Judging from IM2, I was expecting another bigger, flashier, instalment in Downey's little escapades of gadgetry. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to find a smaller adventure housed within a complex, flawed lead character accompanied by a cast of rather entertaining individuals.
IM3 goes back to the roots of Tony Stark, a mechanic. Just a man full of ego but still inherently flawed. As a result the action is notably less excessive but the trade-off is worth it as it allows for more character development and relationships. However more than often it feels like comic relief undermines a lot of the drama that it's trying to hold up.
The pacing/plot gets a little clunky around the edges as the twists and turns are thrown in as well, but hey, at least there's suspense and we get to meet Trevor. :]
Finally, I think it was incredibly smart of whoever's in charge to make this movie all about Tony as a character. The plot, although dense is very clearly driven by it's protagonist (evidence in its first-person narration but also the themes of personal redemption and self-discovery). You can't really go wrong building an entire movie around Downey's Stark, he just OOOZES with style, wit and entertainment value.
So all in all, not the flashy-over-the-top craziness I expected but instead I feel like I was given a much healthier, more balanced dose of mystery, humor, character & action.
I think the biggest flaw with Oblivion started with the fact that it's suspense/mystery married to a painfully predictable plot. So for about 2/3 of the movie the audience is waiting for characters to move through all their motions of "development" while squirming in anxiety.
But frankly, I really enjoyed the last few closing acts before the film ended. There were a lot of key moments that really stood out, filling my love for Sci Fi themes. (Discovering he's a clone and dealing with it, Jack not telling the 2nd Victoria the truth, Jack bringing Malcom rather than Julia etc.)
A lot of critics argue a lack of emotion or that characters are forgotten as soon as the "action" rolls in but that may be because all the players seem like characters in a Victorian play and never really "alive" in the first place.
Finally, let's not forget the top notch visuals. The Scifi concept art team behind this movie did a really wonderful job with the overall designs and as an artist myself, I can't help but appreciate it all.
It's definitely no Minority Report and it's rare for a movie to start off horrible and then get better (as opposed to having a strong start and progressively get worse) but if you love Sci Fi I think it's a pretty enjoyable experience that uses it's tropes effectively more so than falling victim to them.
TESTOSTERONEEEEEEE! But seriously Bruce Willis needed more screentime. The ninjas were tacky and lame as usual and surprisingly? The action wasn't as good as I thought it'd be. Unsurprising note, the plot was one hell of a joke.
It should be worth mentioning that there were some charming... "human" moments that the first film lacked but then they dropped the over-use of CGI and special effects that the first film had which I missed! I mean, when I pay for a GI Joe ticket I'm expecting Michael-Bay-Transformers-Visuals... I was disappointed to see them tone it all down.
I think the very premise/concept of a GI Joe live-action movie is just.... incredibly hard to pull off without a proper script that seamlessly balances realism, charm and action. I wouldn't say impossible because somehow Marvel pulled it off with the Avengers.
Bottom line? In a sea of shitty loud action movies I would choose the Transformers or The Expendables over this rubbish any day.
More than often comes off as a vanity project for Cruise but I digress, as a standalone mystery thriller or franchise starter it's not bad at all. It's almost like a modern take on Noir storytelling.
The problem really lies in the fact that it's not inherently good either. There isn't anything about the premise, characters or execution that sticks out from the norm. Sure the plot itself is intricate enough to keep the viewer guessing but the delivery of it all...
More than often I wanted to reach out and inject some more charisma or "edge" into the film, without a defining style it will ultimately be forgotten in a sea of crime thrillers.
Unimpressed. I mean really, it's not particularly funny, entertaining or emotional. The art direction fluctuated between tacky and excessive turning the whole ordeal into a very contrive experience.
Maybe it was the script but Franco's character was thinly sculpted, every time he opened his mouth I couldn't quite tell what he was suppose to be delivering in terms of theme or emotion.
I really wish Monkey and China Doll played bigger roles in the long run like Dorothy's companions. Everything they did ended up seeming so frivolous and Williams didn't look or feel much like Glinda.
The only thing that made any sort of impression on me was Kuniz's performance as Theodora, (I guess I'm a sucker for broken hearts) otherwise I just didn't care! The themes were so boring and delivered through such cliche vehicles. Many characters, even the premise had such promise but were completely squandered in its charmless witless execution.