Man of Many Suits

I personally am not big on superheroes as a movie genre. I prefer sci-fi heroines that kick butt. But sometimes I do find a superhero story I really enjoy. I love X-Men and its allegory of life lived outside the norm. And though I hated the Avengers, I liked several of the character. Captain American, Hawkeye, and, of course, Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr brings the character life and makes most of the Iron Man movies enjoyable. Iron Man 3 is a great addition to the franchise.

In the latest installment of the Marvel saga, Tony Stark has to use his brains again against two nefarious foes. When a terrorist known as The Mandarin is behind worldwide explosions and terrorist messages. When one puts his friend in a coma, Tony Stark tells The Mandarin je was not afraid and invites him to challenge Tony personally. The fight is brought to his house which is destroying, and Tony is left adrift with just one suit. He must use his wit and brain to repair the broken suit and go against the terrorist.

iron-man-3-tony-stark-robert-downey-jrThe movie is at its best when Tony is doing his “tricks and one liners.” Without his suit, Tony must rely on his wit to conquer goals and to deal with the people around him. He partners with a young boy, and it’s hard to say who wins when they slam each other. As Tony goes MacGyver to get his damaged suite working, it is so to see how this geniuses’ brain works. The character gets real depth dealing with his issues on his own without Pepper, his suit, or his money.

The biggest detractor is the startling gender inequality. Polly Purebred-excuse me, Pepper Potts-spends half of the movie half naked and screaming. There is a moment when Pepper is powerful and comes to her man’s aid. But Tony must “fix” her and let her go back to the damsel in distress negating any equality her previous actions.  I make fun of Black Widow’s outfit but her kick ass factor is at least one step in the right direction for feminism. Pepper is not.

Comic fans will be unhappy with parts of the film especially The Mandarin. As a movie goes, I enjoyed the villain and his twist. He could have easily been a Bane rip off, but Ben Kingsley makes The Mandarin multi-faceted, giving humor to the film as well as misdirecting Tony from other threats.   This works well for the movie, even though it breaks from comic cannon.

Iron Man 3 has the typical plot holes of a super hero movie (Are the suits designed only for Tony or not? Make up your mind!), this installment of Marvel’s Phase 2 focuses on the character making Tony human and relatable. As always, Downey Jr is amazing and truly makes the movie and the character. Iron Man 3 is not to be missed.

Sherlock Continues to Entertain

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

now on: Blu-ray, DVD, & combo pack

 

The game is afoot again in Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) come face to face with Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Watson arrives at Holmes’s house for his stag party, Holmes has connected the dots between a string of crimes and Moriarty. Because Watson is getting married, Holmes tries to keep Watson out of the game that he and Moriarty are playing. But Moriarty knows that taking out Watson will hurt Holmes more than hurting Holmes himself. Holmes shanghais Watson’s honeymoon in order to keep the Watsons safe. Noomi Rapace joins the adventure this time as a gypsy looking for her missing brother who happens to be working for the professor. The party follows  leads to Paris and beyond.

Like the previous movie, the characters are wonderful. It is great to see Watson come into his own and be able to show the skills he has learned from Holmes. Downey Jr. portrays Holmes wonderfully, injecting humor into a vey serious character. Rapace’s gypsy is a welcome addition.  Her character was both strong and vulnerable. Reducing Rachel McAdams’ role works well, not because the character is flawed, but because of McAdams’ subpar acting. The only other character issue was Harris. Harris seemed not to be able to find a middle ground with Moriarty; he is either overacting or underwhelming. The saving grace for his character is in the final scenes as he and Holmes go head to head in a thinking wart.

There are two big drawbacks to the movie. The first being that the movie covers so much ground.  The movie encompasses the entire Moriarty tale including, to fans of the stories, a very familiar ending. The story could have spanned several movies, but Guy Ritchie was trying to create a comprehensive tale with finality instead of just another sequel lead in.

The second drawback is the shift in tone. The original film was very much a buddy/detective story. The second movie shifts to an action film. While this keeps the movie exciting and propels the plot forward, the witty banter between Holmes and Watson has been greatly reduced. This shift makes the sequel a different kind of movie. Some say it was better than the first one, but personally I do not agree.

Extras:

The Blu-ray only version contains minimal special features limited to three features with behind the scenes look on the two friends, their nemesis, and look at making Holmesavision.

Bottom Line:

A great follow up to a franchise that should have another sequel.