Iron Man 3

Okay I apologize, I’m writing this review super duper late. I saw Iron Man 3 the second day it was out in theaters and there’s really no reason for the delay of this post. I actually started this review a month ago, but put it on hiatus. I’d like to blame my finals, graduation, and the ensuing summer, but really it was just laziness. Anyway, better late then never, right? Again, with all my reviews SPOILERS ENSUE.

The plot:

In the first five minutes of the film we witness a flashback, back before Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., created Iron Man, back when he was more douchey and sleeping with a new girl each week. We are introduced to Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, a botanist with an explosive plant (we’ll get back to her later), and to a physically disabled character who goes by the name of Aldrich Killian (seriously weirdest fucking name ever, Killian is a first name, but whatever), played by Guy Pearce. Killian invites Tony to become a part of his company. Of course Tony, being the douche that he is, falsely tells Killian that he will meet him outside to discuss this business proposition, leaving Killian to wait outside in freezing temperatures alone.

At this point it’s already obvious that Aldrich Killian will be our main villain for the next 2 hours. Why is it obvious? Because Killian is introduced as a new character, Tony is a dick to him, and while this flashback is occurring, Tony is monologuing about his “inner demons.” The writers are setting up past actions that lead to consequences that take place later in the film. The flashback ends and, in present time, we are introduced to Aldrich Killian again, but he has cured his disability under unknown circumstances. Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, notices this change (he honestly looked like a bum in the flashback), but doesn’t question how he cured his disability. She just says he looks great. Er… Pepper? Your’re not gonna ask him how he can now stand with perfect posture? No? Okay then…

Killian wows Pepper with technology that his company, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), has developed, resulting in a brief moment where Pepper looks like she might have the hots for him, which could possibly form a romantic rift between her and Tony. This goes nowhere and any sexual tension between her and Killian is never brought up again. If anything, the scene just helped solidify the nature of Killian’s character (evil!ahem).

While this is happening, a terrorist known as the Mandarin is planting bombs throughout America and is hacking public television programs to taunt American citizens and the President. Happy Hogan, played by Jon Favreau, picks up on Killian’s sketchiness and follows Killian’s henchman to Hollywood Boulevard. The henchman gives a drug to an unknown man – this drug causes the man to explode, which results in Happy becoming hospitalized for the remainder of the film. After this incident, Tony publicly challenges the Mandarin, causing an attack on his house by the henchman. Due to suit malfunctions, Tony is unable to save his home and plummets into the ocean, while Pepper and the public believe him to be dead.

Tony’s suit then autopilots him to Tennessee, where one of the Mandarin bombings had previously occurred. Alone and out of batteries, Tony shacks up in a garage, where he meets ten-year-old Harley, played by Ty Simpkins, who helps him recharge his drained Iron Man suit. The moments between Tony and Harley are great, they have a really funny chemistry and the audience laughed at almost all of the dialogue the two of them had together.

Interestingly, I was reminded of The Iron Giant once Harley was introduced. He has a single mom who works at a diner (similar to Hogarth’s mom), he has to help hide Tony from the bad guys (similar to Hogarth hiding the Giant from the government), and there’s even a scene when parts of Tony’s Iron Man suit are flying out of Harley’s garage (similar to when the Giant’s body parts fuse back together at the end of the film). I don’t know if the writers were trying to do this on purpose, but I liked the similarities.

In a mansion located somewhere in Miami, Killian is patiently waiting for the Mandarin to arrive and send out a broadcast about their attack on Tony Stark. As the Mandarin is approaching, everyone keeps saying “The Master is approaching”, “Get ready for the Master.” During this scene, it’s made kind of obvious that the Mandarin is not actually the guy leading the attacks. We know Killian is the main villain, he has a more personal conflict with Tony, while the Mandarin is merely the face of a terrorist. The writers were really trying to set up the Mandarin as this powerful character, but they kinda ruined the surprise by forcing it. “The Master” my ass.

Harley takes Tony to the site of the bombing where several people lost their lives. Tony discovers that the bomber was involved in an Extremis experiment, which is an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. However, a subject explodes when their body rejects the experiment. The Mandarin was set up to cover-up the flaws of Extremis as terrorist attacks.

Tony heads to Miami without his Iron Man suit and discovers that the man who calls himself the Mandarin is merely an actor hired by Killian (big shocker). Tony is captured and finds out that Maya Hansen helped create Extremis (remember the botanist with the exploding plant?) and that she and Killian captured Potts and were subjecting her to Extremis treatments. Hansen has a last minute change of heart and Killian kills her immediately. Nice knowing she was an important character and all that…

During this time, James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, the superhero Iron Patriot (formerly known as War Machine), is kidnapped by Killian. Killian uses the Iron Patriot suit to infiltrate Air Force One and kidnap the President of the United States. Tony escapes and reunites with Rhodes and they head to an oil tanker where Killian is holding both Pepper and the President. Tony reveals that he has built a small army of Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, which he releases on the oil tanker to face off against Killian’s Extremis minions.

Rhodes saves the President while Tony finds Pepper. Before he can save her, the tanker falls apart below them and she falls to a fiery death. OR DOES SHE?!?! Tony doesn’t mourn too long over her fall and the movie promptly moves on, making it obvious that she survived the fall due to the Extremis treatment.

Tony and Killian face off. Tony gets the upper hand and blows Killian up. Interestingly, Killian survives and his body reforms. Pepper shows up, no surprise there really, revealing that she too has powers given to her by Extremis. She fights Killian and is able to kill him. Later, through Tony’s narration, Pepper is healed of her Extremis treatment and Tony himself gets the shrapnel pieces in his chest removed. Despite not needing the reactor in his chest anymore, Tony says that he will always be Iron Man.

My thoughts:

Iron Man 3 is a badly written film hidden under a veil of funny dialogue and a charismatic Robert Downey Jr.

The biggest issue I had with the movie was that it was incredibly predictable. Killian isn’t a subtle character and we’re able to determine that he’s the villain the moment he appears on screen. The writers forced this idea of “The Mandarin” too sloppily for us to fall for it. The reveal that the Mandarin was an actor the whole time didn’t come as a surprise and was underwhelming , though I did like the character, Trevor Slattery, played by Ben Kingsley, when he wasn’t acting as the Mandarin (he has some funny lines). There’s even a surprisingly dumb moment where Tony is slow to realize that confidential documents from an organization called M.I.A actually belong to A.I.M (really Tony? Slow day there?). Even the scene of Pepper’s death isn’t dramatic enough to ensure us that she’s actually dead, making it obvious that she’s fine. Because of all these predictable moments, the movie sufferes by becoming boring.

The powers that the veterans receive through Extremis are often inconsistent. I don’t really understand why their powers cause the Iron Man suits to malfunction. As far as I understand Extremis powers consist of pyrokinesis and regeneration abilities, so how can they render the suits useless? Also, the henchman character survives multiple wounds and beatings, but then he dies after getting a hole shot through his chest. Later Killian’s entire body gets blown up, but he recovers from it only to be killed in a similar fashion by Pepper. And speaking of Pepper, not only does she get the Extremis powers after treatment, but she also becomes a martial arts master or something. Seriously, she starts flipping around and punches right through an Iron Man suit in mid-air. It looked cool and all to see her suddenly become kick-ass, but it was more ridiculous than anything. It also really bothered me that curing her of Extremis was an easy fix and didn’t have any serious consequences.

One part I liked about the film was that it focused on the psychological backlash Tony received after the events of The Avengers. He now suffers from anxiety attacks. Robert Downey Jr. acts out his attacks well (I have experienced anxiety attacks myself, and he portrays their effects pretty accurately). What I like most about this development was that, despite Tony being a superhero, he can still buckle under stress over the things he encounters. He fought aliens and almost died in a different dimension, so I’m glad that the writers touched upon his recovery from such an experience.

Overall, I felt like the writers didn’t really care about the plot enough to make it interesting in any way, that or they weren’t trying very hard. I think the writers knew their plot was lacking severely and did their best to make the film incredibly funny, which it was. I was laughing out loud to most of the dialogue, and of course having Robert Downey Jr. as the leading actor made the film enjoyable enough. Iron Man 3 is not a film that I’m going to attempt to watch again, but if you enjoy watching Robert Downey Jr. being the awesome actor that he is, it will be worth your time.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Just got home from watching The Great Gatsby, so I figured why not give my two cents? This is not a recap, so there aren’t really any SPOILERS.

I will not do a comparison between the film and the book for this review. I have only read the book twice, and it has been three years since I’ve last read it. I will do my best to remember parts of it, but I honestly should have read the book again before watching the film.

Initially, after I saw the trailer for the first time, I was very excited to see Gatsby. I was at fist taken aback by how shiny everything looked, but I liked the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and Carrey Mulligan as Gatsby and Daisy, and the more I saw the trailers they more my interest grew. My excitement for Gatsby crashed and burned the moment I learned who was directing the film: Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann’s past films include Romeo + Juliet and The Moulin Rouge, and while I cannot say much about Romeo + Juliet (I haven’t seen it in eight years), I’m not a fan of The Moulin Rouge. I do not like his directing style. Luhrmann focuses primarily on the looks of the film rather than the content. Moulin Rouge is filmed to the brim with clichés, over acting, and character motives that don’t make sense. Not going to lie, his sets look amazing and I love looking at his films, however he makes the movie so fast-paced that the audience hardly has enough time to focus on one shot before it cuts away to another one.

Gatsby is no exception to Luhrmann’s directing style. We move through the movie like how Gatsby drives his car, carelessly and rushed. This became an issue when the film flies through certain important scenes, like the scene when Tom, played by Joel Edgerton, slaps Myrtle, played by Isla Fisher, in front of Nick and their friends. It just sort of happens while Nick narrates over it and the film promptly moves on. Tom breaks his mistress’ nose, but that’s not really important, let’s continue. It bothered me that Luhrmann felt the need to hurry scenes like this.

The first half of the film is definitely guilty of being fast-paced and full of glossy splendor. Honestly, everything in this movie, except for the “valley of ashes,” looks like it’s covered in shrink wrap or made of hard plastic. We shoot from one scene to the other of brilliant looking settings that switch off looking like real sets to CGI constructions. We are introduced to our narrator, Nick Carraway, played by Toby Maguire, a newcomer to New York City and neighbor of the mysterious Jay Gatsby. We aren’t introduced to Gatsby for a while, so in the meantime Nick goes on to meet with his cousin, Daisy, her husband Tom Buchanan, and Jordan Baker, played by Elizabeth Debicki.

I found the introduction of Daisy to be filmed rather awkwardly. Actually, both her and Gatsby are introduced rather laughably. Daisy’s revealing is through the use of excessive flowing white curtains and her giggling excitedly on a sofa, while oddly playing with her hands in the air above her head. I understand that there’s a white theme that surrounds Daisy throughout the novel, but I don’t really understand Luhrmann’s sense of direction here. I guess he thought it would appear “artistic,” but really it’s just odd. Gatsby’s revealing actually made me laugh out loud. He turns to Carraway while raising a glass in slow motion as fireworks explode in the air behind him. The addition of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background of the scene, in an attempt to make the scene even MORE epic, was just too forced to not be funny.

Speaking of “Rhapsody in Blue,” the soundtrack for this film was so out of place, I found it distracting. All of the music done for this film is modern music done by current artists, such as Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine, Beyoncé, Gotye, Sia, will.i.am, Fergie, Nero, The xx, Andre 300, and more. The first few songs, “100$ Bill,” “Back to Black,” and “Bang Bang,” are rap/hip-hop songs and I don’t really know why. Why weren’t songs more suited for the time used? “Rhapsody in Blue” was actually composed during that time period, but the rest of the songs took me out of the film. The whole film felt like it was a 20’s themed college party rather than something that actually took place during the 20’s.

I did like the scenes depicting Gatsby’s parties. I loved how grand they looked, with all the people dancing, jumping into the pool, and dressed in those awesome 20’s dresses and suits. I wanted to partake in these parties rather than watch on the other side of a screen. These scenes made more sense with Luhrmann’s fast directing and editing style, so they were really the only scenes I enjoyed during the first half of the film. Only after Gatsby and Daisy finally meet again, which was a nice quiet scene, does the movie slow its pace and become a little more focused.

I liked the acting in this film. DiCaprio is a talented actor and he played Gatsby’s desperate love and frustration towards Daisy really well. I also liked Mulligan’s performance. I couldn’t help but compare her to Mia Farrow’s performance of Daisy in the 1974 adaption of the novel (which I hated). Farrow was very over the top with her performance, so over the top that I pretty much laughed at Daisy the whole time and found her annoying. Mulligan was far more subtle, and I felt a little sorry for her, having Gatsby pressure her to leave her husband and being confused by her feelings towards both men.

The only problems I had with casting and characters were Toby Maguire and Jordan Baker respectively. I didn’t like that Maguire was cast as Nick only because I don’t like his voice. Having to listen to him constantly talking in this monotonous tone during the entire film was almost unbearable. The problem I had with Jordan Baker was that she was a little inconsistent. She’s first portrayed as this uninterested character, nothing fazes her nor does she seem particularly engaged in anything. The next time she’s on screen she’s excited and overcome by Gatsby’s party and she suddenly has interest in Nick. Then the next time we see her she’s back to her bored expression and “whatever” attitude. I don’t remember if that’s how she was written in the book, but her portrayal here bugged me.

It’s 3:00am now and I’m finding it hard to stay awake and think of further opinions I have of this film. Overall, I knew I was going to be disappointed by the film before I saw it. I honestly believe that most of the film’s flaws are due to Luhrmann’s direction. I wish a better director was handed the film, perhaps then it could have been handled more steadily and had been better paced.

Hello and Welcome!

I am the Cynical Tauntaun, a graduating college student and TV and movie enthusiast. Writing is a medium that I aspire to be better in, so I figured reviewing the TV shows, movies, and (sometimes) music that I experience in my everyday life can help me practice this medium and become a better writer. I made this decision about a week ago after I watched last Thursday’s episode of Glee, “Shooting Star” (yes, I watch Glee, bear with me), in which the show did something that impressed me, only for the episode to disappoint me severely. I will discuss this episode in a following post as my first review.

I have provided a list of the TV shows I currently watch/have seen in full, plus a list of my favorite movies in the sidebar under Pages called “What I’m Into”. Check this out to see what shows and movies I am familiar with. In the future, if any of you would like for me to review something specific, feel free to ask. However, do not ask me to review an episode from a TV show that I do not watch (unless it’s the pilot episode), for I would not understand the plot of the show and be able to review it to the best of my ability.

I’m looking forward to giving my two cents about the things that distract me from reality and I hope you enjoy!