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Iron Man 3 (2013)

DIRECTOR: Shane Black

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, Ty Simpkins, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer, Paul Bettany (voice)

REVIEW:

When it comes to superhero trilogies, Iron Man 3 isn’t bad enough to be an example of the “third movie curse”, but nor does it save the best for last. Like Iron Man 2, it’s adequately diverting summer escapist entertainment, but like Iron Man 2, it’s mildly underwhelming. Perhaps responding to a common criticism of the last film, Iron Man 3 has a somewhat higher action quotient, and it wisely doesn’t try to match the sheer spectacle of last summer’s The Avengers, aiming to be a little more character-oriented. Like its predecessor, its pacing is uneven, with some lengthy sequences that tempt one to check the time in between spectacular action sequences. The result is serviceable summer comic book action fare, but doesn’t go above and beyond like The Avengers or Christopher Nolan’s recently completed Batman trilogy. Perhaps, after such entries that defy the supposed constraints of how far this genre can go, more ordinary installments like this just don’t feel like quite enough anymore.

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

REVIEW:

WARNING: WHILE I HAVE ASPIRED TO AVOID OUTRIGHT “SPOILERS”, THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Along with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers earlier this summer, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has redefined the possibilities of what to expect from a “comic book superhero movie” and raised the bar to a level that future entries in the genre will be hard-pressed to equal, let alone surpass.  While The Avengers served up grand spectacle on an unprecedented scale, Nolan’s Batman films went the more thoughtful, introspective, and in many ways, more groundbreaking approach, defying the expectations and supposed constraints of the genre, approaching the material as deep, dark, serious drama, and making the likes of Spider-Man look fluffy and insubstantial in comparison.  Batman Begins was a respectable launching pad.  The Dark Knight soared above and beyond, seizing the title of, for my money and the money of many others, the most dark, ambitious, and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made, and now Nolan has chosen to cap off his series with a climactic chapter, perhaps the first time a director in a superhero series has chosen of his own accord to conclude his story (as opposed to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner’s X-Men, who were robbed of intended fourth installments by the disappointing receptions of their third entries).  While in my opinion The Dark Knight remains unseated as the most impressive of Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises brings this solid trilogy to a respectable conclusion. Continue reading

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