Iron Man 3 (2013)

ironman3_3Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, Dale Dickey, Ty Simpkins, Miguel Ferrer

Directed by Shane Black

Expectations: Moderate. I do like these Marvel movies, but I’ve heard mixed things.

threehalfstar


It’s always good to see a movie for yourself to form your own opinion. If I had believed the majority of what I’d heard about Iron Man 3, I might have passed on it. Of course, I’m much too invested in Marvel’s cinematic universe experiment to quit now, but to illustrate a point let’s just say that I might have skipped it. In doing so, I would’ve skipped my favorite of the Iron Man films. Iron Man 3 is entertaining from start to finish, filled with humor and excitement and growth for the on-screen Tony Stark character that excites and satisfies completely. This is exactly what the Iron Man films needed after the fun, but ultimately forgettable Iron Man 2.

In the aftermath of the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark is shaken and unable to focus on anything but his work. He’s dealing with anxiety issues that he’s never had to contend with before and it frightens him. Meanwhile, a mysterious terrorist calling himself The Mandarin has arisen, giving Tony Stark a threat unlike anything he’s yet faced. For a summer blockbuster, it’s also strangely set at Christmas, but it isn’t just “colored lights in the window,” as this backdrop provides a depth that enhances the story’s resonance.

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Mini-Review: Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser, Garret Dillahunt, Dale Dickey, Shelley Waggener, Kevin Breznahan, Ashlee Thompson, Tate Taylor, Sheryl Lee, Cody Shiloh Brown, Isaiah Stone, Ronnie Hall

Directed by Debra Granik

Expectations: High. I’ve heard nothing but good things.


It has been a long time since I’ve felt this conflicted about my feelings for a movie. The film ended and I was at a loss for words. I had to recount the entire narrative in my head to see if I had missed anything, if there was some missing link hidden in the frost for me to uncover. I pondered the film for a while after viewing, trying to wrap my head around why things were the way they were. Once I came to terms with these facts, I respected the film more for what it was, but I can’t say that watching Winter’s Bone was a pleasant experience.

Plainly put, it’s boring. The pace is very slow, which fits the location and the characters perfectly, but everything is so muted and calm that it becomes easy to miss key information and lose track of the plot line. This is definitely a movie in the camp of films that expect the viewer to meet it halfway. That all being said, Winter’s Bone is a very well-made film technically. The color scheme never strays too far from the cold gray and blue world of a snowy winter, but somehow director Debra Granik is able to make every shot interesting and emotive of the situation. The acting from the entire cast is excellent as well, with John Hawkes standing out as the best of the bunch. The characters are an interesting bunch for sure, skillfully blending intelligence with a backwoods mafia vibe. They never seem like the stupid hillbillies that usually inhabit these types of movies, instead echoing real people with real lives. While I think the script has a few logic jumps that don’t make sense (could just be my boredom), overall it must be commended for its realistic characters. I do wonder how much of this comes from the novel it is based on.

At the end of the day though, Winter’s Bone remains a boring movie that I can’t really recommend, but it’s not a bad movie either.

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