Posts Tagged ‘ superhero ’

Iron Man 3

iron_man_three

“Things are different now, I have to protect the one thing that I can’t live without.”

Since that epic battle in New York, nothing has been the same for Tony Stark. In his own words, “You experience things, and then they’re over. I can’t sleep, and when I do I have nightmares.” Ever since the Avengers assembled to save the world, Stark has become a damaged and suffering man living in a world he no longer understands. Tinkering with his Iron Man suits merely serves as an escape from the real world, and, when “demons” from Stark’s past suddenly appear in his life and threaten to destroy everything he holds dear, will Iron Man realize that hiding is not the solution?

The Good

Who is Tony Stark without his suit? This is a question that not even Stark himself knows the answer to and this film documents the dramatic and raw journey of discovery. While this film does have some exciting scenes, engaging dialogue, and entertaining elements, the themes it provides for thought are definitely the most rewarding aspect.

Arrogant. Egotistical. Narcissistic. These are all words that can be used to describe the character of Tony Stark. However, as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Stark does experience his fall and learns the right lessons through it. We watch such a vainglorious character transform from a pompous “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” (to use Stark’s own description of himself) into a man who is stripped of his illusion of strength and experiences true brokenness and humility. Iron Man 3 chronicles more than just another action-packed adventure; it tells a story of identity and transformation. Previously, in Iron Man 2, Stark had proclaimed, “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself.” Throughout this latest installment in the Iron Man trilogy, that view is radically changed and Stark is finally able to admit to himself that his suit was nothing more than a “cocoon” that enabled a new man emerge from it’s shell.

Protection and sacrifice were both themes that I appreciated as much as the emphasis on humility. The previous Iron Man film ended with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts finally in a serious relationship and it is refreshing to watch the way they both sacrifice to protect each other. In a moment of anger and pride, Stark jeopardizes the safety of “the one thing he can’t live without.” Once he realizes his mistake, however, he is broken and his apology is sincere. Multiple times Stark compromises his own safety in order to ensure Pepper’s. What a vast difference this is from the old Tony Stark who only cared about himself; now he loves Pepper and is willing to put her needs and safety before his own. Pepper’s character has always been one of a feminine woman who supports and aids the hero without getting involved in the action herself but that perception is altered somewhat in this installment. After she endures a terrible ordeal, Pepper is worried for herself and Tony and she is terrified that she might inadvertently harm the man she loves. However, Tony reassures her, “I can make you better. I fix stuff.” Both are willing to be there for each other in good times as well as bad and make sacrifices necessary to protect the other.

Another concept that is worth thinking about is introduced in a statement by Stark at the opening of the film. He remarks, “You start something pure, something exciting then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons.” This quote and the way it is a crucial aspect to the plot provides some excellent food-for-thought. Even if it doesn’t acknowledge the true nature and source of evil, it does inspire people to consider their actions towards others and realize that the compromises we make now can have deadly ramifications for our future. Despite the fatalistic tone of this statement, the story is not void of following up with messages of hope and redemption and overcoming mistakes.

The Bad

The MPAA rated this film PG-13 for “sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.”

Even though Iron Man 3 is full of some excellent themes and messages worth thinking about, it is not void of negative content and it contains much of the risque content found in the other two Iron Man films.

Yes, Tony and Pepper are in a relationship now, but this does not stop us from seeing the kind of behavior Stark was notorious for during the previous films. Flashbacks show us a glimpse of the promiscuous-pre-Pepper Tony. Nothing is shown and nothing explicit is said, however, there is suggestive dialogue and inappropriate actions are implied. Regarding Pepper and Tony’s relationship, the two live together even though they are not married and suggestive dialogue is amply present between the two of them as well.

People are shown together in bed while, throughout the course of the movie, women are shown in underwear, bikinis, and very revealing clothing. Pepper’s midriff is exposed during quite a bit of the film.

Profanity consists uses of “s-“, “d-“, “a-“, “S.O.B.” and taking the Lord’s name in vain. In addition to those, there are several instances of inappropriate slang terminology.

Drugs are mentioned and some characters drink alcoholic beverages.

This is, without a doubt, a very violent film; more-so than I can remember the other Marvel films being. Iron Man 3 seems to jump from one fast-paced battle to the next with hardly a moment to catch your breath in between. People are killed and terrorism is shown in a way that is extremely frightening and realistic. Blood is shown and genetic modifications are the cause of some highly disturbing images and scenes including people breathing fire, turning red-hot, and being able to regenerate disgusting and mutilated bodies back to normal. People are blown up and buildings explode. Hand-to-hand combat is gritty and intense (including vicious fighting between a man and a woman.) The violence is definitely something of which to be very wary.

Conclusion

While I consider Iron Man 3 to be superior to Iron Man 2 plot-wise, it is far from perfect. What started out as a fantastic plot with plenty of depth and a well-developed villain, was taken too far and ended up being over-the-top and unbelievable. Sometimes less is more and subtlety is better than excess. Towards the end of this film I was ready to go back to the more “realistic” roots of Iron Man and forget about some of the crazy things that were introduced into this story by its end. The messages were there, but they seemed to get buried and lost amidst the special effects and action sequences that failed to deviate from the expected norm.

Iron Man 3 explored and caused viewers to consider and question some serious issues, such as the ramifications of genetic modification and “playing God.” Due to its thought-provoking themes, I am glad I went to see this film; it provided me with a lot to consider and the film itself contained plenty of exciting action, plot twists, and witty dialogue to be thoroughly entertaining. However, because of the risque content and the heavy amount of disturbing violence, this is not a film I would chose to see again.

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Batman Begins

“Why do we fall, Bruce?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Bats.  Ever since he was attacked by bats as a child, Bruce Wayne has been afraid of the creatures.  When actors dressed as bats appear on-stage at an opera, Bruce begs his parents to leave early.  They exit through a back door into the alley–where Bruce’s parents are robbed and murdered by a thug.  Driven by guilt and anger, Bruce waits for 14 years for his chance to kill his parent’s murderer, but someone else gets there first.

Broken and shamed, Bruce abandons his estate and wanders the world, studying the criminal mind.  But “The world is too small a place for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear,” and Bruce is discovered by a mystical group that offers to train him to fight crime.  But when Bruce learns that the group’s plan for abolishing evil involves destroying Gothem City, he must decide for himself what is the right way to achieve justice–and determine just how far he’ll go to protect his hometown.

Batman Begins tells the enthralling tale of how the Dark Knight embarked on his journey to fight evil.  It was the first “grown up” superhero movie I ever watched, and my mind is still spinning from the onslaught of this new action-packed world.  Batman Begins is a complicated film on many levels–but in a good way.  Here’s why.

The Just

The story of how Bruce was inspired to join the fight against evil is not only engaging–with a realistic set-up and a very endearing young Bruce–it’s thought-provoking.  Bruce’s family is portrayed as loving and stable; Bruce’s father, in particular, is kind, caring, and generous.  It’s Bruce’s devotion to his father that plays perfectly into his transformation into Batman, making his character transition realistic and engaging–and it also incites a lot of questions about the nature of justice.  Throughout the film, the theme of justice is expounded–and contrasted with revenge–on many levels.  Although I didn’t necessarily agree with every thought presented, the film shed light on many angles of the subject and gave me much to ponder.  It’s a film that makes you think, which makes it an excellent piece for discerning audiences.

One particularly interesting element regarding the theme of justice is Bruce’s resistance to killing his enemies.  He staunchly refuses on several occasions, instead leaving them for the police to arrest and try lawfully.  While Bruce isn’t entirely consistent with this ideal, as I’ll discuss below, it does motivate him to make on crucial and very admirable decision.  [spoiler!]  When the mystical group reveals that they want to destroy Gothem City, a rat’s nest of evil, Bruce refuses.  No matter how much evil there is in the city, the people are still worth fighting for.  (Gen. 18:32)

Aside from the main plot of Bruce and his search for justice, there is a delightful cast of secondary characters, and I found several of them to be very endearing–and admirable.  Alfred is a wonderful example of loyalty; even though he is only a butler, he watches over Bruce like a father.  He doesn’t give up on Bruce, despite his mistakes, and he challenges Bruce to do something with his future–and begs him not to destroy the family name in the process.  Gordon, the police officer that Batman wins as an ally, shines as a just soul who is willing to go against an unjust system.  And Rachel, the district attorney and long-time friend of Bruce’s, is a rare and lovely example of femininity.  She fights for what is right and isn’t afraid to stand up to bad guys or Bruce.  She takes action and challenges Bruce to achieve a higher standard, yet she doesn’t run into danger or try to save the world on her own.  Her primary role in the final climactic battle is defending and comforting a small child, a very endearing and feminine moment.

On a related note, the developing romance between Rachel and Bruce is very subtle and tame.  For most of the film, their attraction manifests itself in their desire to take care of each other–Bruce protects Rachel, and Rachel supports and challenges Bruce (and Batman).  Near the end of the film they do exchange some romantic words and one kiss, but there is no flirting or sexual overtones.  In fact, Rachel is never shown flaunting herself or wearing noticeably immodest clothing, a very refreshing portrayal.

The Unjust

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the two girls Bruce takes out on a date.  In an attempt to conceal his secret identity, Bruce tries to fill the role of a millionaire playboy.  This results in a decadent evening out that ends with Bruce in a pool with two women who have evidently undressed.  While very little skin is shown, it is still worth noting.  What’s also worth noting, however, is that this behavior is not condoned.  Bruce runs into Rachel shortly after and feels the need to explain that “all this” is “not the real Bruce.”  Rachel replies with, “It’s not who you are underneath that defines you, but your actions.”  Although the scene was unnecessary, and certainly isn’t appropriate for children, I do think Rachel’s response shows good character.

Aside from that one scene, the adult content in the film is very mild.  A few men are shown shirtless briefly, but there is no other overt immodesty or sexual content.  There is a fairly generous dose of moderate language, in addition to at least one swear word and direct misuse of God’s name.  The mystical group has some quasi-religious rituals and claims to have supernatural influence; it mostly comes off as bizarre and is not explained in detail.

The main content concern is, of course, violence.  As is to be expected with an action movie, there’s ample amounts of flashy violence–explosions, car chases, etc.  There is also a substantial amount of gang violence and several gun/fistfights.  Gore is not excessive, but there is a moderate horror element to one bad guy’s methodology–he uses a toxin to induce panic in his victims, causing them to imagine the people around them as horrid creatures.  The disturbing nature of this, and the psychological implications of his weapon, provides interesting material for adults but may be a concern for younger audiences.

Interestingly, while Batman claims to be against killing his enemies, he does not appear to have any qualms against causing destruction and chaos.  He blows up the monastery where the mystical group resides, supposedly killing many of them.  He wreaks havoc during some of his escapades, damaging buildings and crashing police cars.  And during the climax [spoiler!] he intentionally leaves the villain in a doomed train.  He’s statement of “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you” makes one wonder just how deep his devotion to saving lives really is.

In the end

The superhero genre was a new experience for me, and I’m still trying to process my reaction to the film.  I was expecting ample violence and also hoping for deep themes to ponder.  I got both, and thankfully the objectionable content in the film was not high enough to muddy it.  I’m not sure yet whether Batman Begins will be a film I enjoy watching repeatedly, or whether it will be a film I watch only a few times and ponder.  But I have decided on one thing–superhero movies may just be worth my time.

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