Tag Archives: movie

Geek Movie Review: Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 was an impressive movie, in my opinion possibly the best of the Iron Man franchise – and that’s high praise, because Iron Man is the best of Marvel superhero franchise films going. This picture sums up the movie.iron-man-3-tony-stark-robert-downey-jrAs we begin, Tony Stark is suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder stemming from the events of the Avengers movie.  Aliens, gods, destruction of Manhattan – he has retreated to his home and holed up, neurotically building Iron Man suit after Iron Man suit and having panic attacks. It’s a good riff off the Tony Stark of the comics, who would have drunk himself into a coma – I guess they decided that wasn’t good for the kids or something but this works.

A terrorist called The Mandarin, who looks all bristly and ringed and scary, not green and quite so Yellow Peril-y as in the comics but threatening as he releases his oddly paternal press releases upon commission of various bombings and other acts of terror.

As you already know from the trailers, Stark tries to stay out of that for a while, then gives the Mandarin some stick, and gets his house blown up good with him and Pepper in it.  And thus it begins!

The movie is a lot more about Stark’s journey than about Iron Man, so it gets to leverage Robert Downy Jr’s acting skills heavily – one of its key advantages over the otherwise puddin’-faced  Marvel lead actors (Captain America and Thor, I’m looking at you). There’s a great set of scenes where Stark is interacting with a precocious 10 year old kid, and it’s hilarious because he doesn’t know how to talk to a kid so he just treats him like Tony treats an adult. Like after he shares his little moppet story about his dad leaving, Stark replies, “Dads leave. No need to be such a pussy about it.”

I was wondering how they were going to avoid “jumping the shark” with the introduction of the Mandarin. Sure, the overall Marvel universe has every kind of weirdness in it, but they rightly try to usually keep it down to 1 or 2 even in a given comic, and Joe Sixpack is going to bail out if the Marvel movies ladle it on too thick.  I’m not going to spoil the big plot twist here, but I absolutely love and approve of what they did with the Mandarin in this movie. I will note that Ben Kingsley is unexpectedly hilarious.

They kept Tony out of the armor for a lot of the time, and that worked very well. There was one armor-holocaust fight scene, and that was nice, but they made a much stronger movie by not just “amping it up” for a third movie.  In fact, I’m even more impressed as I wonder how they got that to fly at all.  I can imagine the discussion with the Hollywood exec.  “Iron Man 3!  So we’re going to have like 4 story tall Iron Man right? And bigger explosions, we upped the effects budget by 250%!” “Uh, no, we were thinking Tony would be out of the armor and dealing with psychological stuff and talking to kids and stuff.”  The level of blackmail and extortion that must be required to make an actual good movie as the third in a blockbuster series is dizzying.

Anyway, we get to see A.I.M. in action (no MODOK, sadly) and their creation of Extremis, a bio-nanotech superjuice that isn’t all that unrealistic really. They don’t wear the cute little yellow suits though.

AIMI’m not saying any of the main actors should get an Oscar, but for a blockbuster/superhero movie, Iron Man 3 is remarkably well written, directed, and acted.  I give it 4 out of 5 M.O.D.O.K.s.

RPG Movie Review: The Wild Hunt

I was bored and looking through Netflix for something to watch, and it recommended to me The Wild Hunt – an independent movie where Canadian LARPers go a little mental. It had won a couple film festival awards, so I figured what the heck.

The setup is that Erik, an Icelander in Canada, heads out to a big ol’ LARP weekend in the woods to try to get his worthless girlfriend back. He’s not a LARPer but his brother is really big into it; Viking heritage, Norse sagas, the whole bit. The whole batch of LARPers are very, very, very serious about it – it almost converts over into cool, actually. You have other movies like Role Models where the people are into LARP but it’s still very cheesy and you’re like “whatever, diversity yay, ponce around all you want,’there’s nothing wrong with that’, but eek.” But here they are all so into it and put a lot of work into it – if you can make LARP seem cool, this movie comes closest to doing it.

It’s a pretty interesting  movie. It starts out weak mainly because of the unsympathetic main characters – Erik is a certifiable wuss, his girlfriend is a bitchy whore, and the initial crop of LARPers you meet are reasonably insane – but evens out its keel once you get to know more of the (better, and more interesting, frankly) secondary characters and they quicken the pace. It’s a low budget thriller set in an isolated setting where romantic hassles etc. end up cascading into Lord of the Flies. The ending is a lot more dark and brutal than I would have expected from the first act. About a third of the way through, I wasn’t sold and wondered if I should bail, but after seeing the whole thing I’d give it a 5/10, decent.

Of course some roleplayers are worried that this will “demonize the hobby.”  To that I say bah, many of the movies/TV shows with killers, they are doctors and lawyers and cops and moviemakers and other such. It should just be a rush to see your own niche thing breeding killers for a change. And it’s not like anyone will actually be afraid of this happening for real; they’re Canadians for God’s sake.  Everyone knows Canadians can’t kill anyone; they don’t have the constitution for it. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Fantastic Fest – Dirty Mind

Belgian director Pieter Van Hees brings us his new film, Dirty Mind, about a shy stunt effects guy, Diego (played by Wim Helsen), who suffers some brain trauma and suddenly develops a totally uninhibited personality (a real syndrome called frontal lobe disorder).  He starts calling himself “Tony T, as in TNT, boom baby!” and becomes a devil-may-care stuntman.  A doctor, Janna (Kristine Van Pellicom) tries to get him to get treatment for his disorder, but Diego/Tony hated his loser life and is enjoying being a stuntman and chick magnet.  So he tries ceaselessly to seduce Janna instead.

The interesting part of the film is the debate over whether Diego/Tony really needs treatment or not.  He was an unhappy loser living with his mother, also a pathetic depressive, always overshadowed by his stuntman brother Cisse (Robbie Cleiren).  Now, sure he’s a little inappropriate at times but is generally acting like his brother or any number of non-brain-damaged overenthusiastic assholes we all know and semi-love.  The film slowly ups the ante as his syndrome progresses – in the beginning, his brother and family are very enthusiastic about the new personality.  But then Tony starts to eclipse his brother in the stunt world and cuts him out of deals; he has sexual contact with people he shouldn’t; he gets very narcissistic and loses the ability to empathize with people or determine what is inappropriate and the progresses to very risky behavior.  But even with that the people in  his life vacillate over whether Diego or Tony is the best guy (also an interesting theme, about how other people help determine who we are).

Helsen’s performance is great.  The film’s serious but funny at times; Tony has these little pseudo-raps he does about how great he is that are hilarious.  The best takeaway points are:

  • There’s a fine line between mental disorder and the normal range of human behavior
  • Women love the bad boys – even (especially) the buttoned up professional women; when it comes down to it they’ll throw it all away for the deep dicking
  • Sometimes your mother just needs a good punch in the uterus for lippin’ off to you

I thought this movie was awesome.  Very thought-provoking.  The one thing I didn’t like was the ending; they throw in a little “action” at the end when the operate-or-not decision is at stake and I thought that was a misstep, trying to do things the “Hollywood friendly” way or something.  But besides that, this was one of my favorite movies of the festival, and definitely the most thought-provoking.