Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr.

Review of Avengers I: The Simple Summer Joys of ‘Hulk, Smash’

Summary:  Today Locke Peterseim reviews the first Avengers film, a timely flash-back that helps us put A2-Ultron in context. Unsurprisingly, much of this review applies just as well to Avengers-Ultron. Disney manufactures entertainment products to tight standards.   {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Avengers poster

The Avengers: The Simple Summer Joys of ‘Hulk, Smash’

By Locke Peterseim.
From the film blog of Open Letters Monthly.
4 May 2012. Reposted with his generous permission.

For decades now the Official Summer Movie Season has kicked off the first weekend of May with a big action movie, and eight out of the last ten of those have featured Marvel superheroes. Three of the last four have been parts of Marvel’s ambitious “Avengers Initiative” franchise in which 2008’s Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, 2010’s Iron Man 2, and last year’s Thor and Captain America laid the building blocks for the coming together of this weekend’s super-group geekgasm The Avengers. *

The Avengers must court a variety of patrons. To comic-book fans, it’s the fulfillment of decades of furtive wishing. To the rest of the movie-going public, it once again marks that heady, hyped, and welcome start of the Cineplex Summer. To Marvel Studios it is the payoff — and massive box-office payday — to a long, risky franchise gamble.

As if all that wasn’t enough for a perfect storm of pop-culture expectations, The Avengers is multiplied into stratospheric geekery by the adoration of dedicated Whedonites — those of us fans of the film’s director and writer Joss Whedon who worship every insightfully clever and achingly melancholic bit of genre genuflection penned by the self-deprecating Buffy/Angel/Firefly auteur.

The Avengers is nothing more — or less — than a superhero movie giant-ized to Team-Up size. It’s not a gritty reinvention or sub-textual exploration or masterpiece of the superhero genre. It’s big and shiny and full of lots of moving parts (including — be still my fan-boy heart — the Helicarrier and Quinjets!), not all of them meshing in perfect cinematic clockwork. In many ways it’s like any other of its ilk — all the familiar tropes and action beats are here. (My lord, I’d give up my Limited Edition Aquaman Under-Roos for a new action film that doesn’t feel compelled to have yet another pointless, mindless car chase.)

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“Iron Man 3”: a cynical plot drowned out by the clang clang action

Summary:  Today Locke Peterseim reviews Iron Man 3. It’s “still slick and mostly entertaining, but with a cold heart that feels hung out over the chasm between Black’s cynical, subversive attitude and Marvel’s bright, shiny franchise-building.”  It’s a myth told by people who don’t like it, which requires a higher level of story-telling skill than Marvel’s agents bring to the game.

Iron Man poster

Iron Man Three:
Kiss Kiss Clang Clang

By Locke Peterseim.
From the film blog of Open Letters Monthly.
9 May 2013

Reposted with his generous permission.

I’d guess most everyone who helped give Iron Man Three the #2  box-office opening of all time (after its stable mate The Avengers last year) came away from it feeling suitably entertained by the First Summer Film of the Year. But so much of that feeling, including the public’s attendance and “A” CinemaScore, can’t help but feel obligatory, even somewhat hollow.

As I’ve said many times before, for the general movie-going public the first weekend of May (which Marvel Studios has owned for most of the past decade) is Opening Day, when, like supporters of a sports team, fans are filled with soaring, somewhat delusional hope for the upcoming season. Because it carries with it more than just cinematic promise, but also the heralding of warmer weather and higher spirits, we want so much to like the First Summer Film that not only do we forgive it most of its flaws, but to criticize it can feel like an early abandonment of the Promise of Summer itself.

Co-written by Shane Black and Drew Pearce and directed by the erstwhile action-movie wunderkind Black, Iron Man Three isn’t badly constructed or executed. Like all superhero movies, it’s full of plot stuff. Tony Stark is suffering PTSD from the epic, cosmic events of The Avengers just as a new threat arises from an international terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin.

Sir Ben Kingsley has a ball with an accent that sounds like Tom Brokaw, Hugo Weaving, and John Huston performing as a spoken-word trio, but in the wake of Ledger’s Joker and Hardy’s Bane, I think we’re all getting a little weary of the oh-so-quickly-played out “Super Villains with Weird Speech Patterns” trope. Still, as is so often the case, Kingsley’s Mandarin gets away with the best and most delightfully surprising parts of the film.

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