Belated Iron Man 3 review

Now it is finally time for a very belated Iron Man 3 review. The movie opened in the UK two weeks ago and I eventually saw it on Friday 3 May. Since then it’s made a ton of money.

I will try to avoid explicit spoilers, but as always be warned.

In summary, Tony Stark has returned to his home in California to tinker on new Iron Man suits while Pepper runs the company. Meanwhile a terrorist mastermind known as the Mandarin has been, well, terrorising people. And Guy Pierce is up to no good with biotechnology called Extremis.

Various characters return. Pepper obviously. And James Rhodes who wears the War Machine armour, which is now rebranded the Iron Patriot. Also original director John Favreau returns as Happy Hogan, chief of security in a beefed-up part.

One particular cast memeber joining the movie is British actress Rebecca Hall playing scientist Maya Hansen from the original Extremis comic storyline. I’m a fan of Rebecca so it was great to see her in a big-budget Hollywood summer release although ultimately she was a bit wasted.

Also joining the cast is Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin. The mandarin is a long-time foe of Irn Man and I expect some comic book fans may net be well pleased by the movie imnerpration of the character. There is a “twist” but I did see it coming.

The movie has also come in for criticism that Tony does not wear his armour much in the movie. Indeed for a good chunk of the running time he is armour less and has to use his ingenuity to track down and fight Guy Pierce and his Extermis-powered minions. (A nice nod to the comics is the inclusion of his company AIM – Advanced Ideas Mechanics.)

Despite some dark subject matter the movie has a light tone with many patented Robert Downey Jr comic moments. To be fair he does do them very well.

The movie reference the Avengers movie a fair bit, even showing a few flashback clips and including quite a few mentions of what happened in New York. Indeed the events of Avengers have affected Tony and as well as having sleepless nights he’s prone to anxiety attacks. One of my favourite moments in the movie is when a little girl asks Tony to sign a picture she drew and he’s scrawls a ‘help me’ message in crayons.

Oddly the movie goes out of its way to imply that the Iron Man story is complete with the third instalment. Maybe the makers watched The Dark Knight Rises once too often. Somehow I think Tony and the armour will return.

Overall, while it’s no Avengers it is an entertaining addition to the Marvel movie series.

Next up, Thor: Dark World

Game of Thrones location 2 – Ballintoy Harbour

After watching the second episode of Game of Thrones season 2 I thought I would visit another nearby location used in the making of the episode. This one is Ballintoy harbour on the north Antrim coast and was used for the scene where Theon Greyjoy arrives back at the Iron Islands after spending years as a ward at Winterfell. The day turned out to be a typical Northern Ireland spring day, i.e. wet and grey, no doubt suitable for the folk of the Iron Islands.

Heres a few photos matched to screenshots from the episode.

First the steps at the harbour. There are actually two sets of steps and I’m not sure if I photographed the right ones. Note that the railings must have been removed for the filming.

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Looking away from the harbour entrance. The cottage type building is used as a cafe.

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Looking across the harbour.

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Looking north out to sea. Rathlin Island can be seen in the distance.

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I’m very impressed by the redressing they did.

Note if you’re planning a visit, there’s quite a twisty switchback road to get down to the harbour.


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Doctor Who – The Crimson Horror review

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Right, I’ve just realised a pattern has emerged with the current run of Doctor Who.

  • The Bells of St John – just OK.
  • The Rings of Akhaten (aka the one with the singing) – loved it.
  • Cold War (aka Ice Warrior on a Soviet submarine) – just OK.
  • Hide (aka the haunted house episode) – loved it
  • Journey to the Center of the Tardis – just OK
  • The Crimson Horror

Well, guess what? I thought this one was pretty smashing too. It’s written by Mark Gatiss and normally I put his episodes in the “just OK” camp. But he’s gone and done something special with this one.

First a brief story summary, hopefully avoiding big spoilers, but be careful anyway.

The episode starts not as an episode of Doctor Who, but more like an episode of Madame Vastra Investigates. Our favourite Silurian detective is brought north from London to Yorkshire to investigate some mysterious goings on at Diana Rigg’s utopian mill where people go in and never come out again. Except for the bright red bodies. Vastra has reason to believe the Doctor is involved and sends Jenny in undercover as a new recruit.

There is one moment I do want to mention here as it was wonderfully realised visually and audibly. Jenny is exploring the mill and heads to a door from which industrial sounds can be heard. She goes through and enters an empty factory space with some giant gramophone style speakers belting out recordings of the machines. It’s a fantastic image that will stick in my mind.

Jenny and Vastra eventually do find the Doctor, bright red but fortunately not deceased. He manages to get himself back to normal (i.e. not bright red) and he relates his involvement in the adventure. And an entertaining episode becomes even more entertaining because his flashback sequence is done in the style of an early piece of period film with added grain and noise and a sepia tone. It was a joy to watch.

Plus the Doctor references trying to get a “gobby Australian” back to Heathrow. “Brave heart, Clara,” he adds. The inner eleven year old that watched Peter Davison’s first series of the show was clapping his hands.

It’s also worth mentioning Rachael Stirling as Ada, Diana Rigg’s real life daughter playing Diana Rigg’s character’s daughter, if you know what I mean. She created a memorable and sympathetic character who had compassion for her “monster”. Put her on the list of character’s I’d like to see return.

Oh, there’s lots of great stuff in this one. In fact it’s so much above the level of the other Gatiss episodes that I wonder if he’s been held back from doing the stuff he really wanted to do until now.

Anyway, brilliant.

Next time, the Cybermen return. And Neil Gaiman is writing it. Even though, it’s going to be an odd-numbered episode and therefore I wonder if it will be “just OK”…

Game of Thrones location – the trees at Stranocum

Recently I got around to watching the second half of Game of Thrones season 1 and last night I decided to make at start on season 2. At the end of the first episode Arya Stark is being brought out of King’s Landing in disguise and my jaw (metaphorically) dropped when I saw that the road north from the city looked a lot like a local landmark known as the Dark Hedges of Stranocum. Well, they look like trees to me.

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I decided it was time I went to find the trees for myself and this afternoon I took a drive with my GPS pointed at the Bregagh Road. (Do I need to mention that the GPS predictably pointed itself at the wrong end of the Bregagh Road? Well, it did.)

I found the trees without too much difficulty and found a spot to park. Stepping out of the car I was struck by the silence. The only sound was what I would describe as the wind sighing. I walked down the road a bit to the trees and took a few quick snaps with my camera. As luck would have it I was facing the same direction as the makers of the show pointed their camera and the photo below is the closest to the screenshot above.

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I’ve zoomed in a bit to match the shot from the episode. I’m just glad I was facing the right direction (towards the golf course at the end of the road).

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Pretty amazing trees and worth a look if you are in the area.


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