Friday, April 26, 2013

IRON MAN 3

Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow,
Don Cheadle. Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, 
Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley

"Unleash the power behind the armor"

Cinema 10, SM Megamall



I find it strange that the 3rd installment in the Iron Man franchise is shown a week ahead in international cinemas than in the land where it was conceptualized and filmed. But that didn't stop me from seeing it, nonetheless.  So this means that viewers in the US will be bombarded with spoilers from anyone and everyone who reviews it. Best avoid reading them if you want to see the film when it opens.

When I headed to the cinema, I noticed a long queue so I was disappointed because I thought I had plenty to time to enjoy the trailers before the actual film commences.  But it turns out it was the line to another theater where Iron Man 3 was showing in 3D. Phew.

I'm not a big fan of 3D.  For one, I'm too cheap to pay extra just to wear some ill fitting eyeglasses so I can see the facial pores of the cast, up close and personal.  2nd, I know for a fact that it would just give me a headache to see computer generated images up close so why subject myself to such agony?

Now on to Iron Man 3. The film takes off after The Avengers where the Marvel superheroes battled machine like aliens who were hellbent on taking over planet Earth.  This incident has deeply affected Tony Stark aka Iron Man. He's been traumatized from the weary battle and now suffers from insomnia.  But this hardly makes him idle as he mostly spends his nights tinkering with his armored suit, enhancing its features as well as developing several prototypes of his Iron Man 'costume'. 

A blast from his past, (specifically 1999) comes back to haunt him. They are in the form of a rejected ex girlfriend, botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and a nerdy scientist with grandiose ideas named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who was equally ignored by Tony Stark.  There is also a megalomaniac villain simply known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), sporting a Bin Laden like beard who terrorizes the homeland. 

As far as villains go, the 3 above mentioned characters play their roles with much gusto. Wreaking havoc on America with state of the art technology to their full advantage as well as manipulating the media networks to propagate their cunningly evil ways.

Naturally all of these threats are nothing that Iron Man can handle. Even though his plush mansion is pulverized to the ground or in this case into the deep abyss of the sea. Even though his partner/love interest Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) has been kidnapped. Even though his faithful driver/ally Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) lies in a comatose state after he encounters a robot alien like being disguised as human.

Nothing fazes him although we are also shown a vulnerable side to the normally arrogant and egotistical Tony Stark.   A man scarred by a traumatic experience, bereft of his residence/lab and his inspiration.  He is totally down but surely the only way to redeem yourself is to fight against all odds.

There is the customary loud explosions and the high octane action filled scenes. Notably the sequence where helicopters basically fire away all their loaded ammunition towards the luxurious Stark residence which sits precariously on top of a hill overlooking the ocean.  Another note worthy scene is the finale at the shipyard where all the Iron Man armored suits battle it out with genetically altered human bombs. 

More than the caricature villains and the edge of your seat action scenes, the real heart and soul of the movie is without a doubt Robert Downey, Jr.  As Tony Stark/Iron Man this is a role he was born to play and he certainly lords it up with his fine acting skills.  

Aided by a witty and often funny dialogue, Tony Stark in this 3rd installment has certainly mellowed quite a bit.  But that is in a good way, he is no longer arrogant, so full of himself and egotistical. He shows his caring side especially when it comes to Pepper Potts.   Yet at the same time, he hasn't lost his extravagant flair and is still his ever playful, sarcastic self. Nice combination, if you ask me!   Robert Downey, Jr is my only reason to see Iron Man 3 and gladly he never fails to deliver a fine performance.   

P.S.

Be patient enough to stick around until the end of the credits (very long as there are a 1000 people involved in the making of the film) to watch the short clip.  It was cute!

Friday, April 19, 2013

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson,
Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy,
Celia Imrie, Dev Patel

Star Movies



A group of British pensioners (who do not know each other except for the married couple) decide to enjoy their retirement years in India. The online advertisement for the "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" in Jaipur states it is a resort for the elderly and beautiful.  Enticed by a life of leisure in a serene environment, not to mention cheaper lifestyle, they all arrive together to discover the hotel isn't exactly paradise!

The film basically follows the adventures as well as the mishaps they experience individually and as a group during their stay in India.  Everything from cramped transportation, flavorful yet very spicy nourishment to the warm hospitality of the locals. 

The ensemble cast led by revered British actors like Maggie Smith and Judi Dench is the main draw of this charming yet predictable film.  They each portray well developed characters with ease.  Even though some of them aren't exactly likeable ones.  Typical wry British humor abound as well as light fare dramatic moments.  

I, for one who lived in New Delhi for 4 years (during my childhood) cannot imagine spending the rest of my twilight years in a place with a completely different culture.  Lest you get me wrong, I am in no way disparaging India.   It does have its own exotic charms.  So even if I don't understand their choice, I figure they were probably attracted to the word 'exotic'!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

THE IRON LADY

Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent

"Never Compromise"

HBO


With the recent passing of Lady Margaret Thatcher, her controversial biopic is being shown repeatedly on HBO.  It was controversial as her family and some friends of the late Prime Minister view the film as an insult to her legacy.   

Although she is portrayed brilliantly by Meryl Streep, the movie presents Thatcher in her older years as suffering from dementia. She often talks to the spirit of her beloved husband, Sir Denis who died several years ago.  Their conversations recall her political years through burst of flashbacks, from her first entry into a political party to her rise as Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

This biopic also explores her personal struggle as she ventures into an arena which was mostly dominated by men. She also had a difficult time balancing her life as a mother/wife and her role as the first and so far only woman UK Prime Minister.   Governing during a period of great turmoil both locally (mining incident and the IRA) and internationally (the Cold War and the Falkland War), her decisions and her policies were not always welcomed by her countrymen.   

Yet she thrived mainly due to her strong willed and principled personality and never compromise once she made up her mind.  She is quoted as saying: "One of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas."  She was a thinker, lacking what we now call the EQ (emotional quotient) factor, and her 11 year tenure as Prime Minister survived because of that trait.

It is quite hard to make a biopic about an iconic yet controversial figure who made great strides in the world of politics as well as an individual.  But Meryl Streep succeeded in humanizing a much lionized figure. She was Margaret Thatcher in every sense of the word and she deserves praise for her performance.  

Despite its failings, (one should have a fair knowledge about the important events which shaped the history of Britain during her reign), The Iron Lady remains an interesting biopic about an extraordinary woman and offers an excellent showcase of Meryl Streep’s astonishing abilities as a top notch actress.
 

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