With "Iron Man 3," Shane Black and company have crafted a fully loaded, supremely entertaining superhero spectacular. Moreover, it is a deconstructionist epic that is not afraid to make statements about its own genre and the world in which its audience lives.
While Shane Black's style of cinematic storytelling is more rollicking and lively than Jon Favreau's, this Iron Man is not necessarily a departure from the first two films. Powered by the charisma of Robert Downey, Jr., the films…
I once imagined an alternate universe where Nicolas Cage was cast as Tony Stark.
"Iron Man 2" was never made.
"Thor" was never made.
"Captain America" was never made.
"The Avengers" was never made.
"Iron Man 3" was never made.
The "Ghost Rider" films were never made either, though nobody bemoans that.
Thankfully, we live in this universe; and, thankfully, Robert Downey, Jr. is a magnificent Tony Stark.
(I have since rewatched "Iron Man 3" and written a more traditional-style review. Feel free to give it a read.)
With "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," director, Rupert Wyatt, and company strike gold, putting together one of the best science fiction, special effects-based films of the decade. Combining a compelling story and tapping into a beloved mythology, the film is narratively engrossing, grown up, and respectful of what came before it.
While existing perfectly well as a stand-alone film, this prequel to 1968's "Planet of the Apes" is exceptionally well made. It boasts exemplary special effects, and the…
Released eight years after the excellent "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and five years after the similarly outstanding "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" repeats most of the formula that made the first two films in the series successful. This film, however, is much more settled than its rowdy immediate predecessor or masterful progenitor. That is not to say "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is not an excellent adventure film, but, by…
With "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," Steven Spielberg takes the formula he instantly perfected with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and ups the ante. The action and comic book emotions of the original film are heightened, playing against the backdrop of a darker storyline. While Temple of Doom does not extend and develop the mythology of the series ala "The Empire Strikes Back," it builds on its predecessor, adding new characters and high stakes. For some in the…
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" takes place in a world forged by films that came before it. The action of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan's story rolls through a time and place populated by elements of dusty serial adventures, grand Biblical epics, heroic World War II pictures, and classic prestige films. It is a stylized world: an amalgam created from the imaginations of people who love film.
The product of those imaginations is a cinematic masterpiece. Under the…
One of 2011's best films, Brad Bird's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is a triumph. Injecting life into a plateauing franchise, the film is a crisp and charismatic action epic that is both exciting and propulsive.
All the right pieces come together to make this fourth Mission: Impossible film stand out. A Bondian dose of exotic locales, a story that ties together Cold War tension and New World rogues, and a gallery of well-cast characters combine to form a solid…
In my original review of Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man," I wrote that the film had the heart of a quieter film. Upon my second viewing of the film, it is this quiet heart that makes the film special.
"The Amazing Spider-Man," to be sure, is a spectacular film with exhilarating and enthralling action beats especially during its latter half. What makes the film outstanding, however, are its quiet moments. The film is punctuated with these moments where characters are…
David Fincher's adaptation of Stiegg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is an utterly engrossing experience. A slow-burning thriller that takes its time to unfold, the film is a striking combination of sleek, snowy imagery; solid performances; and compelling, sometimes brutal, storytelling.
Beginning with the most inspired opening-credit sequence this side of "Skyfall," the film launches full-bore into the murder mystery that serves as its foundation while introducing the audience to its two damaged protagonists. Daniel Craig's roughshod charisma…
"The Hunger Games" is an altogether winning experience. Grounded in a compelling mythology of a dystopic future, the politics of fear, and the promise of revolution, the film's strongest element may be its story. Being adapted from a series of young adult novels, the film's themes are obvious, but complex and interesting enough for adult consumption.
Gary Ross's film alternates, aesthetically, between a plastic-looking, candy-colored future and the more naturalistic wilds of the film's districts and arenas. While his rarely…
"Les Miserables" is, at once, both old fashioned and contemporary. With its handsomely crafted costumes and period sets, and its operatic story combining epic conflict and personal melodrama, it is a movie musical in the style of the Hollywood prestige pictures of the past. With its swooping cameras, close-shot attention to character and emotion, and refusal to be stagey, it is remarkably fresh.
A story of hope and redemption, "Les Miserables" is quakingly emotional. These emotions are writ large, not…