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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

1. The Heat* (20th Century Fox)

2. The Conjuring* (New Line)

3. The Internship* (20th Century Fox)

4. Pacific Rim* (Warner Bros.)

5. The Purge* (Universal)

6. The Way Way Back* (20th Century Fox)

7. The Hangover Part III* (Warner Bros.)

8. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

9. The Croods (Dreamworks)

10. After Earth (Sony)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Heat* (20th Century Fox)

2. Pacific Rim* (Warner Bros.)

3. The Hangover Part III* (Warner Bros.)

4. After Earth (Sony)

5. The Purge* (Universal)

6. This Is the End (Sony)

7. The Croods (Dreamworks)

8. World War Z (Paramount)

9. Curse of Chucky* (Universal)

10. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. The Purge* (Universal)

2. The Hangover Part III* (Warner Bros.)

3. After Earth (Sony)

4. The Croods (Dreamworks)

5. World War Z (Paramount)

6. This Is the End (Sony)

7. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

8. Now You See Me (Summit)

9. Redemption (Lionsgate)

10. The Frozen Ground (Lionsgate)

* Available for rental before Redbox and Netflix

Published in Video Top 10

1. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

2. The Croods (Dreamworks)

3. This Is the End (Sony)

4. World War Z (Paramount)

5. Now You See Me (Summit)

6. Redemption (Lionsgate)

7. The Frozen Ground (Lionsgate)

8. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

9. The Kings of Summer (Sony)

10. Epic (20th Century Fox)

Published in Video Top 10

The third Iron Man film regained some magic after the enjoyable but inferior Iron Man 2. That’s thanks in large part to director Shane Black, a man who has great chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. Just watch their Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for proof.

Things get dark this time around, with Downey’s Tony Stark suffering anxiety attacks after the events of The Avengers. The world is being terrorized by a strange sort called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a cloaked psycho who uses television and the Internet to hold the world at ransom.

After a battle that annihilates his California abode, Stark finds himself on the road and hiding out with a kid; this leads to some funny banter. Guy Pearce shows up as a potentially bad guy, and Gwyneth Paltrow gets a chance to put on a suit and kick some ass.

As far as action goes, this film really delivers the goods. Stark must face off against some crazy, fire-breathing mutants that are capable of regenerating when they lose a limb. There are a whole bunch of new suits and gadgets flying about, and many pretty explosions. Downey, as usual, anchors the whole thing with a fun performance.

This might mark the end for Downey in solo Iron Man films, but he has signed on for more Avengers movies—so he remains Iron Man.

Special Features: They include commentary with Shane Black and writer Drew Pearce, a bunch of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel and deleted scenes.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

1. World War Z (Paramount)

2. Iron Man 3 (Disney)

3. Now You See Me (Summit)

4. Epic (20th Century Fox)

5. Redemption (Lionsgate)

6. Pain and Gain (Paramount)

7. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount)

8. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.)

9. The Bling Ring (Lionsgate)

10. Oblivion (Universal)

Published in Video Top 10

Dexter (Sunday, Sept. 22, Showtime), series finale: Since it has been going head-to-head with the fiery final episodes of Breaking Bad every Sunday, Dexter has become an unfortunate study in How Not to End a Series. Dexter (Michael C. Hall, obviously already checked out) could have split Miami long ago with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), but instead, he just had to stick around to take out the Brain Surgeon, his dullest serial-killer nemesis since, well, the last one. (Not to sound like a, blech, TV critic, but it’s been quite a vanilla streak since the Trinity Killer.) And sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and her ridiculous season-long “journey” from lost lush to reinstated cop could have been its own telenovela, La Suerte Puta. Still, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just as curious to see how the eighth and final season of Dexter concludes as you are. Will Dex finally be caught, executed or just sail away? Will Deb die, and Hannah live happily ever after with Dexter? Or vice-versa? Who’s li’l Harrison going to kill first? Let’s all find out together, remember the good times, and never speak of Seasons 5-8 again.

Mom, Hostages (Monday, Sept. 23. CBS), series debuts: Moneybags CBS can afford to throw crap at the wall and see what sticks, and they’re certainly taking advantage of it with Mom. A recovering-alcoholic comedy? How edgy—so what if Rude Awakening already did it 15 years ago? It’s not that Anna Faris and Allison Janney aren’t good; it’s that the Chuck Lorre sitcom hackery around them is so far from even “meh.” Same goes for Hostages, a political drama that should be at least tolerable due to the presence of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. Nope.

The Blacklist (Monday, Sept. 23, NBC), series debut: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), one of the FBI’s most wanted, suddenly turns himself in and makes an offer to help them catch even bigger fish, including a previously untouchable mega-terrorist. The one condition: For no (yet) given reason, he only deals with a specific new profiler fresh out of Quantico (Megan Boone). Like her character, newcomer Boone is mostly crowded off the screen by vet Spader’s Acting!, but The Blacklist is instantly slick and engrossing. She’ll likely get a full season to up her game, as the show’s only Monday competition is ABC’s Castle (now rolling its Jazzy into Season 6) and CBS’ Hostages (again, nope).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: Since the pilot was withheld by Marvel and ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only new fall TV show I haven’t seen—and it’s also the one I’m most looking forward to … so their ploy worked, damn it.

Trophy Wife (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: A single party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her best friend (Natalie Morales) and his ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). With the exception of the equally smart ’n’ sassy Super Fun Night (premiering Oct. 2), Trophy Wife has the best setup, cast and writing of any new ABC comedy. It also has the worst title and time slot (after ABC’s middling new The Goldbergs and against Fox’s The Mindy Project), so expect some Cougar Town-ish indifference from viewers.

Season Premieres This Week

Friday, Sept. 20: Last Man Standing, The Neighbors, Shark Tank (ABC)

Monday, Sept. 23: Castle (ABC); How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls (CBS); The Voice (NBC)

Tuesday, Sept. 24: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest (CBS); Chicago Fire (NBC)

Wednesday, Sept. 25: The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville (ABC); Criminal Minds, CSI (CBS); Revolution, Law and Order: SVU (NBC).


NEW-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 24!

Apartment 1303

A creepy Detroit apartment is driving tenants to commit suicide—sure, it’s the apartment, not the living-in-Detroit part. Then Mischa Barton (remember her?) shows up to investigate the death of her sister and her own career. (Phase 4)

Hannibal: Season 1

An FBI agent (Hugh Dancy) teams up with a psychiatrist (Mads Mikkelsen) to catch serial killers—and since the profiler-shrink just happens to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter, things get bloody weird from there. How’d this get on network TV? (Lionsgate)

I Spit On Your Grave 2

In the sequel to the 2010 remake of the 1978 revenge classic (follow?), a brutalized New York model (Jenna Dallender) settles the score with her attackers in the most twisted and violent ways imaginable. Don’t forget to smize! (Starz/Anchor Bay)

Iron Man 3

In the sequel to the 2010 sequel to the 2008 superhero epic (follow?), a brutalized Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) settles the score with his attacker, with an assist from Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Aw, cute. (Disney/Marvel)

Redemption

In yet more revenge news, a former Special Forces officer (Jason Statham) sets out to avenge the murder of his friend, but soon finds himself sucked even deeper into the London crime underworld. No, you haven’t seen this one before. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 24)

2 Broke Girls: Season 2, American Dad: Vol. 8, Bloody Homecoming, Euro Trapped, Family Guy: Vol. 11, Fill the Void, Hawaii Five-0: Season 3, The Kings of Summer, Law & Order: SVU: Season 14, Modern Family: Season 4, The Neighbors: Season 1, South Park: Season 16, V/H/S/2.

Published in TV

Shane Black, writer of the screenplays for Lethal Weapon and Last Action Hero, made one of my favorite directorial debuts with 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I thought it marked the arrival of a true directorial force.

Then he basically disappeared.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang featured the best Robert Downey Jr. performance ever put to screen. Maybe Downey agrees with that statement, because he pushed for Black as his director on Iron Man 3. Thankfully, he got his wish.

Iron Man 3 is as good as the first film, and markedly better than the OK second installment; it’s just slightly inferior to last year’s The Avengers. Like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it features dark humor, and gives us a protagonist that is slightly unreliable.

The film opens with a few mistakes Tony Stark made a long time ago, and sets us up for the perils Stark is facing today. Chief among his enemies is The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a tripped-out version of Osama bin Laden who executes Americans on TV and openly taunts the president (William Sadler).

Another big enemy would be Tony Stark himself, because he’s battling panic attacks and insomnia after the events of The Avengers. These blows to his mental and physical capacity lead to mishaps in his laboratory, and a pretty scary moment when one of his suits pounces on Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in their bedroom.

Chief among Stark’s flaws has always been his vanity, which leads to him calling out The Mandarin, resulting in all kinds of hell fire coming down on his West Coast compound. Stark winds up going deep undercover, and at one point has a kid sidekick (Ty Simpkins). The kid-sidekick stuff sounds like it would be lame, doesn’t it? However, Black and Downey Jr. have a way of taking conventional crap and having a lot of fun, so the kid is cool.

Iron Man 3 piles on the villains and potential villains. In the intro flashback, we meet nerdy Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who is working on some really big genetics project. Stark blows him off so he can sleep with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), another scientist.

James Badge Dale and Stephanie Szostak are on hand as Mandarin assassins who have the power to heat up their bodies and regenerate limbs when they are lopped off. They reminded me a bit of Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 with their unstoppable evil, although their performances contain a little more depth.

Paltrow is allowed to play with her character a little more in this installment, as Pepper goes through all kinds of tribulations. As with Tom Cruise, Paltrow’s public-image garbage tends to distract from the fact that she can act up a storm, and she’s typically great in this one. Don Cheadle gets limited screen time as Col. James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot, but he makes the most of it.

As for the Mandarin, Kingsley has a lot of fun—in ways you won’t expect. The Mandarin is one of the more unique villains to arise from the Marvel movie franchises, and he takes some major detours from his comic-book incarnation.

Black and Downey faced a rather daunting task: How do you bring the Iron Man back to Earth after The Avengers, which involved aliens, a Hulk, a Thor and Scarlett Johansson in tights? The answer: You allow Downey to riff; you surround him with a cast that matches his brilliance; and you allow the Stark character to remain human and vulnerable.

The action scenes are stellar. One scene, involving a high-altitude rescue after a bunch of people are sucked out of a plane, is the best of the franchise thus far, and the finale is a rouser. Let it be said that Black manages an excellent balance of action and character development, with every major character getting satisfactory screen time. Black and Downey are a great screen team, and that’s apparent in Iron Man 3.

Next up for Tony Stark will be Avengers 2, and then who knows after that? This one is going to be a bitch to reboot when Downey Jr. decides to hang it up.

One last thing: Stay for the credits, will you? Despite many Marvel movies offering after-the-credits surprises, I still see a parade of people getting up and walking out as the credits start. You paid for the seat and perhaps the funny 3-D glasses, so stay put until everything fades to black.

Published in Reviews

The Summer Movie Season starts earlier every year. In fact, one could argue that March releases like Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer were summer-season-caliber, big-budget extravaganzas with lots of Hollywood pop. Yes, they blew ass, but they had a summer-season pedigree.

For organization’s sake, let’s just say the summer season starts on May 3 this year with the release of Iron Man 3, and ends around Sept. 6 with Vin Diesel’s Riddick. Here’s a round up of some of the biggies that look great—and others that offer reasons for concern.

Iron Man 3 (May 3): How in the heck are they going to top The Avengers? It looks like Marvel and company are going to try, starting with this, the first stand-alone superhero film after last year’s massive roundup. Shane Black, who piloted Downey to one of his best performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, takes over the franchise from Jon Favreau. I think this franchise will avoid the dreaded third-in-the-series curse that has afflicted superhero films before (Spider-Man 3, Superman 3).

The Great Gatsby (May 10): Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the title role for director Baz Luhrmann. (The two worked together before, on Romeo + Juliet.) This was originally slated to be released last year; let’s hope the delay was to make it better, and not because it stinks like Luhrmann’s overblown Australia.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17): Will this be J.J. Abrams’ last time in the director’s chair for this franchise now that he is taking over Star Wars? My guess is yes. If this is half as good as Abrams’ first blessed effort with the Trek characters, then we are in for a good time. Have you seen the footage of the Enterprise underwater? This one has to be good!

The Hangover Part III (May 24): I’m betting on a return to form after the lousy second chapter in what director Todd Phillips promises will just be a trilogy. The preview footage of a euphoric Zach Galifianakis and his giraffe has me excited. However, if Mike Tyson shows up and sings again, this will get an automatic “F.”

After Earth (June 7): Uh oh … somebody has given M. Night Shyamalan a lot of money to do science fiction again. Will they ever learn? In Shyamalan’s favor, he has the likable duo of Will Smith and son Jaden starring as a father and son crash-landing on Earth many years after humans have left. Also … Shyamalan only contributed to the script, rather than writing it all himself. So there is hope. There is hope.

Man of Steel (June 14): After doing a decent job with Watchmen and then sucking balls with Suckerpunch, director Zack Snyder takes on the Superman franchise. This time out, Henry Cavill (who was really bad in Immortals) wears the cape, replacing Brandon Routh, who actually did a great job in Superman Returns. Amy Adams is on hand as Lois Lane, and oh my goodness, there’s Michael Shannon as arch villain Zod. OK, I want to see this.

This Is the End (June 14): The likes of Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill play themselves in this apocalyptic comedy. While they’re hanging at Franco’s place, the apocalypse strikes, and they don’t deal with it in the best of ways. If this isn’t the year’s best comedy, I will be disappointed.

Monsters University (June 21): A prequel to Monsters, Inc., this will make millions upon millions upon billions upon trillions of dollars, whether it is good or not.

World War Z (June 21): Another postponed movie from last year, this one has Brad Pitt squaring off against crazed zombies. I love the previews, but its delayed status is worrisome.

The Heat (June 28): Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play an FBI agent and a cop teaming up to take out a drug kingpin. McCarthy got an Oscar nomination the last time she was with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids); I doubt that will happen this time out. Still, it could be fun.

White House Down (June 28): Following in the footsteps of Olympus Has Fallen, this is another film in which the president and his pad are in jeopardy. This time, we get Jamie Foxx as the president, and Channing Tatum as the hero.

The Lone Ranger (July 3): The idea of Johnny Depp playing Tonto—not to mention his crazy getup—has me concerned. Gore Verbinski directs, with Armie Hammer as the title character. This could be very, very bad.

Pacific Rim (July 12): Big alien-monster-type things strike the Earth, and huge robots piloted by humans are sent to defend the planet. This looks amazing, and Guillermo del Toro is directing, so this will be something to see. I’m hoping this puts MichaelBay’s big robots to shame.

Grown Ups 2 (July 12): I miss Adam Sandler. That dude used to make me laugh—and laugh hard. The key phrase is “used to.” His first Grown Ups was one of his worst movies, and it looks like his Sandler comedy slump will continue with this one.

The Wolverine (July 26): I thought the first solo Wolverine movie was OK, but many people hated it. James Mangold directs this film, which is set in Japan. There’s no word on whether Jackman sings live on set.

The Smurfs 2 (July 31): This movie is proof that Satan loves you.

2 Guns (Aug. 2): The good news is that this film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The bad news is that it is directed by the guy who did Contraband.

Elysium (Aug. 9): From the director of District 9, this stars Matt Damon (with a shaved head) in a future in which the Earth has gone to shit, and the rich live in space. Jodie Foster co-stars.

Kick-Ass 2 (Aug. 16): Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all return for a new round of comic vigilantism. Jim Carrey joins the cast as Colonel Stars and Stripes, and all signs point to hilarious.

The To Do List (Aug. 16): Aubrey Plaza blew my ass out of the water with her performance in Safety Not Guaranteed. This one has her starring as a soon-to-be college freshman looking to get some things out of the way before starting college.

Riddick (Sept. 6): After The Chronicles of Riddick, I never wanted to see Riddick again. Hell, I never wanted to see Vin Diesel again. After seeing the teaser—a teaser that features weird monsters—I’m optimistic this will be a return to the coolness that was Pitch Black

Published in Reviews