Review for Iron Man 3
Directed by: Shane Black
Written by: Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Come on, this is Iron Man 3, you seriously don’t know what to expect? This movie is more of the same except this time with some different set pieces. In fact, if anything, this is the first one that’s begun to bore me a little bit with the proceedings. Throw in some terribly oblivious villains, and this is a mediocre super hero flick, nothing more.
Iron Man 3 is the first Marvel movie to take place after last years mega blockbuster, The Avengers. Tony Stark has been having psychological problems ever since his heroic near death battle against the aliens through the wormhole in New York. Whenever a terrorist know as the Mandarin begins enacting bombings across the World, Tony is called back into action. There’s also an inventor guy who Tony Stark blew off years ago and yada yada yada, arbitrary reason for Tony Stark to lose access to his suit, and blah blah blah, superhero movie plot.
No, in all reality, you aren’t here for the story, you’re here for two things: what, if anything, is going to be the impact of the combined continuity of the marvel universe that’s been established in five previous movies, and what is this big plot twist that I hear everyone talking about?
First, the plot twist. In case you didn’t know there’s a late act 2 plot twist that defies what is established in the comic book universes and what has been promised from the movie trailers so far. And in actuality, this twist is a very interesting move on their part. However, this twist doesn’t add anything to the movie and serves more of a real world effect. If anything it takes away from the film.
The other question I mentioned was, how does the Avengers affect the personal story we see in this film. What’s great about the continuity experiment is that what we see is the evolution of several different characters throughout different films. Let me restate that again, the entire point of continuity is to see character development beyond what a normal stand alone film or even trilogy offers us. Let’s be honest, the fact that Iron Man repeated his personal development from Iron Man in Iron Man 2 was a bit of a let down.
This is why other similarly sequelized action series aren’t impressive anymore, to the point that they aren’t even trying. Die Hard realizes it doesn’t have a story, Fast and the Furious realizes it doesn’t have a story, but that isn’t so with these stories. Superhero movies aren’t supposed to be normal action blockbusters, and especially not when they have multiple movies creating a large expansive universe for them to be involved in.
So when this film begins and Tony Stark is suffering anxiety attacks due to his near death experiences in the Avengers, it plants a seed of progress. This isn’t just going to be an Iron Man movie, its going to have true personal development from another film entirely. We finally have something to focus on besides Tony Stark’s relationship connection problems and reliance on the Iron Man suit.
And this character trait gets played for about three brief scenes where we see Tony pant in what is one of the worst portrayals of an anxiety attack I’ve ever seen. Seriously, this element was included almost specifically as a point to say, “hey remember that exciting movie you saw last year? Well this is totally because of that! Now, let’s keep talking about Tony Stark’s relationship connection problems and reliance on the Iron Man suit.”
I’m not even joking. The only play that Iron Man 3 is in an extended universe is three throw away scenes of dialogue about a throw away plot element that we didn’t even know was a point until this movie. It serves absolutely no purpose, and is only played when it can conveniently drag out some exposition.
So to see what I always saw as the most entertaining of the three big Avenger heroes be made to go through the same exact personal discovery story again and again, and to see the entire point of expanded universe continuity fail right in front of me was the most disappointing thing about this.
That’s not to say that it wasn’t enjoyable but, I’ve seen it before, from you, and that’s why this film, as much as it tries, sincerely doesn’t elevate its story above a Fast and the Furious or Die Hard film, its the same thing, done in the same style, with the same result.
Well, until the end at least. The very last ten minutes of the film manages to do something interesting and trope reversing, and then the very last thing Tony Stark does insists that we aren’t going to have to go through this entire storyline again in the next Iron Man movie. But it also acts like its ending a series or trilogy, for seriously no reason.
I’ve spent a couple pages complaining about this, so I’m just going to stop. To sum it up: The twist is interesting, but not within the film itself, extended universe continuity apparently isn’t important anymore, and the very end of the movie promises us that the next film is going to be what we deserved way back in Iron Man 2.
So for me this is just frustrating, but the core story of the film is precisely what I was expecting. Those outlying fragments of the story though really had some power, and I felt like they weren’t used at all in an effective manner. Seeing a film not only waste its potential, but waste potential that its perfectly aware of, really marks it down in my book.
NOTE: After writing this section I researched Shane Black and realized this is the guy who made Lethal Weapon. This explains my problems, I never found Lethal Weapon to be particularly engrossing, being one of those mindless action flicks.
Base Score: 8/10
Story: – 1
Score so Far: 7/10
What can be said about action movie filming? There are big action set pieces with a lot of things going on, and a lot of it is computer animated. Computer animation in and of itself isn’t very impressive, and the visual quality hasn’t increased since about the Transformers point in time.
These are super hero movies and as such the visuals are handled appropriately. There are a few mentionable parts, but these are mainly where the film goes away from the normal scenes. The Mandarin’s terrorist videos (done similar to Osama Bin Laden’s videos) feature short montages of interesting film.
There is one part where a suitless Stark must infiltrate a guarded facility and does so in James Bond like spy fashion. It was a nice break from the rest of the film.
All in all, I can’t really give or take from this film for its filming. These are high quality simply because they have to be, they are action blockbusters. The action set pieces are cool but… so what? Nothing here is better than the Battle for New York in The Avengers, although none of them are quite as bad as Iron Man restarting the propeller in the same movie. I just find it difficult to reward a film for a “cool” computer animated scene, because that isn’t impressive anymore. It’s like rewarding a Call of Duty game for implementing a Kill Cam at this point. It’s kind of par for the course.
Score So far: 7/10
New Score: 7/10
Somehow the traditional categories of analysis are failing me today. We all know how well Robert Downey Jr. does as IronMan. I mentioned that his acting of the anxiety attacks was painful to watch, but I can’t truly blame Downey Jr. for that part, as the script called for it, and failed to capitalize on it, not the actor.
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts has always promised to be something more than the traditional female foil for Stark, and her character’s above the love interest roles in the previous movies has always hinted at that. While I’d like to say it plays out here, she’s actually far more reduced in this film to that oh so traditional damsel in distress role. Even an important change in the last action scene doesn’t help change the fifteen or so minutes of traditional female stereotyping.
Don Cheadle’s role in this film is extremely small and mostly thrown in because… well, it wouldn’t feel like Iron Man if he didn’t have his buddy cop sidekick thrown in right? In all seriousness, Cheadle’s Iron Man suit plays more of a role than the actor himself, and this is unfortunate, especially after Iron Man 2 featured him prominently.
As the bad guys, Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley do excellently in their given roles. While most people will be wondering how Kingsley does as the Mandarin, I can’t comment too much on that. He’s sinister and evil, but beyond that I can’t mention much. It’s pretty unforgettable though. Guy Pearce in everything except the intro of the movie is pretty much a classic douchebag over the top evil bad guy for Tony and others to beat up.
Score so Far: 7/10
New Score: 7.2/10
The music in the superhero films have been missing something truly notable. You don’t remember Iron Man or Thor or Captain America scores anywhere near as much as I feel like I’m going to remember the new Superman score (the trailer already brings tones to my head) or any of the Batman movies. I guess Marvel gets the first collaborative movie and DC is going to get the musical talent.
Anyways, the score in this film is appropriate, nothing more nothing less.
Score so Far: 7.2/10
New Score: 7.2/10
And this is where my complaining is going to come back to get me. No matter what can be said about the filming, the story, or anything else, where these films ultimately come back is their universal likableness. These blockbusters are built from the ground up to sit you down and entertain you.
Iron Man particularly I’ve found to be one of the more enjoyable super hero series. The character is just fun to watch, in a similar strain to Captain Jack Sparrow.
Marvel’s universe provides inspiring action pieces, although as I already said, this is pretty par for the course. The final one in this movie is entertaining, but mostly at the very end.
I will say that Iron Man 3 features some bad guys that are, for lack of a better word, exhausting. Some regeneration factor comes in with them, and by the time you’ve seen a few of them shake off bullets, you begin to miss the mortality of previous villains in this series. Iron Man just seems to have lost a lot of his power from the first movie. Perhaps this is a good thing, but it threatens a serious problem for future films to continue outdoing themselves in increasingly outlandish ways.
Finally, a lot of Marvel’s stories revolve around characters, and does this to about as effective a point as Dragon Ball Z did back in the day. It’s cool, but it really begins to look like filler next to the set pieces, especially when characters refuse to change.
So, in the end, of course this is an enjoyable movie, it was designed that way. Hopefully, that sentence sounds a bit frustrating, as it is to me. When something is manufactured to be fun to you, that feels like its robbing me of my free choice to feel however I want about a movie. Iron Man entertains, but not in any particularly special way, minus the way in which Downy Jr. portrays Tony Stark.
Score so Far: 7.2/10
Final Score: 7.4 /10
There was a lot of complaining in this review, but I did enjoy this movie. I just see a lot of potential with superhero movies, so to see them because this franchised thing is disappointing. I recall my Avengers review from last year where I desperately urged people to view Watchmen about a thousand times. This is because stories aren’t about just entertainment, but intellectual stimulation as well. They aren’t just about getting lessons told to us.
The inevitable everymen who step up in superhero stories to become demi-gods among men each say something about our society, and every hero has a unique way of saying it. So to see these wonderful heroes say the same thing over and over again really is disappointing.
This is why I urged Watchmen on people when the Avengers came out, because while it was supposed to be unique and special, it became an excuse for a multi-starred action set piece, which has since exploded into the biggest blockbuster draw force for almost every film coming out now. Fast and the Furious, The Expendables, Red, even Legends of the Guardians all have remixed the Avengers formula. Its times like these that we usually turn back towards the source of the innovation, waiting to see what it does in response to the trend it has begun.
And we almost always come up empty handed. But I think, there’s about to be a very good film that’s going to provide the Watchmen shaped hole in my heart some sort of support. Zach Snyder is at the head of Man of Steel, and from what I’ve seen, that film is going to be quite the experience. Also, anyone who even so much as mentions the name Nolan for the quality of that film is going to have a gigantic history lesson full of Gerard Butler’s only reason for having a career (300), and zombies (Dawn of the Dead). Also live action anime (Sucker Punch). And of course, Watchmen (Watchmen).
Final Score: 7.4/10
P.S. – The Video Review is still coming, its just taking longer to make than I anticipated. Keep your eyes peeled.