Today marks the start of the summer movie season. And with that is the worry of what to see when Hollywood looks to collect as much as it can from families and those with disposable income. Far be it from us to just emphasize the big blockbusters and call it day, we at Inside Pulse Movies tend to have varying taste palates when it comes to cinema. In the first of four monthly features we will pick the best features to see for a particular month – for the month of May the lucky number is 8. So let’s get started in a big way with the film that starts the summer blockbuster season, Iron Man 3.
Iron Man 3
Back in 2008, Marvel took it upon themselves to slowly construct a film universe for their comic book characters to flourish and connect with one another in. It began with Iron Man, and finally reached its fruition last year with the release of The Avengers. While The Avengers saw the completion of Marvel’s “Phase One,” a product of various Marvel superhero franchises coming together, when push comes to shove, it was an Iron Man-centric film. This wasn’t all that shocking to find, as the man in the hot rod red and gold suit has been their most successful franchise thus far for Marvel, and Robert Downey Jr. is always someone people want to see more of.
So it isn’t surprising that the first film within this finely crafted Marvel film universe to be released after the end of Phase One is the second sequel that got the ball rolling, Iron Man 3. While Iron Man 3 wouldn’t have had problems making hundreds of millions of dollars even without The Avengers, being the first Marvel film out of the gate after such an epic event will help it bring in an even larger audience this time around.
Fans of Iron Man will be happy to see Stark’s arch-nemesis Mandarin in the latest installment, as well as the introduction of Extremis. Those who aren’t familiar with those elements of Iron Man’s world should still be excited, as they both mean lots of good things for the franchise depending on how they’re handled. Speaking of, Shane Black (Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang) is now the one handling directing duties (and it’s only his second directing effort!), and this is something all Iron Man fans should be happy about.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? This is a rather moot point, as I don’t think there’s anyone out there debating as to whether or not they should hold off for home video when it comes to this one. But if you are on the fence, when it all comes down to it, there’s really no better way to kick off the summer in blockbuster fashion this year than with what will easily be one of the highest grossing films of 2013. (Brendan Campbell)
No, the film is not a spin-off from Top Gun. If it was, Val Kilmer would be relevant to theater audiences once again (his last major role was the villain Dieter Von Cunth in MacGruber). The Iceman is a docudrama about contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), a mob hit man who had murdered more than 100 men before his eventual apprehension. And during that stretch he still maintained a loving family man relationship in which neither his wife nor daughters knew of his “killer” job.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? Michael Shannon is slowly becoming one of those actors that makes me plunk down my money every time he’s on a screen. Why? Because he keeps taking great roles in unique films and turning it into some form of awesome. So when he plays a hit man who had a double life as a family man during the best time to be a criminal in the Northeast, with a stellar supporting cast to boot (including Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, and Chris Evans), I get intrigued. (Scott Sawitz)
The Great Gatsby
In what seems like another in an endless amount of big-screen adaptations of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic (actually the last one was in the ‘70s starring Robert Redford – the adaptation was deemed by certain critics as “The Great Gasbag”) leave it to Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann to be ambitious in his attempt to bring the roaring 1920s and all the glitz and glamour that went along with it. With a talented ensemble, leading with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, and rounding it out with Isla Fisher, the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man (that’s Tobey Maguire for those who can’t remember his name) and Joel Edgerton, another Aussie that is well on his way to joining the other standout stars from the Outback, and presented in 3-D, The Great Gatsby looks to buck the trend when it comes to period pieces.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? Baz Luhrmann may have had a misfire when he tried to go for the sweeping Australian western epic, Australia, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, I think he’ll be back to his Moulin Rouge! ways with The Great Gatsby. What intrigues me most is how Baz Luhrmann will utilize 3-D. We’ve yet to see a period drama that has been presented in such a way. Also intriguing is the selection of music (the soundtrack was overseen by Jay-Z. Yes, Mr. Beyonce). Having already sampled some of the tracks, Lana del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” is a standout, it will be interesting to see where the songs are placed in the feature. DiCaprio will probably once again deliver a strong performance as will Mulligan. But definitely pay attention to Joel Edgerton. Here’s an actor that is on the precipe of getting to that next level. My only fear is that it will be swallowed up by the likes of Iron Man 3 and the Star Trek sequel. (Travis Leamons)
Star Trek Into Darkness
And what about that sequel? With the title like Star Trek Into Darkness you just know the ante has been upped this time around. With the principal cast and J.J. Abrams on board, the sequel to the 2009 blockbuster hit looks to be a little more moodier with a villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) that the women just swoon over. Sure, purists will scoff that this isn’t the Star Trek they remembered with phasers set to stun (if you want that, just stick with the great parody Galaxy Quest), but the landscape of science-fiction has gotten to a point where it’s difficult to be just science-fiction. It’s usually just a small element to a bigger piece.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? The one thing I’ve loved about J.J Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek has been how he’s re-imagined it. This isn’t an action-oriented film cobbled onto science fiction. It’s a straight up action film set in space, nothing more, and it’s made the entire franchise much more accessible. It’s a chance for the story to breathe organically as opposed to being shunted into just being an adaptation of the original series for fans only. (SS)
Stories We Tell
For all the platitudes that have beget Sofia Coppola following the success she had with films like The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, she’ll always be seen as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola foremost as well as the scapegoat for The Godfather Part III. She also seems to supersede the work of other directors of a female persuasion. That would include Sarah Polley who has transitioned from starring in the likes of Doug Liman’s Go to write and direct such features as Away We Go and Take This Waltz. Having enjoyed the former and going half-and-half on the latter, I will admit she has a style similar to the likes of Woody Allen and Atom Egoyan. However her latest, Stories We Tell, has her become a documentarian as she chronicles her own family, including the revelation that her father isn’t her biological father. Don’t worry, this isn’t as much a spoiler as it is a catalyst for Polley’s desire to again focus on relationships. Only this time the focus is her family.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? They often say truth is stranger than fiction, and I can only imagine the brilliance Sarah Polley weaves while unraveling her own family tree. As secrets come to fruition, Polley’s Stories We Tell should be one of the preeminent documentaries of the summer, if not the year. (TL)
Quentin Tarantino may claim Dazed and Confused as one of his favorite films of all-time (top 10 even), but Richard Linklater’s greatest accomplishment in film is what he’s managed to do with two, now three films about the evolution of a relationship between a man and a woman. Beginning in 1995 with Before Sunrise and continuing every nine years with another sequel (Before Sunset in 2004 and Before Midnight this year), Linklater has made the fictional equivalent to what Michael Apted has accomplished with the Up Series, a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of 14 British children since 1964, when they were seven years old.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? Can you make perhaps the best trilogy of all-time and have 90% of people never see/hear of it? That’s what Richard Linklater could do with Before Midnight, the second sequel to Before Sunrise. It’s about the tale of a couple (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy) as they progress through life and how we tend to view romantic love. Before Sunrise was about the youthful, more romantic version of love … before the world jades us. Before Sunset was about the more pragmatic view of love you take in your 30s, when the world makes you realize that the reason why they don’t show you a couple six months after the big, heart pounding moment is because it probably didn’t end well. Which is why Before Midnight fascinates me and why it’s my most anticipated film of 2013: What do Linklater, Delpy and Hawke have to say about love one more time? (SS)
Fast & Furious 6
It’s hard to believe that the Fast and Furious franchise has been around for 12 years now. That’s more a statement to make us all feel old rather than a knock against the series itself. The first film was sold as a popcorn movie about the underground subculture of fast cars, and it has since grown into an extremely popular franchise filled with faster cars and muscle-bound men. After the first movie, Vin Diesel decided to focus on other films, whereas Paul Walker stayed on board. Walker backed out of the third film (the bastard stepchild of the franchise known as Tokyo Drift) which Diesel made an extremely brief cameo in, until both finally returned to bring the band back together in the fourth installment in 2009.
And it was here that the franchise really caught traction, as it planted seeds for an ongoing story that led into Fast Five – the most successful film in the franchise thus far. Fast Five not only added Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to the mix, which is always a good thing, but it also took a page from other successful movie franchises and left a snippet of a cliffhanger/teaser in the credits for the inevitable sequel.
That sequel is Fast and Furious 6, and it’s definitely shaping up to be some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies in the month of May. With the entire crew returning – including someone thought dead and gone – fans should be ready for more of the same high-octane action scenes, totally over-the-top car chases, and lots of muscle flexing.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? Against the usual Hollywood rules, this is a franchise that has only been getting more entertaining the longer it goes, and with Fast and Furious 7 already in early pre-production stage (with the plan to release it July of next year), there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. (BC)
The Kings of Summer
Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t know this movie existed, but once I saw the original teaser then the theatrical trailer I was hooked; maybe because I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age movie. The Kings of Summer is definitely a mid-level release that will act as counterprogramming against the bigger movies of the summer. Without a major star, instead relying on unknowns for the lead roles and rounding them out with familiar faces from TV like Parks & Recreation‘s Nick Offerman and Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally, The Kings of Summer will look to carve out a niche in the summer slate by trying to appeal to the mid-to-late teens that are looking to break free from the confines of bad comedies and PG-13 scarefests.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to See It? It’s too early to say that The Kings of Summer will be the second coming of Stand By Me, but I’m confident that it will reach its intended audience. Maybe it’s all wishful thinking on my part, but coming-of-age movies are as relevant now as ever. And as the wise philosopher Ferris Buller once put it, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around every once and a while, you could miss it.” So do yourself a favor. Drop the videogame controller, and trade in one air-conditioned room for another (maybe with a tub of popcorn and a cold soda) and become a king this summer. (TL)
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!