Friday, May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Non-Spoiler) review

    I just got back from a midnight showing of Iron Man 3 and I thought I'd give my review while the reviewing is good. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? Not really. I have no complaints about it like the Dark Knight Rises but the movie was a trifle...disappointing? Yeah, that's probably the best word for it. Expectations were absurdly high for the movie after the Avengers but the film doesn't quite follow it up. Still, I heartily recommend it.

    The premise of Iron Man 3 is Tony is suffering PTSD from his near-death experience fighting aliens in New York. The world is much the same after the events of Avengers and I think that's the first really big misstep in the film. After the existence of aliens has been discovered, this movie attempts to dial it back. I can't be too harsh on it because that's what Marvel comics does, make the absurdly fantastical mundane so it always resembles our world. Still, it's interesting the biggest thing Tony Stark is worried about after the Avengers is his own human frailty.

    Robert Downey Junior does a wonderful job in simultaneously showing Tony Stark as a mess while also reminding us of his brilliance. Tony Stark, despite how much improvement he makes, never quite gets his act together and that's what makes the movies so great. You don't even need to do a movie about Tony's alcoholism because RDJ realizes his frailty in every scene.

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper has a somewhat reduced role in this despite, or perhaps because, of being Tony's girlfriend. She doesn't get much to work with other than fretting over Tony and a few scenes where she's imperiled. Despite this, I really liked the latter part of the movie where she has a moment to shine. I'd actually love to see her become Rescue like she does in the comics or maybe go "out there" and make her Ms. Marvel.

    Don Cheadle's James Rhodes is about where I put him last film, which is he's an excellent character in a supporting role but never really shines. You couldn't really base a movie around War Machine (or "Iron Patriot" as he is in this film) but he works well whenever playing off Tony. Sadly, I think some of the scenes were deliberately designed to make his character look foolish and I felt bad about that.

    Ben Kingsley's Mandarin is a tremendous display of acting talent both in the scenes where he's meant to embody anti-American sentiment given form followed by some (surprisingly) hilarious comic scenes. I hope Ben Kingsley gets more work in A-list movies after this. He deserves to be in everything I see from now on, he's that entertaining.

The Mandarin is so over-the-top it hurts...and it works!
    I thought Guy Pearce, as founder of comic staple Advanced Idea Mechanics, was going to be a retread of Justin Hammer or Obadiah Stane. Thankfully, he's very much his own character and very much in the spirit of a comic book character (not the one he's named after).

    Rebecca Hall's Maya Hansen was, for me, the standout performance of the piece. She managed to create a multi-layered and complex character who straddles the line between good and evil. Maya Hansen created Extremis in the comics with full-awareness of its terrorist potential. Here, you are left wondering how much she knows right until the movie reveals where her loyalties really lay.

    The movie makes use of the Extremis plot from the comic arts for the majority of its tale plus building on the "Ten Rings" organization established in the first movie. Despite the trailers depicting it as "darker and edgier" it's actually about as light-hearted as the Avengers.There's even a non-annoying little kid for Tony to bond with.

    Iron Man 3 excels on the back of its characterization. Robert Downey Junior has brought Tony Stark to the screen four times and he's owned the role every single time. Gwyneth Paltrow is an excellent actress who makes the best use of a limited role. The villains are also delightful in their evil yet "realistic" enough to be believable.

    If there's any area which it falls down is the movie is retreading a lot of the same ground. Tony's PTSD resembles his trauma in the previous two movies. Likewise, I feel a trifle saddened one of the twists, which was funny but diminished what was an excellent set-up. Finally, the movie tried to 'wrap up' all of the Iron Man movie plotlines in a bow without really 'earning' it emotionally.


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