messy a plot and Iron Man himself has very little to do and in the end it doesn’t really feel much like an Iron Man movie. Not a complete loss, but when compared to all that’s come before it, it’s a borderline mess and a big disappointment. Stay after the credits for the most pointless Marvel flick post credits scene yet.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Iron Men, mostly for RDJ and some nice action.