Roundhouse Review: “Iron Man 3”

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Last year saw the release of the culmination of the Phase I Marvel movie in “The Avengers”. In case you missed it, we really enjoyed it. This year marks the start of Phase II revolving around two Avengers: the just-released “Iron Man 3” and this winter’s “Thor: The Dark World“.

So how did this sequel stack up against the other two “Iron Man” movies? Was it a return to form like the first film? Or was it a mish-mashed mess like the second? Read our takes below. (Possible spoiler warning)

If you ask me, last year’s “The Avengers” set the bar for superhero movies. Joss Whedon’s effort managed to combine the complex egos of six heroes in a thrilling story that wasn’t too long, too winded or too short on action.

One such effort that falls a bit under those three categories is the last “Iron Man” movie. While the film on the basic levels was a success, it was a bit long, a bit winded and was lacking in the action department. The movie spent more time on Stark’s “alcoholism” and setting up the first Avengers movie than on the Iron Man itself. It could’ve been better.

It’s with pride that I announce that “Iron Man 3” doesn’t suffer from the same pratfalls that the second film suffered.

“Iron Man 3” picks up shortly after the New York chaos documented in “The Avengers”. Stark has been dealing with anxiety attacks related to the battle and his fall from space. It doesn’t help that a new villain named The Mandarin has been dealing out evil in the Middle East. His sleepless nights and constant work has also strained his relationship with Pepper.

But after Stark’s loyal bodyguard Happy is severly injured following a lead, Stark turns from bystander to a man out for revenge. It isn’t long before his threat to The Mandarin results in the complete destruction of his mansion. Lab and all.

This sets Stark on a mission both professionally and personally. He teams up with a precocious ten-year-old boy in Tennessee, where Robert Downey Jr. gets to lay some classic one-liners. The chemistry between him and the boy works very well.

This leads to Stark figuring out the real man behind The Mandarin: Aldrich Killian, an evil scientist in the same vein as Stark. His claim to fame is the “Extremis” regenerative healing virus, which Killian has used to progress his mad plan around the globe.

It’s up to Stark, Rhodey and (yes) Pepper to help stop him, resulting in a hell of a climax taking place on an oil refinery. This also gives Stark the chance to reveal his secret lab experiment, and we get to see multiple kinds of Iron Men suits in action. It’s simply breathtaking.

“Iron Man 3” is great for two reasons: one, it’s an excellent follow-up to “The Avengers”. And two, it helps erase the bad taste that “Iron Man 2” left in many mouths.

If there’s only one thing to criticize, it would be the ending. The movie wraps up the remaining subplots a little too easy, and a character decision regarding Tony is a bit puzzling. Oh well. At least we have the next Avengers movie to sort it all out.

 

(P.S: there is an after-credits scene with an Avenger cameo, but if you’ve read it on the Internet already you can probably skip it. Not that memorable if you ask me.)

Following up The Avengers is no easy task but Iron Man 3 kicks off Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in fantastic fashion and is also a great kick off to Summer Blockbuster season 2013.

Tony is on a quest to rebuild and get revenge after an arrogant calling out of the terrorist leader, The Mandarin, results in his Malibu home getting spectacularly blown up and leaving him stranded in rural Tennessee with a malfunctioning Mark 42 suit.  The main theme of the movie is Tony trying to figure out if the Iron or the Man is the most important aspect of him and there’s lots of fun bits where Tony has to use his wits instead of his latest, super advanced suits.

Action wise, Iron Man 3 is incredible and what I loved is that every action sequence had an extremely clever aspect to them, whether it was Tony fighting with just one armored hand and foot and using them to maneuver around goons, the amazing Air Force One rescue sequence where Tony has to figure out how to save 13 people when he only can carry 4 and the best finale of the Iron Man movies, where Tony and Rhodey take on the Extremis powered Aldritch Killian and his goons at a shipyard and Tony brings in the dozen or more suits he’s built since The Avengers and is constantly jumping into them, getting them destroyed and then jumping into another.  It’s visually and action wise much more exciting than either of the previous Iron Man finales.

I also loved all the things director Shane Black brought, especially his ear for witty banter and one liners.  Tony is even more Tony Starky than any of the other movies and everyone else seems to get a slight humor injection as well, as Rhodey and even Jarvis are able to trade back and forth with RDJ.  I also liked Tony’s relationship with a kid in the small town he’s stuck in and that even the lowliest henchmen have some character instead of just being bullet sponges.  The shipyard sequence and Christmas setting are also staples of Black’s previous work, like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout.

The only major criticism I would level against the movie is that the reveal that The Mandarin is actually a drunken British actor who was hired by Guy Pearce’s Killian was pushed too hard into a joke.  It’s fun to see Sir Ben Kingsley acting like a complete idiot but it’s a waste of a character we’ve been waiting for since Iron Man 1 but I thought Guy Pearce was a strong enough villain to balance it out a bit.  I would have also liked to have seen a little more variety in the Extremis powers, instead of just the heat/invulnerability powers all the villains possess.  If you’ve read the comics, you know that Extremis can be adapted to create a number of different powers.  I also hope we haven’t seen the last of AIM, which is used as Killian’s evil think tank.  The end is also a little unclear about what exactly it’s setting up for Avengers 2 and the other Phase II movies.

Iron Man 3 is right under Avengers and Iron Man 1 for me and a significant improvement over 2, which is much better now that we’ve seen Avengers but doesn’t really stand by itself.  The action of 3 is incredible and it has even more of the great Tony Stark assholeness that you’ve come to love.  Comic fans might be disappointed by the changes to The Mandarin and the Extremis story but it’s set the bar incredibly high for the rest of this summer’s blockbusters.

 

chris

 

 

Iron Man 3 is a nice sequel in the series of movies that involve a stupidly rich business man that moonlights as a crime fighter and has problems maintaining relationship with those closes to him. In this entry, we see what’s more important to the hero, the person behind the mask or the costume (In this case, the metal armor, talking computer AI, etc).

Often Threquel’s have a problem with the hero trying to give up the super-hero gig only after a few short years. (See Dark Knight Rises, Spider-man 3, Superman 3, RoboCop3?). In this attempt Iron Man 3 passes as a good summer movie, but not without a few deep cuts in it’s armor. The villain’s motivates are unnecessary complicated and it’s never a good thing when the plot twists don’t effect the story (or even the hero).

For the comic Marvel fans like myself, you will be disappointed with the lack of Marvel universe support (Did Shield not care what happens to Tony? Was there a party with West Coast Avengers? When is the Grey Gargoyle going to show up?), and the after credits sequence leaves you with nothing to work with. With all of the weak points of the movie, the amazing visual effects, the witty “Downey monologues”, and the over the top robot/super soldier scene will satisfy most movie fans.   

 

joe

More like “Iron MEH!”

In all seriousness, I did enjoy Iron Man 3, just not nearly as much as I enjoyed The Avengers, or any of the other Marvel Studios releases to date. As a matter of fact, I even liked Iron Man 2 slightly better if for no other reason than for the fact that they explored Tony Stark’s character flaws and Mad Men attitude demeanor (with an emphasis on rampant alcoholism and self-destructive tendencies). It is these character flaws that make his heroic transformation of moral character in The Avengers that much more impressive.

As far as the film itself, if we could forget about all of the other Marvel goodness for a minute, it works, but it doesn’t feel like an Iron Man movie. It feels more like a weird 1990s kids movie where a cocky billionaire (who also happens to be the creator of robotic armor that makes him a walking/flying WMD) befriends a little boy and shares some adventures and secrets. He also gives him an awful lot of expensive gifts. They arrested Michael Jackson for this, but Tony Stark… He’s Iron Man, so it’s not suspicious.

But that’s not the worst of it. I feel like anyone who has seen Nolan’s Batman Trilogy would pick up on too many familiar themes.

**SPOILER AHEAD**

Worst of all, and most blatant, is the old switcheroo with Guy Pearce and the Mandarin — the old “Ra’s Al Twist” — was entirely predictable and entirely unnecessary. If you think about it, they basically buried the Mandarin character by making him a complete joke, and later on, an insignificant side note (“I am the Mandarin!”). At that point, it really didn’t matter who Guy Pearce’s character was, because he was so un-Mandarin that there didn’t even need to be a twist. Don’t even get me started on how they handled the Extremis storyline. They took what is supposed to be Iron Man’s “symbiote saga” and Spiderman 3’d it.

Lastly, and most significantly, there was an obvious tension to the production of this movie that carried through in just about every aspect of the film. As you may know, Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations with Marvel to reprise his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man in the next Avengers film, as well as future Iron Man sequels. That’s fine. But did it really have to be so evident throughout the whole movie? The ambiguous ending, the useless “extra scene” during the credits (no set up for a future sequel or even a different Marvel franchise film, like Guardians of the Galaxy), and, to my disappointment, the uneasy “Tony Stark will be back” message at the conclusion of the credits. Obviously, Tony Stark will be back. But to not express when or where… That doesn’t exactly get me excited for the next appearance of Shell Head.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie. It just was the weakest of the Iron Man trilogy, and, in my opinion, of all of the Marvel Studios films thus far.

 

 

 

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