May 7, 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

(aka The Swerve)
Release Date: In Theaters now.
Country: USA.
Written by: Drew Pearce & Shane Black.
Directed by: Shane Black.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Sir Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, James Badge Dale and Rebecca Hall.

Had this movie been called Tony Stark instead of Iron Man 3, I think it wouldn't have caused such division amongst Iron Man fans. Mostly.

A lot of people out there on the Internets are bitching up a storm about how this movie dropped the ball, about how the big "twist" was a cop out and ruined things, about how this was a poor start for Phase Two of Marvel's Cinematic Universe...

...and yet the movie made $175 Million its opening weekend, which is good enough for the second best opening of all time.

This movie is honestly a mixed bag. A lot of complaints being leveled at the movie are pretty valid, as some of the onscreen happenings left us scratching our heads and wondering what Marvel was thinking. On the other hand though, this is a solid little flick for the most part, and we can totally see what Marvel was going for and why, and at the very least we admire the brass balls they displayed in doing so.

I'm really going to have to digest the experience of Iron Man 3 and then see it again before I can truly decide if I liked it more than I hated it. For now I can say that I liked it better than Iron Man 2, but nowhere near as much as I did the first one.

But will YOU like it? Well, that will all come down to the big twist/reveal that the movie pulls right before the third reel, and how you take it.      

This review is packed full of spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to be spoiled, then don't read any further.
The events that took place in The Avengers have left Tony Stark a mess; he cant sleep, he's having panic attacks, his relationship with Pepper is on the rocks, and all he really spends time doing is designing new Iron Man suits. Basically, he has the Superhero version of PTSD.

Yep, he's all gorked out.
Amidst his troubles, a terrorist calling himself The Mandarin starts broadcasting cryptic messages of doom and blowing things up. When Tony's long-time friend Happy is left comatose in one of the attacks, he gets pissed and gives out his address on live TV, inviting The Mandarin to come over and hang out, maybe even face him if he dares. The Mandarin responds by blowing Tony's seaside mansion to hell, and nearly killing everyone inside.

Good plan, dummy.
JARVIS helps Tony escape to Tennessee (?) where he meets a 10 year old kid who helps him investigate the bombings (?), which leads him to discover the threat of the EXTREMIS serum, which causes people to explode...

I won't ruin anymore of the plot here, because spoilers tend to suck, and because the plot of this movie doesn't really inspire me to recall and revisit it right now. It's Iron Man, jokes are made and shit blows up. Nuff' said.

I was so hoping she'd become Rescue in this one...
As a story about Tony Stark's search for identity, this movie really works. As a Comic Book movie about Iron Man, it's hit or miss. I'm all for straight drama, and I love character pieces as long as said characters are solid, so I ate the "quieter" aspects of this movie right up. I personally love the Iron Man movies because Robert Downey Jr. is such a perfect Tony Stark, and he truly owns this role in every way. I love the action and shiny stuff too, but I'm just saying, I'm definitely a character development guy, and this movie has plenty of it.

RDJ's portrayal of Tony Stark is as compelling as it is fun to watch, and he's really has turned out to be one hell of a movie character. Even though this movie was light on the action until the last half hour or so, we didn't care; RDJ has made this character and series his, and it's just great watching him do his thing, in suit or out.

That's pretty much how we felt after watching this one.
As far as the supporting cast goes; Gwyneth Paltrow is likable as Pepper; John Favreau is likable as Happy; and Don Cheadle, who is always the man, is great as Rhodey... it's just  a shame that he really didn't have much to do this time out. James Badge Dale also played a great bad guy in this one too, and seeing him just made us miss Rubicon all the more. Don't ask.

Best of all of the supporting actors was Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian; that guy just owns whatever role he's in, and he absolutely rocked this one out as well.

As for the main star of the movie, the action, it was pretty much wall to wall crazy once it popped off. I personally think that they blew the whole "multiple suit battle" wad in the wrong way, but it is what it is. Then again my ideal Iron Man flick involves Iron Man, War Machine, Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, et al. in an Armor Wars story, but this is probably as close to that as we're going to get. Still, the movie has a pretty action-packed finale.

How sweet would that be?
- We don't really see War Machine/Iron Patriot in action at all. Rhodey's character is reduced to going on a bogus, tongue-in-cheek filled wild goose chase to find The Mandarin in the Middle East, and flying away with the President at then end, thus missing the final battle.That kinda sucked.

- The after credits scene was useless. Being that this is the first movie in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why did it not tease what's coming next, as every movie in Phase One did? Even The Avengers had a mid-credits scene featuring Thanos, before giving us the amusing-but-useless shawarma scene after the credits.

- EXTREMIS or not, seeing Pepper turn into a bad-ass killing machine felt odd.

There's a good "that time of the month" joke to be made here, but I digress.
- The whole "I don't need this thing in my chest anymore so let's have an operation to remove that shrapnel and make me "normal" again!" thing came out of nowhere, and could have been set up. Not set up better, just set up in any way whatsoever, because it felt tacked on.

- I would have liked to have seen the humor dialed down a notch or two. After seeing the trailer's leading up to the movie, I was expecting a much darker story. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty dark in places, but too much kitsch killed the tension for me, especially most of the post-reveal Ben Kingsley stuff.

- Killian's whole revenge plot seemed a bit out of whack to me. I get that he was spurned by a younger, pre-Iron Man Tony Stark, and he wanted some revenge, but the way he played it all out just felt overwrought on his part. And were those dragons on his chest some sort of veiled reference to Fin Fang Foom?

He stood around and did more nothing than the Secret Service agents.
The whole Mandarin swerve really sucked. I'm fine with Aldrich Killian being the real Mandarin and using an actor (Kingsley) as a cover, but it was handled in such a campy way that it killed any and all impact that a reveal of that size could have had. Ben Kingsley was basically wasted in this film, and the whole "goofy drunk actor being made to play a terrorist" shtick was painful.

And as far as Killian being the real Mandarin goes, who made the decision to go that way, and how did they even think it felt plausible? It's like Brad Pitt showing up in a Batman movie, just looking like plain old Brad Pitt, and then announcing "I'm the Joker!", and the Joker the world knew was just a drunk actor playing a part for the sake of diversion. Blah.

And after the big reveal, all we get to justify this crap is Guy Pearce saying "I am the Mandarin!" as if it made any sense whatsoever? It makes no sense, and it wasted the potential of what may be Iron Man's most iconic villain.

What an absolute waste of potential.
And on the off chance that all of this crappy Mandarin tomfoolery worked on us, and we bought into it even in the slightest, where were his rings? You know, the 10 Rings which give him his powers? I know they have to change things up between print and film to make the material work or fit their live-action vision, but come on. What's next, is Thanos going to show up in Avengers 2 with no Infinity Gems?

In summary: this movie had no Mandarin. It had a fake Mandarin, and a guy saying "I'm The Mandarin!" with absolutely none of the characteristics of The Mandarin, but a real Mandarin was nowhere to be found in this movie. Mandarin. *I just had to say it one more time.

If there's one thing that drives me insane in movies, it's being thrown a twist that negates what has come before it, in part or in whole. It usually feels like a cheap co-out, and almost always takes me right out of a movie. Just like this one.

Sit down, Ben. It's over.
Iron Man 3 fails as much as it succeeds, and it leaves us unsure how we truly feel about it as a complete film. It was fun and entertaining, but it was equally as baffling and uneven. Anyone looking for a step up in awesomeness from The Avengers should not look here; whereas The Avengers was spectacle, Iron Man 3 is a more subdued man-on-a-journey flick.

They should have just went with Killian and the EXTREMIS threat on its own, and left The Mandarin out of it completely. That would have been effective enough and rang more true than the swerve they fed us.

Down the road we may see Iron Man 3 in a different, better light. It's possible that the whole EXTREMIS thing will allow Ultron to show up in the Ant-Man movie, but as it stands right now, Iron Man 3 teeters on the border between a C+ and a B- for us.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Rebecca Hall bring some hotness to the movie, but in all honesty it's Guy Pearce that spends the most time with his shirt off. Chicks will totally dig that.


  1. Hey!

    Off topic, but isn`t that Amber Heard in your header? What movie is that pic from?

    Keep up the AWESOME work,
    I utterly love your blog!


  2. I gotta say, I loved Ben Kingsley's turn as both the ubervillan and the geeky loser actor. I never saw that twist coming and laughed my ass off, when it happened.
    Granted, I never read any of the comics, so I didn't have a "relationship" with the Mandarin character. But, I gotta say, for a "neutral" like me, it really worked.

  3. I totally get how "nuetral" moviegoers won't mind the twist at all. The reason it bothered me so much is that they advertised this flick as basically Iron Man vs. Mandarin, which was a total sham.

    They should have saved Mandarin for the next movie, and just gone with the EXTREMIS storyline if they wanted to play down the Super-Villain aspect of things.

  4. That is Amber Heard in the header. The pic is from her movie All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.

    Nice catch :)

  5. When "Mandarin" came out of the bathroom in his boxers and said nobody go in there for twenty minutes I couldn't think anything other than WHAT THE FUCK!?!?

  6. Bro I gad almost exactly the same thoughts on Iron Man 3 and people thought I was just being too hard on it.

    The Kingsly thing really put me off and humour felt over done.

    Plus Tony doesn't do anything substantial in the suit till the last 40 mins or so of the movie.

    The movie had a severe lack of action - and then it was all cranked into the last 20mins...

  7. Clarence, I could live with Stark not doing anything int he suit for the majority, I'm fine with drama, but it did feel all crammed in at the end, didn't it?

    "When "Mandarin" came out of the bathroom in his boxers and said nobody go in there for twenty minutes I couldn't think anything other than WHAT THE FUCK!?!?"

    Yeah. Us too.

  8. That "Twist" pissed me off so bad.

    I didn't find it amusing at all... you're right. They advertised one thing and then totally flipped it on us. It wasn't clever - it was just a waste of great acting talent.

    I found the movie entertaining -but it wasn't the Iron Man 3 I expected. Was very let down. The makers were lucky that Downy is actually entertaining without the suit - cause he pretty much carried the whole film with his witty delivery of one-liners.