I have the best girlfriend on the planet, and last night we went and saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness back to back in a mini geek movie marathon. Now you get to hear me rant about both of them! I’m going to do a short spoiler-free review of each for those who haven’t seen them, followed by a spoiler-filled rant on both for those who have and would maybe like to discuss. So, reviews ahoy!
Iron Man 3 has been doing freaking awesome at the box office but has been taking some heat from the fan community, which has affected some reviews. Personally, I liked the story and how everything played out. It was probably the most “comic-booky” of the three movies, story-wise. However, it also felt slower paced and more of a character drama than the previous two, which I think has a lot to do with the disappointment that many have felt. This is very much a Tony Stark story, not Iron Man; just as it is very much a Shane Black movie, not Jon Favreau. I saw one commenter compare this to Skyfall, and I think that is a pretty apt comparison. Iron Man 3 is for Tony Stark what Skyfall was for Bond. It was better than the last one, but the original Iron Man is still my favorite.
Star Trek Into Darkness was just fun. From beginning to end, it was a blast to watch. I felt it was a much stronger story this time around, and it was fun to see the cast play off of each other now that they have a foundation. It’s not as cerebral as Old-Trek, but it’s not meant to be, and it certainly isn’t as brainless as a lot of other summer blockbusters either. I think they’ve found a good middle ground between appealing to the fan base of the previous incarnation and casual audiences that might not have cared for Trek before (like my girlfriend). Basically, if you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy this.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movies, turn away now!
Okay, so a lot of the fan-bitching has been aimed at the Mandarin and the “plot twist” regarding his character. I understand fans wanting to see the hardcore villain from the comics on screen, but lets be realistic- that was never ever going to happen. One, because he’s a racist stereotype that just wouldn’t play. Two, because as cool as the ten magic alien rings are, it just doesn’t fit in the cinematic Marvel world…yet. That said, I didn’t have a problem at all with the “twist”. I felt like Sir Ben Kingsley was freaking amazing both as Mandarin and Trevor (which was hilarious). I thought it was a smart plot, well executed. I loved the comic easter eggs, like AIM and Roxxon. I caught the Fin Fang Foom deal with the “real Mandarin,” though I thought the breathing fire thing was a little goofy. I think the problem is people are going in expecting one thing and they’re getting another. This wasn’t as fast paced and fun as the first, and to a lesser extent, the second. Like I said in the spoiler free section, this was very much a character drama focused on Tony Stark, where Iron Man was more a background aspect. It had a totally different feel than the previous two and Avengers. Hell, they didn’t even play ACDC, unless I missed it. But it was still a good movie. I still enjoyed it. To be honest, my biggest gripe with the movie was the ending, as I wanted to know more about what was going on with Pepper after he “fixed” her, and I was really disappointed that they didn’t show signs of extremis in Tony after his surgery (because you KNOW he had to play with it, like in the comics). I even would have been happy with a little blue glow in his eye at the end when he says “I am Iron Man.” But they didn’t go there, which disappointed me. I also thought the stinger at the end, showing that he’d been telling the whole story to Banner the entire time, was fun. Overall, it was a good movie, just different.
Star Trek was fun, plain and simple. If you approach this as the “ultimate” version of the Trek we all know and love, you’ll enjoy it a hell of a lot more, because that’s exactly what this was. This was their “Ultimate” version of Wrath of Khan. (For those who have no idea what I mean by “Ultimate”- Marvel has a line of comics, the Ultimate Line, which is basically an alternate version of the mainstream Marvel universe, where characters can be portrayed in different, more modern, takes; popular or classic storylines are re-imagined and told differently, etc.) We all knew John Harrison was Khan. It was a given. I mean, how could they not use Khan? A lot of comments sections on fan sites have enraged fans frothing at the mouth because “they lied to us!” People, get a fuggin grip. Why the hell would they ruin their own movie by telling you everything about it? If you had stayed away from fan speculation and had no idea that Harrison might be Khan, the revelation would have been great. Plus, the cameo by Old-Spock was great. The plot and how they incorporated Khan was well done. Is it as good as the original? Of course not. Does it feel like a more dumbed down, action-focused version of Trek? Yep! But it’s still fun as hell! At the end of the day, I had a lot of fun watching it, and that’s what’s really important. I am a huge Trek fan. Always have been. I was raised on it. My dad used to record the original run of the original series on cassette tapes as a kid so he could listen to them again later like a radio show. I still have those tapes, and used to listen to them myself as a kid. I grew up on TNG and DS9. I own all the movies and have seen them each countless times. But it’s time to face it kiddos, old-Trek had to evolve or die. It just wasn’t putting butts in the seats, or in the case of the TV shows, getting the ratings it needed. I think this new alternate universe was a smart, fun way to reboot without throwing away everything that came before. The 2009 movie had it’s issues, but I think they vastly improved on those issues with this one.
Okay, lets address it: Lens flare. yes, it was a problem on the first one. They obviously dialed it down a ton on this one, except for one scene. That one scene with Carol talking to her father had a lens flare covering the entire shot, blinding everyone where you could hardly see a thing. It was ridiculous and I have to believe it was done on purpose as a “screw you!” to all the folks that ragged on the lens flare in the first one. It was just so gratuitous it had to have been purposeful.
However, the movie was really entertaining and I can’t wait until I can see it again. Like I said before, if you had fun with the first, you’ll enjoy this one.
Agree? Disagree? Just want to geek out about these movies? Feel free in the comments section.
J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99. Check back each Sunday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!