How do you know you've made it in Hollywood? You tell a major studio like Disney that you want a month off so you can make a movie you and your wife have dreamt of doing for over a decade. That's exactly what Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods) did when he filmed his adaptation of Williams Shakespeare's play at his house with his friends in only 12 days. Considering he's tackeled sci-fi, horror, superheros and now this (and done them ALL successfully), he has proven himself a true auteur.
Writing a review of a Shakespeare film feels like something that's above my pay grade but a job's a job. I enjoy Shakespeare but I would never consider myself an expert, which is why I brought my new friend Hank along who actually is. He schooled me on whether or not this really was a well done adaptation and according to him, it is. My knowledge of Shakespeare is moderate at best and stops at the big ones; such as Hamlet, MacBeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet and this. I've dabbled in ones like The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard III, but I stick to what I know for the most part. Regardless of your background or knowledge of Shakespeare, this version of Much Ado About Nothing is the most accessible and easy to enjoy by anyone with even an ounce-of-a-brain.
Compared to Shakespeare's comedies, I think this one is the funniest and Whedon doesn't miss a single beat allowing his impressive cast to shine and spread their comedic wings. No one steals the spotlight more than Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Super) who proves he should be in pretty much everything Hollywood puts out. Not only is he amazingly funny but he also performs the lines of Shakespeare like he's made a career on it. Another shock in the cast was Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods, Training Day) who has done great comedy in the past but really shows his range here. No one from the cast is dead weight which makes soggy performances like Clark Gregg (The Avengers, the Iron Man series) seem soggier than they actually are.
Be warned though that this is in the Shakespeare dialogue but Whedon has set it in modern times at a gorgeous mansion in the Hollywood Hills. What he does to set it current isn't overly creative since it's something we've now seem done time and time again but it's his direction and crafting of the performances that makes this so wonderful. He really captures all emotions that the play can offer, both in romance and comedy. It's probably the hardest you'll laugh at any Shakespeare film and one of the funniest movies of the year. His choice of shooting it in black and white seemed unneccessary and pretentious but that's the only misfire; and considering that aside from directing it, he also wrote, produced, editted it AND did all the music for it, it's a forgivable offense.
I remember the days when a teacher would offer you extra credit if you would go see something like this and bring in your ticket stub. Most of the class would do it but either hate every second of it, make out in the back row or leave and go see something playing in another theater. If you're patient and sit through the first 20 minutes, which are slow and a tad confusing, you'll be rewarded with a film you'd watch without the promise of extra credit and might even turn you on to explore other Shakespeare productions. Much Ado About Nothing (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A
Lots of people don't know, or probably more accurately care, that there are two major universes of comic book characters. Marvel is the company repsonsible for 90% of the ones in pop culture; your Avengers gang, X-Men crew and Spiderman. DC is the other and although they crafted some pretty dull and weird characters like Hawkman or Wonder Woman, they are the owners of two of the MOST famous of all time - Batman and Superman. Writer/Producer/Director Christopher Nolan (the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception) has picked his team and done wonders with Batman. He didn't select the back seat on Man of Steel but he's sitting shotgun and you can tell he's shouting directions the whole time.
I love more Marvel characters but I love Superman and Batman more. Does that make sense? I've always had a very soft spot in my heart for Superman because he appealed to my sensibility of doing right in the world as a young boy. I didn't have parents that pushed The Bible on me too much so my sense of a self sacrificing beacon of good came from Superman. The older I got the more the character symbolized more to me; it's no coincidence that his outfit is red, white and blue; he is American aspiration and the symbol of what we strive to be (unsuccessfully). All that being said, every time a Superman film comes out I want it to be amazing. Sadly, there hasn't been a good one since 1980 when Christopher Reeve took on General Zod in Superman II. I hung all my hopes on Man of Steel and that Nolan and Director Zach Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead) would alter that losing streak. I was let down.
The red cape is donned by Henry Cavill (Immortals, HBO's The Tudors) and I think he does a fantastic job with the chop shop-of-a-script he had to work with. He's joined by what appeared to be a very impressive cast that consisted of Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburn and Michael Shannon (Bug, Take Shelter) as General Zod. All have done movies that are excellent and most have won or been nominated for Oscars. With the exception of Shannon, who always gives 110% with every maniac performance he has, they all seem confused and lost in the movie.
Decisions were made for Man of Steel that I don't quite understand. We all know that UFO and sci-fi films don't typically do that well at the box office or with critics but for some reason that's the direction they took this. Massive amounts of focus are showcased on the fact that Superman is an alien and this is sci-fi as you can get. Perhaps that's the casulity of making General Zod the villain for the first relaunch of a series instead of the far more familiar and human character, Lex Luthor. This was a turn off to not only casual filmgoers but lovers of Superman like me who wanted to see the citizen of Earth fight to defend it instead of highlighting the fact that he's not really one of us.
It's also rather disjointed when it comes to the linear plot. Rather than showing it chronologically, Snyder tells much of Superman's terrestrial upbringing through flashbacks that would have been so much more effective if they were given more time. Also an excessive amount of time is dedicated to his origin on Krypton and its destruction. They also take liberties with the story that I didn't care for, as a fan.
I know this makes me sound like I hated it; I assure you that I didn't. Man of Steel is actually still entertaining. Actually, the last half is very entertaining and the first half is kind of slow and frustrating. It's a true rule in almost everything in life that it's not how you start but how you finish. Man of Steel is 143 minutes and the final hour is non-stop action that is so big and epic it verges on parody at points. Some will say that the climax between Zob and Supes is ridiculous but it played out as largely as it did in my boyhood imagination. Is it perfect? No, but it's good enough that I'll anxiously await the next installment and keep hoping it's a Superman film as inspired as the character who stands for truth, justice and the American way deserves. Man of Steel (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B
A lot of things have been said about this movie. From the very first unrated red band trailer that came out for it on YouTube, it's been a buzzworthy comedy that had the curiousity of everyone who saw it. James Franco, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Land of the Lost), Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson (NBC's The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine) and Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby, Tropic Thunder) play themselves and try to survive The Apocalypse. That seems like an amazing concept and huge risk that I predicted would be the funniest movie of the summer. Let's just say that in order for me to be right, there better not be many comedies this season.
I enjoy self aware entertainment where actors play themselves and often make themselves look bad for the sake of comedy. I don't think anyone does it better than Ricky Gervais and how he gets the most out of other actors he's convinced to play along with him. It's refreshing to see our nation's royalty mock themselves and make us think we're getting a peak behind the curtain. For the most part it's very effective in This Is The End but the problem is that these guys quickly annoy the crap out you and confirm that this gang appears to be really fun to hang out with but, if this is accurate at all, would wear on your last nerves very quickly.
The most enjoyable part of the film is what they did with the plot. It's based on a short film that Baruchel and Rogen (best friends in real life) made with writers Evan Goldberg (Superbad, The Watch) and Jason Stone, who only directed this 2007 short and did nothing else. The feature version had to be much longer, have a better story and was directed by Goldberg and Rogen. That might have been a mistake becaues the tone of the film is a mess. It aims to be a comedy the whole time but drifts in-and-out of being theological dribble, a weak horror, and a Tarantino-esque ripoff. None of that is consistent and feels very amateur while watching.
Don't get me wrong, this is a funny movie. It's not for everyone and some of the more graphic parts make scenes in Superbad seem like harmless PG-13, but the comedy is very bipolar. See, the problem when you swing to hit a home run with every joke means that when you strike out, you strike out hard. For every streak of hilarious ten minutes, there's another ten minutes of groan-enducing comedic misses. Some of that might be because they weren't making a movie for us; they were making a movie for them.
At no point during the film does it not feel like an inside joke. That's not a bad thing when it's done correctly and This Is The End has huge parts where it is. But the remaining places you firmly outside the inside joke and that is not a comfortable or entertaining place to be. It's almost as if you were invited to this epic party at Franco's house but you're not one of his good friends; you're a nameless extra that they wish died with the rest of them when the End of Days hits. Normally, I would respect these guys sticking it to Hollywood by making a big budget middle finger to the industry and status quo, but for some reason it comes across as extremely self indulgent and insulting by the end of the film.
Listen, I'm no dummy nor am I a snob. This is a funny movie and it will have its ardent fans. I'm simply not one of them. This Is The End will stand as a cult classic that will be fun to watch when you're drunk or stoned with friends. Maybe that was the way it was always meant to be enjoyed and I'm too lame and responsible to watch movies like that anymore. Perhaps I was right though and this concept should have remained as the hilarious 90 second short film before it turned into a 100-minute-long punchline where these guys can't believe Hollywood let them make it...and that you paid to see it. This Is The End (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C+
Ethan Hawke is someone that I trust in Hollywood. Even if you trace his career back to movies like The Explorers and Dead Poets Society, back when he was just a kid, he always was a good actor and made wise choices with films. Even when he selects bad films to do like Sinister or Assault on Precinct 13 or Daybreakers, I still don't regard him as someone who would make a movie that sucks. Aside from his Oscar-nominated performance in Training Day, he's the King of the '90s with monument films like Reality Bites and Before Sunrise; not to mention his tragically underrated version of Hamlet. However, The Purge is such a bad film that I may need to reconsider that trust.
The Purge is a film premise with so much epic promise! In the not-too-distant future we discover that Americans are an inheriently evil species with savage impulses, so in a rebirth of the country, we allow citizens to commit whatever crime they want in a 12-hour period without any consequences called The Purge. This cleanse frees us up the rest of the year to live completely crime free. The film shows how one family survives the night after their home security system is compromised due to the compassion for a homeless person from their son. This awesome premise for a film feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone or a Ray Bradbury novel but it turns into nothing more than Hollywood slop that never gets into a full boil.
Veteran screenwriter James DeMonaco not only wrote this but took a crack at directing it too. That might have been the mistake since he's only directed one other film before this and it went straight-to-DVD. Perhaps this would've been far better executed in the hands of a seasoned director that would have allowed it to stay as a social statement. It's really too bad that that got lost because it tries to make one. The premises of class warfare, American morality and human jealousy are all attempted to be explored but are quickly dismissed to make way for a boring horror thriller.
The first act of the movie is excellent. It shows the history of The Purge and how wealthy Americans prepare for it; it's celebrated as a holiday. The claustraphobic tension builds as the family enjoys their dinner casually and buckles down for a night where murders are expected all around them, but they're safe because they can afford the best security system and live in a rich part of town. As soon as the first half hour comes to an end, the movie spirals out of control and never recovers. Loose ends are allowed to exist. Unrealistic decisions are made. Audience frustrations run high. Nothing is scary nor shocking and in a movie where the remaining 50 minutes depends on that, you're left with a rather boring film.
The Purge feels like a fantastic short story or episode of a horror showcase television show that Hollywood producers consumed and vomitted it back up as this final product. I want to believe that that's what happened but when it's only one person who wrote the script and was then allowed to direct it too, I simply can't. It's too bad this movie will drift into the sea of forgetability because some fan fiction based on its premise would be really interesting to read and way more entertaining. The Purge (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: D+
Now You See Me is an original movie. It's original because, to my recollection, the Ocean's 11/12/13 formula has not been applied to a magic themed movie. The formula I speak of works like this, cast a star-studded ensemble: Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right, Iron Man 3), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Hunger Games), Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight, Oblivion), Michael Caine (The Dark Knight, Inception), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, The Great Gatsby), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies), and Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, Beginners). Take that star-studded cast and bring them together for an elaborate bank heist that defies logic and reason. Challenge the audience to try to figure out what is happening throughout the movie. Explain it all in the end. I haven't given any spoilers, because you've seen this movie before. All that said, Now You See Me was entertaining.
What made this magic movie entertaining is a little difficult to explain. Was it a funny magic movie like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone? No, although Woody Harrelson's Mentalist character did have a playfully amusing air to him that made his scenes fun. Did Now You See Me have the mystery and suspense of critically acclaimed magic movies like The Prestige or The Illusionist? No, but this magic movie definitely falls in the category of mystery and suspense. Did it have the sex appeal of Magic Mike? Of course not, but what movie does, am I right ladies? What made Now You See Me entertaining is that it's a magic movie! Hollywood doesn't make a lot of movies about magic; it's a relatively untapped genre, so that novelty alone makes Now You See Me an original and entertaining movie.
If you enjoy the works of French Director Louis Leterrier: The Transporter, Unleashed, The Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton Hulk), Clash of the Titans, this movie will not disappoint. Now You See Me has the same style special effects and action sequences that are typical of his movies. Some Director's tend to gravitate towards the same actors/actresses that make their films successful; this doesn't appear to be the case with Louis, as it's his first time working with all of these stars. Maybe this lack of familiarity with the Director is the reason some of the actors performances felt flat. Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine were all solid as you might expect from the likes of them, but the rest of the cast weren't particularly noteworthy.
The PG-13 rating for this movie is apt. It's fun for all ages 13 and up. All in all, Now You See Me is worth the time and the price of admission, which is cheaper than a Las Vegas magic show. A Las Vegas magic show is much more spectacular though, so you get what you pay for!
Full disclosure, I'm not a disciple of The Hangover. Seems like that has become the standard for the modern comedy. I understand it's one of the highest grossing comedies of all time, a massive cult hit and regarded as one of the greatest comedies of the last decade. For my money, it's not and I never loved it to that extent. I did enjoy it but then it quickly became a victim of its own success and the tower built on its foundation became too heavy to withstand the weight and it all came crashing down with the release of the second one. It was one of the worst films of that year and defines what mistakes a sequel can make. But it made gobs of money again so what does that mean...we get another. Luckily, thankfully and mercifully though...this is the last one.
The 2009 original was a semi-relatable story about friends having a crazy night in Vegas and picking up the pieces the next day, which included finding their friend Doug. The 2011 sequel had the EXACT SAME story but set in another country. For this one, writer/director Todd Phillips (all the Hangover films, Due Date) realized he couldn't shovel the same crap down our throats yet again, so, to is credit, he created a new story. I won't praise him too much for that since that's what you're suppose to do with a sequel. This time it's more of a crime heist and can't even be considered a comedy since there are almost no laughs to be found.
Aside from a humorless story, he dramatically underuses two of the stars of the franchise; Ed Helms (NBC's The Office, Jeff, Who Lives at Home) and Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, The A-Team), who's even fresh off an Oscar nomination! These two do NOTHING in the film and are nothing more than walking, talking set pieces that are there purely out of obligation. The Hangover 3 is a film starring the third member of the Wolf Pack, Zack Galifianakis (The Campaign, Due Date). Of course he's the funniest thing about all the films but making him the star is not where he belongs. That would be the biggest mistake Phillips made had it not been for Ken Jeong (Role Models, Pain and Gain) making an unfortunate return.
Jeong is someone that I have never enjoyed in almost everything he's done. The man is like a gnat in that he's everywhere and always annoying me. His character in the Hangover series is Chow, a flamboyant gangster that over stayed his welcome after ten minutes of screen time in the first one. When I saw that they included him yet again for the third I was turned off but when I discovered that he's basically the star of the film, I wanted to puke in my soup. Yes, you heard me right...he's the STAR! He shares just as much screen time as the Wolf Pack but has more lines than Helms and Cooper do combined. This was the icing on the crap cake that was The Hangover 3.
It's not to say there aren't a few good moments in the film. John Goodman appears as the villain and he's always entertaining to watch but not giving him anything funny to say or do was another mistake on the ever-growing list. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Identity Thief) appears in a sweet cameo as she does now in all comedies that are released not learning that saturating the market is not ever a good thing. But probably one of the best moments is a reunion with Carlos, the baby from the first one, who is played by the same kid. It's a really sweet scene with Galifianakis until it just gets weird and unfunny.
I think the track record of this trilogy and Todd Phillips' other attempts at writing/directing are starting to prove that the success of the first Hangover was a fluke. What has revealed to be true is that Phillips is a guy who thinks he knows how to make a great comedy but actually doesn't. His films stink of his ego and swagger which is even more off-putting than someone who crafts a film with a lack of confidence. The only reason why The Hangover 3 should be celebrated is that it finally puts an end to our misery. The Hangover 3 (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: D
In life, you're one of two people; a Star Trek or Star Wars person. I fall firmly into the Star Wars category since it just appleaed to my child mind more growing up. To date, I have only seen two Star Trek films and zero episodes of any of the show's variations. However, director JJ Abrams (Super 8, ABC's Lost) has done something that I never thought anyone could do; he's made Star Trek movies that appeal to both Trekkies and those of us who've had sex. What raises the stakes this second time around with him in the captain's chair is the news that he will also be taking over the Star Wars series for Disney in two years. So this was like a small audition for what he'll do with a franchise I hold dear.
The Abrams Star Trek films are prequels and show what happened prior to the series starting. According to my friend Dave, who is such a Trekkie he showed up in uniform to the screening, Into Darkness brings us up to the point where the TV show starts. The story follows the crew of the USS Enterprise hunting a terrorist and avenging the death of a friend. The thickness of the plot comes from who the mysterious terrorist is and what his motives are. He's played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse), who has a name that already makes him sound like a Bond villain. Make no mistake, he is at the top of a very long list of reasons to see this movies. His performance is menacing, sympathetic and exciting. Learn that name because you're gonna be hearing it a helluva lot after this.
The rest of those reasons on the list are also stellar. The cast is all the same as the first one and features Chris Pine (This Means War, Bottleshock), Zachary Quinto (NBC's Heroes, FX's American Horror Story), and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) just to name a few. Everyone in the film carries their weight but the relationship between Kirk and Spock is explored deeply and even moves the least of the Trekkies among us. That could only have been achieved with a script that fires on all cylinders. Not for a second does the tone stay long enough to over stay its welcome.
Into Darkness is almost two-and-a-half hours long and feels as long as an episode of the TV show. The action begins from the opening scene and is simply relentless after that. Now, some movies that jam that much action into a film usually do it as a crutch to make up for a weak script and shallow characters. That is not the case with Into Darkness. This is a rich story that's less complicated than the first Abram's Star Trek and twice as enjoyable. Everything about it equals entertainment and none of it lags at all.
Of course there is the JJ Abram's trademark lens flares that fly across the screen with dazziling color and distract every single time. There's also brief moments of eye rolling with blatant pandering to Trekkie fans. There's also moments of melodrama that I can't get into without major spoilers that feel slightly tired and on-the-nose. But all these hiccups are minor at best and never once distract or derail from the awesomeness that is Into Darkness. I recommend seeing it on an IMAX screen like the Esquire downtown since it's a movie-going expiereince that a home theater will never reproduce. More refreshing than seeing a great film like this though is the knowledge that it's obvious that the Star Wars franchise is in good hands. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A+
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitsgerald is a book that I didn't appreciate when I had to read it in high school. I didn't read it again in college when I had it assigned and still got a respectable "B" on the paper. I didn't really appreciate how amazing it is until I met my wife. She's a high school English teacher with a degree in English. She's reads hundreds of books and The Great Gatsby is her favorite of them all; her passion through conversations we've had about it has infected me and made the book one of my favorites as well. Excitement was high for seeing the latest attempt to make this into a feature film and after it was over our emotions were unexpected but disapointed wasn't one of them.
Director Baz Luhrmann kicked his career off with a bang with 1992's Strictly Ballroom. No one saw it back then but when he made Romeo + Juliet in '96, everyone was so impressed with his aggressive, modern take on the classic by Shakespeare, that they went back to see Ballroom and were equally as blown away. Then he made Moulin Rogue which was a combination of the two previous films and it instantly became a cult classic and a commanding film. But the elusive Luhrmann must be sensitive to criticism since his next film, Australia, was a box office and critical failure in every way. That was five years ago and since then he's done nothing but short art films that no one sees. The Great Gatsby is his hopeful big comeback but you can tell while watching it that he's gun shy.
If there's one thing that can be said about the film it's that it has a flawless cast. Leonardo DiCaprio is Gatsby, Tobey Maguire is Nick, Carey Mulligan (Drive, An Education) is looking as gorgeous as ever as Daisy and Joel Egerton (Warrior, The Thing) is totally hatable as Tom. Everyone showed up to the set to play ball and they all do. It's also not the subject material that the script is based on that holds the film back either. One of the most enjoyable things about it is that the narration is taken right from the pages of the book and Fitzgerald's poetry is read very well by Maguire. It's Luhrmann who holds this film back.
When Luhrmann creates a scene that is beautiful chaos and a party that visually can cause seizures, he's at his best. When there are scenes where simply dialogue must be given without all the frenzy to distract, he really seems to suffer in Gatsby. The film is 143 minutes long and it feels every second of it, which surprised me. It's not like The Great Gatsby is full of action but it's also not a slow book either. Luhrmann's pacing once the exaggerated celebrations are over slows down to a sluggish crawl. Hopefully you're into the story and characters enough by then that you stay with it.
Another choice that Luhrmann made that seems to be what everyone is talking about is Hip Hop being used in the soundtrack. I can assure you that it's not gratuitous and I think it suits the film perfectly. These characters were filthy rich, some of them criminal, people that threw extravagant parties attended by thousands of people at indescribally giant mansions in the 1920s. If that's not a perfect parable for the Hip Hop culture, I don't know what is. It feels completely rational to use that music and sparingly is exactly how it's used.
The Great Gatsby is a film about the heart of the American Dream; how it's corrupt and a lie and appreciating the beauty in that. There have been many attempts to make it into a movie but I think this is the only one that captures the true feelings of living that culture at that time as well as the core emotions you feel when reading the book. It's not perfect but I think that's understandable since making it flawless would be impossible. Fans of the book will notice some of their favorite parts missing but that's to be expected for any book-to-film translation. It's a project that was handled with passion and precision by a director who may not have been ready to get back behind the wheel of that by yellow car just yet. The Great Gatsby (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B+
It's perfect that the man who is Iron Man in the Iron Man movies is Robert Downey Jr. I can't think of anyone more symbolic to play a playboy who's the son of someone famous who's ego and arrogance get dimished after an incident that makes him humbled and realizing he's capable of doing more. It's like he was destined to play the role considering that's the exact the same story of Downey's life. And now, if rumors are true that we're faced with the final Iron Man film, it's suiting that it goes out with the best of the series.
When I heard that John Favreau (Swingers, Rudy) was stepping down as Director, I was pretty concerned. I was even more so when I found out he was replaced by Shane Black. He's a guy who's been a fixture in Hollywood for a while but as a screenwriter, most notably as the guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies. But aside from Iron Man 3, he only directed one other film and that was the 2005 movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also starring Robert Downey Jr.). It's a really underated and awesome film but it was stripped down, low budget and mostly a character piece masked as an action. Would Black be able to translate his inexpierence and character driven style to a major Summer blockbuster like this? Boy, did he ever!
Some people who go see Iron Man 3 will be disapointed in the lack of action. There are really only two scenes and one barely features Tony Stark in the Iron Man suit; in fact most of the film lacks him in the suit. But what's excellent about the film is that it is very much a character-driven story. Lots of time is spent developing the relationship between Stark and his wife, Pepper Potts, played by the always irritating Gwyneth Paltrow. He also allows the film to get fairly dark, exploring how what happened in last summer's The Avengers, has caused Stark to dwell in anxiety, panic attacks and depression. But just as soon as the film feels it's a little too dark, Black gets us right back out of it with some of the trademark Downey Jr. wit that rattles off the screen like a machine gun.
But my favorite part of the film is what they decided to do with the villain known as The Mandarin. Now anyone who even vaguely knows the Iron Man comics knows that this is THE bad guy for him. He's essentially The Joker to Batman. He has a rich mythology attached to him and a specific biography. He's played chillingly by Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi, Sexy Beast) in one of the best performances of his career. I can't say too much about this without ruining a major plot point but let's just say they take the character of The Mandarin in a dramatic new direction that is absolutely brilliant. It was bold and ballsy to do that considering how hard fanboys can be on accuracy and I can say that it's one of the reasons why this is the best in the series.
All this praise isn't to say the movie isn't without flaws. There's a sequence involving a little boy that feels incredibly out of place and pointless. It seems as if some Hollywood Producer got his meddling mits on the film and said, "it's good but it either needs a cute kid or a dog or both." Not that the scenes aren't entertaining and funny but it drags on too long and starts to make the 130 minutes feel a lot longer. The lack of action and seeing Tony in the Iron Man suit is also a slight sticking point. I appreciate what they did but that doesn't excuse the fact that when people show up for Iron Man 3 it's not unresonable to expect that they see a lot of Iron Man in it!
The film is everywhere including the Esquire IMAX Theater downtown and, despite the absence of lots of action, the climax is as epic as anything you've seen in the series and the 3D makes it even better. It's also the funniest of the three movies, which is no easy feat to hang your helmet on. I hope to see what Black could do with another Iron Man film but to be perfectly honest, if the rumors are true, this is a perfect way to end the franchise. Iron Man 3 (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A
Listen to Gavin's interview with actor William Sadler (Shawshank Redemption, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) who plays the President in Iron Man 3: