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MOVIE REVIEW- IRON MAN 3 Has Style and Substance, Begins Marvel’s Phase 2 with a Loud Bang

Thanks to slight of hand, a fully developed Tony Stark, and one of Robert Downey Jr’s finest performances IRON MAN 3 is the first summer blockbuster.




Marvel Studios

Directed-Shane Black

Starring- Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ty Simpkins, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale and Jon Favreau.

Steven’s Quick Review-Loved it, Get’s into the juicy details of Tony Stark’s emotions in a Post AVENGERS universe. Solid direction and a fun script make IRON MAN 3 one of Marvel’s best yet. Robert Downey Jr gives his best performance as the eccentric billionaire and Sir Ben Kingsley gives a somewhat surprising performance as the films main villain The Mandarin.

Steven’s Review-

When IRON MAN 3 made an appearance at Comic Con, it was running on the momentum of THE AVENGERS. At the height in Marvel’s Popularity they made bold announcements about their “Phase 2”, the beginning of which was set to begin as the start of “Phase 1” had, with IRON MAN . While the 800 pound elephant in the room was how they would continue the story into a new set of super hero films, they also had the fact that IRON MAN 2 was for the most part liked by fans and critics but was missing that panache of the first one.

IRON MAN 3 doesn’t get back to the basics that made it so successful but it treats IRON MAN 3 as if it could be the final film of the successful franchise. The films script allows fans to not feel like their hero but to understand Tony Stark the person. We have seen everything we have needed to see from the “Mark” suits and IRON MAN 3 is mostly about Tony Stark. IM3 allows you to understand the emotional toll that being Iron Man takes on it’s main protagonist Tony Stark. The film is right in Robert Downey Jr’s wheelhouse, showing a post AVENGERS Tony Stark who not only has trouble sleeping but can’t seem to get over the emotional roller coaster that was the events of THE AVENGERS. Downey Jr shines in what is his best performance as the quick witted, eccentric billionaire. Especially the emotional pain Stark goes through, even at the mention of the events in New York during the final moments of THE AVENGERS.

IRON MAN 3 begins almost in a voice over, and a flash back to a new years party in europe, when Tony meets a beautiful botanist (Rebecca Hall) who introduces him to something she calls “Extremis”. We are also introduced to Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a gentleman who tony brushes off in an elevator during the films opening sequence. The most important new addition to the cast is unstoppable terrorist The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), a psychotic terrorist who is counting down attacks until the one that has him kill the president, The Mandarin is introduced to us as Mr. Stark’s main threat.

Like all of the Marvel films that include Tony Stark, IM3 contains it’s fair share of name calling, quick wit and comedy, especially in some odd places. The film includes a quite funny scene stealing appearance from a little boy in a Tennessee town named Harley, played by Ty Simpkins (INSIDIOUS). Harley meets Tony at a low point and helps the hero through some of his major issues. Simpkins performance as a bullied young boy is perfect, especially one scene where Harley questions Tony about what he saw in New York. Harley is an enjoyable relief for fans who are a bit stressed out between action scenes.

IRON MAN 3 is excellent, it’s fun, it has style, substance and a rather extensive but not overbearing plot. It also includes it’s fair share of plot twists, some are not even close to foreseeable by any audience. It does two things that no other super hero movie has even attempted to this point, most of the films scenes are primarily about Tony Stark and not how awesome his suit is, and two it exceeds in slight of hand. The trailer is primarily window dressing for what is inside this character driven superhero flick and entrusts the audience to understand that not everything is what it seems.

With Jon Favreau out of the directors chair, it’s Shane Black (KISS KISS BANG BANG) who takes the direction duties. Black is more known for writing some of the great action films of the 1990’s including LETHAL WEAPON 1-4, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, and THE LAST BOY SCOUT. Black has not made a film since KISS KISS BANG BANG restarted the career of Robert Downey Jr in 2005, and the writer/director even includes aspects of KISS KISS into IRON MAN, including the opening narration which is similar in both movies. Black also wrote the script with Drew Pearce (PACIFIC RIM), who besides this summers monsters vs robots epic PACIFIC RIM is making his major motion picture debut. Pearce and Black write a heck of a script, besides a load of laughs, Black and Pearce allow for a few big twists and turns along the way, as well as giving actors like Downey Jr and Ben Kingsley a lot to work with. The scenes between Tony and the young kid Harley are some of the films best and all the characters seem to reach some form of development, including Sir Ben’s terrorist Mandarin who we find out is not exactly who we thought he was.

As for supporting cast Gwyneth Paltrow, finally gets some action as Pepper Potts. Pepper finally becomes all she can be in IRON MAN 3, and for good reason as Paltrow gives her best performance in the franchise. Don Cheadle reprises his role as Col. James Rhodes, and in his new suit “The Iron Patriot” Rhodey gets more then just the one action scene at the end of Iron Man 2. He becomes the US’s anti terrorism one man wrecking crew, and rhodey and his suit get there fair share of action. Guy Pearce as the villanous Aldrich Killian, a guy who after getting blown off by Tony Stark seems to have reasoning to attempt to get Tony Stark in his pocket. Pearce the adept chamillion of an actor is excellent as one of this films primary villains. His right hand man is played by James Badge Dale, some argued that Dale was going to be a good guy in the film. Instead Dale is actually the guy forced to get his hands dirty in fights with both the iron patriot and Iron Man himself. Rebecca Hall is a new addition as a former fling of Tony Starks who developed the “Extremis” virus in the late 90’s who confronts tony and Pepper after she begins to believe her boss Aldrich Killian is actually working for The Mandarin. Speaking of which, Sir Ben Kingsley enters the fray as the villainous Mandarin, Kingsley’s voice was all anyone could talk about after the trailers and he does not disappoint. Kingsley gives a somewhat epic performance as the villain, even though you find out he may not be exactly who he says he is.

IM3 is a perfect set up to the next Marvel films coming down the pike, with THOR: THE DARK WORLD hitting theaters in November. While there is no hint to the next few movies in IRON MAN 3, it gives us a solid read into what we are to expect from Phase 2, which is some very entertaining super hero flicks, and you won’t find me complaining about that.

P.S- Make sure to stay post credits for a normal Marvel post credits scene as well as a message from Marvel.


REVIEW: “Sing Street” Will Put a Song in Your Heart… and Your iPod



“I have just seen an instant classic.”

That’s what I said to myself as I left the theater, with the music and adrenaline of “Sing Street” still coursing through my veins.

It’s the kind of movie you want to turn around and see again, immediately. Right after you download the soundtrack. Yes, it’s that good.

Haven’t heard anything about it? I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t have known about this film either, except that my Regal Crown Club card finally paid off in the form of free tickets to an advanced screening. (Never mind the $25 popcorn.) Anyway, let’s watch!

Hooked yet? You will be.

Irish writer/director John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”) has conjured a nearly perfect coming-of-age tale set in 1980s Dublin. Think “The Commitments meets “Sixteen Candles meets “Footloose,” but all in one glorious package that manages to be both fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Drawing from his own teenage years at the real Synge Street school, Carney avoids the trap of creating a pure fluff piece by infusing the story with real heart.

A large part of that is due to the breakout talent and hero of Sing Street,” 16-year-old Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. As “Connor Lalor” navigates the tricky currents of a new school, family drama, and first love, Walsh-Peelo is heartbreakingly earnest, predictably awkward, and unexpectedly optimistic. Everything about his performance rings true. No small feat, considering that this is his acting debut.

Thanks to Carney’s non-actor, open casting approach, Walsh-Peelo is also joined by some equally promising new faces. Lucy Boynton is luminous as his love interest, “Raphina,” and Mark McKenna is quietly compelling as Conor’s songwriting partner, “Eamon.”

One of the most satisfying pairings, though, is anchored by the more experienced Jack Reynor (“Transformers:Age of Extinction”).  He shines as Conor’s older brother, “Brendan.”  Dealing with the angst of his own stalled dreams, Brendan tackles his brotherly mentoring role with gusto. Conor soaks up the advice like a ruddy-cheeked sponge, then begins to find his own way as his confidence grows.  Rarely do we see the underlying affection between two brothers played so simply and honestly,  so the relationship between Conor and Brendan is a lovely surprise.

The other undeniable star of “Sing Street” is the music.  While the story could have easily been told with the band only performing covers of ’80s hits,  Carney had a bigger vision for the film.  He collaborated with Scottish songwriter Gary Clark to craft 8 original tunes that not only add layers of light and shade to the storyline, but could be stand-alone chart toppers today.  From the gleefully retro “The Riddle of the Model,” to the Cure-tastic “Beautiful Sea,”  to the EMO ballad “To Find You,”  there’s something for everyone. Welcome to your summer soundtrack, people.

There are few darker notes to the plot, and the ending feels slightly of place, but in general “Sing Street” will leave you feeling as light and fizzy as a packet of Pop Rocks.

The movie poster reads: “Boy Meets Girl. Girl Unimpressed. Boy Starts Band.”  That’s it in a nutshell, of course, but happily, this film is so much more.

SING STREET opens in New York April 15th, and is in theaters nationwide on April 29th.






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Celebrate The Fourth With Our Picks For Great American Movies!

What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?



What makes a film distinctly American? Sometimes it recollects the spirit of our patriotism, and other times it is so iconic and popular that it defines an entire generation of our culture. Here are our picks for some great American movies! Why not celebrate your Independence Day holiday by popping up some popcorn and enjoying one?

It’s impossible to list them all… this is just a handfull! Scroll down and tell us what your favorites are!!!

Let’s start at the beginning!

Do you have what it takes to watch a black and white classic? (Don’t break my heart by replying if the answer is no.) Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 classic starring James Cagney – telling the story of the great entertainer George M Cohan. He’s the man behind the songs “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”  A true classic with distinctly American music and showmanship. Watch the trailer!

There’s something about the fifties and sixties that still plucks at the nostalgic heartstrings of America. And yet, two of the most iconic movies about that period were actually shot decades later, with a heartfelt look back at those times.

Both American Graffiti and Grease come to mind. While American Graffiti can take bragging rights for bringing us more breakout stars, (and being written and directed by George Lucas), Grease seems to enjoy more clout as a family friendly favorite.

1986 was a  good year for Tom Cruise, and a good year for movies. Top Gun starred Tom Cruise stars as a student at Top Gun Naval Academy. It sparked a sense of patriotism, and the continued ascent of Cruise’s career. (If you’re watching with your kids, you might wanna skip ahead once you start hearing the song “Take My Breath Away.” Love scene ahead! Still, some might argue it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.)

Forrest Gump (1994) proved not only to be an excellent movie, but also an impromptu history lesson.
The story follows an unlikely hero (played by Tom Hanks) as he journeys through life, finding himself witnessing (and sometimes even influencing) a series of historic events, but is largely unaware of their significance. A true classic.

Before the luster of Mel Gibson had worn off, he portrayed Benjamin Martin, a man who becomes embroiled in the Revolutionary War. The late Heath Ledger plays his son, who fights in the Continental Army.

The most recent of patriotic classics is 2012’s Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis delivers a flawless performance as our 16th President under the directorial brilliance of Steven Spielberg. A new classic for the ages.


For more movies updates, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEW- WORLD WAR Z Is a Messy, Relentless Zombie Horror Flick That Really Works

Check Out Steven’s review for one of the biggest surprises of 2013, the epic zombie flick WORLD WAR Z.



world-war-z-posterWORLD WAR Z

Paramount Pictures

Director- Marc Forster

Starring-Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale. Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, David Andrews.

Steven’s Quick Review- Yes its production was messy, but WORLD WAR Z might be the biggest surprise of the summer movies in 2013. Thanks to relentless action, a number of good scares, and an on-target performance from Brad Pitt, WORLD WAR Z is an excellent zombie film. Even though it is barely based on its source material, Damon Lindelof’s rewritten third act will keep audiences guessing and add some scares to your summer movie slate.

Steven’s Review- Brad Pitt has become the kind of actor who now only does movies he truly wants to do, and only takes roles that challenge him. So when Pitt and his Plan B studios initially won the rights to Max Brooks bestselling novel WORLD WAR Z the options were endless. Yet from the start of production the movie had issues, between the initial script lacking invention, a director in Marc Forster (QUANTUM OF SOLACE) who was found it difficult to make important decisions and the very public spat between Pitt and Forster that nearly sidelined the film indefinitely.  There were also the on-set issues, besides the arguments between the actor and director, there were problems on set in Hungary when government officials stormed the set and removed live weapons. Also, forced re-shoots that moved WWZ from a winter release to a summer tentpole. It’s easy to assume WORLD WAR Z was doomed from the start. But something happened along the way, something that shocked plenty during our screening of the film in May. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Pitt, Forster, and crew actually made a darn good zombie flick. With help from Damon Lindelof (“Lost”, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) who came to the rescue and reworked an ending  after the studio deemed the initial conclusion was not good enough for release.  Following Lindelof’s changes and a massive marketing campaign Brad Pitt’s newest pet project was ready to show the world.

WORLD WAR Z the book takes place in a post zombie war setting, when a journalist and U.N investigator goes all over the globe talking to survivors and getting their stories.  The film adaptation written by Drew Goddard (CABIN IN THE WOODS), Matthew Michael Carnahan (STATE OF PLAY), J. Michael Straczynski (THOR) and Damon Lindelof  has little to nothing to do with Brooks acclaimed novel. We begin meeting Gerry Lane(Pitt) , a former UN investigator who lives with his family somewhere outside Philadelphia.  Within 5 minutes of the opening credits, we are thrown into a full on zombie invasion, with riots in super markets and speedy zombies chasing people down. WWZ Starts off with a bang. Gerry’s wife Karin(“The Killings” Mireille Enos), and his daughters Constance(Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) desperately leave the city and head towards New York, finding themselves in the streets of  Newark, New Jersey where they pick up supplies and await a helicopter pick-up thanks to Gerry’s old friends at the United Nations.

WORLD WAR Z is in no way a perfect movie; every now and then it finds itself deep into horror cliché, only to drag itself out with one big sequence after another. Pitt carries the film as he finds himself in worse situations every moment, but without being totally indestructible (meaning as an audience you never quite know whether Gerry Lane will make it out alive). Pitt’s performance feels dressed in reality, while he searches the globe for reasons why this zombie apocalypse is happening, worries for his safety and hopes to return to his family.

WORLD WAR Z is a suspenseful zombie flick that contains a few scares, but has the advantage of almost never slowing down.  The filmmakers found a way to protray a lot of violence and still receive a PG-13 rating – they show you enough death and destruction without maimed bodies and severed limbs. I enjoyed the fast paced nature of WWZ and the fact it never drags, it allows characters to develop and story to move forward without forsaking the zombie action fan in all of us.

As far as adaptations go, WORLD WAR Z could be considered one of the worst, it barely contains any connection to Max Brooks brilliant novel, other than a few characters names and one or two plot points. As far as summer surprises, WORLD WAR Z is a welcome break from comedies and super hero flicks that take up most of our time. But the pressure is on: it needs to bring in $500 million dollars to turn a profit for everyone involved. I enjoyed WORLD WAR Z and hope they can find a way to make some cash, so we can get more zombie action just like it.

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