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To quote The Mandarhin (SPOILERS AHOY).
I didn't like this film. But in a weird, weird way.
Iron Man 3 has Stark on some fascinating PTSD, promising us a interesting conflict of morals and themes for this character (Could The Invencible Iron Man no longer be invincible?), even the romance seems well-written here [I usually hate romance]. Then we are introduced to the fearsome Mandarin, a brillant adaptation of the comic book character, perfectly updated for modern times and with master actor Ben Kingsley, he was a promise to become one of the best, most charismatic and remembered comic book film villains of all time. His introduction is the best part of the entire movie by far.
The only flaw of this first half is Pearce's character, which I found bland, smug in a bad way, badly-written, generic and really Fucking annoying. But we had The Mandarin, so I was at peace.
The movie is proceeding brillantly with Stark's conflicts and love-life as we reach mid-way through and Stark's Darkest Hour. Then we see a kid sidekick which isn't too bad, but unnecessary.
Then they show Mandarin never actually existed and Pearce's monumentally annoying character takes the spotlight. So they crafted that brillant character only to throw him out of the window in the most insulting way possible, only to replace him with the worst comic book film villain in recent memory.
This phenomally bad idea wrecks the movie: Pearce's character can't provide a philosophical match for Tony (unlike Obadiah and Vanko), and as a result the final battle feels lacking in emotion and heart, all the interesting conflicts of Tony are abruptly dropped mid-way through the movie way too soon and without sufficient explanation, too many scenes focused on Pearce and we are left with one hour of mediocrity and a generic action movie without heart or soul, different from the psychologically interesting 1/2.
To sum it up, I'd say Iron Man 3 is a movie that flirts with greatness, only to shoot greatness in the face with a shotgun and piss on its corpse later, thus destroying all the movie's effort and condemning it to a generic action movie that is in some ways, the worst movie of this trilogy.
9/10 for the fist half, 5/10 for the second half.
I'm going to describe the plot to an Iron Man film. It doesn't matter which, because they are all basically the same. The story is about a billionaire playboy called Tony Stark. He has crippling emotional and personal issues that clash with his confident, snarky persona. Over the course of the movie, there will be confused observations about the evils of weapons manufacturing, whilst Tony fights villainy with his own weaponised combat armour. He will have to face off against a vaguely ethnic, foreign terrorist and a slimy, American arms dealer, who both threaten America for profit and personal revenge. In short, the Iron Man movies are less about creating an original story, and more about retelling the same one to differing degrees of success.
As if I haven't made it clear enough already, Iron man 3 is very much like its predecessors. As to how well it tells the same story...well it's fairly bad at it at first. For a while, it is actually boring. Considering how these comic book things tend to prioritize action, the movie avoids providing any real action until a good half hour in. Like a lot of movies these days, the writers sacrifice the first 45 minutes or so to tedious exposition and set up, and save up all the excitement for the final hour. It just feels unbalanced.
When the action does come, Iron Man 3 is good fun. The writers realise that once in his super suit, Stark is near invulnerable, so this movie does a good job of creating situations wherein the hero is caught without his armour. This keeps him vulnerable, and requires him to find creative ways to defeat his fearsome enemies. Whereas Stark's previous enemies have been a fat old man, and a fat old man with whips, this time around, he is against people who can put up a fight.
As to the villains, though impressively powered, they still seem like a clumsy attachment to the plot. I really liked Ben Kingsley, who puts on a great performance as the hammy, mysterious Mandarin, but Guy Pierce's character is a total mess. His schemes are so convoluted, contradictory and so full of stupid flaws, I can't envision how they would ever work, had Iron Man not been there to stop him.
All in all? Eh, it's decent enough I guess. The whole time though, I couldn't help wondering if I should have paid to see Star Trek instead.
The title of the review says it all; not much to add. What were audiences expecting from this?
More action? Done!
More Iron Man Suits? Done!
More characters? Done!
A better story? Done!
HSQ-loaded visuals that put both Avengers and TDKR to shame? Done!
A fitting denouement for Iron Man, while leaving an open-ended conclusion for the character's future participation in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies? Done!
What I most loved about it is that the film just dives in; no long-drawn-out build up, no wasting twenty minutes with an origin story for the villain. Right off the bat, we're thrown into the middle of it - the bad-guy terrorist (Mandarin) is already active, Tony is suffering anxiety attacks as a result of the events in Avengers (which are simply referred to as "New York"), he and Pepper are having problems as a couple, and his obsession with the suits is driving him cuckoo-bonkers. It all just snowballs from there, in a stunning spectacle mixed with some clever storytelling, and, as is signature for the Marvel movies, some hilariously silly pitfalls.
As I mentioned, the HSQ-level is through the roof, which is to be expected. There's this one scene with a plane crash where... well, you'll see.
Overall 8.9/10 and awesome.
Iron Man 3 is a well made film by any standards. What made it so surprising was how little it resembles Tony Stark's previous 3 outings.
The message of the movie is, "the man makes the suit", not the suit makes the man. Shane Black takes Tony Stark out of his comfort zone following the events of The Avengers, showing how New York messed up Tony's head. At the same time, a campaign of violence launched by the Mandarin, a flamboyant uber-terrorist, draws Stark into a journey of self-realization.
Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark hasn't been this sincere since 2008's Iron Man. He takes the next step in the character's progression and makes it (mostly) believable. Downey delivers the best performance in the movie, which elevates the quality of the supporting cast.
Where Iron Man 3 falls short is in some of the writing choices. Despite being based on the Extremis storyline, the movie takes great liberties with (and even pokes fun) at the comics. In the movie, Tony is unaffected by the Extremis program. The original storyline saw him reexamine the nature of Iron Man, in addition to upgrading him with the super tech a futurist would use. It feels as though a plot closer to the original's set in a post-Avengers world would have been better than the scattered story presented here.
The action in the movie is excellent— for a non-superhero. Considering the movie introduces 35 new armors, the lack of armored action raises a big question mark. Previous Iron Man movies, and especially Avengers, introduced suits which were logical progressions from their predecessors. Every new explosive, laser, and delivery system was more interesting than the last. Here, the suits don't work and feel like clones, flying and using repulsors, but never getting enough screen time for us to appreciate their abilities. I don't go to the Iron Man films to see Don Cheadle (or RDJ) shoot people with a handgun.
A few other gripes concern the supporting cast's treatment. Maya Hansen's arc is awkward and has some clunky "in it for the science" moral dialogue. Pepper Potts' transition to full blown Action Girl seems unecessarily forced. The lack of action for the Iron Patriot armor is criminal.
Despite the flaws, Iron Man 3 could have been a near-perfect Iron Man movie if it had just a little more Iron Man in it.
After seeing the third Iron Man film, I still have the same question i had when I saw the trailers: Why? Why did the powers-that-be behind it decide to change the tone entirely and imitate the Dark Knight film formula when the very-different Marvel Cinematic Universe formula was working? The Marvel Cinematic Universe films were good, and they made money. Lots of money. Why was it ever deemed necessary to change and become more like the formula of a competitor you were already beating?
I ask this because I don't like the results of the change. The writing is weak. The story is a mess — an excuse to show all the explosions and battles and feats of action movie magic. Great effects + poor writing. Don't even get me started on the rapid-fire Deus Ex Machina wrap-ups. Sad, considering the writing of the first Iron Man film and The Avengers was as close to perfect as humanly possible. The story/plot is on the good end of typical for a superhero film, but a step down compared to the rest of the Marvel series.
That being said, Tony Stark's characterization is a vast improvement on that of Iron Man 2, which is what makes this film the better experience of the two. I love how he's on the road mostly alone and has to rely on his own skill and ingenuity to take down his opponents. The PTSD thing would be a good element if it wasn't so inconsistent — 3 months of imprisonment by terrorists in a cave and nearly being killed by Stane didn't effect Tony the way his battle in New York did.
Everyone's performances, especially Robert Downey, Jr.'s, were excellent. A+ all around for the acting.
The kid was less than annoying than I feared, although his name should've been Hogarth, and somebody should've reminded the writers that Marvel doesn't do kid sidekicks, and for a good reason: it's stupid! Once again, I'm baffled why they felt the need to include one — the franchise was doing perfectly fine without a surrogate for the kids in the audience!
In conclusion, I enjoyed the film, but there were a lot of things that left me disappointed and baffled. They spoiled a great thing, but they didn't thoroughly ruin it. What does it say about a film when The Stinger is the best part of it?
P.S. "J. Taggart"?
Like Mark XLII Armor that Tony Stark favors in this film, pieces upon pieces of the story rapidly assemble themselves into one solid superhero tale.
It is gritty, but never forget the light-hearted, fun atmosphere the franchise has given us before. It has awesome actions, impressive visuals, and full of thrills, but not without substance. The story is fast-paced, rather complex and contrived; but it is also clear that Shane Black and crews have done brilliant writing, what with all the foreshadowings, subtle clues, and the consistently escalating climax. The acting is not the best the cast could give, but sufficient enough to make me care about them and understand their actions. And God, I'm so envious of little Harley.
But of course, no movie is flawless. Some plot contrivances are rather too convenient (if you have watched previous movies, they can be forgiven to some degree), not enough story-buildings because the Chekhov's Armory can be sometimes too well hidden to be noticed, The Mandarin is well... not so Mandarin, some gleeful violations to the law of physics, and many emotional scenes could have done better. Even so, nothing bothers me so much to degrade my enjoyment of this great film.
I confidently declare this movie to be the best among all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date. You must watch it.
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