If the first in the new series of Star Trek films were its infancy, and eventual baby steps into a full-fledged series, Star Trek Into Darkness is its riotous teenage years. These teenage years filled with untold amounts of emotions boiling to the surface range greatly, but all are a necessary step into finding its true character. The tumultuous ride is one that can only hope to top the acclaim achieved by the first film when it was release over four years ago.
Taking place not long after the events of the first film, Star Trek Into Darkness reunites us with the crew of the USS Enterprise as they are on assignment on the planet Nibiru. The planet is in the early stages of its civilization, and Kirk (Chris Pine) creates havoc as he allows them to see a starship on his way to save Spock (Zachary Quinto), who is trying to save the people of the planet. Unfortunately, while this is the correct moral choice, it is not in accordance with the law of Starfleet, and the brash Kirk once again lands in trouble. He is demoted to first officer, and is once again under the command of his mentor, Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood).
How do you adapt one of the greatest American novels ever to be written? If you look at the history of The Great Gatsby, the answer would be “Often, with mainly negative results.” Many people still remember the Jack Clayton directed, Francis Ford Coppola penned adaptation starring Robert Redford, Sam Waterson, and Mia Farrow, but even that film is considered flawed compared to the book it takes its name from. It was hard not to be excited when Baz Luhrmann signed on to have a go at the famous material. Reactions from the beginning were mixed, but after the casting of numerous stars, there was a sense that the film could be everything people expected it to be. What could go wrong?
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), our narrator, comes to us as an outsider among the glitz and glamour of Long Island in the middle of the roaring twenties. He makes a modest living in the hot trade of bonds, and has grabbed a cottage in the prestigious area of West Egg, positioned among the modern day castles of the princes and princesses of American wealth. Despite not being one of the wealthy members of West Egg, he still has plenty of connections, his second cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton), have a palatial estate across from Nick’s cozy cottage. Through them Nick becomes the middle man in a series of events between Tom, his mistress, the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Daisy. Revealing that money doesn’t solve everything, and that you can’t change the past.
Iron Man 3. This officially marks the beginning of phase 2. For the uninitiated, phase 2 is simply a way of referencing Marvel movies that take place post the events of The Avengers. Iron Man 3 (directed by Shane Black) is the final entry (for now) of a now beloved franchise. For those keeping track, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 were both directed by Jon Favreau. One might wonder if this entry at all feels disjointed in with a change of director for the latest installment. One might think it would be downright disastrous, or at the very least cause some level of uneasiness. I can understand those sentiments, but luckily that is not the case.
Iron Man 3 illustrates a changed Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) dealing with life after such fantastical encounters with gods from another part of the galaxy, the blatantly dramatic invasion from an alien race, and, then there is his having to play nice with others. As it stands, he is trying to adjust to ‘normal life’ with Pepper (Gwenyth Paltrow) looking on as she feels to be his 2nd love compared to the Iron Man armor. A flashback is shown as to introduce a couple of people that had an encounter with Tony, and how their dealing with him set a certain course of events. One of those people being Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) who is easy on the eyes, and quite clearly has an intellect that could hold Stark’s attention as she was leading the way in a breakthrough of biological evolution. Also introduced is Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), an aspiring scientist with physical frailties, and the genuine manner of what one would call the “stereotypical nerd”. With coming back to the present, nothing seems to be letting up for Mr. Stark as previous choices have come to collect their due.
For most fans of comic books and superhero movies in general, it doesn’t get much better than Iron Man. The 2008 film introduced Tony Stark to a world outside of comics, and took the armored Avenger from a third string hero to the A list. The film under the direction of Jon Favreau was the perfect origin story, and set the tone for Marvel films that followed and are yet to come. Iron Man 2 , while lacking the spark that its predecessor had, was still a solid action-packed summer blockbuster. And in The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s superhero masterpiece which earned over $1.5 billion dollars worldwide, there is no doubt that Tony Stark stole the show. Which leads us to the third film in the franchise, Iron Man 3, which is more of a “Tony Stark” movie than an “Iron Man” movie – and there is nothing wrong with that.
We last left Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) after defending New York and the rest of Earth from an alien invasion in The Avengers. While Iron Man saved the day, Stark was left with post traumatic stress – similar to a soldier coming back from war. “Nothing has been the same since New York,” he tells his closest adviser and love interest Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as he struggles to concentrate on anything else but to build new Iron Man suits. He field tested the Mark 7 against Loki and the Chitauri in Avengers, and we now find him putting his finishing touches on the Mark 42.
Michael Bay has been responsible for a number of less than stellar films over the years. Some of them were downright stinkers, i.e. Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He has also been a producer on some of absolutely horrid remakes, i.e. The Hitcher and A Nightmare on Elm Street. So, when I heard he was the director of Pain & Gain, I wasn’t very optimistic.
However, after seeing the cast and previews, I decided to give it a shot and check it out. In Pain and Gain, Bay delivers a very entertaining, dark comedy that is based on a true story. He gets solid performances from Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie, as well as a career-best performance from Dwayne Johnson.
The true crime story is set in the 1990s in Florida. Three bodybuilders, played by Wahlberg, Mackie, and Johnson, hatch a plan to kidnap a millionaire client and swindle him out of millions of dollars. Not being very intelligent, the bodybuilders plan soon turns from a simple plan of stealing to torture and murder. The three men concoct a plan to kidnap millionaire businessman Victor Kershaw, played quite well by Tony Shalhoub.