Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013) movie review

Overall verdict: 6.5/10

The Good: Tony Stark gets to shine without his armor, awesome action set pieces and combat, tightly paced, political underlying themes, Robert Downey Jr's performance, rousing heroic soundtrack by Brian Tyler, a fitting conclusion to the trilogy

The Bad: An insulting "twist" to a much loved Iron Man comic book adversary, convoluted plot, badly timed comedy, wasting good subject matter.

3D status: Post production 3D conversion

Marvel has dug themselves in deep with Avengers. Woe to any other family friendly superhero blockbuster to ever come out as it will forever be held against the standard set by Avengers. Woe to Iron Man 3, which not only stacks up badly against Marvel's prior superhero film but falls victim to sequel degeneration.

Our story takes place after the events of The Avengers and Tony Stark is having anxiety attacks after his near death experience in New York city fighting off an alien invasion. At the same time, he is trying to be a good boyfriend to Pepper Potts in order to "protect the one he loves". But in comes an old rival Alderich Killian who either wants to seduce Pepper with his snakelike suaveness or just loves acting like the bad guy he is. Meanwhile, the terrorist leader "The Mandarin" has launched a slew of attacks around the world in order to teach America "a lesson". Quite a heavy start to the movie. Until, that is, one particular Mandarin attack hits close to home, putting previous Iron Man director Jon Freveau into a coma (hence perhaps why Shane Black took his job). Tony is furious and in his ego fueled anger does the stupidest thing in all superhero history: he gives his address on public television! As expected, villains attack his house and kidnap his girlfriend. So much for wanting to "protect the one he loves". Tony is forced to go into hiding and fight back, without the help of his high tech armor, against genetically enhanced foes with melting magma powers.

Here is the only genius move this film makes: letting Tony Stark kick ass without his high tech armor. The hero known as iron man is not the armor, but he is the man inside. Tony Stark is iron man and no one else can be him. With only his wits, ingenious mind and resourcefulness, Tony proves himself a true hero. However, these moments are handled less like character development and more like another "tony is awesome"sequence. Stark still has the same jerk ass attitude from previous films, still has his planet sized ego; it seems that all that has happened to him since he first chose to become Iron Man had not changed him at all.

What did change was all the elements taken from the original comic books. The human bombs from Matt Fraction's Invincible iron man series have been haphazardly combined with Warren Ellis' Extremis concept. The end result is not the "next stage of augmented human evolution" as per the comics but quite literally "melter people". Yes there is an iron man villain called The Melter whose powers is to melt things. Not sticking to the source material is fine, but blatantly poking fun and insulting the source material is a totally different matter. Case in point: the mandarin.

Simply put, the mandarin is meant to be Iron Man's dark opposite: mysticism against might, Supernatural against science. If Tony Stark were Batman, the Mandarin is his Joker. But Shane Black and pals took that character to the crap pile. Instead of being the analogy for the nature of modern terrorism as promotional material for the film claimed, the Mandarin is revealed as a complete joke. First, they ripoff the "big reveal" from Batman Begin's Ras Al Ghul. Then, like some kid's lousy April Fools prank they spit on the very character of the Mandarin turning him from the Monarch of Mayhem into the dysfunctional love child of Austin Powers and Mr Bean.

With all its special effects flair and big budget action pieces, Iron Man 3 cannot decide whether to take its subject matter seriously or not. Just as they are going into some good politics or philosophy, we cut to another comedy act for cheap laughs courtesy of Robert Downey jr. His acting is great, everyone's is. But the way it is handled breaks the tone of the movie. You have a film with unlimited potential for surfacing some serious political and philosophical subject matter. You have a film that could show a flawed character coming full circle with his heroes' journey. You have a film.......that does nothing of that sort and is perfectly content with being a comedy ridden summer blockbuster complete with an irritating kid sidekick for Iron Man.

Lesson: If you want to tackle serious subject matter, make a serious film and take the villain seriously. Iron Man 3 reeks of unoriginality, drawing many elements from The Dark Knight trilogy: hero loses everything and goes into exile, hero faces an adversary who turns out to nothing but a "front" for a more sinister bad guy, hero is trying to be a good boyfriend but endangers his loved one, hero is forced to rely on his wits alone without fancy gadgets, hero wipes the slate clean in the end and starts anew. Familiar? Of course it is. No doubt the casual movie goer will be drawn in with spectacular fight sequences, big budget special effects and Robert Downey Jr's charisma. Oh and obviously by good "word of mouth" from the success of The Avengers.  to No doubt Iron Man 3 will be a big hit by riding on the success of The Avengers. And at very least, it paints a successful trilogy whose first film gave birth to Marvel's cinematic universe. 

*****************************Review End***************************

Go For it: if you like big action and comedy or if you had been a fan of iron man since the start
Avoid it: if you expect a credible villain, deep political satire or a movie that is just as good as The Avengers

Entertainment: B-
Story: B-
Acting: A
Characters: B
Music: B+
Replay value: B-
"Brains": C-

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