Tag Archives: Marvel Studios

“Iron Man 3” review – Ol’ Shellhead’s Finest Hour?

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Rest assured, would-be viewers of “Iron Man 3” , post-“Avengers” fatigue has not set in.

Rather than find ways to go bigger and invest millions of dollars on a futile, tail-chasing exercise in upping the intensity of the stunts and action, “Iron Man 3” refreshingly realises that less can be more and paces itself accordingly, finding time to fill the screen with both retina-dazzling sturm und drang and funnier, more low-key character moments for the cast.

This is, be under no illusions, quite the funniest “IM” movie so far – the quips, bits of business and situational absurdity are gloriously integrated into the film, balancing the tension and central mystery of the main plotline with moments which let just about every major cast member crack wise at least once or twice (even Tony Stark’s personal A.I. construct Jarvis gets a fantastic, scene-capping one-liner).

It wouldn’t do to spoil the plot for you too much, so let’s just say that the events of the battle of New York have taken a toll on Robert Downey Jnr’s Tony Stark and sent him into a spiral of stress, suit tinkering and general bubble-dwelling which sees him picking fights, seeing the trappings of his life stolen away from him and having to go back to his engineering roots to try to salvage something of value from the wreckage he finds himself wading through.

Going back to basics can be a risky strategy but it really pays here off for writer/director Shane Black and his cowriter, Drew Pearce.  Stark’s gadgets and armour are the main attraction for some, but Black and Pearce choose crucially to focus on Downey Jnr’s quick wits and energy, making this the first “Iron Man” entry that I can recall where the hero spends more of his time out of the suit and employing his ingenuity to solve problems and save the day.  Think the opening 30 minutes of the first movie – but this time, that’s the focus of what Stark has to do this time.

No bleeding-edge, gadget-strewn lab, adorable robot helpers or suit which can blast the bad guys into next week to make things easy – just a fast-talking, goatee-bearded Einstein with no filter between brain and mouth and an abiding desire to sort a particularly thorny terrorist issue who goes by the name The Mandarin.   I particularly enjoyed a sequence during this stretch of the film where Stark has to use the supplies available at a Big Box DIY goods store to cobble together a suitable collection of toys for a smash-and-grab mission – it’s like “Mission: Impossible” if Adam and Jamie from “Mythbusters” were running IMF…

You’ve seen Ben Kingsley as the character if you’ve watched the trailers for the movie, but you probably don’t have any clue as to just how good the British actor is in this film – Kingsley gives a magnetic, compelling turn here and demands your attention whenever the plot compels him to appear on-screen.  It’s best to approach the film on as much of a self-imposed media blackout as you can, so as to avoid some of the plot reveals and spoilers out there in the great digital aether  – certainly, the Mandarin should be seen with as little foreknowledge as possible.

If there’s one member of the cast who didn’t register as well for me, it’s Guy Pearce – his mysterious Aldrich Killian is initially fascinating but soon becomes rather humdrum when his motivations are revealed.  The script falters here a little, too, when dealing with Killian’s mysterious tech think tank, A.I.M.  We veer away from a world where the technology is futuristic but somewhat believable to a world where characters are suddenly doing stuff which is more in the realm of sword-and-sorcery fantasy than the techno-thriller territory of the rest of the film.  And as the film has established that there’s no Asgardian players on the field for this adventure, the disconnect is rather too abrupt.

It’s a minor misstep, though – the film barrels along with verve and that aforementioned embedded funny bone, even chucking in a world’s first, by buddying up Stark with a fatherless kid and making their relationship charming and enjoyable rather than Hollywood saccharine and unbearable.   It all ends with a climax which draws a neat line under the trilogy and Tony Stark himself, allowing Marvel and Downey the freedom to whatever they want with the character – it might mean no more solo Stark movies, it could mean that we just see him in “The Avengers” sequel but it’s a great way to round things off and give both audience and actor a neat grace note for the character to (temporarily) ride off into the sunset…

 

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Putting the Hammer down

A hairy man sorts out his foes...

A hairy man sorts out his foes…

Screencaps? Faffing about with my video software?  Must be summer movie trailer time.

Behold!  It’s “Thor: The Dark World”, with a teaser glimpse for your perusal and edification!

I've heard of protecting Alt Kids from society's abuses, but this is ridonkulous..

Loki is Emo – confirmed…

Expect to see his Norse Godliness in modern-day London, hints at a romantic triangle, lots of action and a last-minute cameo appearance by Loki-chops, with Tom Hiddleston apparently channelling Dani Filth from CoF for reasons best known to the costume department.  Me likey.

“Thor: The Dark World” opens in good, bad and indifferent cinemas on October 30th in the UK and on November 8th in the US.

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Very Metal “Thor The Dark World” teaser poster drops

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So, when did Thor join Sabaton?  Just wondering.

The second cinematic adventure for the exquisitely coiffured son of Odin will be with us in November, and to whet your proverbial whistle for Tuesday’s teaser trailer, here’s a Marvel-supplied poster of the Norse God bringing his own, oddly-accented brand of thunder and bad assery.

As the first “Thor” outing was probably my favourite of the stand-alone “Phase One” series of Marvel films, I’m truly on board for what the House of Ideas’ cinematic brains trust delivers with this movie, even if I’m going to miss original director Kenneth Branagh’s love of a ‘Dutch’ angle.

Still, most of the other principals are back, Christopher Eccleston is bringing his own brand of Mancunian melancholy to the villain role and it’s being helmed by a regular “Game of Thrones” director (I suspect that there’s rather less scope here, however,  for non-stop pillaging, politicking and the other less salubrious fantasy stuff for which that HBO show is becoming increasingly famed…).

I expect good things…

 

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“Star Wars” – Attack of the production line?

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Honestly, you go away for a couple of days – a work trip, not exactly exciting – and things get all confusing for any self-respecting member of the “Star Wars” generation.  It’s as though you’ve been out of the game for a while and people get delusions of grandeur or something…

The sci-fi franchise’s new overlords, the Walt Disney Company, this week unleashed dark, Sithian portents of wholly predictable corporate malevolence by announcing that films seven, eight and nine in the new trilogy will open two years apart in 2015, 2017 and 2019 , with spin-off movies featuring “Star Wars” characters filling in the gaps between new instalments of the main saga (“Salacious Crumb – Lust for Glory” – make it so).

So, the House of Mouse is borrowing a note or two from the thus-far successful Marvel Studios play book and pitching their comic book movie business against the biggest name in cinematic sci-fi in a playground battle to win all of the marbles in the yard.  Greedy, much?

I confess to be alarmed by the proposed timeline – is two years between movies really a realistic schedule which would allow for quality to be maintained?  It doesn’t seem as though director J.J. Abrams could realistically turn around movies on this scale in that production line fashion – could any director keep to that kind of workload and deliver something which didn’t feel like a product tooled to meet a release date line in the sand?

Is the plan, then, to alternate directors on each Episode? Curiouser and curiouser…

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Disney Deal Delivers New Star Wars trilogy…

Not pictured, Jar Jar Binks stuffed into a suitcase and LEFT FOR DEAD…

You go to sleep for a few hours and the movie business throws you a curve ball over night.

George Lucas is $4 billion richer, Disney now owns Lucasfilm and have a new trilogy of “Star Wars” movies in the works.  Things are in such a state of advancement that a treatment exists for the first in the proposed new series, with releases scheduled at a decent clip of every two to three years.

Of course, the negative Padawan in me is convinced that Disney’s involvement hastens the inclusion of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber being cast as the offspring of Han Solo and Princess Leia, cheese-ball 3D bombast and full CG characters so irksome that they make Jar Jar Binks look like Marlon Brando.  But Disney involvement hasn’t exactly hurt Marvel Studios‘ world-domination strategy, so perhaps the knee jerk reaction to the House of Mouse snagging the rights to a Galaxy Far, Far Away should be tempered by the prospect that the best thing for the universe that George built is for its creator to hand the Bantha reins over to a new creative team?

I’m just intrigued by who Disney are going to enlist to bring this new series of films to cinemas worldwide.  Lucas is on board as a creative consultant and won’t be helming things – dare we hope for the calibre of filmmakers on First Showing’s list of suggested candidates (yes, yes, YES to Brad Bird.  A marriage made in nerd heaven…).

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Ant Attack!

Wright here, right now…

Permit me, if you will, a prolonged nerdy squee of joy…

Edgar Wright is directing Ant Man and it now has one of those handy release date thingies – November 6, 2015.   It’s a real thing!

As Empire Online‘s story on the matter so accurately observes, this places the film into wave two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the adventures of Dr Hank Pym/Scott Lang/Eric O’ Grady opening but a few short months after Joss Whedon‘s eagerly awaited sequel, “Avengers Part Deux: Funk Odyssey” (title not yet confirmed, fact fans).

The chatter must now begin about who’s going to be in it – crosses fingers, wishes for Nick Frost – and how it all fits into the increasingly bonkers and utterly cosmic MarvelVerse.  Broadly realistic action adventure along the lines of “Iron Man” or go-for-broke comic freak-out with mind-blasting special effects aplenty?

The genius behind “Scott Pilgrim“, “Hot Fuzz“, “Shaun of the Dead” and lovely, lovely “Spaced” getting to play with all the toys in the toy cupboard?  As previously stated in the “Pacific Rim” post at the weekend – Take my money! Now!

Related Malarkey:

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A “Rocketeer” sequel? Better late than never…

The Rocketeer” – bopping Nazi swine on the chin and narrowly evading serious rear -end charring. Now THAT’s a superhero to reckon with…

Emboldened, perhaps, by the success enjoyed by junior partners Marvel Studios with their forties flavoured action adventure, “Captain America: The First Avenger“, Big Mouse on Campus Walt Disney Studios are apparently moving ahead with a slightly overdue sequel to their 1991 comic book adaptation, “The Rocketeer.

As I say, better late than never (given the equally prolonged period between sci-fi touchstone “Tron” and its follow-up, “Tron: Legacy“, perhaps this is just the way that the House of Mouse does it), albeit an intriguing choice given that many observers may look at the gigantic shortfall between financial outlay to box office receipts for the “Tron” sequel and this year’s “John Carter” and wonder just whether Disney have the wherewithal to deliver live action sci-fi thrills which resonate for a modern audience.

For the record, I enjoyed “Tron: Legacy” well enough, loved “John Carter” and would happily adopt “The Rocketeer” and bring it up as my slightly nerdy, earnest offspring, so the news of a new film is like catnip to me.  Or whatever it is that Dog-loving people would have in place of catnip.  I digress…

Logic would tell us that Disney would keep the period setting – my teeth are positively on edge at the mere idea of a modern “Rocketeer” reinvention – but who knows where they’re going with this revamp?  If it’s not LA in the forties, I’ll be a grumpy bunny.  Or more so than usual, anyway.

A casting suggestion, if you don’t mind, for chief rocket jockey Cliff Secord and then we’ll take our leave of this retro-frippery?

This chap:

 

 

You know it makes sense.

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