Iron Man 3 (2013)


I’m Gonna Offer the Choice: Do You Want an Empty Life, or a Meaningful Death?

Iron Man 3 (2013)The release of the Avengers set a high bar for superhero movies that I imagine filmmakers will find it very difficult to meet.  But it would be horrible if they decided that they had done it and that they had to stop there.  Of course they needed more.  Nay … I needed more.  I was worried that I might go into the follow up movie with expectations too high for any movie but Avengers 2 to match, but I found myself able to manage my expectations fairly well.  And it certainly wasn’t the movie that made that so easy to do; it has quite a pedigree of its own to live up to.  And not just the Avengers.  The first movie in this series was probably the first step in the process of Marvel (and probably Hollywood in general) taking comic book movies seriously.  The second one let a lot of fans down, but I wasn’t altogether opposed to it.  And I finally got to see the third.  And so I present to you my review of Iron Man 3, written by Drew Pearce, co-written and directed by Shane Black, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ty Simpkins, Paul Bettany, and Stephanie Szostak.

In 1999, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) meets a scientist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), who has been working on something she calls “Extremis” – an experimental cellular regeneration treatment with the nasty side effect of making some of the patients explode.  He also meets a disabled scientist named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who offers them a place in his company, A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics).  But Stark is mainly interested in banging Hansen, so he neglects the other things in favor of that goal.  Years later, Stark is mentally unstable in all sorts of different ways.  Because of the events with the Chitauri, Stark cannot sleep and instead spends his time building new suits of his Iron Man armor, he has occasionally debilitating panic attacks, and his relationship with his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) are strained.  And to make things worse, a terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is laying siege to the world with random explosions that leave no bomb residue.

I liked this movie … but I had a few problems with the movie that hindered my ability to love it.  And a big portion of the problems surround the problem with being a fan.  I loved what I thought they were doing with the Mandarin in this movie by making him a terrorist, but I did not like what it turned out they were actually doing with him.  I’m okay with you removing the magic rings element of the Mandarin if you want to keep the series based more in real life (even though the Avengers introduced someone that also relies heavily on magic rings in a matter of speaking), but what you did with the Mandarin in this movie was take one of Iron Man’s greatest villains and make him completely insignificant by the end of the movie.  And it wasn’t even a surprise!  I started getting sad that I was seeing it coming when I first saw the movie studio the Mandarin would broadcast from.  And they did the same thing with another of the biggest characters in the Iron Man mythos: Iron Man himself!  I didn’t come to see Tony Stark 3; I came to see Iron Man 3.  But the greater majority of this movie is Tony Stark fighting outside of a suit because his suits were destroyed or ineffective.  And then – almost to apologize for that – they spend the last fight scene of the movie dripping with Iron Man suits.  You’d think I’d appreciate that since I was complaining about the lack of metal suits through the rest of the movie, but that’s also not the case.  The suits Stark kept jumping into in that last fight were so disposable you’d think they were made of Post Its.  The bad guys would slice through them like a hot hand through Iron Man suits.  Then he’d run around for a while and jump into a new suit for a few seconds of fighting.  And he didn’t even get to be the ultimate hero at the end of the movie!  Though how it happened was fairly badass, it wasn’t Iron Man doing it.  I need my hero to defeat my villain.

That amount of complaining might lead you to incorrect conclusions about my thoughts on this movie.  I did not hate it, but parts of it bummed me out.  It was still a good movie, and I’d even recommend seeing it in theaters if you haven’t already.  It’s still got some decent writing in the story, and Tony Stark has some great lines as always.  For instance, I liked when he called that little kid a pussy.  When an enemy asked Tony Stark if all he had was “cheap tricks and cheesy one-liners” and Tony responded with “that should be the name of my autobiography,” I still laughed.

The look of the movie remains fantastic, and I could not bring myself to complain about that.  Even though I didn’t like that most of the action didn’t involve Iron Man, I appreciated the action that was there.  And I could not stop myself from getting a little excited when the large group of Iron Man prototypes shows up to throw down, but I found myself thinking that it was good that Tony fucked around and created all those disposable Iron Man suits, but why wouldn’t he create just one of them that could withstand tremendous heat?  In the comics, Stark has different armor for all sorts of different occasions.  He has one that can go underwater, he has one that can go into space, he has one that can take on the Hulk, but he doesn’t have one that can withstand heat?  I find that farfetched, and I refuse to realize the irony in calling something in a superhero comic book movie “farfetched.”

The performances in the movie also remained excellent.  I find it impossible to not like Robert Downey, Jr., especially as Tony Stark.  He’s got more than enough acting and comedic chops to go around.  Gwyneth Paltrow remains great as well, able to go toe-to-toe with Downey in every way.  I thought Guy Pearce was a little over the top in the nerdy version of his character, but he did the rest of it very well.  I thought Ben Kingsley was amazing and badass throughout the greater majority of the movie, and he even brought some (unwelcome) comedic parts to the movie.  I welcome comedic stuff when Tony Stark brings it because it’s true to his character, but it’s really not something I want to see the Mandarin doing.  When I saw Ty Simpkins in the movie, it made me nervous.  You see, I’ve been watching Married With Children recently and I’ve just reached the part where they unleash the character of Seven upon the world, effectively destroying every episode he was in, as is generally the case when they decide what something needs to boost ratings is to add a child sidekick.  Thankfully, I didn’t have those feelings with Simpkins.  He didn’t specifically bring very much to the table for me, but Downey did in his interactions with him.

Iron Man 3 was a good movie, but my nerdiness made me resent certain parts of it.  The story was good, but I didn’t appreciate the angle they went with the Mandarin.  The action was good, but I didn’t appreciate the relative lack of Iron Man, nor did I appreciate how disposable his armor was.  And anything I didn’t like about the performances was not to be blamed on the actors.  They were all fantastic.  Overall, I was torn in my feelings about Iron Man 3, but I am not torn in my belief that you should watch this movie.  It could have been better, but it remains worth the price of admission.  Iron Man 3 gets “Lesson number one: heroes, there is no such thing” out of “You know, it’s moments like these when I realize how much of a superhero I am.”

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BloodRayne (2006)


Would You Stop Throwing Things at me?

On a day when most people are going out to see the Avengers, I chose to watch three movies spawned by Uwe Boll, a man whose top rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes pulls down a whopping 11%.  I say this only as proof that I make poor decisions.  In actual fact, I was simply unable to go and see Avengers on the opening day and will be putting it off until next week.  My anger over this leads me to want to take it out on some movies I know to be super shitty.  No better place to look than an Uwe Boll movie for super shittiness.  The man who is potentially the worst director of our time and the Ed Wood of our decade has hurt me more than many others by not only making shitty movies, but making them out of properties I was fond of from the video game world.  Today’s movie is one of these movies.  This movie is BloodRayne, written by Guinevere Turner, directed by Uwe Boll, and starring Kristanna Loken, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Matthew Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane, Will Sanderson, Meat Loaf, and Geraldine Chaplin.

Rayne (Kristanna Loken) is a half human, half vampire, all carnival attraction known as a Dhampir.  She is the spawn that resulted from the Vampire King Kagan (Ben Kingsley) raping her mother, and then later killing her.  She escapes from the carnival when one of the workers tries to rape her and takes it upon herself to kill a lot of the people on the way out.  But at least she gets a sweet pair of swords out of it.  This gains the attention of three members of the vampire hunting group called the Brimstone Society and Sebastian (Matthew Davis), Vladimir (Michael Madsen), and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez) set out to find her.  With some advice from a fortune teller, Rayne sets off to find an eye, a rib, and a heart that belonged to a powerful vampire named Belial so that she can face and defeat Kagan.

Fuck you, movie.  And fuck you, Uwe Boll!  It’s no surprise to anyone that’s seen some of his movies that Uwe Boll is a terrible filmmaker.  What can surprise is how much his terribleness can seep into everything around him, making ideas that were good into shit and making actors that were great forget how to act completely.  There is scarcely anything within this movie that could stand as a reason for anyone to watch it ever.  The story of the movie is dumb and disjointed.  It’s been quite some time since I last played a BloodRayne game, but as far as I can remember, this movie has nothing to do with those games.  The only thing in common is that it stars an attractive lady vampire named Rayne.  Then it’s a bit of origin story which turns into a training thing with some junk about finding body parts of an old dead vampire.  You won’t be interested in any of it.  A lot of what Uwe tends to do is realize after the fact that either the scene does not really explain what was going on or the people that would be willingly watching this movie are stupid so he adds in some ADR dialogue over the scene to try to explain it, whether the person’s mouth is moving or not.  He does this early on when people are riding their horses through a scene and some really bad ADR is talking over the scene and even worse later when a guy is examining someone and says, “He’s dead,” even though his lips aren’t moving.  The dialogue is just as bad as the rest of the story.  There’s one part where someone is telling Rayne that, “Dhampirs are rarely the happy product of a vampire and a human,” and Rayne yells, “You lie!” at her.  So, wait…  Are you trying to make the argument that they ARE mostly from happy relationships, or did you just think this was the best time to get indignant even though you weren’t listening to me?  They also get phrases wrong, like when Katarin says something is a “bitter threat”.  The threat isn’t bitter, lady.  The threat doesn’t have emotions.  You may have a bitter ENEMY, or even just a terrible threat, but … oh what’s the point.  You’re dumb.  There’s also a lot of stupid going on in the movie, like when we cut from one scene to a random bit of Kagan biting a random young girl, then just moving on.  This girl never comes back into the story and the scene served no purpose.  It was almost like they didn’t believe that we believed them when they said that Kagan was a vampire so they had to prove it.  And how is it that, in bad movies, guards will kill anybody unless it serves the story for the people to get captured?  Sebastian and Vladimir had gone into a pile of enemies with their swords drawn and started killing them, but then let themselves get overtaken and they were captured, even though Kagan had given no orders to take them prisoner.  But don’t worry: this is an action movie!  Oh wait … the action is crap too.  There was no evidence that anyone tried to choreograph these fights at all.  They just gave the actors some fake swords and told them to get in there and swing them.  But all of the actors swung the swords as if they were really worried about hitting someone with the fake swords.  I understand that, but you’re in a movie.  You at least have to make it LOOK like you want to kill your opponent.  The sex scene is the only reason I can think of to legitimately watch this movie, but only because Kristanna Loken is hot and she has nice boobs.  The sex and the romance come completely out of left field.  I guess they could’ve fallen in love because they’d both lost their parents, but I think that would’ve just made me mad if I was Rayne.  She says that her mom was killed by Kagan and Sebastian comes back with BOTH of his parents were killed.  Alright, I guess you win the sob story game, you son of a (dead) bitch.  The ending also pisses me off, but I’m not going to waste my time putting up spoiler alerts.  I don’t want you to watch this movie.  The ending was vaguely reminiscent of the first Conan movie because Rayne is the only person still alive at the end, so she sits down on Kagan’s throne as the camera zooms slowly into her face.  Then we start cutting to various random scenes that were particularly violent from the rest of the movie, as if the movie was going to start over, but in slow motion and even more annoying.  I was about to open up my wrists until I realized that it wasn’t starting over.  But, as I think about it, maybe the ending fits the movie.  Nothing suits a terrible movie better than a terrible ending.

The ambience of the movie was also mostly crap.  The settings and the costumes were the only things that I wouldn’t judge too harshly … for the most part.  Rayne’s outfit pissed me off though.  Not at first, though.  I liked her original outfit.  It looked like it did in the game.  It was skintight and sexy.  Near the end of the movie, they present her with a new, and vastly inferior, outfit.  It looked to be leather, but looked pre-worn and really dirty, even fresh out of the wrappings it came in.  And the pants seemed to have been sized for an aging soccer mom as they did not fit snugly to Kristanna’s beautiful ass.  The weapons all looked really awful too.  Most of them were really fakey swords, a couple didn’t even look like any decent sword design, and they never captured Rayne’s signature swords.  They were close in the beginning, but then she breaks them and they’re replaced with ones that are just pieces of metal that were clearly rounded on the tips, so as to be not much more effective than fighting with butter knives.  Boll also doesn’t have a terribly good grasp on how to make sound work for a movie.  Screams sounded goofy when they should’ve been emotional, impactful musical stings were noticeably absent on scenes where they would have helped sell the emotion of a scene, and none of it sounded good.  It’s the kind of thing you don’t really pay attention to until you see it done really poorly, so you definitely notice it here.

I think you’ve all gotten the general idea of this review already, so it comes as no surprise to you that the performances were crap as well.  And that is even more tragic because they had some great actors in this movie that gave the worst performance of their lives.  I’m not talking about Kristanna Loken, of course.  She’s not known for her acting.  She’s known for the sexy.  She brings that much to some parts of the movie, especially her uncomfortable tits-out sex scene.  Her best performance to date was definitely Terminator 3 because she didn’t have to speak.  She delivers lines poorly and never really brings emotion, like when she says, “I WILL stand a chance against Kagan.”  It’s hard to explain it here, but the emphasis was on “will” so it seemed like it should have preceded a statement of more confidence like, “I WILL kill the living bejesus out of Kagan.”  It doesn’t really sound right when it’s more akin to, “I WILL give it a shot, but probably die.  Please don’t make me do this!”  Ben Kingsley is exactly the kind of person who shocks me with his performance in this.  This guy won an Academy Award!  He was in Schindler’s List!  …AND BloodRayne!  Why?!  He gives a thoroughly unimpressive performance to this movie as well.  It made me wonder if they just said, “Why bother?  Uwe wouldn’t know a good performance if I hit him over the head with the Academy Award I won for doing it.”  I would say Michael Madsen would fit into that category as well.  I’ve seen him be amazing in movies before.  I’ve also seen him not impress before.  He went with that one for this movie.  I laughed really hard at one point where he was running up the stairs with Matthew Davis in tow and an enemy jumped out of the door, basically onto Madsen.  Madsen just kept going as if it hadn’t happened, because Davis was the one that was supposed to kill this guy that clearly just popped through the door a couple of seconds too early.

BloodRayne is an awful movie.  Uwe Boll did the majority of the terribleness in this thing, offering up a horrible and disjointed story that has little to do with the source material while simultaneously displaying his ineptitude behind the camera by allowing lame fights, awful acting, and terrible everything get captured onto film.  The only thing in this movie worth seeing is Kristanna Loken’s boobs, but you can live without them.  They’re not that nice.  Plus, you can just Google that.  You could stream this movie on Netflix but … wait … No you can’t!  You are not allowed to stream this movie!  I forbid it!  If you want to make fun of a movie, any Uwe Boll movie sets you up for plenty of that.  And, if you want to get into making movies, you will realize that you can do it so much better than someone that actually makes money doing it right now.  BloodRayne gets “I would sooner rot in your dungeon than sit at your table” out of “Your form is weak, lacking passion.”

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