Iron Man 3

Walt Disney Studios

Rated PG-13 for intense violence and brief sensuality.

Downey Back As Bon Vivant Billionaire/Smart Aleck Superhero

This film represents the seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series kick-started by Iron Man 1 in 2008, and since followed in succession by The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers. The sensible question I suppose you’re probably interested in having answered is whether the franchise is showing any signs of running out of steam or if it’s worth investing in yet another episode.

Great news! The movie more than lives up to its billing as the first blockbuster of this summer season. Yes, the plot remains true to the basic comic book adaptation formula in that it pits a superhero against a diabolical villain bent on world domination.

However, Iron Man adds a little more to the trademark mix of derring-do and visually captivating special effects thanks to Robert Downey, Jr. bringing so much charm to the title character. Downey again delights, delivering a plethora of pithy comments, whether playing bon vivant billionaire Tony Stark or his intrepid alter ego.

Also reprising their roles are People Magazine’s reigning Most Beautiful Woman In The World Gwyneth Paltrow as Iron Man’s love interest Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as his best friend Rhodey, and Jon Favreau (the director of episodes 1 and 2) as chauffeur-turned-obsessive chief of security Happy Hogan. And critical additions include Ty Simpkins as Harley, Iron Man’s prepubescent, new sidekick and Sir Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, the maniacal spokesman for an international terrorist organization.

The point of departure is Bern, Switzerland on New Year’s 2000, which is where we find Tony Stark declining an offer to go into business being made by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a disabled scientist who ostensibly covets an experimental drug being developed by Stark Industries botanist Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). The storyline immediately fast-forwards from Y2K to the present as a string of bombings are being ostensibly orchestrated by The Mandarin.

Against his better judgment, Tony dares the madman to a fight, and no sooner is his oceanfront home leveled by a barrage of incoming rockets. Fortunately, a number of Iron Man outfits were left unscathed and, with the help of precocious Harley and pal Rhodey (aka Iron Patriot), he proceeds to get to the bottom of who is really behind the attacks.

Far be it from me to spoil the surprising developments which ensue en route to the big showdown, suffice to say brace yourself for an array of visually captivating stunt work interrupted intermittently by comical, tongue-in-cheek comments courtesy of our smart aleck protagonist. Patient audience members willing to sit through the long (and I mean long) closing credits will be duly rewarded with a brief session of Iron Man decompressing on the shrink’s couch with Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).

In sum, a worthy addition to the vaunted Marvel franchise.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 130 minutes

 

 

Peeples

Lionsgate Films

Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and drug use.

Blue-Collar Beau Meets Bourgie Fiancee’s Family In Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy

After dating for over a year, Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) is head-over-heels in love with his girlfriend, Grace (Kerry Washington). He’s ready to pop the question, and has even purchased a ring, but there’s a slight problem: he still hasn’t met her parents yet.

Because of her background, Grace is a little ashamed of her beau’s modest background. After all, she’s a high-powered Manhattan attorney with a proven pedigree, while he hails from the ‘hood and makes a living by performing at children’s birthday parties.

Concern about their class differences has Grace taking off alone to the tip of Long Island for a weekend getaway at her family’s waterfront mansion. Rather than sit at home licking his wounds, Wade decides to force the issue by crashing the gathering.

His unexplained presence gets under the skin of Grace’s father, Judge Virgil Peebles (David Alan Grier), an overbearing patriarch with a need to control. Furthermore, Grace is afraid to tell him the truth about the nature of her relationship with Wade, which serves to establish the familiar, sitcom scenario revolving around a big lie that must be kept hidden at all costs.

Written and directed by Tyler Perry protégé Tina Gordon Chism, Peeples is a fish-out-of-water comedy whose stock-in-trade is making fun of the contrast between po’ and bourgie black folks. À la popular Perry tv programs like House Of Payne and Meet The Browns, the production is littered with colorful, two-dimensional characters bordering on caricatures.

There’s Wade’s embarrassingly-ghetto brother (Malcolm Barrett) who also shows up unannounced. He’s an oaf who puts his foot in his own mouth by suggesting that Grace’s lipstick lesbian sister (Kali Hawk) “looks too good to be gay.” Wade conveniently loses his wallet upon arriving, which means he looks like a total loser when he can’t pay for anything.

You get the idea. Is it funny? I suppose, provided you’re in the target demo and haven’t seen Jumping The Broom, another comedy set at a beachfront estate (on Martha’s Vineyard in that case) and pitting crass blacks from the wrong side of the tracks against the others with their noses in the air. From shoplifting to lip-synching to skinny-dipping to a sweat lodge to skeletons-in-the-closet, Peeples throws everything at the screen but the kitchen sink, and just enough sticks.

An amusing, if not exactly original, African-American-oriented variation on Meet The Parents.

 

Good (2 stars)

Running time: 95 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening May 10, 2013

 

Aftershock (R for rape, profanity, nudity, drug use and graphic violence). Harrowing horror flick, set in Chile, about a half-dozen tourists’ (Eli Roth, Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martinez, Lorenza Izzo, Natasha Yarovenko and Andrea Osvart) ordeal trying to survive the chaos and collapse of civilization in the aftermath of an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. With Selena Gomez, Dayana Amigo and Paz Bascuñan.

 

The Great Gatsby (PG-13 for sexuality, smoking, violent images, partying and brief profanity). Leonardo DiCaprio handles the title role in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitgerald’s classic chronicling the decadent indulgences of a tight-knit set of friends out on Long Island during the Roaring Twenties. With Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Gemma Ward.

 

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor (Unrated). Quirky comedy about an advertising executive (Bruce Greenwood) who can only speak in commercial slogans after suffering a brain injury while watching television. Ensemble includes Parker Posey, Callum Blue and Allie MacDonald.

 

Erased (R for violence). Cat-and-mouse thriller about a former CIA agent (Aaron Eckhart) who ends up on the run with his estranged daughter (Liana Liberato) after they are both marked for termination as part of a wide-ranging international conspiracy. With Olga Kurylenko, Kate Linder and Neil Napier.

 

Sightseers (Unrated). Dark comedy about a guy (Steve Oram) with a secret agenda whose attempt to take his sheltered girlfriend (Alice Lowe) on a romantic vacation around the British Isles is frustrated by everything from bad weather to noisy teenagers. With Eileen Davies, Richard Glover and Monica Dolan.

 

Venus And Serena (Unrated). Tennis documentary highlighting the challenges faced by the Williams sisters on and off the court over the course of the 2011 season. Also featuring appearances by Chris Rock, Bill Clinton and Common, as well as reams of archival footage of the competitive siblings being groomed for greatness by their father during childhood.

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