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The Summer So Far (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | June 21, 2013 | Add Comments

Summer Movie Season 2013Summer Movie Season 2013 has seen spectacular highs and shattering lows, even though it’s only half way over! I’ve seen three summer blockbusters already, but haven’t written a review of any of them. So here’s a triple review comparing the disappointing but original Iron Man 3, the thrillingly wonderful Star Trek Into Darkness, and the letdown epic Man of Steel.

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3
Rating: 3 Reels

Let’s start off with Iron Man 3, Marvel’s latest attempt at a mega-hit superhero flick (don’t worry they succeeded). Shane Black replaces Jon Favereau as director which was NOT a good idea. The movie has less laughs than we’ve come accustomed to and it’s by far the darkest of the Iron Man trilogy with onscreen deaths, disturbing fight scenes, and massive explosions. Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark with the usual mix of hilarity, sarcasm, and witty one liners. He’s fantastic, as is the rest of the cast. But it’s basically a one man show with Tony traveling from point A to point B and killing bad guy one and bad guy two, etc. The movie is uneven, over violent, and poorly executed. The plot is mediocre and though we do get the bang for our buck (or something like 14 bucks if you see it in IMAX 3-D) we don’t get much story. But three quarters into the film something crazy happens. A twist. Out of the blue, the film turns a corner and shocks us with it’s best moment. It defies the advertisements that have had us thinking one way and…Well I won’t spoil it but I’ll just say this; it’s SHOCKING. And in this world of trailers that give everything away, that means awesome.

Chris Pine and Karl Urban in Star Trek Into DarknessStar Trek Into Darkness
Rating: 4 1/4 Reels

J. J. Abram’s latest installment in his reboot of the Star Trek series, titled Star Trek Into Darkness, is a whirlwind moviegoing roller coaster. After a chase scene on another planet, we’re thrust into the latest Trek adventure: a one man war against the entire U.S.S. Enterprise crew (Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and more) led by James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). The “one man” in question is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a mysterious evildoer with suspicious morale. The cast is phenomenal because they’re more comfortable with their roles; sure some supporting characters are a bit too, er, supporting but everyone gets their moment. And the leads are incredible: Saldana and Pine are well cast but it’s Zachary Quinto as Spock who really steals the show. He’s essentially as central a character as Kirk, plus he gets all of the best wisecracks and fight scenes. Cumberbatch is also amazing thanks to an intensity that’s plain undescribable. The story is simple but effective and occasionally touching. The best thing about it is that it’s entertaining: exhilarating, yes but also hilarious and fun. But the film’s not perfect. The previously mentioned opening chase scene comes to mind: instead of starting where Kirk and fellow crew member Bones are about to steal the map they’re looking for, Abrams begins when they’re already running from baddies. However movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark take their time to set the stage before the action. Abrams, meanwhile, is all payoff. He directs with a sharp intensity and a knack for elaborate spectacle.  Sure all the action sequences are pulse poundingly sweat inducing (especially in IMAX 3-D where I saw it) and this is all well and good but sometimes he could have paused for a conversation scene that’s not right in the middle of a battle. Sure it’s flawed, but this is nearly everything you could want in a summer popcorn action flick.

 

Superman flies in Man of SteelMan of Steel
Rating: 2 Reels

Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie, has a lot going for it. The film has a likable star in Henry Cavill, some thrilling trailers, an excellent supporting cast, and the producer of what many call the greatest superhero film of all time. However I’m sorry to report that they’ve failed. Badly. It opens with with an incredibly realized Krypton sequence which is way too long. Do we really need two intense fight scenes before Superman/Clark Kent is even out of the crib? No, but we get them, all right. And despite a few expertly crafted moments, the only scenes that have much impact are the flashbacks to Clark’s early life. And then, BACK TO THINGS BLOWING UP ALOT, ALOT, ALOT!!! The film is dragged on for almost an hour too long, thanks to overblown battle sequences that are cut between different shots so fast you can’t even tell what’s going on. Director Zack Snyder would probably be a master at making video games but that skill set really doesn’t work here. In fact, the whole movie feels like a video game that you don’t control: dead characters guide living ones around, there’s objects that must be found, there are flashbacks to explain what’s going on, and, most of all, there are pretentious combat scenes that go on like the film makers just needed to fill up the running time. The performances are decent and likable but Henry Cavill (who’s okay but a bit bland) and Amy Adams have neither much chemistry nor time to develop their characters. Kevin Costner was the perfect choice for Pa Kent but again all he gets are flashback sequences that suggest of a much greater film. Less than halfway through the movie, I started not care what happened to these characters: it just got uninteresting. Man of Steel sadly goes where every violent video game has gone before.

 

Last but not least I have a few concluding statements:

1. Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel are racking up billions of dollars despite being much lesser films than the underperforming Star Trek Into Darkness. What does this tell us about the film industry?

2. If there are three films that represent the state of modern blockbusters it’s these three. However I’d like to say this: sure, all action movies have to include explosions but please Hollywood: dial it down. J.J. Abrams was on the right track with Into Darkness and I’m confident about his new Star Wars.

3. With so many big budget blockbusters being released each year where is this all headed. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have some ideas. In fact, Spielberg may be right: if five of these summer epics flop something is going to change. Take 2015. What films are going to be released? The Fantastic Four, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Avengers 2, Justice League, The Smurfs 3, Hotel Transylvania 2, Ant-Man, The Peanuts, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, Finding Dory, Alvin and the Chipmunks 4, and Kung Fu Panda 3. Woops, forgot to mention a little indie film titled Star Wars: Episode 7. Okay, is your headache over? Many of the films mentioned will flop, so could that signal the death of the blockbuster? No. Star Wars and Avengers 2 are as close to a sure thing as you can get and even if critics and audiences despise them, people will keep coming back to the multiplex. But someday (probably in an estimated 100 years) people will get back to making small, personal films. Until then, there will be terrific action films and wonderful art house pictures. So perhaps, they could both survive together.

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