This article contains minor spoilers for Iron Man 3.
Gwyneth Paltrow has made it easy for the world to hate her. She was born into privilege, is pretty much perfect, and leads the most glamorous of lives that 99 percent of the world can only dream about. It’s understandable that jealousy has caused us to spurn the 40-year-old actress — but we really can't go on hating Gwyneth Paltrow after her kick-ass performance in Iron Man 3.
The platform for Paltrow hatred was set by her childhood. She had an edge up in Hollywood as both of her parents worked in the film industry. Her mother Blythe Danner was a talented actress and her late father Bruce Paltrow was a well-acclaimed film director and producer. For this reason alone, she never really had to work as her parents had money enough— but still, Paltrow decided to take up acting as a career. Her parents’ names likely made it easy for her to get her start, but she has been quite successful in her own right. In 1999, she even earned an Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love.
As if her birthright didn't separate her enough, Paltrow has had quite the personal life. She’s been engaged to Brad Pitt, dated Ben Affleck, and is now married to Coldplay’s front-man Chris Martin. She has two beautiful kids with him and unlike most other Hollywood marriages, she seems to be making her home life work.
She doesn’t make it any easier for herself by bragging about her celebrity pals. She has referred to Jay-Z as her “best friend” and has given famous chef Mario Batali the ridiculous nickname of “Batals.” Besides that, the actress has made herself sound even more insane when she admitted in one of her cookbooks that she doesn’t let her kids eat carbs.
All of this is may seem impossible to excuse and it may have seemed infeasible to like Gwyneth Paltrow again, but then Iron Man 3 happened. Not only is Paltrow on top of her game in this movie, but she embraces every feminist ideal that we have held against her in the past: beauty, brains, talent, and success.
First of all, it’s important to note how powerful she is in her role as Pepper Potts. In the past two Iron Man films, she let the role dictate how she acted. This time around, Paltrow uses her talent to direct how Potts is portrayed. There is one scene in particular where she commands the screen: the final battle. Her emotions pour out through her character during this scene — and it seems as if she's melted into Pepper Potts in real life. She allows you to feel what Pepper is feeling in the final moments and it’s all because she has embraced a deep connection with her character. This may sound silly to talk about her capturing the role of a character from a superhero movie, but there is nothing silly about it. Paltrow turns Potts into herself.
But it’s not only Paltrow’s talents that allow her to shine in Iron Man 3. We may like to make fun of her for spending hours at the gym, but if she didn’t do this as part of her regular routine, she couldn’t have been as powerful as she is in this movie. It’s her personal strength that she attained prior to filming this movie that allows to truly fly on-screen. She embraces her personal strength and uses it to move her character forward in fight scenes.
After watching Iron Man 3, it’s easy to understand why she was casted to play Potts. What other Hollywood actress could so accurately cull together emotions and physical prowess to take on a character? Sure, we may be used to seeing her in the form of Pepper Potts, but she keeps coming back because she does such an excellent job with the character.
You can hate Gwyneth all you want, but her role in Iron Man 3 has reinvented my opinion of her. It’s no longer appropriate to hate her for her beauty or be jealous of her for her perfect life. She has a strong work ethic and she’s extremely talented. Instead of hating her, let’s celebrate what this actress brings to the screen. We all want a second chance, and for Paltrow, Iron Man 3 is that second chance.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.