Friday, May 10, 2013

JAFFA JURY: The Iron Man 3 Movie Review

"Is that all you've got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?" "Sweetheart, "a cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner" could be the name of my autobiography."

Yeah, well it could also be the title of Iron Man 3.

The first movie that followed The Avengers was always going to have an uphill battle, so it made sense that the powers that be moved the most successful franchise into that spot, with Iron Man 3. It's just frustrating that you can feel those 'powers' hands consistently jigsawing this plot together and burying the movies true golden moments.

The basic plot is brilliant. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), bares the nightmares and stress associated war veterans endure over the events of The Avengers. Obsessing over protecting Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and being ready for what's next. Unable to be part of reality while he reconcilies these fears, terrorists fronted by the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) seemingly move on America, with a biological weapon called 'Extremis'.

No, not The Hand like in the comics, these Mandarin lackeys are another of Marvel's advanced organisations. While an even bigger twist lurks within their ranks (and comes off like a cheesier take on Batman Begins), it shows the trailer that made you think the film is 'Tony vs an equal yet evil strategic genius', is in reality anything but.

Mind you, the trailer also makes it seem like the repainted War Machine, now Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) will play a key role. Instead, his few bit parts are all bogus battles, except one where Rhodey actually fights unarmed. Heck, War Machine might just be the most badly abused sidekick in comic film history. Almost in acknowledgement of this, the script is littered with 'War Machine is better than Iron Patriot' jokes.

In true Disney style, they do give Tony a kid sidekick and while Harley (Ty Simpkins) is actually pretty decent, there is no obvious 'Robin-ish' joke. Plus he gets more screentime and can make Tony quiver more than Maya Hansen (the amazing Rebecca Hall), an ill-fated yet brilliant scientist who in ten years hasnt figured out an equation Stark drunkingly scribbled on a card one morning after they bumped gears.

Oh yeah, Tony doesn't just give his address to the ladies, but in a challenge to the Mandarin, yet doesn't have any built-in offences to use when the foe comes calling(??). Where's his Metroplex?

As for the villains, Aldrich, the Mandarin's associate kills the plot the longer he is in it. Every Iron Man movie has boiled down to a matchup of 'Stark vs fellow inventor' and 3 is no exception, although with more questionable motivations. Even without the comic version's magic and 'power rings' and just as a political strategist, Mandarin would've been fresher ground as a solo act, especially played with the passion Kingsley plays him with in the first third of the film.

Putting aside the fire breathing that's only used once, the 3D that isn't really, blatant product placement and the highly-promoted drone army that falls flat after it's arrival, Iron Man 3 does have it's high points. The free-falling sky rescue is easilly the best action sequence of all three Iron-films. It's a situation where Stark can't just shoot his way out of trouble, but rather has to think and work with the free-falling victims in order to save all of them. Now that's the Tony we know!

While I would have liked Iron Man 3 to explore Tony's post war trauma more and how the world has responded to an alien attack (Iron Patriot is all the White House has after being invaded by the stars?), the film doesn't realise it's own potential, admitting it's own defeat. Instead of foreshadowing a fourth film, 3 bows to the comic film trilogy curse and compiles many elements from the comic that couldn't hold their own film (ie the Living Laser type Extremis soldiers, including Ellen Brandt who borders on Madame Masque) and the extremely hasty voice over montage at the conclusion.

All this wouldn't stand out if Marvel Studios hadn't recently advised Warner Bros in regards to a Justice League film to 'trust the material', because that sure could've helped here.

 What did you think? 


  1. I know I'll see it. I don't know that I'll go see it in the theater now. I might save my babysitting credits for better stuff.
    I've always wondered why, by the third film, they feel they have to stuff so much crap in? When all we want is a good story, a kick ass villain that actually challenges our hero, and a really great kiss at the end.

  2. Oddly enough I was going to skip it too. Iron Patriot is where after collecting the character from the 80's, I jumped off. Civil War was okay, but Wanted was sooo drawn out to ensnare fans of the first movie, it just lost that high octane feeling.

    If you do go, all I can say is listen to Aldrich when he speaks with Tony tied to the bed. Those lines desperately try to explain why the White House dramatics are tied to his actions and how they help, if you miss them, you'll be scratching your head all day long!

  3. Ah, the villain soliloquy. You know, I don't think that's actually worked as a plot point since Gene Hackman was Lex Luthor.
    Thanks for the tip.

  4. @Dan: A+ write up my friend, you didn't miss one thing. I so desperately needed you on this mission. How could they sell the Mandarin to me and not deliver?

    @Random: You summed it up so short and sweet. Now I believe Kevin Smith when he was telling me about the giant spider.

    On a whole other note. Thankx for weighing in guys. Bravehearts to you both.

    Shlomo is a real revolutionary I expect as much from Magnus.

  5. Thanks Tiger! Glad you agreed, going in I actually thought Iron Man 4 and possibly 5 could be on the cards - I would LOVE Fing Fang Foom (actually an adaptation of John's Dragon Seed saga would be awesome) - but after how they ended this (and did it) I'm not so sure.

  6. i just saw this yesterday i'm still trying to process it but off hand it was a mixed bag for me.

  7. Thanks Dave. Yip, mixed bag seems the right phrase to me too.

  8. So, no good?
    I'm glad I read your blog first. And damn! Ben Kingsley! I was expecting and amazing movie!
    Oh, well. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Thor, even if there's Natalie Portman there. Hope she won't steal too much movie time.

  9. Sorry Aliera, I wouldn't say it's no good, but it definitely wasn't hitting the same levels to me. Marvel Studios have said Extremist will be back so that's one addition to what's ahead this movie has done.