I’ve been negligent when it comes to writing up reviews, but it happens. I get lost in thought and spend days or weeks mulling over films, or I get caught up with other things and put the reviews off until a later day and time. Again, it happens.
With the three films I saw in theaters in May, I left the theater mulling over each film for days at a time. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the films in their own way … but maybe a little capsule elaboration would help here.
1) Iron Man 3 (dir. Shane Black, 2013)
‘Iron Man 3‘, for me, boiled down to a matter of expectations based on the trailers and other marketing materials and my familiarity with Warren Ellis’s “Extremis” arc. I expected Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) against the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) with plenty of awesome suit tech tossed in for spectacle and style. What I got was less Mandarin, more AIM (which didn’t disappoint me because AIM is now officially a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), some buddy humor, pacing and plotting inconsistencies, and not as much suit action as I was hoping for (even though it was jam-packed into the third act. Even though there wasn’t a specific Extremis-style suit, the sub-dermal implants were close enough for me. There’s plenty more I’d love to expand on here, but I’ll link to my full review when it is uploaded to my zine’s Tumblr.
Overall rating: 8.0 out of 10 (better than ‘Iron Man 2‘, but a little below ‘Iron Man‘ and ‘The Avengers‘)
2) The Great Gatsby (dir. Baz Luhrmann, 2013)
Where, oh where to begin with ‘Gatsby‘? I was initially hesitant when news broke that it would be shot in 3D. “Wait, it’s a literary adaptation and a drama … so why is 3D necessary?” And then the gaudy and overblown trailers with anachronistic music and clearly computer-generated effects began dropping; needless to say, when the time came to see it with friends, my expectations were in the crapper. After seeing the film, they were slightly elevated, if anything, by the production style, costumes, and soundtrack, regardless of how anachronistic the tunes were. However, the film resurrected the superficial characters of the classic high school novel, and I couldn’t help but hate Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) for his fantasy obsession with Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and Tom (Joel Edgerton) for his hypocritical class attitudes and manipulation of George Wilson (Jason Clarke). The framing unnecessarily dragged out the first half hour of the film, and the effect of the floating words and narration took me out of the experience of watching the film. However, one of the best original touches was the firework-back-lit reveal of Gatsby to undertones of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.
Overall rating: 6.0 out of 10
3) Star Trek Into Darkness (dir. J.J. Abrams, 2013)
Ah, ‘Star Trek‘! I loved J.J.’s 2009 reboot and was eagerly anticipating the sequel with baited breath, constantly checking film blogs for theories as to the plot and who Benedict Cumberbatch was playing, so the bar was pretty high going in … and I was overall pleased with how the alternate timeline is handling original Trek canon and how Abrams and crew played with expectations and knowledge of the Original Series films, especially since I read the prequel graphic novel. The cast was great across the board despite adhering to some of the character tropes here and there, especially Scotty (Simon Pegg). Really, who doesn’t love a Scottish engineer … or Simon Pegg for that matter?
Despite tossing a bit of the scientific accuracy (no sound in space, etc.) from the first film, the action ante was certainly upped and afforded some shiny fast-paced moments. And despite Abrams’s working to make the films more accessible to today’s audiences, the heart and some hints of the philosophical nature of the original series still shone through.
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10