Iron Man 3 Review

So, during my time at Empire Magazine, I meant to practice my writing a little more but never really got around to it. I’ve been told that in actual fact, people do not generally get a job in writing film reviews by writing film reviews. Apparently the best way in is to be creative about engaging with films. Coming up with spoofs, puns or parodies is more likely to attract the attention of a recruiting editor than a heavy portfolio of just film reviews. In any case, its probably a good idea to at least have something to start with…

“Drew Pearce and Shane Black have been working tirelessly on what should be called Iron Man 4 (The Avengers merely a title added for the sake of variety). In reality, after shrinking down what would have originally been over six hours of script and screenplay, a new fangled Tony Stark movie has emerged from a cutting room floor, flooded with car chases and scenes that would help make sense of some apparently inconsequential characters.

Following on directly from the events of The Avengers, we find Tony Stark (Downey Jnr) suffering from constant flash backs of more than just parties from bygone new years sporting Ali Gee’s originals. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from an unfortunate turn through space-time along with countless run-ins with aliens has left the inner Iron Man folded and unstable. We see the once immutable hero quite literally stripped of his armour, loosing his gorgeous Malibu playboy house, his cars and incidentally for a substantial part of the story, his less metaphorical suits.

Pearce and Shane have brought Iron Man to his knees, buckling under the pressure of his own demons and derisively knocking him off his red and gold feet via shadowy forces of The Mandarin. Whilst Downey Jnr’s performance is encapsulating as per, the same cannot be said for the relationship between Stark and the new characters. Granted, a delightful repartee between a young boy and the eponymous hero in the second act is one of the best highlights. The same goes for many of the exchanges with bodyguard ‘Happy Hoggan’ (Favreau) and Rhodes (Cheadle) but the motivations for others have been found wanting. Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall would have to wade neck deep through figurative silver nitrate before they might find the work they were paid to do, and as such, it leaves viewers with some irritable gaps in the story.

The exploding, drug addicted, terminator hulk henchmen provide a satisfying, if unconvincing fodder for the Iron Men. Yes, that’s right. There are now 42 of these suits that seem to be an expense where global hunger over a personal hobby never quite got the balance. We also have to wonder if these scalding, Abercrombie & Hulk models really would fail to warrant the attention of the other invincible SHIELD housemates. No sign of any of the Avengers here, because, as Stark vehemently states, ‘this is an American problem.’ Well, that seems to be that. No point in arguing, but no one seems to care.

The film ploughs on carrying the Iron Man mantle, listing ever so slightly under the weight of immense expectations. Floating on a tirade of heavy themes, Shane brandies an assortment of heart lifting gags and wisecracks, nodding at the likes of Downton Abbey and cringing 90’s music. This is not to mention Ben Kingsley’s performance, which has earned his lordship’s title for himself at least twice over as he carefully delivers the most interesting surprise of the franchise to date.

Filled as Marvel does, with gorgeous visuals, original designs and laced with elements of sharp witty dialog, Iron Man 3 captures the same sentiment that encouraged the first film to cause such a stir. You emerge from the cinema, having witnessed a handsome billionaire-playboy-philanthropist fight in nightmarish scenarios but you feel like you understand. Just like after Iron Man 1, you dare to suppose that you’re not too different from the hero, and you dream for a super moment… It’s not too difficult to imagine yourself in those shoes, getting bitten by that spider, or begin building a mechanical suit. You start racking your brains, picking out basic facts in the science fiction that you feel you know about and then, you apply it to your 12-year-old thoughts. That’s exactly how films of this genre should work, and Iron Man 3 works it masterfully.”

Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ by George Richardson

Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ targeted for Front Magazine.

Good cop – fat cop go back to school and figure out that their stereotypes have changed, or are still the same, or – what? Review by George Richardson.

Jonah Hill (Superbad, Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, Haywire) take their orders from Ice Cube, which they interpret as taking loads of drugs and getting fucked up as much as possible in order to get laid or at least get a job done. This film starts like a high school musical and sprouts some badass facial hair that gets fashioned into a fully grown, exploding beard. It sort of takes the piss out of itself, which the more refined of us might call meta-humour, as it mocks its own genre and in doing so, is just bloody hilarious. A scene towards the end sees them suit up in white tuxedoes and stock up with guns like the matrix followed by gardening. Well in – directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller!

The last time we remember Channing was in G.I. Joe, a role that you could watch in Latvian and still get the gist. This time when he opens his mouth, its like a clamp gently squeezes your bladder, you’ve got pepper in your eyes, and your sides have had the work out of a thousand Olympic squats. He is funny. Jonah Hill – he’s always been funny. He has only been funny. This film sees the characters forced to swap roles but in doing so, Hill tried to pull off being a badass but that sort of reminds us that it’s only a film – he just can’t quite manage it.

There is a surprise cameo that frankly OWNS all others that have ever graced cinema. Of course, we wouldn’t want to ruin it, you actually have to pay to go see it, or download it illegally if you have no money or friends. You’ll know who it is straight away, but you won’t see it coming, unless someone has been mouthing off.  If you’re watching it online, odds are that won’t happen.

What’s most intriguing is an appearance from what can only be described as young Saul Silver from Pineapple Express. Dave Franco is essentially a small clone of his taller, prettier, more successful older brother. You’d be forgiven if at times you’re saying ‘look it’s that guy, from that spider film and the one-where-he-chops-his-own-arm-off!’ He’s just as good though. You watch it and think, yeah, I’ll follow that guy, I bet there’s loads of intricately layered family dynamics and inter-sibling rivalry.

Since our invite to the premier got lost in the post again, we’ll never know. All we can say is this film is sick and makes it look like American cops are somehow socially acceptable. If you don’t like cliché buddy cop movies then that’s fine, but this film knows its cliché. Like a fat kid who doesn’t give a shit and is totally confident; he’s jokes and gets all the girls. With the wise words of Ice Cube – “embrace your stereotype!” Couldn’t agree more you angry, black, heroic bastard!

ENDS

Word Count: 506

Comments: The language used in Front magazine often incorporates dramatic devices such as swearing and follows patterns that mimic conversational English rather than neat text. Baring in mind the target audience, despite some offensive language in this review, it does have a market and I feel it does adhere to the Front readership and editorial context.

Marvel Avengers Assemble (2012, Joss Whedon, Marvel Studios). Review by George Richardson.

Film Review of The Avengers Assemble targeted at the Guardian Online.

If you managed to miss all or any of the five blockbusters that lead up to this, perhaps the most ambitious comic book movie of all time, this film and this review are not for you.

The most important thing to understand about Marvel Avengers Assemble (or The Avengers, as it is known across the rest of the world) is that it is a film for the fan boys, by the fan boys. With Marvel Studios now at the helm of most major comic book films, we have been spoiled with silver screen super heroes that are not only true to their interpretation on the pages but also enriched by consistently quality casting and directing, and Joss Whedon is truly the geekʼs geek and leaves his signature firmly on this most highly anticipated of features.

Much of the films humour is derived from the witty and occasionally hostile interaction between the reluctant teammates. Downey Jrʼs now iconic Tony Stark and his casual undermining of authority makes for some excellent Whedonesque banter with the order- following a well-regimented Captain America played by a stern Chris Evans. As Chris Hemsworthʼs Thor and Mark Ruffaloʼs Hulk meet their match in each other, Scarlett Johanssonʼs femme fatale Black Widow holds her own alongside fellow non-super hero Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Samuel L Jacksonʼs Nick Fury and together they bring their skills to the table to challenge Tom Hiddlestonʼs brilliant yet manic Loki as he threatens the safety of the planet.

After watching the lead-up films it is fair to expect a heaping portion of awe-inspiring super- heroics from Marvel Studios, and there is no lack of high-octane action sequences over the 140 minute run time. It would be irresponsible to put a single moment up on a pedestal, too much pressure and responsibility for this writer, what with such an array of high calibre moments to consider; Thorʼs less than sparkling first impression on Iron Man and the Cap, Bruce Banner with the revelation that he is, in fact, “always angry”.

But surely the Avengerʼs greatest moment is when they pull together for the first time to rescue the plummeting Helicarrier. How can anyone watch without wide-eyes and triumphantly clenched fists as Thor subdues the wild and reckless Hulk as he threatened to become as much a threat as that cheeky God Of Mischief, or Iron Man as he used his rocket powered suit to manually spin the sabotaged propeller, or Captain America as he relentlessly disposes of Lokiʼs possessed minions?

With Marvel Avengers Assemble, Whedon has taken the elements of those previous films, starting with 2008ʻs Iron Man, that paved the way for this hyped up juggernaut of super hero cinema, and put them together in a way that satisfies the hardcore fans. He ultimately entertains the newcomers and brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe into an exciting new chapter. Bring on Avengers 2!

Marvel Avengers Assemble is released in cinemas on April 12 in the United Kingdom.

ENDS

Word Count: 500

Paul review again…

Whilst applying for work experience at Front, the application requires a short 200 word review of the latest film I’ve seen. I haven’t the pennies to go to the cinema so the most recent is still Paul. This is the edited and tweaked with ‘Front flair’ edition.

Before valentines day, we were supposed to pretend that we were bothered about roses and chocolates, making girls swoon and your mates throw up. In reality, Film 4 was running Pegg season making us laugh till it hurt.

Cinemas were booked out for the whole week. Frost and Pegg were apparently better than sex for seven days.  Nerds probably can’t tell the difference.

‘Paul’ is an offering to the sci-fi god himself, referencing parodies from his holy saga like the Pope from that book, even though lord Lucas was portrayed as an unimaginative 80’s man.

There is actually a sense of realism about it. It feels more like Pineapple Express than E.T (cheers again Seth). It’s one of the most believable plot lines of science fiction film because it toys with ideas we’ve already seen and converts it into obvious fact.

You have to relish in understanding what they’ve done, taking the michael out character stereotypes. In Hot Fuzz it was the ‘scarily close to truth’ reflection of country dwellers, in Shaun of the Dead it was a zombies chasing man trying to show he’s not a looser. A little long-winded, but the fact is that the Pegg and Frost combo have this time finally gone for the jugular… Americans.

ENDS

Paul Review

Before valentine’s day, we were all supposed be ordering roses and chocolates, booking restaurants and planning grand romantic gestures to make our lovers swoon and our mates throw up. Instead, we were all engrossed in the Simon Pegg season. Film 4 were showing all of Pegg’s classics to get us salivating, nay, foaming at the mouth for the next Pegg/ Frost epic – Paul.

That pink and rosy day passed. Romantic disasters came and went and the next evening we dared to go and watch the film. Actually, the cinemas were booked out almost all week, so it was more like the week after. With all the hype, the girlfriend out-of-the-way, this stereotype alien held all of your concentration…

This film is an offering to the sci-fi god himself, even quoting his holy saga on numerous occasions. There is a twist that suggests our loveable drug overlord character (voiced by Seth Rogan) actually influenced popular culture and science fiction. The reason he looks like every other alien is because he wanted to look like every other alien. Cool concept, I’m not sure that our lord Lucas saw it coming, even though he was quoted in the film and shown as an unimaginative 80’s man.

So the film does actually has a sense of realism about it. It feels more like Pineapple Express than E.T (cheers again Seth). It’s the one of the most believable plot lines of science fiction film because it toys with ideas we’ve already seen and converts it into obvious fact.

At the same time, you can relish in understanding what Pegg and Frost have done. They take the michael out character stereotypes. In Hot Fuzz it was the ‘scarily close to truth’ reflection of country dwellers, in Shaun of the Dead it was a strange zombie culture surrounding a plot where a man tries to show he’s not a looser. A little long-winded, but the fact is that the Pegg and Frost combo have this time finally gone for the jugular… Americans.

People love to perceive Americans as stupid. Watch this youtube clip.

Without giving too much away, the film actually works on a level that undermines stereotypes. It’s something a little more substantial than a spoof about aliens as it challenges huge debates about religion and more importantly the ‘what would you do’ dilemma, more specifically, what would you do if you were first contact?

Iron Man 2

It’s not always fair to compare a sequel film to its predecessor but you just can’t help it. Especially when the two relate so much. This isn’t Batman Begins compared to Dark Knight. Dark Knight stands alone, as something quite simply amazing.

Iron Man is an old Marvel comic. Marvel films are huge, they have massive scope and brilliant imagination. The concept of juxtaposing something extra-ordinary in an ordinary world is not original, but the circumstances of how the characters achieve their greatness isn’t always too difficult to imagine. They are crazy, bitten by a mutant spider, go off the rails and trained by ninjas, or even super intelligence. Either or, however outlandish, you can’t help but wish quietly in your 12-year-old head, “That could have been me.” It’s because the heroes stumble across their ‘awakening’ moment accidentally and clumsily. It’s almost reassuring because you can come out of the cinema and you start thinking, with just a few more hours in the gym…

You come out of the cinema, often having witnessed super cool super hero beat super villains in a plot that seems super complicated, but you understand, because again, you’re not too different from the hero, and you dream for a super moment… that it could happen to you. It’s not too difficult to imagine yourself in their shoes as he gets bitten by that spider, or begins building a mechanical suit. You start racking your brains. You pick out basic facts in the science fiction that you feel you know about and then, you apply it to your 12-year-old thoughts and then you have your own awakening moment! You are deluded. You are in such awe of the characters because you know you’ll never get around to finding the time or money to build a super advanced robotic suit of armor.

Thats how we should feel coming out of the cinema. Iron Man 2 was no disappointment in that regard. Although, it was much less of an original experience.

Another Robin Hood

This film is all about spending money on labels. There are vastly different price tags on each of them. Some of them are branded bigger than the others, like the Gladiator label, that’s the one that comes with Russel Crowe, but you’ll find him in the ‘sword and stirring speech’ section, next to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart collection. In the reference section, if you’d care to wander down the aisles of ‘Historical Context,’ then you might find a few books open on Medieval class distinction, maybe a few pages loose about the Crusades or even the Magna Carta. I can almost promise though, this film has spent a lot more time in the gym than this library.

Ridley Scott and script writing team clearly passed their GCSE French. Well done. They probably could have taken it further, or maybe not at all. The French discourse may as well have been edited out. It did nothing but add a few confused loose ties that were simply dropped at the end. A waste of a fantastic language. It’s clear that their budgets didn’t cover their French connection labels.

Russel Crowe delivers a rather convincing English accent however. In fact all the characters seemed to have routes in Yorkshire, but at least Crowe washed well. His colour didn’t bleed as an actor, he did exactly as he was supposed to do. He filled out to his reputation and gave us what we would expect from such an established brand.

There was  a sense of individualism and a sense of identity as there were no numberless soldiers of an innumerable army. There were no blank faces or countless ranks of men. The final battle felt more realistic. It almost felt personal, emotions and a sense of fear was actually noticeable within the threads of expressions. A real feel of quality could almost be touched. At least these were extras, not computer generated masses.

The whole story felt plain. It’s been done before, there’s nothing new or outlandish about this re-branding of the Robin Hood label. Robin Hood is a legend, he’s a Medieval tale. This film tries to place it within some real life, historical context. It doesn’t quite fit. It tells the tale of how Robin Hood started, how he became an outlaw. It’s like a story to explain the legend. No need to say that this film is less than legendary. To be honest, it could have been compressed into an epilogue. If there is a sequel, then its epilogue will be sufficient enough, you won’t have needed to have watched the first film.

This is not a bad film ! The opening scenes of a French castle siege are spectacular. The costumes and set designs are drawn to a line of impressive detail and what is most noticeable, is the lack of super makeup. It’s actually noticeable, and quite refreshing. In cold contrast to her performance as the Ice Queen of Narnia, Cate Blanchett looks very much Medieval… not ugly, but positively peasant like. There are even little quips and catch phrases that are really funny, like an old man with morning-glory, or mates all thoroughly hung over. Always funny!

Also, the score isn’t exactly original, you aren’t going crazy if you think you’ve heard it all before on some other sword and castle epic, but there are impressive touches of amazing folk music. Some awesome riffs! Pick out the sounds when you go to watch it.

The film has done what it set out to do. It invites an audience to see what set of circumstances, within a torn and battered Medieval England, would have created such a hero as Robin Hood. It creates a sense of reality and reminds us, amongst a time where the world of cinema revolves around super heros with amazing powers or limitless resources. This is a refreshing touch to our big screens.

By George Richardson