The Valdosta Daily Times
“Iron Man 3” (Science-Fiction/Action: 2 hours, 10 minutes)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley
Director: Shane Black
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, strong language and suggestive material)
Movie Review: Sometimes, a movie franchise becomes something larger than just a movie. People think it is good because they like it. Their emotions for what makes them happy override good judgment. “Iron Man 3” is such a film. It is entertaining but has a contrived, quality-deprived plot.
A terrorist known as The Mandarin (Kingsley) poses a new threat to the United States. Col. James Rhodes (Cheadle) suits up as War Machine, who has been renamed Iron Patriot to appear more diplomatically welcoming. The Iron Patriot is not enough to stop The Mandarin. Industrialist Tony Stark (Downey), a.k.a. Iron Man, finds himself in the middle of the battle after The Mandarin destroys his cliff-side mansion. To protect Pepper Potts (Paltrow), the love of his life, Stark suits up as Iron Man to stop The Mandarin and his ruthless thugs.
Even more, Aldrich Killian (Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), two scientists whom Stark met 13 years earlier, enter the picture. They apparently have motives of their own. All this is transpiring as Stark suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a result of his battle with aliens while fighting along side The Avengers to save New York City.
The “Iron Man” movies succeed because of a great lead, Robert Downey Jr. He plays a genius, billionaire, philanthropist and playboy well. He makes the series more enjoyable than the action, the metal suits and overall plots. Here, he is just as rewarding, playing Tony Stark with brilliance unmatched. Again, he propels the “Iron Man” flicks.
Actor-director Black directs his second major film, following 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Black’s directing is not bad, but this screenplay’s plot is. Black and co-writer Drew Pearce have too much transpiring in “Iron Man 3.” Also, the science fiction goes overboard with overly done visuals, mainly computer-generated imagery.
Often, the clue one is watching a bad film is if the film has more stuntmen than any other production department. Now, one can easily look to see if the film has more visual-effects team members, especially CGI technicians. This movie has many stuntmen, but the visual-effects team is much larger.
The plot is silly, so that larger visual effects team was a major need to cover up such. However, technology, via neat visual effects, is what this photoplay delivers in a too plentiful amount. Moreover, those visual effects are far from persuasive, even if often entertaining.
The effects distract one from a plot that is exaggerated material. The antics of characters often lack emotional backing, minus Downey whose antics are still enjoyable.
“Iron Man 3” does have one major plus. It is entertaining. Audiences get plenty in that aspect. However, “3” becomes one tedious play out as technology becomes front and center, and Stark becomes more James Bond and less the superhero Iron Man.
Grade: C+ (Not an iron-clad moment but it entertains with likable energy.)
“The Big Wedding” (Comedy: 1 hour, 29 minutes)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams
Director: Justin Zackham
Rated: R (Sexual innuendo, profanity, violence, nudity and sexuality)
Movie Review: Alejandro and Missy are getting married, but their families will not make this an easy weekend, especially for Alejandro, whose adopted parents are Don (De Niro) and Ellie (Keaton). Don and Ellie are now divorced, they agree to pretend their married again to appease Alejandro’s biological mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), who is overly religious and very against divorce. This ruse makes for an interesting wedding, but it is a terrible movie script.
“The Big Wedding” is a big flop. If any one bought a wedding gift for this couple, they should take it back — after throwing it at the happy couple.
The premise for this comedy is asinine. The plot is silly, and several subplots are scattered-brained ideas that make all characters too relevant. This dilutes the plot as no character really stands out as this film’s lead.
De Niro, Keaton and Sarandon are talented actors, but they can’t save this pitiful screenplay. As long as these actors have been in movies, they had to know they were in something awful.
Heigl’s character appears annoyingly depressed for unresolved reasons. Topher Grace parades around as if he is in “The 40 Year Old Virgin” (2005). Barnes plays a character with Latin American roots; apparently, producers could not find a Hispanic actor for his part. Seyfried is bland. To add to the calamity, Robin Williams plays a reverend. Lord help us.
These characters are a cast, yet they interact as if in different films. Their lines fall flat. The actors deliver them with as much tact as a clown performing brain surgery while juggling.
The script is goofy material. It has no focus, an eclectic mess. Two monkeys and a typewriter could produce better.
Grade: F (Standby for the big divorce.)
“Pain & Gain” (Crime/Comedy: 2 hours, 10 minutes)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie and Tony Shalhoub
Director: Michael Bay
Rated: R (Profanity, crude sexual content, thematic elements, violence, drug usage, nudity and gore)
Movie Review: A trio of Miami bodybuilders, Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Johnson) and (Doorbal), kidnap Victor Kershaw (Shalhoub), a wealthy entrepreneur. The bodybuilders plan to extort wealth from Kershaw, ultimately stealing his life. Their plans go awry when their attempt to kill Kershaw fails. Their efforts to finish the job complicates matters.
More than a decade later, Michael Bay finally gives audiences something compelling for once after multiple “Transformers” films. “Pain & Gain” is an adaptation of actual events as written in magazine articles by Pete Collins. It is unbelievable. It definitely proves life is stranger than fiction.
Bodybuilders, an ill-mannered businessman, a wealthy porn producer, gym owner, a stripper, a nurse and private detective are part of this intriguing, weird plot. It is difficult to believe this film’s basis is actual events. Oddly enough, it works.
The film is funny. As the moments become more complicated for the main characters, the plot becomes more comical. This is what makes the film entertaining, despite its unbelievably.
Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie work here. They provide plenty of good entertainment. Each man delivers a unique portrayal. Shalhoub is especially good as the repulsive victim.
The film scores its points by simply exhibiting something outrageous that it unsuspectingly entertains. The story is plain odd, but that is its strength. This story is true. It inspires laughs. When the film ends, it is just as unbelievable as when it started. This matters little. “Pain & Gain” is a wild ride worth every minute.
Grade: B (Gain plenty laughing at their pain.)