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.
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.
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