Tag Archives: Iron Man 3

Oscar Preview 2014 – Best Visual Effects

By D.G. McCabe

As an avid fan of “boom boom, smash smash,” I’ve always had a soft spot for the visual effects category.  Here’s a preview:

1. Gravity

Let’s see.  Visual Effects Society Award – check.  Most visually stunning film of the year – check.  Probably going to sweep some other technical awards – probably check.  I think we have our winner here.

2. Iron Man 3

Superhero films tend to do well in the visual effects category, and Iron Man 3 was quite a marvel (pun intended) to behold.  The final sequence of the film had a lot going on but didn’t suffer from motion blur, for example.  Another fine effort from the special effects team at Marvel Studios.

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness

I found the effects in this one to be a bit busy at times, but stunning nonetheless.  It certainly has higher grade special effects than the old, 60’s TV series.  No actors painted turquoise with antennae on their heads in this one!

4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Great dragon!  But one great dragon does not an Oscar winner make, despite the pedigree of the studio behind said dragon.

5. The Lone Ranger

No I didn’t see this one.  No I don’t know anyone who did.  No I don’t have any plans on seeing it.  All I have to say is for as much money as they dumped into this turkey, it BETTER have some decent special effects!

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe

The Year in Review – 2013

By D.G. McCabe

Well 2013 is drawing to a close, so let’s talk about who had a good year, a bad year, some predictions, and a couple good-byes.

2013 was a good year to be:

1. The Walt Disney Company

Four of the top eleven highest grossing films of 2013 were released by Disney (Iron Man 3, Monsters University, Thor: The Dark World, Oz: The Great and Powerful).  Add this to the fact that Star Wars Episode 7 production seems to be moving ahead smoothly, and they’re probably feeling pretty great.

2. Robert Downey, Jr.

Iron Man 3 could have moved him to a bigger house, but the next two Avengers movies can move him to his own private continent.  Get ready Antarctica!

3. An Experienced Actress

Take a look at “best actress” nominees for the Golden Globes.  Their average age is just under 50.  This is great news for everyone.

2013 was a bad year to be:

1. An A-List Actor

There was a time even crappy movies featuring Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, or Will Smith would crush it at the box office.  This year…let’s review:

I guess this is what happens when you: 1) still let M. Night Shyamalan make movies for some reason; 2) dig up properties that haven’t been popular since TV’s emitted that weird buzzing noise; and, 3) try to make films based on thirty year old, niche science fiction novels who’s author can’t cool it with the racist/homophobic rants2. 3D!!!!!!

The late Roger Ebert thought that 3D was a fad, even after Avatar (2009) made the most money ever by basically remaking Dances with Wolves (1990) with weird, blue aliens.  The cancellations of the 3D re-releases of the Star Wars movies and the death of 3D television seem to bear this out.

3. Blockbusters

None other than the inventors of the form, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, are thinking that we might hit “peak blockbuster” in the near future.  The disappointing to terrible returns of After Earth, Ender’s Game, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, The Smurfs 2, White House Down, RIPD, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters seem to agree with this theory.  Let’s see what happens over the next couple of years.

Not so Bold Predictions:

1. Best Picture Oscar: 12 Years a Slave.  Actual Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave – because even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

2. Will Smith no longer has the ability to make a film profitable just by being in it. I predict that unless he joins a super hero franchise his days of $100 million opening weekends are behind him.

3. The new “giant robots fighting each other” movie will be the #1 film at the box office in 2014.  Thankfully, the role of whiny, annoying, pointless human has been apparently written out of the film, as Shia LaBeouf is not going to be lending his “talents” to this one.  Mark Wahlberg will be in it instead.

Eight Scenes from that Great Alehouse in the Sky:

1. Peter O’Toole – now sharing a drink with Richard Burton in a corner table.

2. Roger Ebert – Sitting nearby, telling them that as good as O’Toole was in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), that’s how bad Burton was in Cleopatra (1963).

3. Annette Funicello – Waiting for open mic night to start.

4. Ray Harryhausen – Figuring out how to make the chairs dance to the cheesy 1960’s surf pop that Ms. Funicello will perform.

5. James Gandolfini – Trying to avoid being typecast in whatever gangster movie James Cagney is bending his ear about.

6. Dennis Farina – Trying to avoid being typecast as a cop in the same movie.

7. Karen Black – Setting up the open mic night, trying to avoid Burton.

8. Paul Walker – Waiting for Steve McQueen to come by so that they can compare notes.

And that’s our 2013 Year in Review! Bring it – 2014!

(c) D.G. McCabe

Iron Man 3 & Comic Book Films

Iron Man 3

Directed by Shane Black, 2013, U.S.

If there ever was a film that would be critic-proof, it would be Iron Man 3.  The previous three films with Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark combined to gross more money than the GDP of entire countries sure, but with no significant time lag or cast changes, the film is destined to continue the Marvel empire’s chain of successes (and it’s initial box office returns have confirmed this to be fact rather than prediction).

Iron Man 3 is a lot of fun, and I would recommend it to anyone who just wanted to spend a few hours in a movie theater and watch an super hero action movie.  Even if criticism did make any difference, it would be hard to point out any significant flaws in the film in attempting to accomplish what it is trying to achieve – the satisfaction of Iron Man fans and casual moviegoers.  In fact, most of the reviews that I glanced at seemed to be more concerned with the film’s derivative or cliched elements than any actual problems with the acting, writing, effects, directing, or other commonly understood benchmarks of film quality.  For example, almost no one criticizes any of the performances, but it seems that having an action scene set in an abandoned shipyard draws a collective “yawn” from the film intelligentsia.

Still, have these critics every read a comic book?   Sure, the comic book artform has become more sophisticated since the 1980’s but complaining that a movie based on a comic book from the 1960’s is derivative or cliched is a bit like complaining that Chaplin’s films are silent or complaining that a giraffe is  tall.  It’s in the thing’s nature as pulp mythology – there is only so much you can do to a storyline that’s been around for five decades without turning off the fans who are paying many millions of dollars to see that storyline on screen.

That isn’t to say that comic book films can never be creative or are doomed to “B-Movie” status.  The Dark Knight (2008), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Tim Burton’s original Batman (1989) stand as clear examples of creative takes on well known characters.  But I would argue that it isn’t only the creativity of the aforementioned “upper echelon” of comic book films that make them stand apart from the masses of super hero films, good and bad, that have come out in the last twenty-five years or so – it’s their execution.  After all, a well executed, derivative comic book film like Iron Man 3 is still far preferable to a creative but poorly executed  film like 2009’s adaptation of “Watchmen.”

Iron Man 3 belongs in the same category as Batman Returns (1992),  Spider-Man (2002), and the original Iron Man (2008) – fun adaptations of familiar stories that are well executed and satisfactory to movie-goers and fans alike.  It isn’t a classic of cinema or even near the top of it’s particular genre, but if we’re going to criticize it for being derivative or cliched, let’s at least put some context around it first, shall we?

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe