Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Review - Iron Man 3

Super Hero movies continue to be a big force in theaters so much so that it's not financially realistic to see all of them. Especially knowing that some are better than others. Last year I was very pleased with The Avengers. Sure it had its cheesy bits and was a bit strained in points, but it's a "comic book" movie…come on folks. Still, The Avengers was amazing and raised the bar for what viewers expect.

So moving into this year's super hero season, I was a little unsure if Iron Man 3 could adequately follow The Avengers. I really enjoyed the first Iron Man film. I felt like it gave us a great origin story for Iron Man and created a fun yet obnoxious character in Tony Stark. The second Iron Man continued the fun and ramped it up with the great villain Whiplash. So what about Iron Man 3? Is it as good as the first 2 Iron Man movies? Worse? The Same but different?

In terms of overall plot and storyline, the idea was engaging. The special effects and action sequences were dramatically over the top as you would expect. Plenty of intense action, 'splosions and fights. The overall plot of the story is very character driven based on the interactions of Tony Stark with his "demons" both external and internal.

We have a very compelling villain in terms of the enigmatic Mandarin. Granted, I think I would have liked him to be a bit more like his comic book counterpart, but I'll let comic book die hards argue about the changes made. I felt like Ben Kingsley did a great job as the Mandarin both when he's a "terror from afar" presence with his video calls taking credit for acts of terrorism as well as when we finally get the confrontation between him and Stark (which again, I was hoping for something more akin to the comic history).

Guy Pearce plays Stark's other demon, a man named Aldrich Killian. While I could appreciate his motivation and his characterization, I felt like Killian was a bit too zany and inconsistent in terms of his behavior and actions. His initial interaction with Stark is pathetic and I can see why it would leave him jaded and hating Stark. But his transition to a man not only seeking revenge against Stark but also trying to take over the world seemed a bit of a stretch. He was an interesting character and had some fun scenes, especially towards the end, but he was a less compelling villain than the Mandarin, which is a shame, especially due to a reveal towards the end of the film.

On the side of the heroes Pepper Potts and Rhodey ("War Machine" / "Iron Patriot") do a great job. They actually get quite a lot of screen time and pivotal plot moments which is fun. They act as great support to Stark and help ground some of the more uneven elements. I thought it was great that Pepper was able to get in on the action more directly though I was a little bummed when they removed some of that possibility for the sequels.

Robert Downey Jr. once again does a fabulous job portraying Tony Stark. He is wonderfully snarky, sarcastic and rude while still being smart, funny and (occasionally) compassionate. In this movie, more than the previous two, the writers seem to want to explore Tony's "human" side. In fact, Tony Stark has a considerable number of action sequences without being Iron Man. He's frequently running around, investigating and fighting as Tony Stark instead of as Iron Man.

In addition to just the mortal/human element, the filmmakers also try to explore the psychology of Stark's humanity.  Specifically, Tony's dealing with some post-traumatic-stress following the events of the war in The Avengers. This felt like a compelling path but I didn't feel like it was explored enough to be truly compelling. Instead, it felt like a tacked on element. He did have nightmares and the sporadic panic attack, but any long term or deep seeded effects were quickly tossed aside and within a few seconds, Tony was moving on as if nothing happened. That's great and all, but I personally think PTSD might be a bit more dramatic (granted, I have no personal experience, so I could be wrong). At the same time, Stark is a "results" guy, so I guess it could be said that he just pushed through and made it work no matter what. Part of me wanted Tony to have a big breakdown at a time when it "really" mattered and to have Rhodey or Pepper have to do more to save him.

Another plot element (or lacking element) that seemed a little odd to me was that S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't in this story at all, especially considering the global nature of the Mandarin threat and the actions of Tony Stark in directly "throwing down the gauntlet" to the Mandarin on national/global TV. Given their apparently very huge presence in The Avengers, we can assume that they've got a well established force and would have been involved to at least some extent. It felt like a missed opportunity to keep the overall Marvel comic-movie thread more cohesive.

Overall, this was a fun movie. While the action and characterizations were compelling, they didn't (to me at least) measure up to the quality of the first two Iron Man films. Still, it's a fun and exciting ride with some intriguing revelations, twists and turns along the way. It didn't do a lot to progress the overall story arc of the "Avengers" related films but as a stand-alone adventure it's worth a watch and is definitely enjoyable.

3 out of 5 stars


Anonymous said...

Nice review Okie. We get to see that despite Tony Stark being Iron Man and having an awesome suit, his greatest asset is his own intelligence. Something that we haven’t seen touched on with this character for awhile, which I liked.

Brian Miller said...

have not seen it...though i am rather the character choice in the mandarin...not so sure on all the armor going on with pepper and everyone...maybe this weekend i will see it...nice review