Tony Stark, James T. Kirk & Mr. Spock

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of the downtime to see two movies, “Iron Man 3” and “Star Trek:  Into Darkness.”

All of us have enjoyed the Iron Man franchise, which we came to late, after seeing “The Avengers.”  Sarcasm plays a prominent role in our lives, and we appreciate seeing it well done on screen.  In many ways, “Iron Man 3” was the best of the trilogy of Iron Man movies.  There was the requisite amount of explosions and fighting, but the narrative arc was surprisingly original and the character development was unusually deep for an action movie.  You see Tony Stark, the man, without his suit and at his most vulnerable.  Robert Downey, Jr is a superb actor, and he manages to convey vulnerability without sentimentality.  And his sarcasm stays intact throughout the movie.  It’s an excellent movie and a fitting end to the Iron Man franchise.  At least, I hope it’s the end to the franchise.  I am sorry to see it end, but there is nowhere else to go with the story line without ruining the narrative arc.  Marvel/Disney would probably love to see it continue, given the revenue that the movie raked in, but I hope that Robert Downey, Jr can withstand the temptation and let the franchise end as it deserves–with a logical and heartfelt resolution.

(P.S.  Make sure you stay through the end of the credits to watch the very end scene.)

“Star Trek Into Darkness” was a fabulous movie.  So, I say without hesitation that I am a huge fan of:  Star Trek, the Original Series; Star Trek, the Next Generation (other than Seasons 1 and 2); and Star Trek, Deep Space Nine (I love Avery Brooks).  I like Enterprise, and I tolerated Star Trek:  Voyager.

I also was pleasantly surprised by J.J. Abrams’s first Star Trek movie.  Even though our family mantra is “Never mess with the timeline,” which is exactly what J.J. Abrams did, the movie had a frenetic pacing and original storyline that paid respect to the original series while breaking new ground.  It was excellently done.

I’m even more impressed with his latest Star Trek movie, which I think is the best yet.  The frenetic pacing is still there, of course.  (It wouldn’t be a J.J. Abrams movie without it.)  So are the special effects and the violence.  The main characters all come into their own a little bit more.  Again, there are wisecracks that poke fun at the original series while at the same time, paying tribute to it.  It’s a fine balancing act that is done well–with respect but not adoration.  I like that.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays one of the most memorable villains that have appeared in Star Trek lore in quite some time.  Of course, the plummy British accent and the intensity he projects doesn’t hurt.   (If you haven’t seen him in the BBC version of “Sherlock,” I highly recommend it.  He is amazing in it.)  And since the timeline has already been messed with, the plotline is original and creative and excellently done.  The movie is a worthy addition to the franchise, and I highly, highly recommend it.