REVIEW: Iron Man 3

"A good ride as far as summer blockbusters go."

In the wake of saving the world from interstellar war, Tony Stark’s god complex is shaken.  And when he’s personally attacked by the Mandarin, potentially losing everything, he must dig deep for the courage and ability to fight back as the man inside the machine.

When it comes to Superhero flicks, third chapters don’t tend to go over well.  That said, if there was any franchise going to beat that rap it was IRON MAN.  This film has become extremely controversial, and as a result I’ll be giving away key plot points so if you haven’t watched it, turn back now.  Still here?  Great!  I guess the biggest complaint comes from IM3 feeling a lot like THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.  I agree and I disagree.  Truth be known, I didn’t care much Nolan’s epic finale.  I wanted to love it, hell I even called the Bane thing in a column for like three years ago.  I agree the setup feels similar—Tony’s stripped of the suit, gets his shit handed to him and has to fight the hard road back to redemption.  At one point, I even asked myself if he was Marvel’s new Bruce Wayne (because of his lavish detective work).  But this isn’t THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, and honestly, this flick rises above that film in many ways.

Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.  Pure and simple.  He embodies Tony Stark’s persona like it’s a second skin.  The writing in this entry is stellar, with Stark throwing out golden one liners quicker than you can count.  I loved this.  Stark also spends the bulk of the movie without his suit, scared and vulnerable in the wake of the fiasco in New York with the Avengers.  His mind’s blown, knowing there’s so much more out there and it’s made him paranoid and overprotective.  I liked this angle.  Anybody can fly around in a suit for two hours blowing the hell outta bad guys, but this way we actually get some much needed depth to go along with all those sharp quips. 

Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan was a blast.  He stole every scene he was in.  Rebecca Hall was wasted and over all pointless.  I can’t stand Gwyneth Palthrow, I really wish they’d cast someone else as Pepper Potts.  Her storyline with the suit, and as a damsel in distress was probably the weakest part of the film.  Now as for villains, I like Guy Pearce, but knew nothing of the villainous Extremis as I don’t read Iron Man comics.  Apparently, the character was handled very similar to the comics, and aside from some unbalances in the powers department, I didn’t mind him and his crew of Human Torches.  Truth be known, most Superheroes outside of Batman, Spider-man and the X-Men, are pretty damn lame.  Many Superhero movies feel thin because of this very fact (case in point, why do think Superman fights Lex Luthor in almost every film), and the Iron Man universe is no exception to this rule.  Which brings me to my final point.  Sigh.  The Mandarin.

IRON MAN 3 is a fantastic addition to the franchise because it wasn’t afraid to stray from the beaten path.  Now as a guy who doesn’t read the comics, I didn’t mind the Mandarin U-turn that much, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel cheap and a bit disappointing.  The IRON MAN 3 trailer pushed my buttons because of the Mandarin.  The opening lines as the choppers destroy the Stark Mansion were awesome (and sadly, the best line, “Lesson number one, heroes, they don’t exist,” wasn’t even in the damn movie), and really made me feel like he was up against a serious villain.  Nope.  When the smoke clears, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was an actor playing a role that Extremis made up as a form of misdirection while he pulled off all these acts of destruction.  L-A-M-E.  Again, it’s not that big a deal, I still loved the movie, but many of us went into it thinking we were getting a badass showdown from hell and that just didn’t happen.  The end fight was cool and all (although it begs the question, why in hell didn’t Tony summon all his suits sooner?), but fans don’t like having the wool pulled over their eyes like this.  There’s a thin line between clever and cop-out.  This film, while awesome in its own right, definitely walks the line.  And don’t forget to stay until all the credits roll.  You’d think people would know by now, but I saw more than half the theater empty out before the final scene.

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