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Iron Man Three (2013)
Iron Man 3 surpassed my expectations. I was very surprised by one aspect especially - It works as an action/comedy movie, rather than a "Comic Book Movie". Regular movie goers can follow everything without a "nerd in tow". Since I am usually the "nerd in tow" for my wife this was the 1st Marvel movie that didn't require a discussion answering the "why did this happen?" and "what was this all about?" questions that typically accompany an outing.
The film works almost stand alone from the universe. There are minimal references to the other heroes apart from a couple of lines. While events from the Avengers are a plot point, I really don't feel like not having seen the previous Marvel movies would cause any issues. The fact that nothing really seemed to be set up for future continuities either, dialed back the synergy somewhat. This is not intended as a negative, just an observation. I usually revel in the little hints that are dropped concerning other characters or future developments and there didn't seem to be many. However, those hints could be in the film and I just missed them.
Now that the nerdy bits are out of the way, the film is superbly paced, almost never dragging, and pretty much always interesting. As a whole it just flows well. The action is filmed excellently. The acting is top notch. The jokes hit pretty much every time too. The visual effects continue Marvel's high standards. Even the 3D was done well - every scene has depth and made me feel like I was in the world just that little bit more.
There is some debate about some very spoiler related aspects of the film. I personally feel that everything worked very well in the context of the established film universe. But to each their own of course.
Highly recommended - see Iron Man 3 in the theater and in 3D. I think you will enjoy it - even if you aren't normally a Comic Book Movie fan
A Pleasant Surprise
Southland turned out to be better than the ads for it made me believe. The ads seemed a little over the top, heavy handed even, but the show itself worked very well.
Michael Cudlitz's Officer Cooper has that nice combo of jaded and cynical but still obviously caring. His character seemed most likely to be over the top from the commercials, but in the context of the show came across about as close to perfect for the moment as you could ask. Looking forward to more with this character.
Benjamin McKenzie as Officer Ben Sherman also did very good. We didn't learn a whole lot about the character in the Pilot, but that makes sense in the debut as we will most certainly be learning more about him. Well acted by Mckenzie and has a nice rapport with Officer Cooper, that will by nice to watch develop.
Everything else in the show worked, and apart from a couple of moments that didn't quite jibe with the reality of the rest of the episode, makes me optimistic for the rest of the series.