So my wife and I saw Iron Man 3 last night. It was pretty good. I mean, we genuinely liked it, we’re glad we went to see it, but I sincerely doubt that it’s a movie I’ll bother to see again. (Unless it’s on cable when I’m in a channel-changing-coma.) I’m certainly not going to buy it on video. The only Marvel Studios films I’ve purchased are Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. I’d say that I enjoyed this film as much as The Incredible Hulk, and more than Thor or Iron Man 2.
That said, the twist involving the Mandarin is BRILLIANT. I almost hipped to it, kind of, early in the movie…but I didn’t. The reveal was great, with an AMAZING performance by Ben Kingsley, who all but stole the film.
The movie is weighed down by the fact that the bad guys are seemingly just being bad. There doesn’t seem to be any motivation for their evil. Mention is made of owning “both sides of the war on terror,” which sounds cool until you think about it. Certainly, the bad guys never seemed motivated by money, which is what that ultimately leads to.
The biggest problem in the film, for me, was that the film never really reestablished the Tony Stark/Pepper Potts relationship in a way that made me think that Tony would get all angsty over a threat to her life…or worse yet, to losing her entirely. Frankly, Tony’s relationship with Happy Hogan is better established in this film, and that doesn’t really pay off. If Happy had been taken out of the film entirely, and Pepper’s story had combined her own with Happy’s, I think the film would have resonated with me a bit better. Their love story played better in Avengers, and Gwyneth Paltrow is in Avengers for less than five minutes. (The Dark Knight admittedly had a similar problem, more to do with recasting the Rachel Dawes character than anything else, but that was somewhat less relevant to the film.)
Still, hard to argue with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. That was fun to watch, even in Iron Man 2, and his scenes with the kid, as Disneyfied as they might have been, were extremely engaging and satisfying.
I’ve also become a big fan of the character Hannibal Lecter and of the new TV show Hannibal. I’ve read all three Thomas Harris novels and seen all of the films…well no, I haven’t, as it turns out. I’ve seen all of the film adaptations of the first three novels, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal. I’ve never seen Manhunter, and I’ve neither seen nor read Hannibal Rising. Red Dragon was by far the best book of the series (I’ve heard that Hannibal Rising is pretty bad) and Silence of the Lambs was by far the best film. NBC’s Hannibal has the potential to be the best version of the character yet.
This show is so good, it seems out of place on NBC; you’d expect to find it on AMC or HBO. The writing is impeccable, the visuals frankly stunning. The last thing I saw that provoked this sort of reaction from me in terms of the visuals was Prometheus, which was one of the most beautiful pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. (Avatar blows. Sorry.) But Prometheus was so shoddily told a story as to defy belief, while Hannibal is rapidly becoming my favorite thing on TV, right up there with Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
Quality isn’t the only reason this seems like something other than a network show; Hannibal is extraordinarily gruesome. The Walking Dead is gory, but Hannibal is visceral. We are treated to mutilated corpses mounted in ingenious and terrifying ways, to dream sequences of startling visual effect, and Hannibal Lecter’s particular brand of epicurean craftsmanship. I’ve seen him butcher (as in, “chop up in preparation for cooking”) more than one set of lungs so far this season…and worse, all but one member of the main cast has had Hannibal cook for them. Human flesh is consumed on both shows, but it’s much more real and much more believable on Hannibal, so it’s much more horrific. The Walking Dead is about the monsters we could become under the most insane of circumstances, while Hannibal is about the monsters we are, here and now. I love to see an old favorite franchise given new life and new relevance, so I am thrilled to be watching this.
If you like superhero movies, you should probably spend the $12.50(!) and go see Iron Man 3. If you like good television of any sort, and have a strong stomach, you should definitely be watching Hannibal.