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Weekend Movies: Iron Man 3

Don't believe everything you see. Tony Stark is tops this time around.


When last we saw Tony Stark he was eating shawarma in New York City with his fellow superheroes in the stinger of Marvel's The Avengers (reviewed). When we last saw Iron Man, minutes before that, he was plummeting from a cosmic wormhole to his near-death having just saved the world from an alien apocalypse. (S.H.I.E.L.D's workman's comp insurance must be pricey.) I mention Tony Stark and Iron Man separately because the franchise's new writer/director Shane Black, who previously worked with Robert Downey Jr on the underappreciated comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, seems more interested in Stark than Iron Man. This is a good sign, especially for a third picture. Time to flip this tin can around.

IRON MAN 3 takes great pains to make a distinction between the impenetrable suit and the man inside it. Tony Stark's first attempt to suit up is a comic misfire since he's engineered an Iron Man suit that comes right to him when he calls. He hasn't quite worked out the speed of his flying wardrobe -imagine a metal codpiece flying 60 mph right at your Andrew Christians. The second time we see Iron Man, if I'm remembering the sequence of events correctly, Tony Stark isn't in the suit at all. He's engaging in some prankster remote control business for girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, wonderful in this role but haters gonna hate). 


The film even opens with a flashback to Tony's pre-Iron Man days, further separating the man from his iron mask.

More Spoiler-Free Stuff AFTER THE JUMP...

Many years earlier Tony Stark dissed sycophant nerd scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and seduced genius botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) making breakthroughs in genetic healing and limb rejuvenation. Stark's actions will come with heavy consequences though we don't yet know how. Stark spells this out for us with the narrated warning that "we create our own demons." It's so emphatically stated that we assume that director and star are writing the theme down with a sharpie for us and underlining it three times. 

When Stark mentions his own demons he's not talking about the demon in a bottle. Stark's battle with alcoholism from the comic book has never transferred over to the movies. But at least they've painted Tony Stark as an addictive personality: women, toys, material possessions, adrenaline, and, uh, Pepper Potts. He can't get enough of any of them. His latest addiction is non-stop tinkering with his suit and building multiple variations of the same. There's now an Iron Man for every occasion like Stark is Batman and the suits are merely Utility Belt. The Suit may be better than ever but Stark is falling apart inside it. His near-death in The Avengers has shaken him. Thankfully the man inside the man inside the suit is fully engaged. After what felt like coasting in Iron Man 2 and a little phoning it in with The Avengers (when other stars were around to pick up the slack) Robert Downey Jr seems to have woken up again to the blessing that this role has been to his career.


That's a good thing since he spends most of this third film outside the suit. The first of the film's two gargantuan action setpieces robs him of the armor multiple times and blows it up real good, too. At times IRON MAN 3 plays like an absurd superheroic parody of MacGyver as Tony Stark battles impossibly powerful enemies without his usual protective gear. But fear not, the suit will return, as cavalry, in the last positively insane battle sequence. It's arguably too insane -- what the hell is happening? -- but it undoubtedly already earned this series its third Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Still and all, the film's repeated abuse of the Iron Man suit, brings us to the movie's true or at least most deftly handled theme: Identity.

In that opening prologue at the science convention while the movie is writing the "we create our own demons!" theme in bold sharpie, this other more playful theme is already in place. It's scrawled right there as a joke on Tony Stark's chest, also with a Sharpie, on his sticky name tag...

"You Know Who I Am" 

"We create our own demons" gets heavy handed and awkward at times -- particularly in the first half as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) begins to threaten America for its past sins. But the theme of identity is always lighter, funnier, and more skillfully organic to the story. The heroes (Iron Man, his sidekick War Machine, and his girl Pepper) are all struggling to redefine or at least refine their roles. Pepper's stunned reaction to her own actions in the finale is one of the best laughs in movie theaters this year. The film even finds a neat way to sidestep the racist history of The Mandarin villain (an arch-enemy created in the 1960s comics) by letting Ben Kingsley run with this theme as only a skilled character actor could.

Like most noisy visual extravaganzas, some details are already starting to fade but this is great popcorn fun. It's frequent twists and surprises and humor give it something like its own identity in the overly crowded superhero genre. I know what Iron Man 3 is: The best of the trilogy.

Aoc-firstposterBONUS SCENES

 road If you're not sick of blockbusters yet (and I hope you aren't or it'll be a long summer for you at the movies), check out the total world domination that Disney plans for 2015.

 roadThis week teaser posters were everything. Did you see Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac parenthesis and August: Osage County open house... there's room for Oscar inside.

 roadWinona Ryder's performances ranked "in order of how much we wanted to be her".


Nathaniel Rogers would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

Posted May. 4,2013 at 7:30 PM EST by in Film, Nathaniel Rogers, Robert Downey Jr., Superheroes | Permalink | Comments (17)

Breaking the Ice in Antarctica, a Stunning Time-Lapse: VIDEO


What's it like to spend two months on an icebreaker in Antarctica? Find out in a stunning, poetic five-minute time-lapse.


Posted May. 4,2013 at 6:30 PM EST by in Antarctica, News, Time-Lapse | Permalink | Comments (14)

Toronto-Area RE/MAX Real Estate Agent Fired for Distribution of Homophobic Flyer

(image missassauga news)

Last week I posted about Andrew Ciastek, a RE/MAX Real Estate agent in the Toronto-area city of Mississauga who was under fire for distributing sales brochures which included an article promoting "traditional families" as the best for the future of children.

RE/MAX has fired Ciastek, XTRA reports:

Andrew Ciastek was terminated for “poor judgment on his personal marketing,” according to Christine Martysiewicz, director of internal and public relations for RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.
“We assure the general public that his actions in no way reflect RE/MAX or our associates. We're offended by the insensitivity shown here just as much as the community is. We take pride in the diversity of our workforce and our clients,” Martysiewicz says...

...Ciastek was not immediately available for comment. In an interview before the termination was announced, he told the Toronto Star he realized people are “hurt” by the flyer and promised to apologize.

Posted May. 4,2013 at 5:30 PM EST by in Canada, Gay Marriage, News, Real Estate, Toronto | Permalink | Comments (36)

'Book of Mormon' Party Bus Performance of the Day: VIDEO


Tim Koll, Sam Leicht, Leland Raymond, Damian Wille, and Logan Lang make a van ride Mormon-tastic.


(via boy culture)

Posted May. 4,2013 at 4:00 PM EST by in Mormon, Music, Music Video, News, Theatre | Permalink | Comments (33)

Jason Collins to Appear with Michelle Obama at DNC LGBT Fundraiser

Michelle Obama is headlining a May 29 fundraiser for the Democriatic National Committee in New York and NBA center Jason Collins will be there as well, Politico reports:

130503_dnc_image_6051Collins will appear with Obama at the May 29 Democratic National Committee LGBT gala, the source said. The event is Obama's first fundraising stop since President Barack Obama won re-election.

They add:

The May 29 New York event is billed as the DNC’s LGBT Leadership Council 2013 gala and is to be hosted by Andy Cohen, the Bravo TV network executive and host. The DNC is asking donors for at least $1,250 and up to $32,400 per person for the Park Avenue reception, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

Obama will also appear in Boston that day to stump for Markey, who this week defeated Rep. Stephen Lynch in a Democratic primary. Markey faces Republican Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy Seal and political newcomer, in a June 25 special election to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat.

Posted May. 4,2013 at 3:00 PM EST by in Democratic Party, Jason Collins, Michelle Obama, News | Permalink | Comments (6)

Mariela Castro Visits Liberty Bell in Philadelphia: VIDEO


Cuban gay rights activist and daughter of President Raul Castro is in Philadelphia to pick up an award from Philadelphia's Equality Forum after a brief tussle with the State Dept. over a visa approval, which she was granted last week.


The AP reports:

Mariela Castro spoke briefly to reporters during her sightseeing tour. Asked about the health of her uncle and father, Castro replied: "They're wonderful, and I learn a lot from their example."

Commenting on the gay rights movement in the U.S., she said, "In this election especially, they showed that they form a very important vote in American society."

A married mother of three, Castro leads Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, which is part of the island nation's public health ministry. She is the country's most prominent gay rights activist, having trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba's parliament in February.

Posted May. 4,2013 at 2:00 PM EST by in Cuba, Mariela Castro, News, Philadelphia | Permalink | Comments (18)


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