Average User Score: 6.4Jun 7, 2013Marvel Cinematic Universe ‘Phase Two’ has kicked off with the third installment of Iron Man. Iron Man 3 follows in the wake of movies like The Dark Knight trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man delivering a far darker and more serious-toned movie than its predecessors. The director baton has been passed from Jon Favreau to Shane Black, who has a history working with Robert Downey Jr. on the cult favorite Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shane Black balances the darker tone of the film by injecting his signature off-the-wall dialogue that is expertly delivered by Robert Downey Jr. Although all of the jokes don’t land, the majority do, making the latest installment of Iron Man the funniest yet.
Iron Man 3 opens with a flashback to 1999, narrated by a present-day Tony Stark, that introduces a pre-Iron Man Tony Stark creating his “own demons” as he blows off budding scientist and super-nerd Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) for a one-night fling with brilliant biologist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) who is on the verge of developing a technology to repair damaged cells if only she could figure out how to stop the unfortunate side effect of spontaneous combustion.
Jumping back to present day it becomes readily apparent that Tony is having trouble coping with the aftermath of New York and the existence of aliens, other worlds, and Norse gods. Tony’s PTSD leads to many sleepless nights and the creation of numerous Iron Man armor variants. Several other familiar faces make an appearance including Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Tony’s now live-in girlfriend and head of Stark Industries, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), now Head of Security at Stark Industries, and Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who along with a new paint job has become the Iron Patriot.
When super-terrorist, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), responsible for multiple bombings against the United States, seriously injures Happy in a bombing, things get personal for Tony Stark. Tony issues a public warning to the Mandarin, threatening revenge and even going as far as to taunt him with his home address if the Mandarin is man enough to take him on his own turf. The Mandarin takes him up in his offer with a helicopter raid on Stark’s beach-side mansion. This is the film’s first big action scene and is beautifully intense, especially in IMAX 3D, and proves that Shane Black is a versatile director capable of delivering high-speed, over-the-top action sequences expected from blockbuster comic book films.
Following the attack on Stark’s mansion, Tony is a little out of his element, having to take on the Mandarin and his accomplices, a now suave Aldrich Killian and souped-up soldiers Savin (James Badge Dale) and Brandt (Stephanie Szostak), without the aid of his Iron Man suits or billion dollar bank account. This is the heart of the movie where we see Tony lose much of his self-centered egotism without sacrificing the humor that comes with it. In fact there is quite a lot of banter between Stark and Tennessee adolescent, Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), who aides Tony with the use of his long-gone father’s old workshop.
Despite being an overall enjoyable movie-going experience, Iron Man suffers from several setbacks. The most apparent being the humorous pieces of Shane Black’s that fall short and instead come off as cheesy. The second being the sheer number of Iron Man armor variants, all of which seem to be self-autonomous which raises the question “If Tony Stark can create an army of Iron Man suits that can fight for themselves why put himself in harm’s way?” Lastly is the direction taken in a particular scene toward the middle of the film, which I won’t reveal to save you from any spoilers, which can either make the movie for some or in my case leave one with a sense of underwhelming. That being said the film is certainly worth the watch and will have you wondering where Marvel will take Tony Stark/Iron Man in future films.
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Average User Score: 5.8Jun 7, 2013The Internship rejoins comedy giants Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson for the first time since 2005’s surprisingly successful film, “Wedding Crashers,” which grossed upwards of $200 million domestically. Unfortunately, The Internship falls short of the duo’s previous film, largely in part to the film’s PG-13 rating and its exceptionally predictable script.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play Billy and Nick, two aging salesmen who lose their jobs as reps for a watch manufacturing company when their boss (John Goodman) shuts down the company as he perceives watches becoming obsolete in a world dominated by technology where people would rather check the time on their smartphones. To make matters worse, Billy’s girlfriend walks out on him because she has had enough of Billy “talking a big game” and Nick is reduced to working for his sister’s uncouth husband (an uncredited Will Ferrell) as a mattress salesman.
Billy constructs a master plan to get the two out of their rut by enrolling in classes at the University of Phoenix, the Harvard of online schools, and applying for an internship at Google. Never mind that the two applying to Google is comparable to taking floaties off of a toddler and asking him to swim the English Channel. Despite Billy and Nick’s obvious lack of any technical qualifications, illustrated in a webcam interview that shows the two talking excessively loud and squeezing together like sardines in a can to fit within the webcam’s field of view, the two miraculously land the internship.
Billy and Nick arrive at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley and are thrust into a world full of tech-savvy super nerds like fish out of water. Google’s internship director (Aasif Mandvi) tells the group of new Google interns, aptly named noogles, to separate into groups as the groups would compete in several competitions for a limited number of guaranteed full-time positions at Google. Used to a life of being chosen first in athletics, Nick and Billy are surprised to find themselves without a team. They join the leftovers led by the overenthusiastic junior Google mentor, Lyle (Josh Brener). Other group members include the cynical Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), the obvious Asian stereotype afraid of his mother, Yo-Yo Santos, (Tobit Raphael), and the token female, Neha (Tiya Sircar).
The leftovers are pitted against a group who, despite also being Google-caliber geniuses, seem to be several rungs above on the social ladder. The group is led by the smooth yet pompous Brit, Graham (Max Minghella). While at first being less than useful to the group, Nick and Billy’s limitation turn into assets as they help the kids break out of their shells and bring real-world experiences and people skills to compliment the other team member’s computer smarts. The transformation of the characters and the challenges offer some genuinely heart-felt moments and a smattering of laughs, but the outcome of the competition is never seriously in question.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are excellent, adding their signature fast-paced back-and-forth banter as they feed of each other in a manner similar to their performance in “Wedding Crashers.” The rest of the acting core is fairly solid as well, including Rose Byrne, who plays Dana, a work-obsessed Google employee and romantic interest of Nick. Unfortunately the great majority of the actors are limited in their roles by the rather one-dimensional characters created by writers Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern. Although the film has its share of laughs and a refreshingly optimistic take on life, it plays more as a tiresomely-long Google commercial rather than live up to its comedic potential.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Jun 6, 2013J.J. Abrams and the crew of The Enterprise return for Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to the surprisingly successful 2009 reboot that silenced Trekkie naysayers the world over. J.J. Abrams continues to surprise by accomplishing something rarely achieved in film franchises… creating a sequel that is better than the original. The success of the first film was largely thanks to the spot-on casting of familiar characters developed over 11 films and four television series; specifically Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, respectively. The same is true of the latest installment which keeps the spirit of these beloved characters alive while taking some clever liberties that cement Star Trek Into Darkness as the greatest blockbuster of the year thus far.
Star Trek Into Darkness starts off on a distant planet whose inhabitants are at risk of an active volcano that could wipe out the entire primitive civilization. It is up to the crew of the Enterprise to lay the volcano to rest while going unnoticed by the indigenous population (per a Starfleet mandate that Spock is only too happy to continuously remind Kirk about). Captain Kirk and Bones (Karl Urban) distract the native people in a mad dash that sets the pace for the film and makes the most of the vivid CGI and 3D technology, while Spock is lowered into the volcano to activate a device that will render the volcano inert. Inevitably the plan fails and Spock is trapped in the belly of the volcano causing Kirk to violate the mandate, despite the ever-logical thinking Spock’s insistence on sacrificing himself for the greater good.
No good deed goes unpunished as Captain Kirk loses command of the Enterprise, becoming First Mate under Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood), while Commander Spock gets reassigned as a result of Kirk’s reckless behavior and inability to take responsibility for his actions. While still brooding over his demotion, a bomb goes off at Starfleet’s main archives in London. Kirk and the rest of the crew, including Spock, Bones, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Checkov (Anton Yelchin), and a sexy stowaway (Alice Eve) are back onboard the Enterprise and off to kill the man responsible for the attack against the archives. The man responsible being none other than Starfleet agent John Harrison played by a brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, whose onscreen presence threatens to steal the spotlight from the rest of the cast.
The Enterprise is in a race against the clock to track down and eliminate Harrison that has them bouncing from London to Kronos, the home world of the Klingons, and galaxies in-between at warp speed. Enraged by Harrison’s wanton betrayal, Captain Kirk is an emotional mess whose desperation to kill the Harrison is palpable, despite the rest of the crew’s reluctance to kill Harrison without a fair trial. It is here that Star Trek Into Darkness finds its major theme hinted at in the opening sequence of the film how do our feelings affect the choices we make, specifically in the gray area where the line of right and wrong is blurred? To remain as free of spoilers as possible I will simply say that the manhunt for Harrison offers the opportunity for some fun-filled action sequences that pit Kirk and Spock against Harrison, whose super-human strength and intellect prove to be more than a match for the duo.
The film rings true to J.J. Abrams fashion with its fair share of lens flares and twists that will have you guessing and second-guessing what will happen next. The members of the supporting cast aid Star Trek into Darkness with romance and comedic relief; Scotty’s quips and wit bring ease to the intense film, and Uhura, in the midst of a lover’s quarrel with Spock, provides a heartfelt edge to the blockbuster. Characters such as Chekov and Sulu, who saw major roles in the first film, take a back seat to the emergence of new characters and the heart-pounding performances of the Star Trek franchise’s main characters. Writing credits go to Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof who manage to deliver a fresh film that pays homage to the original series. Star Trek Into Darkness is a triumphant blockbuster that offers more than its predecessor more action, more laughs, and more heart.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9Jun 6, 2013There are many things that movies do well and a handful of things that translate poorly onto film. Stage magic falls into the latter category. The spectacle of movie magic delivered by skilled editors and visual effects artists overshadows a sleight-of-hand trick of pulling a rabbit out of a hat or sawing a lady in half. When movie magic can bring to life superheroes, distant planets, and creatures of the deep, the ability for an actor to guess a card out of a deck of 52 seems rather muted. The allure of stage magic is not in the act, but rather in the act occurring right under your very nose. Thus the task when creating a movie about magic is to make a movie that is about more than just magic. In this, Now You See Me is successful; creating a story that is entertaining enough to make you want to believe in the on-screen magic.
The thriller from Louis Leterrier Film Review Now You See Me delivers fast paced action sequences, clever dialogue, and its fair share of twists and gotchas. Now You See Me centers around four magicians: J. Daniel Atlas, a showman played by Jessie Eisenberg; Merritt McKinney, an aged mentalist played by Woody Harrelson; Jack Wilder, a pickpocket played by Dave Franco (yes James’ little brother), and Isla Fisher plays Henley Reeves, a former magician’s assistant turned daring escape artist. The four illusionists are joined through a mysterious figure in a gray hoodie and the financial backing of shady businessman, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) to form one of Las Vegas’ biggest acts, the Four Horsemen.
The Four Horsemen’s first act is the seemingly impossible act of robbing a bank in Paris while performing at the MGM Grand on the Vegas strip. Enter the authorities led by FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent), who are befuddled and hard-pressed to arrest the group for an act that couldn’t possibly have happened. The duo, out of their element, enlists the help of world-renowned magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to expose the Four Horsemen.
The film continues with the Four Horsemen performing even more elaborate heists in the same vein as the Ocean’s 11 franchise in a race to stay one step ahead of Agent Rhodes and the rest of the police force tasked to bring them to justice. Here Leterrier finds a way to mask the fact that none of the actors are trained magicians by filming the performances in a fun, whimsical manner. The heists are detailed and complex enough to keep the audience engaged while remaining just plausible enough to not overwhelm one’s ability to suspend disbelief.
Perhaps the most remarkable element of the heists is that the Four Horsemen keep none of the cash for themselves. This fact leads into an even more elaborate side plot involving secret societies, a mysterious murder, and possibly the existence of real magic. Now You See Me encourages the audience to “come in close, because the more you think you see the easier it will be to fool you.” Thaddeus Bradley’s words ring true. Despite my best efforts I was unable to predict the movie’s inevitable big reveal.… Expand