REVIEW: LAY YOUR FAVOURITE

CAST

Rebecca Hall (The Town)
Bruce Willis (Red)
Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro)
Joshua Jackson (Cruel Intentions)
Corbin Bernsen (Psych)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Frank Grillo (The Purge)
Wayne Pere (Galaxy Quest)

Beth is becoming bored with her life in Florida, doing stripteases and lap dances for private customers. Her dad, Jerry, tells her to follow her dream of moving to Las Vegas, where she seeks honest work as a cocktail waitress.A young woman named Holly, who lives at the same Vegas motel, arranges for Beth to meet Dink Heimowitz, a professional gambler who follows the fast-changing odds on sporting events and employs assistants at Dink, Inc., to lay big-money bets for him. Beth is intrigued and it turns out she has a good mind for numbers, easily grasping Dink’s system and becoming his protege. A young journalist, Jeremy, becomes attracted to Beth, but she’s hooked on the excitement and income that gambling provides and is not ready to settle for any kind of normal life.When she begins expressing a more personal interest in her much-older mentor, Dink’s sharp-tongued wife, Tulip, lets it be known in no uncertain terms that she wants Beth out of her husband’s life. Against his advice, Beth accepts a similar job for a rival gambler, a man called Rosie who runs an illegal operation based in Curaçao. She succeeds there at first, but both Rosie and the job turn out to be extremely dangerous, and several lives depend on the outcome of one last game of basketball.It is not an inside look at the gambling industry per se, but it gives you enough of a glimpse. Not the greatest of films but worth watching on a slow night.

 

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REVIEW: TRANSCENDENCE

 

CAST

Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Rebecca Hall (The Gift)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Cole Hauser (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Cory Hardrict (American Sniper)
Falk Hentschel (Legends of Tomorrow)
Josh Stewart (Interstellar)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Lukas Haas (Inception)

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a scientist who researches the nature of sentience, including artificial intelligence. He and his team work to create a sentient computer; he predicts that such a computer will create a technological singularity, or in his words “Transcendence”. His wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), is also a scientist and helps him with his work.Following one of Will’s presentations, an anti-technology terrorist group called “Revolutionary Independence From Technology” (R.I.F.T.) shoots Will with a polonium-laced bullet and carries out a series of synchronized attacks on A.I. laboratories across the country. Will is given no more than a month to live. In desperation, Evelyn comes up with a plan to upload Will’s consciousness into the quantum computer that the project has developed. His best friend and fellow researcher, Max Waters (Paul Bettany), questions the wisdom of this choice, reasoning that the “uploaded” Will would be only an imitation of the real person. Will’s consciousness survives his body’s death in this technological form and requests to be connected to the Internet to grow in capability and knowledge. Max refuses to have any part of the experiment. Evelyn demands that Max leave and connects the computer intelligence to the Internet via satellite.R.I.F.T.’s leader Bree (Kate Mara) kidnaps Max and eventually persuades him to join the group. The government is also suspicious of what Will’s uploaded consciousness will do and plans to use the terrorists to take the blame for the government’s actions to stop him. In his virtual form and with Evelyn’s help, Will uses his new-found vast capabilities to build a technological utopia in a remote desert town called Brightwood, where he spearheads the development of ground-breaking technologies in medicine, energy, biology, and nanotechnology. Evelyn, however, grows fearful of Will’s motives when he displays the ability to remotely connect to and control people’s minds after they have been subjected to his nano-particles.FBI agent Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy), with the help of government scientist Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman), plans to stop the sentient entity from spreading. As Will has already spread his influence to all the networked computer technology in the world, Max and R.I.F.T. develop a computer virus with the purpose of deleting Will’s source code, destroying him. Evelyn plans to upload the virus by infecting herself and then having Will upload her consciousness. A side effect of the virus would be the destruction of technological civilization. This would also disable the nano-particles, which have spread in the water, through the wind and have already started to eradicate pollution, disease, and human mortality.When Evelyn goes back to the research center, she is stunned to see Will in a newly created organic body identical to his old one. Will welcomes her but is instantly aware that she is carrying the virus and intends to destroy him. The FBI and the members of R.I.F.T. attack the base with artillery, destroying much of its power supply and fatally wounding Evelyn. When Bree threatens to kill Max unless Will uploads the virus, Will explains that he has only enough power either to heal Evelyn’s physical body or upload the virus. Evelyn tells Will that Max should not die because of what they’ve done, so Will uploads the virus to save Max. As Will dies, he explains to Evelyn that he did what he did for her, as she had pursued science to repair the damage humans had done to the ecosystems. In their last moment, he tells Evelyn to think about their garden. The virus kills both Will and Evelyn, and a global technology collapse and blackout ensues.Five years later, in Will and Evelyn’s garden at their old home in Berkeley, Max notices that their sunflowers are the only blooming plants. Upon closer examination, he notices that a drop of water falling from a sunflower petal instantly cleanses a puddle of oil — and realizes that the Faraday cage around the garden has protected a sample of Will’s sentient nano-particles, potentially saving Will and Evelyn and providing a solution to the worldwide blackout. The movie ends with the monologue, “He created this garden for the same reason he did everything. So they could be together.”If you love thoughts provoking movie which leave you with a lot of thinking, you will definitely like this movie.

REVIEW: THE GIFT (2015)

CAST

Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Rebecca Hall (Everything Must Go)
Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Tim Griffin (Cloverfield)
Allison Tolman (Fargo)
Beau Knapp (Run All Night)
P. J. Byrne (Final Destination 5)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Wendell Pierce (Hackers)
Katie Aselton (Creep)

A married couple, Simon and Robyn Callem, relocate from Chicago to a Los Angeles suburb after Simon takes a new job. While out shopping, they run into Gordon “Gordo” Moseley, Simon’s former high school classmate. Gordo begins dropping in unannounced and delivering gifts including koi for their pond. He makes Simon uncomfortable, but Robyn sees no problem.Gordo invites the couple to his large and elegant home. He receives a phone call and leaves abruptly, making Simon more suspicious. When he returns, Simon tells him to stay away from his family. The next day, Robyn finds the koi dead and their dog missing. Simon drives to Gordo’s house to confront him, but discovers it is not actually his home. In the days following, Robyn suspects she is not alone in the house while Simon is at work. Unable to sleep, she steals prescription pills from her neighbor and one morning faints.The dog returns and Robyn receives a letter of apology from Gordo. She is puzzled by his writing that he was “willing to let bygones be bygones”. Simon says he does not know what it refers to and refuses to make peace with Gordo, telling Robyn that her pills are making her paranoid.Robyn becomes pregnant. At her baby shower, Simon’s sister tells her that, at school, Simon and his friend Greg reported that Gordo was being molested. Gordo was bullied afterwards and had to transfer. Robyn finds Greg, who reveals that the molestation story was fabricated by Simon, who was a bully in school. As a result of the story, Gordo’s father thought he was homosexual and nearly killed him. Robyn searches Simon’s home office and discovers that he has run background checks on Gordo and someone named Danny McDonald.Robyn learns Simon has beaten Danny for a promotion after troubling information was revealed from Danny’s previous job. Robyn confronts Simon about Gordo, but he denies responsibility. Simon angrily blames Robyn’s suggestions of reconciliation on her own past traumas of being bullied at school. At Robyn’s behest, Simon tracks down Gordo and half-heartedly apologizes, but Gordo does not accept his apology. Furious, Simon attacks him. Simon’s promotion party is interrupted by Danny, who says Simon fabricated the information that ruined his career. Robyn goes into labor and gives birth to a boy. The next morning, Simon receives a call from his boss telling him that his fraud has been discovered and he will be fired. Robyn tells him that she wants to separate.Simon goes home and finds another gift box, containing footage of Gordo preparing to sexually assault Robyn after she fainted months earlier. Meanwhile, Gordo visits Robyn in the hospital to congratulate her, wearing his arm in a sling; he tells her Simon injured him. Simon rushes to the hospital but misses Gordo. Gordo calls him soon after, taunting him, refusing to confirm whether he raped Robyn, and admonishing him for his lies. Robyn, furious, refuses to let Simon see the baby. With his life and marriage destroyed, Simon breaks down. Gordo watches through a window and walks away, removing his arm sling.The Gift is an excellent film. A dark, brooding, suspenseful thriller without jump scares or blood and gore, this is a good old fashioned psychological thriller with no gimmicks, just excellent storytelling

REVIEW: DORIAN GRAY

CAST

Ben Barnes (Westworld)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)
Rachel Hurd-Wood (Solomon Kane)
Johnny Harris (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Emilia Fox (The Pianist)
Fiona Shaw (The Black Dahlia)
Maryam d’Abo (The Living Daylights)
Caroline Goodall (the Princess Diaries)
Michael Culkin (Candyman)

When a naïve young Dorian Gray arrives in late Victorian London, by train, to inherit an estate left to him by his abusive grandfather, he is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton, who introduces Gray to the hedonistic pleasures of the city. Lord Henry’s friend, society artist Basil Hallward, paints a portrait of Gray to capture the full power of his youthful beauty. When the portrait is unveiled, Gray makes a flippant pledge: he would give anything to stay as he is in the picture—even his soul.Gray meets and falls in love with budding young actress, Sibyl Vane. After a few weeks, he proposes marriage to her. Lord Henry tells Gray that having children is “the beginning of the end”, and after the two men visit a brothel, Gray leaves Sibyl. Heartbroken, the young woman drowns herself. Gray learns of her death the following day from her brother, James (“Jim”), who also reveals that Sybil was pregnant with Gray’s child. Enraged, Jim tries to kill Gray before being restrained and carried off by the authorities. Gray’s initial grief soon disappears as Lord Henry persuades him that all events are mere experiences and without consequence. His hedonistic lifestyle worsens, distancing him from a concerned Hallward.Gray returns home one evening to find that Hallward’s portrait of him has become warped and twisted, and he soon realises that his off-hand pledge has come true; while the portrait ages, its owner’s sins manifest as physical defects on the canvas. Before long, the curse imbued within Gray’s portrait begins in earnest, resulting in Hallward’s brutal murder after the artist reveals his secret. Gray dismembers and dumps Hallward’s body in the River Thames, although the remains are soon recovered and buried.Gray then leaves London to travel for many years, inviting Lord Henry to come with him although Lord Henry declines because of his wife’s pregnancy. Gray returns to London and during the welcome back party the guests are surprised to see that he has not aged at all during his 18-year absence. He becomes close to Lord Henry’s daughter, Emily, a member of the UK suffragette movement, despite Lord Henry’s distaste for such a relationship because of Gray’s lifestyle and unnatural appearance, Emily having provided Lord Henry with a greater moral focus and having changed him for the better. Although Gray appears genuinely interested in changing his ways as he spends time with Emily, matters are complicated when he is confronted by Jim, still seeking revenge for his sister’s death. Despite Gray’s attempts to pretend to be someone else by pointing out his apparent age, Jim nevertheless deduces Gray’s true identity, only to be killed by a train while pursuing Gray in the London Underground. As Gray makes arrangements to leave London with Emily, Lord Henry’s study of old photographs makes him remember the time when he teased Gray to deal with the devil for eternal youth and beauty at the cost of his soul.Breaking into Gray’s house as Gray and Emily are making plans to leave together, Lord Henry discovers the concealed portrait, but is interrupted by Gray before he can uncover it. Although Gray attempts to convince Lord Henry that he still cherishes his friendship and genuinely loves his daughter, Lord Henry discovers the stained scarf of Basil in a box, prompting Gray to declare angrily that he is what Lord Henry has made him, the personification of the life Lord Henry preached but never dared practise. Full of anger and grief, Gray attempts to strangle Lord Henry but is distracted by Emily’s call long enough for Lord Henry to knock him aside and expose the portrait.Disgusted and horrified at the twisted sight on the canvas, Lord Henry throws a lit lamp at the portrait, causing it to catch fire, and then locks the gate of the attic to ensure that Gray and the painting are destroyed. Emily pleads with her father for the key. After seeing her and realising that he really loves her, he turns his back. As Lord Henry drags his daughter out of the house, Gray’s last words are to assure Emily that she has his whole heart. Resolving to end it all, Gray stabs the painting with a poker, causing his body to age the years that it has never suffered, Gray charging at the portrait to impale it as his years catch up to him before the attic is consumed by an explosion.dorian-gray-pics-hd-ben-barnes-8952311-1200-8003A few months later, scarred from the explosion and after a futile attempt to reconcile with Emily over the phone, Lord Henry heads to his attic where he keeps the now-youthful portrait of Gray, grimly noting that nobody will look at it now. As Lord Henry leaves, the portrait’s eyes glow, suggesting that Gray’s soul may still be within the portrait even after his death.The story has seen many adaptations down the years, and i’m certain will see many more in the times to come, however, in my opinion this is far and away the best to date. This is an excellent film, it would be a crime in my view to miss it.

REVIEW: THE TOWN

CAST

Ben Affeck (Batman v Superman)
Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legeacy)
Blake Lively (Green Lantern)
Slaine (Gone Baby Gone)
Owen Burke (Black Mass)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
Chris Cooper (The Muppets)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)

Four lifelong friends from the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, Douglas “Doug” MacRay, James “Jem” Coughlin, Albert “Gloansy” MacGloan, and Desmond “Dez” Elden, rob a bank. They take the manager, Claire Keesey, hostage, but release her unharmed. When they find out Claire lives in their neighborhood, Doug begins to follow her to find out how much she has told the authorities, and to make sure that Jem does not eliminate her as a witness. Soon a romance grows between them, which Doug hides from the gang. As they grow closer, Doug tells Claire of his search for his long-lost mother, whom he believes went to live with his aunt in Tangerine, Florida. He also recounts his chance to be a professional hockey player which he threw away for a life of crime, following in his father’s footsteps. She in turn tells Doug that she saw a tattoo on one of the robbers, and he realizes that she can identify Jem and send them all to jail. He knows that Jem will kill her if he discovers the truth, so he persuades her that the authorities cannot protect her, and she decides not to tell the police.

After Claire tells Doug about being harassed and her car vandalized by Alex, a local thug, Doug enlists Jem for a favor, which they can never talk about. Doug and Jem don hockey masks and violently assault the offenders without Jem knowing the true reason for the favor is to protect Claire.

FBI Agent Adam Frawley surveils the gang and recognizes their ties to local crime lord Fergus “Fergie” Colm, who has another robbery planned for them. During a visit to his father Stephen in prison, Doug reveals his plans to leave Boston and go to Florida. The gang’s next robbery in the North End goes awry, and the gang barely escapes. The gang is interrogated by Frawley, but he fails to get any confessions and is forced to release them. Doug asks Claire if she will go away with him, and she agrees. When Frawley learns that Claire quit her job, he wiretaps her phone, and threatens to prosecute her as an accomplice after realizing that she is seeing Doug. Shocked to discover that her lover was one of her assailants, she is forced to cooperate with the FBI and breaks up with Doug. Meanwhile, Fergie and Jem are pressuring Doug about the next heist, but Doug is determined to get out. Fergie threatens to kill Claire if Doug does not go through with the job, and reveals to Doug how he controlled his father by making his mother an addict, which led to her suicide. Doug gives in but swears that he will kill Fergie if anything happens to Claire.

At Fenway Park, Doug and Jem enter disguised as Boston police officers, steal $3,500,000 in gate cash, and prepare to escape in an ambulance disguised as paramedics. Doug’s ex-girlfriend Krista, threatened by Frawley and heartbroken by Doug’s going away without her, reveals enough for the FBI to surround Fenway before the gang can get out. The gang is caught in a firefight with FBI SWAT, and Dez and Gloansy are killed. Frawley spots Jem and they exchange gunfire. Jem, determined not to go back to prison and out of ammunition, commits suicide by cop by running out of cover with his guns unloaded and is killed. Knowing that Claire is in danger and that he will never escape as long as Fergie is alive, Doug murders Fergie and his bodyguard and calls Claire. Watching from across the street via binoculars, Doug sees that the FBI are with Claire as she tells him to come over, he at first thinks she means to betray him, but eventually she gives him a clue to warn him away, which he picks up on. So Doug flees instead, donning an MBTA uniform and escaping on a train; having left a note on Frawley’s car for him to “Go Fuck Yourself”. Later, whilst gardening, Claire finds a bag buried containing the stolen money, a tangerine, and a note from Doug, suggesting that she can make better use of the money than he can, and that they’ll hopefully see each other again. Claire donates the money, in memory of Doug’s mother, to refurbish the local ice hockey arena where Doug once played. From the deck of a small house, Doug looks out over the water, forlorn and alone, but seemingly safe in Florida.The Town is an interesting film it’s not your usual cops and robbers, heist film. Yes the Town features a bank robbery at the beginning but that is just the starting point of the film. The film has an excellent cast, Jeremy Renner was oscar nominated for his role in the film, and watching it you can understand why. I would certainly recommend it.

REVIEW: EVERYTHING MUST GO

CAST

Will Ferrell (The Lego Movie)
Christopher Jordan Wallace (Kicks)
Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Rosalie Michaels (The Graves)
Stephen Root (Jersey Girl)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Glenn Howerton (Serenity)
Jason Spisak (Time Lapse)
Michael Pena (The Martian)

Salesman Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job of 16 years following an unspecified incident in Denver related to his alcoholism. He sits in the parking garage after leaving the office, drinking from a flask. He then takes the Swiss Army Knife he was given as a farewell gift and stabs it into his supervisor’s car tires, only to leave the knife (which has his name on it) and run away when he is unable to pull it back out from the tire. He immediately drives to a convenience store and buys a large amount of beer. When he returns home, he finds his wife is gone, the locks have been changed, and his belongings have been strewn all over his front lawn. His wife has left him a letter telling him that she is leaving him, also over the Denver incident, and to not contact her.

Nick spends the night on the lawn. In the morning, he leaves to buy beer and food, returning to find his company car being taken back. In addition, his credit cards no longer work, he has been blocked from the joint checking account he has with his wife, and his phone service is terminated. When the police ask him to vacate the premises, Nick gets them to contact his AA sponsor, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Peña), who provides him with a permit for a yard sale, allowing him three more days before he must move on. Nick gets a neighborhood boy, Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), to help him sell his possessions, assuring Kenny he will pay him for the help, and also that he will teach him to play baseball. The first day’s sale is unsuccessful as Nick is unwilling to let items go.

Nick meets his new neighbor, a pregnant young woman named Samantha (Rebecca Hall), and invites her to his backyard. There, he tells her that he had been sober for six months until attending a conference in Denver, during which he had gotten blackout drunk with a female coworker; he awoke with no memory of the night before, and soon learned that she had lodged a complaint against him, setting the stage for his firing. Nick then finds a yearbook with a friendly message from an old classmate, Delilah (Laura Dern), whom he tracks down and visits. The reunion is awkward, but Delilah nevertheless gives Nick a hug and tells him that he is a good person deep down. Now completely broke, Nick has to go without alcohol and soon experiences withdrawal. Samantha gives him a Valium and tells him that he needs help. He replies that she is no better than him because she puts up with her husband’s drinking and frequent absences. Samantha storms off, angry and hurt.

The next morning Nick awakes to find Kenny has arranged his belongings on the lawn and has put price tags on them. Most of the things get sold by that evening. Nick apologizes to Samantha, who admits that he was right and that she had told her husband to come home or get a divorce. She, Nick and Kenny then go out to dinner. In the restaurant restroom, Nick encounters his former supervisor, who explains that the incident in Denver probably did not happen. They fired the female employee he got drunk with because it was discovered she has a history of suing fellow employees for sexual harassment, and that Nick probably would have gotten his job back if only he hadn’t slashed the supervisor’s tires. Nick expresses little reaction to this news, but when the supervisor leaves a glass of beer in the restroom, Nick takes it back to him without drinking a drop.

After dinner, Nick meets with Frank, and answers Frank’s phone while he steps out of his office. The caller is Nick’s wife, Catherine, telling Frank she is waiting at his house. Nick confronts Frank, who admits Catherine has been staying with him ever since she left Nick. The two men have a fight, and Frank says Catherine deserves better than Nick. It is also divulged that Nick and his wife were both recovering alcoholics. Later, while Frank drives Nick home, he observes that, because Catherine got sober and Nick didn’t, their marriage had little chance of succeeding, and proceeds to list the ways Nick failed her as a husband. He then hands Nick a packet of divorce papers for him to sign, along with some spending money and keys to the house. Nick tells Frank to drop him off on the nearest curb; before he gets out of the car, he asks Frank to tell his wife he’s sorry. He walks home the rest of the way, at one point stopping to look into the convenience store where he regularly bought beer, but moves on.
As Can She: Rebecca Hall (Samantha) in ‘Everything Must Go’
The next day, he settles up with Kenny – including repaying him for what he skimmed from Kenny’s profits for beer money – and receives an appreciative hug from Samantha, whose husband has come home. She hands him the Polaroid photo she took of him a few days prior, with the message from her fortune cookie taped to the bottom, which says “Everything is not yet lost.”

It’s a really good story that’s well worth watching, but quite sad and raw at times (albeit with uplifting moments).

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)

As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.

Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.

The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.

As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.