Thursday, May 23, 2013

Iron Man 3

Who will deliver the goods this summer?  Iron Man or Man of Steel?
I've been sitting on this review for a while, not quite sure if my opinion on it is set in stone.  Even while watching Iron Man 3 I went through periods of loving it to periods of hating it.  What's clear is Iron Man 3 is a movie that seems so eager to please.  I think they tried to do too much with it and the end result is a mixed bag.  Sometimes it's trying to be a character movie with Tony Stark suffering anxiety attacks in the wake of his harrowing experience in the Avengers movie.  Then they have some very dark scenes with the movies main villain, the Mandarin, played by a creepy and ruthless Ben Kingsley.  Then it alternates between being a buddy comedy, with Tony and Rhodes (Don Cheadle was badass!), a buddy comedy with Tony and some little kid (which was funny).  It's also a Bond movie, a slapstick comedy and of course a super hero movie.

All the little parts work really well on their own, the movie's funny, the action is great, somehow I just felt when it all came together it seemed like too much.  Robert Downey Jr. is Robert Downey Jr and therefore fun to watch.  His scenes with Don Cheadle are lots of fun but far too few.  Ben Kingsley was excellent as the Mandarin and almost all of his scenes were really strong. Guy Pearce was fairly interesting villain.   Sadly though, the weakest part of the movie for me ends up being the 'super-hero' part.  Stark spends a good part of the movie out of armour, having anxiety attacks, bickering with Gwyneth Paltrow and doing other things I could have done without.  Worse stilll, when he is in armour, you don't really care.  Probably because there is so much over the top, almost cartoonish action taking place that the movie loses a lot of tension.  And by the time the movie gets to the scene with dozens of Iron Mans flying around, the thrill of seeing Iron Man is completely gone and the grandiose super hero is somewhat diminished.

I like Iron Man.  I like bacon.  Would I eat 20 packs of bacon?  Maybe.  But this is too many Iron Mans.
The movie is really funny, but this eventually becomes a problem for me.  On the one hand they seem to want this to be a darker Iron Man. On the other hand any time things are about to get serious and you get any sense of menace, they undo it with some comedy.  Something horrible happens, then there's a cheesy one liner or comedic slapstick.  So tonally it sometimes comes off as sloppy to me. Add to that, all the characters are too quick to deliver one liners.  So not only are there dozens of Iron Man suits, there's also dozens of Robert Downeys.  Didn't bother me too much, but you notice it.

Then, there is the twist! The plot twist in Iron Man 3 has been very polarizing and I can't say too much about it without spoiling the movie.  But I will say that when I first saw it I felt let down.  No, that's not strong enough.  I was incensed!  As a comic book fan, what they did was nothing short of heresy. However, as the movie progressed I grew to appreciate it and now I even think it's pretty clever.  I guess the director was making a satirical statement about the face of terrorism by the end.  I can appreciate what the movie was trying to say, but then they play even that for laughs and we're back to status quo comedy and frenetic action.

Ben Kingsley as Osama Bin Ladden as the Mandarin.  Not the villain we deserve, but the villain we need?
Iron Man 3 is hit and miss for me.  Maybe it sounds like I didn't enjoy it, but I really did.  Good laughs, good action...  It's just that as a follow up to the Avengers it's bound to disappoint some and the geek in me really wanted more. The painful reality is that no super hero movie this year is going to be as completely satisfying as the Avengers.  I'm almost dreading Captain America, Wolverine and Thor and I fear the Marvel vehicle may run out of steam before the year is up.  The consequence of the Avengers movie is, the Marvel movies up until that point were all building up to this big amazing thing.  We were paying our dues because the promise was a big payoff!  We've seen the Avengers and it was everything fans wanted.  Now we have to go back to the milquetoast adventures of the individual characters again : Hero X has girlfriend Y and fights villain Z.

Not that the movies will necessarily be bad, I'll probably even enjoy them, but they certainly won't be amazing.  Also, Iron Man is the strongest of those characters, so as far as Marvel Movies this year, we've already peaked.  In short, the only Marvel movie I'm really anticipating at this point, is Avengers 2.  I'm hopeful that with Man of Steel on the horizon and the Dark Knight trilogy still a fan favourite, it may be DC's chance to take back its throne at the box office becoming the paragon of super hero movies once again. Here is what nerds like me are hoping for.  1) Man of Steel is amazing. 2) Chris Nolan gets involved with making a Justice League movie (or at very least a World's Finest movie) and 3) we get to see a few new DC superheroes get their own movies in the next year or so (and those movies won't suck).

Quite frankly, if Man of Steel doesn't deliver in a big way, I ... I just don't know.

3.5 exploding bad guys out of 5

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