Friday, September 26, 2014

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron man 2DIRECTOR: John Favreau; CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father's legacy.

MY THOUGHTS:

Iron Man 2 has a bit of a mid-life crisis as a film, or maybe it is going through puberty.

While it is still rather watchable and adds important elements both to Tony Stark’s story and to the Marvel cinematic universe, it would probably be better if it was shorter. Some action parts, in particularly, are too long and dragged out to my taste.

Talking about mid-life crisis, Tony Stark is definitely going through one, reverting to his old self-centred, partying, extravagant behaviour as he faces his existential issues. Absorbed in self-pity while searching a means for self-preservation, he neglects his company and the conspiracies of his competitor, so much so that his best friend turns against him, prompted by the government, and his faithful assistant almost gives up on him.

It takes SHIELD stepping in, forcing him to face his father’s legacy to find a solution to his problem – resolving his misguided resentment against Howard Stark on the way – for Tony to get himself together and save himself and the world, sort of, in the process. 

While Tony’s so-called mid-life crisis was somewhat irritating, it was great seeing his genius at work again. And I loved the appearances of agent Coulson and Natasha Romanoff. And Pepper. Everything would have gone (even more) awry for Tony without Pepper.

In conclusion, Iron Man 2 doesn’t quite reach the quality of its predecessor, but it is still a good film. 3 stars 
RECOMMENDATION: If you loved Iron Man, the sequel is almost a must watch.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man 1DIRECTOR: John Favreau; CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard…

SUMMARY (from IMDB): When wealthy industrialist Tony Stark is forced to build an armoured suit after a life-threatening incident, he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil.

MY THOUGHTS:

The reason I didn’t watch Iron Man films before was that I thought they were full of senseless action. Obviously, I was wrong.

Iron Man is so much more than an action/science-fiction film. It starts as a story about a rather arrogant heir to an empire, a playboy flying on the wings of success, a not particularly likeable character, for all the dazzle surrounding him.

However, Tony Stark is not just some spoiled rich guy, he is a genius inventor, who has earned his own success, and he can very well roll his sleeves up, which is what saves him when he finds himself in a precarious situation. Once he realises the people closest to him have been lying and his company, a weapon industry giant, has been selling arms under the table, he decides to set things right, and thus becomes Iron Man.

The slow uncovering of the intrigues behind Stark Industries is what keeps up the suspense throughout the film, but what I loved most was the gradual peeling of the layers off of Tony’s character and getting to know him.

All in all, Iron Man is not just an action film, but also a character and a relationship study with a hint of criticism of modern warfare and weapon industry.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Iron Man is a film both for those who like action and fights and those who like an insight in the characters, relationships and some general world issues.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Loki by Mike Vasich

LokiSUMMARY (from Goodreads): God of Mischief. Father of Lies. Harbinger of Destruction. Exiled and tortured by the gods, Loki swears vengeance. He will summon the mighty Fenris Wolf and the legendary Midgard Serpent, and they will lead an army of giants and all the dead in Niflheim. Brimming with the power of the most destructive being in the Nine Worlds, he will not rest till Asgard is in ashes and all the gods are dead under his heel.

MY OPINION:

I enjoyed Vasich’s retelling of Norse myths with their entangled web of inevitability, for even though Odin, all-knowing as he is, can foresee the future events, he does nothing to stop them. On the contrary, he makes sure they come to pass.

While such behaviour is contradictory to every living creature’s inherent drive for self-preservation, this willing surrender to fate is, paradoxically, while a total renouncement of free will at the same time its ultimate embodiment and thus exactly what keeps the Norse gods alive, if only in myth.

Loki ends with a powerful message: that even in a total destruction, something may survive. Even more: that the destruction of old is necessary for something new, something better to be born. Hence, as the world of gods falls to ruin, a new world arises, a world of Men, in which, however, the old world is not forgotten, but lives on in the form of a myth.

Nevertheless, while all of the above is highly interesting and worth exploring, the writing in Loki was basically dry. Vasich writes from multiple characters’ POVs. However, he only seems to have a good grasp on one character, Loki, who truly comes alive trough his words, while the others appear rather mechanical, unable to provoke emotion in a reader.

Therefore, I must admit that after the first 40 pages and a few other sections further along the story, I more or less skimmed most of the book.

All in all, Loki does have some intriguing aspects, but the writing just wasn’t my cup of tea. Perhaps I should find another author for fictionalised Norse mythology.

2 stars

RECOMMENDATION: Loki is not actually a book about Loki, at least not for the most part. What it is is a basic retelling of Norse myths, and a rather dryly written at that.

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