Weekend Reading #2

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Done with work for the week? Why not sit down, relax and have a poke at some of the cool things I found this week at the deep end of the interwebs. Enjoy your reading and/or watching!

“Cheap Thrills” director gives some cool tips for aspiring film-makers and there’s a good lot of do’s and don’t of shooting on a shoestring budget. Very interesting!

The guys over at The Playlist list 25 greatest films never made. Continue reading

“Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – Star-spangled badassery

captain america review logoUp until now I have had serious problems understanding the draw behind a character like Captain America. I understand his origins in the popular culture as a spin-off from the blatant patriotic propaganda, but looking at him simply in comic book superhero terms, I couldn’t understand why he’s such an important figure within the Marvel Universe. He’s not a god, he doesn’t really wield a weapon granting him superhuman powers, he can’t fly, he’s not immortal, he doesn’t own a cool suit of armor… He doesn’t really carry a weapon for the most part, but a shield, which from a logical standpoint is just absurd. All he can do is run, fight and throw his shield around… In the company of folks like Thor, The Hulk, or Iron-Man, he looks – well – puny and unimportant, at least in terms of the actual combat, which challenges the notion of Captain America being perceived as a superhero in the first place. Now, having seen “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” (and having re-watched for the third time “Captain America – The First Avenger”) I think I understand his place within this universe of gods, aliens, superheroes and monsters. Continue reading

“Iron Man 3” – I was NOT amused…

It would seem that the universe just doesn’t want me to do what I really want. Instead, just when I feel comfortable enough to finally sit down and write about what I actually liked, it gives me this… Because of this burning need I feel within me, I cannot yet again do what I want, but I must first get it off my chest and clear up my mind.

The Summer Blockbuster Season is upon us. The teenagers are out and about turning movie theaters into pigsties, the queues at the cinemas are longer than usual, and the amount of superheroes on the posters will soon be at its yearly highest.  We’ve already seen the first glimmer of what is yet to come in “Oblivion” and I can only call it a fail start, so in order to be polite I thought I wouldn’t take that dud of a movie seriously. Sure, it had a solid budget, nice VFX and music, but the sub-par utterly non-creative collage story killed it for me quite effectively.


That leaves “Iron Man 3” to open up the season for real this time, because right thereafter we have a bag of big budget blockbusters lined up with “Star Trek: Into Darkness”, “Man of Steel”, “Thor 2 – The Dark World”, “Pacific Rim” and “World War Z” leading the charge. There. So I went and saw it…

I think it is well established that “Iron Man” franchise has been widely successful partly due to its self-parody slant. Robert Downey Jr’s comedic and lighthearted portrayal of Tony Stark has grown nearly to a legendary status and after “The Avengers” the bar was pretty high when it comes to what we would like to expect from Marvel’s Phase Two (which starts off this year with “Iron Man 3”). The extensive marketing campaign has successfully elevated our expectations with the fact we would see Sir Ben Kingsley portraying The Mandarin – the ultimate villain in the Iron Man’s universe – and that we would see more Tony Stark, and less Iron Man. We were promised adrenaline, drama, more focus on Tony’s inner problems, and of course tonnes of action and unforgettable effects… And I got none of them. None, null, nada, zero… I literally wanted to demand my money back, but in hindsight, I should have known better in the first place. Or maybe I’ve grown to be uber cynical, but I highly doubt that. It’s not as if I went to see “Iron Man 3” assuming it would suck. I went there hoping for a good time, but the fact that film sucked so badly, seriously impeded my ability to actually have a good time.

“Iron Man 3” started off with a premise that the events of “The Avengers” had taken a serious toll on Tony Stark’s well-being. He couldn’t sleep, suffered from insomnia (and nightmares when he actually slept) and kept building new suits and contraptions that would keep tragedies of that magnitude from happening… or something.

Meanwhile, a mysterious terrorist, who calls himself The Mandarin, is on the loose. No-one really knows what he wants, or where he is at a given point in time, and his vicious terrorist attacks go mostly unpunished. Only when Tony Stark’s close friend winds up in a hospital after one of Mandarin’s bombings, he finally decides to suit up in his can again and face his foe. What he doesn’t know is that in doing so he’d have to face enemies he made way back in his days of arrogance, condescension and banging strangers. In order to actually face The Mandarin and settle the score Iron Man will need to come to terms with his problems, finally understand the importance of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in his life and revisit some old acquaintances… very fiery acquaintances…


This is pretty much, how “Iron Man 3” looks on paper. It sounds enticing, it promises action and all, but delivers nothing but disappointment. As I said before, “Iron Man” franchise has never taken itself too seriously and stayed unique this way, up until now. The third installment of the adventures of Tony Stark went a bridge too far and as a result, the whole film turns into farce before the story is even rolling. It begins with grandiose statements of how the past determines our present, and so on, and so forth. We see the suffering Stark, who then quickly forgets all about this and turns into a one-liner robot. Not that I don’t appreciate a good one-liner in an actioner, but this time it was a bit much. There were moments I wasn’t even sure I should care about anything that happens on the screen, because Tony Stark kept taking a piss virtually every time he was on it, regardless of what peril he (or Pepper) was in.

So that’s that. Secondly, I realized that “Iron Man 3” was supposed to be packed with super-awesome action sequences, but they all were somehow lifeless; pretty, but I couldn’t care less… Probably partly due to Tony Stark’s humor getting in the way far too often. Additionally, for the action to be meaningful, the story needs to be compelling. And here, there’s nothing. You could show me a million Iron Men army fighting dragons and demons, but it’s all for nothing if I don’t care about any of the characters. And I can’t care about anything when Tony Stark doesn’t  I know he’s supposed to be cynical and all, but it really annoyed me this time round.

And the Mandarin… Oh, the Mandarin. In the interest of not spoiling anything for anyone who still hasn’t seen it, I shall say the following. I really enjoyed Ben Kingsley here. It was really fun to watch him, even though his manneeeeer of speeeech was ratheeeer annoyiiiing at tiiiiiiimes. But, whoever claims Kingsley’s Mandarin is on par with Ledger’s Joker, needs to go to a store and get himself a pair of new eyes. A good make-up doesn’t really cut it here, does it? Especially that “Iron Man 3” takes a ‘cough’ rather unorthodox approach at The Mandarin. I shan’t say more. I could (and maybe I will) rant a bit more on how The Mandarin would not even shine Joker’s shoes, but it’s neither the time nor place for it…

“Iron Man 3” is simply a generic action superhero flick aimed at the teenage audience. There’s action – sure, there are explosions, evil henchmen, a couple of villains, gunfights and the like. On the plus side, the film sports a twist that you don’t see coming and is in fact hilariously entertaining. But the era of M. Night Shyamalan is long gone and a twist won’t save a film any more…

Nevertheless, I sat there mostly indifferent turning my head in discontent and performing occasional face-palms every now and again. It got to a point when I couldn’t really wait for this movie to end, as its final sequences were terribly boring; but I survived until the end.

The credits rolled and I sat there waiting for the post-credit sequence hoping for a teaser of some sort. What a waste of time that was. Don’t get me wrong, there’s one and if you like, stay put and have a look at it, but it is a bit underwhelming. Nothing major…

That would neatly sum up what I thought about “Iron Man 3” when leaving the cinema – nothing major. I felt bamboozled. This was not what I was promised in the trailers. This was not how I expected of “Iron Man” trilogy to conclude. The story was all over the shop, the action was meaningless and the humor quickly got stale. The plot was full of holes, the characters (especially the villains) were poorly introduced and in the end no-one cared about anything that happened on the screen. Waste of time. I hope “Man of Steel” is going to raise the bar, because action movies like “Iron Man 3” are simply unacceptable.