Robots and Iron Men
Today I watched a few more movies:
Ex Machina (2015)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2016)
I had seen the first half hour or so of this film while flying back from Nepal this summer so I was glad to find it on Amazon Prime to see the rest of it. This is a small drama with a lot of social and technological issues packed into it and a lto fo acting that has been getting great reviews for the end of the year lists in anticipation of the Oscars. It doesn't really matter how I enjoyed this movie, it was a nice movie but probably just out of my top ten for the year, because it's a great statement on the status of science fiction in 2015-16.
In 2006 and 2007 I worked in a video store that only had new releases and no older movies. It was a good job for just after college to pursue my hobbies of the time of writing and playing with my band ("We're not a joke band, but it is a joke we're a band") and getting ready for my dream at the time of going to grad school for Film Studies. I was able to rent movies for free, and take new releases out before their release date and this freedom as well as my lack of full-time hours enabled me to become the biggest renter for the store without paying a penny. I had seen many of the movies in the store and was able to figure out what movies I had no interest in seeing by reading the back of every box (every tuesday we had to rearrange the whole store to stock the new releases). I specifically remember a customer coming in asking what we had for science fiction movies and I knew we only had two: Sunshine and A Sound of Thunder. We had every movie from two years of releases and only two of them were science fiction. Sunshine was one of the best science fiction movies I had seen in years and A Sound of Thunder that was so bad it ran out of money and repeated shots (I did recommend that movie to someone at one point because it was laughibly bad and they did not seem to appreciate that).
That was just about 10 years ago and now we have had so many great science fiction movies that the little indie movie of the year with a little Oscar buzz is one based around robot ladies and the Turing test to see if an artificial intelligence can be confused for a real person. There are three other sci-fi movies I saw in a quick look at best picture nominee possibilies: Star Wars, Mad Max, and The Martian and they span various corners of scifi: space opera, distopia (or post-appocolyptic) and hard sci-fi.
A little of it could be that Alicia Vikander seems to be having a great year and that is propelling this little sci fi drama that reminded me a little of Moon, which just a few years ago was overlooked for awards but found a nice following and jumpstarted David Bowie's talented son into other great directing opportunities. Ms. Vikander faces possibily being nominated against herself in this movie as well as in The Danish Girl in the supporting actress category and I think my favorite role of hers this year was in The Man From UNCLE. It is a nice movie, it doesn't look like it will be a best picture nominee, but it would be fun to see Alicia Vikander nominated against herself and possibily winning another one for science fiction in a time where science fiction is being embraced to the point that Ex Machina is more of an indie movie than a sci-fi movie.
Iron Man 3
I watched this because it lands just after The Amazing Spider-Man in my list of marvel movies, chronogically watched. My order of marvel movies tries to allow for mixing all the studios making their movies and not just the MCU movies of The Avengers. It all works out (mostly) with a little open mindedness. Before these last two movies I saw last year in order: Captain America The First Avenger, X-Men First Class, X-Men Days of Future Past, X-Men Origins Wolverine, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor and Marvel's The Avengers (or whatever it's called so people don't expect them to have british accents). Cap is first for being mostly during World War Two, the X-Men movies seem to fit because they take place decades before the Avengers movies and Wolverine fits fine enough (even though I omit the first 3 X-men movies) because it takes place in the '80's and Wolverine's memory loss accounts for his cameo in First Class. The one glaring issue that's tough to overcome with the first Wolverine movie is that it creates a big plot hole in the second Wolverine movie and Days of Future Past because he isn't supposed to remember anything before he gets his metalic claws but he has memories of World War II and the woman associated with the mob that he is the body guard to when he goes back in time, respectively. I'm okay with plot holes though. All the best works of fiction have plot holes, we just don't seem to be bothered with them until they are pointed out, if the work is good enough. It's the bad works where plot holes ruin the fiction.
I won't let contrasting cinematic universes be a ruinous plot hole for me, so Iron Man 3 fits with Amazing Spider-Man as the psychological healing from the attack on New York in the first Avengers movie, as Spider-Man was the physical healing of the buildings seen by the cranes Spider-Man uses for his webbing. Apparently, the Daredavil series on Netflix shows the damage done to the neighborhood around the attack, but that was a detail I did not pick up on until it was noted in reviews of the show. I was unaware that Hell's Kitchen has been gentrified since the days of the gritty Daredevil comics in the 1980's, in real life and the comics, and in the MCU it has regressed due to the Alien attack.
Iron Man 3 is a favorite Marvel movie of mine despite having a little too much banter in it because Tony Stark shows he is still Iron Man without the costume, using gadgets to raid a compound, then using pieces of his suit to escape from capture. I also love the whole arc of The Manderin, even as we learn he is an imposter. I understand there is a short where it is learned there is a real Manderin around in the MCU and that will sure be fun should he become more of a member of the MCU class of villains.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
2015 was a great year for spy movies. I'll count Kingsman in 2015 since the DVD came out last year and I think it was released in theaters late in '14. There was a new Mission: Impossible (whose colon is killing me to have to type out), Kingsman, The Man From UNCLE, SPY, and a new Bond film. I found all five of those movies really entertaining and fun. Someone on Doug Loves Movies noted UNCLE and this M:I movie had very similar plots but I find the differences in the great action and great stylization of both films make them fun companions.
I would like to figure out a nice order to view Rogue Nation, UNCLE and Kingsman together playing with the idea that they are myths about the same spy told by different people at different parts of this spy's career told to different people who picture this spy in differing ways. Yup, now that I wrote that out I can see it makes no sense.
I feel as though this film fills in the gaps that didn't exactly work in the last mission impossible movie (which also filled in gaps from the previous movies, as far as quality goes) and gets the character and the series of movies on track. I enjoy this movie, however, unlike the previous two movies of the day it had zero robots so I am bound by law to give it zero stars.