Iron Man 3 Movie Review — “It Kinda Sucked”

When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.
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I may get a lot of flack for this review but it has to be said: Iron Man 3 kinda sucked.

Before everyone freaks out, the keyword is “kinda”. The movie was very entertaining and had elements of what has made the Iron Man series so great but also included a lot of cheesy moments and ludicrous scenes.

I have not read the Iron Man comics, so I do not know if the movie has stayed true to the originals, however, my main complaint with Iron Man 3 is that it throws whatever semblance of realism existed in the series. One of the things that puts Iron Man and Batman at the top of the super heroes list is the fact that they are at least somewhat realistic. In a previous review of The Dark Knight Rises, I wrote about how refreshing a semi-believable hero is. Batman and Iron Man are great examples of extraordinary people that use technology to accomplish even more extraordinary feats. Unlike Superman, a powerful alien with outright superpowers . . .

See spoiler section for more on the movie’s unbelievability.

Luckily, most of the other great elements of the Iron Man series remained intact. Robert Downey Jr.‘s dialogue was not as sharp as usual but still great and the movie had plenty of funny scenes and didn’t take itself too seriously. Several action scenes were also unrealistic but overall, Iron Man 3 was an action-packed adventure. The visual effects were fantastic as usual and seemed to be very present in every single scene of the movie. If you watch the credits, pay attention towards the end for the EPIC chunk of names attributed to the movie’s visual effects. It’s quite impressive.

Overall, Iron Man will entertain (as it is doing for the masses) but it is a farcry from the quality of the first two movies in the trilogy. It’s worth a watch in the theatres because of its visual effects but don’t fret too much if you can’t make it out for a couple weeks.

P.s. There is a scene after the (particularly long) credits but is highly unnecessary so feel free to head home and not wait for it.

Scroll for spoiler section

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Unlike previous enemies of Iron Man, the enemies in Iron Man 3 are particularly unbelievable. I mean, c’mon, fire people? The regenerative biological process was interesting, but the fact that it turned people into fire demons was excessively stupid. The most hilariously bad scene in the movie was when Aldrich Killian breathed fire. It was included as a bit of comedy but was just plain ridiculous. Dragon people? I expect so much more of Iron Man.

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Spring Breakers Movie Review

Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work.
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The super short review: Spring Breakers was bizarre, sexy, funny and unique. If you are not a fan of the naked female form, perhaps you should opt to watch Safe Haven instead.

Spring Breakers is not the movie you think it is. It is far more “artsy” and “deep” than you could possibly expect from its title and premise. In this case, it was mostly a good thing.

It helps to know what to expect going in to the movie, so pay attention. If you are looking for a lighthearted comedy or mainstream flick, look elsewhere. Spring Breakers has its funny parts and some mainstream good times, but it is far more than that. You will frequently find your brain melting, for example. Not from stupidity but rather from trying to comprehend the insanity you are watching.

Overall though, the movie works. It depicts a life that few of us ever live — the true “wild side” of life — so it is impossible to watch expecting the plot points to be normal. The direction helped add to the bizarre feel of the movie which seems to cause eye-glazing among the general public. A hit with the critics; less so with the general public. If nothing else, Spring Breakers is a very unique movie and should be appreciated for that.

Prudes beware: nudity abounds. Spring Breakers earns its 18A rating within the first 2 minutes with more breasts in the movie than there are aliens in Alien. Although there is no doubt that the nudity helps appease the male audience, it is used in such a way that it actually adds to the validity of the setting. Some nudity, of course, has been thrown in to increase word of mouth.

James Franco does a surprisingly good job playing a drug dealer/rapper/straight-up gansta. His performance was very refreshing after The Great and Miserable Oz. The ladies (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) were great performance-wise as well, though they were largely eye-candy.

In summary: if you go in expecting a weird but unique movie with a lot of boobs, you will not be disappointed.

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Cirque du Soleil: World’s Away Movie Review

A young woman is entranced by an Aerialist. When they fall into the dreamlike world of Cirque du Soleil and are separated, they travel through the different tent worlds trying to find each other.
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Quidam - Cirque du SoleilCirque du Soleil: World’s Away is a movie that combines segments of Cirque du Soleil’s various franchises. The movie has an extremely simplistic plot used to interweave these segments, but for the most part the movie can be considered a “best of” collection of shows.

My favourite part of Cirque is the music — particularly that of Quidam. The musical highlights of Quidam were incredible vocalizations mixed with intricate guitaring (see the video below). Since World’s Away is a compilation, it features Cirque’s varied musical styling including a number of Beatles songs from the LOVE franchise. I still believe Quidam’s music trumps World’s Away overall, but Beatles fans might disagree given the Beatles segments.

Half way through this short review and I have not yet spoken about the acrobatics. Why? They speak for themselves. There is nothing like Cirque du Soleil these days as far as human feats of acrobatics, balance, strength and flexibility. Each act showcases a different feat that will blow your mind.

World’s Away contains its share of these “ooo ahh” moments, however the movie focuses primarily on the more elaborate sets designed for some of the bigger franchises. So while you will see some incredible acrobatics and feats of strength, you will most likely take notice of the ingenious stage designs. In one scene, for example, the entire stage shifts vertically forcing the performers to seemingly defy gravity as the scene plays out.

Despite being quite impressed by World’s Away overall, I am forced to give the movie 3 stars simply because Cirque’s essence cannot be captured in a movie. I have seen Quidam live, so the World’s Away paled in comparison to the live show. Safety Wire’s attached to the performers are more obvious in the movie because of the close-ups which takes away from the fantasy world. During the live shows the wires are virtually invisible.

For those wanting to get a glimpse into the world of Cirque, I recommend spending the hour and a half to check it out. For the real thing, find a local show and see what the fuss is all about!

Django Unchained Movie Review

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
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Movie Poster - Django Unchained CastDjango Unchained is both very intense and very good. Be warned, however, that the movie has many uncomfortable scenes, even by my standards. Racism runs throughout the entire movie and, although uncomfortable, appears to be an accurate depiction of the monstrosities of the past.

Django Unchained is a movie that does not hold back in any way. Quentin Tarantino seems to fear no one, not even mixed reactions from the audiences, so he does not hold back. This is what separates Quentin Tarantino from other directors — the fact that he has a back bone.

What has always stood out to me about Tarantino movies is the amazing balance he is able to find between dead-seriousness, ridiculous over-the-top violence and pure comedy. As dark as some scenes in Django Unchained were, many were hilarious. And do not get me started on the witty dialogue!

Christoph Waltz is without question, one of my favourite actors and the way he delivers his witty lines is nothing short of amazing. Those that believe they are not familiar with Christoph Walz, may remember his spectacular performance in Inglorious Basterds as part of a hilariously bizarre opening scene (see video below). Needless to say, Waltz is an incredible actor that I hope to see take on many more roles — currently he is primarily a favourite of Tarantino’s.

Django’s character, played by Jamie Foxx, was more simplistic than Waltz’s, however Foxx still crushed the performance. It certainly seemed like the entire purpose of the movie was to first build-up how atrocious slavery was and then have Foxx come in an make up for the harm that was done in glorious fashion. This, he most certainly accomplished.

The plot was simplistic but did not hinder the movie in any way. In fact, I tend to think it a characteristic of some of the best movies – following the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid principle. Instead of a convoluted plot, Django Unchained focused all of it’s attention on Tarantino’s signature blend of action and dialogue and the outcome was very satisfying.

To finish up this post, I figured I would leave you with a checklist that can help you decide whether or not you should see this movie. You should definitely watch Django Unchained if any of the following are true:

  • You are a Tarantino or Christoph Waltz fan
  • You enjoy a movie with a blend of action, comedy and dialogue
  • When you see gore you do not hide in a corner and cry

The Hunger Games Movie Review

the-hunger-games-movie-review Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.star-whitestar-whitestar-whitestar-white

The Hunger Games wins on so many levels that it will be hard to touch on everything in this movie review.

The Hunger Games is based on the super-popular book series of the same name written by Suzanne Collins and both the movie and books bring something to the table for a variety of audiences. Although the primary target appears to be teens, the movie has universal appeal – for both young and old as well as male and female (unlike some movies *cough* Twilight *cough*). The movies has a good balance of both male and female roles as well as a balance of character types, including a  race-balance (some racists disagree about the casting of some characters). To reiterate, this creates a diverse experience that will be enjoyed by many.

The movie is based in a society in which the government fully oppresses the lower classes and forces impoverished citizens to engage in vicious fights to the death in order to maintain peace. The theme of the movie is extremely relevant given today’s current power struggles (the 99% vs. 1% and the 99% vs. the government) much like In Time. The movie even goes as far as to depict protests as a result of the hunger games that can be mistaken for having turned on CNN.

The Hunger Games was clearly written to illustrate the many problems plaguing modern-day society. Apart from the most obvious message –“watch out for an increasingly powerful government” –the story also spends considerable time illustrating the struggles of the lower class for the audience. It becomes apparent that the upper class is unaware of, or wilfully blind to, the struggles of the oppressed. All they care about is the “reality show”. The reality show idea was taken to the max as the producers of the show were willing to do anything for the ratings – not at all different than in real life (although with less extreme consequences, hopefully). The number of truly relevant modern-day themes written into The Hunger Games is truly incredible.

The movie itself was well-filmed with some interesting camera shots. The editing kept the movie alive even during some of the slower parts (of which there were not many). The music was well-suited throughout and the theme song during the credits was particularly great. Most surprising of all were some of the actors cast. It was a pleasant surprise to see Woody Harrelson; always a welcome addition. There were other surprises that I will leave out in order to avoid spoiling the movie.

Overall, the movie was highly engaging, very timely, well put-together and appealing for a variety of audiences. I cannot wait for the follow-ups.

What did you think?

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The Grey Movie Review

the-gray-movie-review-liam-neeson In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.
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The Grey is not “artsy” enough to be nominated for an Academy Award, but it was most likely the best movie I have seen all year. What makes the movie stand out is its balance. The movie manages to be a thriller, drama, action flick, and dialogue-driven all-in-one. An impressive feat considering most movies that try to incorporate multiple elements end up falling flat.

Like many critics, I was very surprised by the movie. The Grey was marketed as a pure action movie – Man vs. Wolf. It was refreshing to see that there was much more to it. The movie explores various aspects of life and death, fear and survival. No movie, to this point, has made me think of death in the way that The Grey did. There are scenes that are so raw that you can’t help but feel really uncomfortable. The movie is also punctuated with action sequences and gore, but it is used somewhat sparingly – adding to the intensity of the scenes when they occur.

Liam Neeson always demands attention on-screen, and The Grey is no exception. He excels at playing intense characters and can usually be found in intense action movies kicking some serious ass. In The Grey, however, he shows off more of his acting skills and has much more depth to his character. Although he plays an intense character, he also engages in a lot of deep dialogue relating to life and death. His character is also highly believable in the sense that, although his character was a badass, he also showed signs of weakness and openly admitted his fear in their desperate situation.

The movie takes place in the Alaskan wilderness, adding to the movie’s intensity. One thing this movie will do is destroy any desire you have to visit Alaska – if you had any to begin with. The premise of the movie (I know, I’m describing it really late in this review) is a number of oil drillers get stranded in Alaska after their plane crashes. They must then survive the elements as well as a number of angry wolves that are hunting them down one by one.

Overall the movie is well balanced, highly intriguing as well as intense and exciting. Add it to your list of must-sees. You won’t regret it.

Man on a Ledge Movie Review

man-on-a-ledge-movie-review As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion…star-whitestar-whitestar-white

Man On A Ledge, starring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks, follows a familiar Hollywood plotline. For a movie that is of a very familiar format, it needs to be innovative and truly great to make up for its lack of uniqueness. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite come through.

Man On A Ledge is a dialogue-driven movie (my favourite) and is relatable to movies like Phone Booth or The Negotiator. Unfortunately, unlike some of my favourite dialogue driven movies (The Taking of Pelham 123, Assault on Precinct 13) Man On A Ledge fails to deliver in a number of ways. The acting is appalling (more on that later), the plot is unoriginal and predictable, and the characters had no draw whatsoever.

As I just mentioned, the acting is pretty brutal. Elizabeth Banks falls flat throughout most of the movie. She never seems to nail down her character – I blame it on poor casting and her lack of depth as an actress. Sam Worthington’s performance is not overly impressive either. I spent the entire movie wishing an actor better suited for this type of movie would show up (cough, Denzel Washington, cough).

The plot borrowed elements from a number of great heist movies and tried to meld them all together. Despite being a fan of heist movies and dialogue-driven movies in general, I was not impressed with the execution of Man On A Ledge. Some of the twists and reveals were well thought-out while the rest of the movie was predictable and unoriginal. The movie does pick up quickly though, and maintains a steady pace throughout. genesis-rodriquez-man-on-a-ledge

The characters were one of the worst parts of the movie. Elizabeth Banks character was intended to generate sympathy but I couldn’t help but hate her character for the longest time (although, it could just be the acting that I hated). Her altruistic ways did eventually have me come around to like her character. All of the other characters are forgettable except for a very attractive actress, Genesis Rodriguez, who was clearly there just to keep the audiences from wanting to leave the theatre (photo to the right from the movie). I would not be upset to see her in a number of movies going forward as “the hot girl” – she was the only one who was cast properly.

All-in-all, the movie was not as terrible as I may have made it seem. It is merely a rental. Definitely skippable while in theatre.