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Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

What He said:

He

At the end of the first Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) confesses that he is indeed the masked superhero Iron Man. It’s kind of funny that the character declared that because RJD (I can call him that because we’re friends) has since shown – in both the Iron Man franchise and The Avengers – hereally does embody what the character is all about. It’s one of the biggest strengths of the series. Besides the fact that he’s a good actor, I think one of the reasons RJD is able to portray Stark so well is because they have a lot in common. Stark is a very flawed man. He drinks too much, fears commitment, and is this odd mix of a recluse and a social butterfly. He likes to party and ham it up for the crowd, but at the end of the day he wants to be left alone and concentrate on his work. RJD has had some well-documents substance abuse problems in the past. I think it’s a safe to assume he might draw some inspiration from his real life experiences and apply them to this character.

Iron Man 3 takes place after The Avengers. For those of you who don’t know, Stark almost died while fending off the invading alien forces. Alongwith the rest of the Avengers, he was able to defeat them, but at a cost. It would appear that as a result of his near death experience Stark is suffering from PTSD, or at the very least some very severe panic attacks. So how does he respond to this trauma? He starts working more and more...and more. He has completely immersed himself in his work and created several new Iron man suits. This has created friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who also happens to be the CEO of Star Industries.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has been the target of a string of terrorist attacks committed by a man who calls himself the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). He has been setting of bombs that the strangely enough leave behind almost no trace of their existence.  Tony is aware of these events, but is dealing with his own issues, plus his buddy Colonol James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) told him not to interfere. He and the rest of the military think this is a U.S. problem, not an Iron Man problem. But when his longtime friend and bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is injured in one of these attacks, Stark forces himself to deal with anxiety and try to put an end to this madman’s reign.

He publicly issues a challenge to the Mandarin and boy does he answer. He lays waste to Tony’s house and whoops his ass in the process. Stark ends up taking refuge in a small town in Tennessee, where he meets a precocious kid named Harley (Ty Simpkins). He annoys and inspires Stark all at the same time. The interactions between the two are quite amusing. This kid was one of those characters that meets a down on their luck protagonist just the right time to save the day, and this young actor really delivered that. This kid was funny and Downey Jr. was funny with him.  Considering he was a kid and this was a PG-13 comic book flick rather than an R-rated 80s buddy cop flick, the movie was able to replicate that feel quite successfully.

Iron Man 3

That same feel would also come again later when Stark teams up with Rhodes to take down the bad guys. I was really happy to see them use Rhodes (also known as the Iron Patriot) more this movie. Cheadle and RJD have good chemistry together and I hope to see the two work together in future Avengers movies.

So anyway, while trying to track down the Mandarin, Stark encounters this other guy named Aldrich Killian. Killian (Pearce) the owner of his own company who is seeking a partnership with Stark, but is angered when Stark Industries – now run by Pepper Potts – turns him down. He is also a former colleague of Pepper’s and has always had a thing for her.

There are a few jokes that fail and times when the action can get a little excessive/repetitive – which often happens in sequels – but overall I found the movie to be very funny and also had some great action sequences. RJD is absolutely hilarious as Stark. He’s a reformed jerk. He used to be a much bigger jerk, but has come a long way from his pre-Iron Man days. He’s still cocky and brash, but a lot more likeable now. That’s just kind of who Tony Stark is and RJD portrays that perfectly.  As I mentioned, there’s some action scenes that are good fun. The attack on Starks home was simply awesome and the final fight when they bring in all the different suits of armor was fantastic to see. It also helps that this series has usually had some very good effects. There are some bad special effects these days. Studios are using CGI more- and more and sometimes it looks awful. Not in the Iron Man movies.

The supporting cast was also solid. It was great seeing Cheadle get more screen time, Tony and Pepper’s relationship continues to grow and face new problems, Jon Favreau has added a lot of comedic value as the series has progressed, and Guy Pearce was a solid villain. Oh and I thought the direction they took the Mandarin’s character was rather brilliant. I didn’t see them going that direction, but it paid off. It’s a drastic change from the comic book character and that might piss off the diehards, but it entertained me.

This wasn’t as good as the first movie, but better from the second from what I remember; though I now want to re-watch them both. I’m very interested in seeing where they go with the character in the next Avengers movie, now that the Iron Man character is done with his own movies.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May 6, 2013.

Iron Man 3

 

What She said:

She

As a movie trilogy drags on I typically begin to feel a sense of dread.  It goes without saying that the second movie will never be as good as the first, and the big question with the third is whether it will make up some of the ground lost with the second flick.  So, Iron Man just entered the world of movie trilogies, with its third installment opening the summer blockbuster season this weekend.  While the movie felt somewhat stale by comparison to the first, it did offer more laughs and thrills than the second installment in the series.

The movie reintroduces us to billionaire genius Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey, Jr.  Stark is still reeling from his big adventure with the Avengers, and is troubled by the fact the a wormhole opened to another world.  This all translates into him having nightmares and not being able to sleep.  Credit to Stark, he doesn't drown his sorrows with a vice like alcohol.  Instead, he devotes himself to something that is arguably much more destructive, his iron men.  He's secretly creating a stash of them.  Plus, he can now control the suits remotely, which means he doesn't put himself directly into danger.  As Stark spends his nights as a doomsday prepper, he ignores the thing that is probably most important to him Pepper Potts, reprised by Gwyneth Paltrow.  She, meanwhile, seems to think the answer to his problems is a nice vacation.

But there is no escaping this latest bad guy.  The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) pops up and begins randomly attacking the country.  He's your stereotypical-looking terrorist type, long scraggly beard and all.  And he's using some sort of super dangerous explosive technology to bomb people.  This all hits too close to home when Stark's trusty bodyguard, Happy (Jon Favreau) gets caught in one of the explosions and is left in a coma.  Stark vows revenge upon the Mandarin, but he underestimates the power of the Mandarin's regime.

Iron Man 3

Now, you'd think that would be the extent of it, but it's not.  We have a second major villain at play here, one that Stark first crossed paths with 13 years prior, and that's scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).  Stark blew him off at the time, more concerned with bagging the girl than any new science, and believe me, Killian has not forgotten.  He initially wants Stark's company as an investor in his Extremis superhuman body regeneration technology, but when he's denied a second time he becomes more vengeful.

I don't want to give too much away but know that we've got the Mandarin blowing things up while these Terminator-like superhumans are walking around beating the snot out of people.  Oh, and it seems they can breathe fire too. Bottom line, all is not what it seems here, and that will quickly become apparent.

So, let's start with the good.  Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark, and he will always be amazing at playing the role.  He seems to really invest himself in the part, and because of this he can do a lot with the character even when he doesn't have much to work with.  I'm not saying that to criticize the storyline of the movie, but Iron Man 3 does clearly have some plot holes.  Downey, Jr. works hard to make up for this, and the charm and humor he brings to the character is spot on.  Likewise, Guy Pearce seems very committed to his role, and while he's initially a little hokey, he ultimately comes through as a decent baddie. Iron Man 3 is also privileged to have some really good special effects.  That seems funny to have to point out in this day and age, but it's surprising how many cartoonish action movies there are out there.   You also could never fault this movie for being slow or boring.  The action and explosions keep coming throughout. 

Now to the bad.  I just don't like Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.  Maybe I just don't like her, but I feel like in this third installment in particular her character has been reduced to something annoyingly one dimensional.  I wish they would have done more with her.  In the same vein, I was sort of back and forth with the Mandarin's character.  I like what they ended up doing with him because for the first half of the movie, I thought he would go down as one of the worst villains ever.  The goofy accent that Kingsley gave him made him look like a Middle Eastern terrorist but sound like a Midwest cattle rancher.  Ultimately, he's not a fail because of how he turns out, but even when all is revealed I wonder if they could have just simplified things and eliminated the character entirely.  Even so, I appreciated him and his voice as an indirect nod to last year's abomination of a villain-voice, The Dark Knight's Bane.

Iron Man 3 unfortunately suffers from some superficial action--you know the kind that seems meaningless and excessive.  I'll use the Barrel of Monkeys skydive scene as an example of the exploitive nature of this type of action.  You'll know it she you see it.  This scene in particular strikes me as one of those brainiac ideas that someone came up with in the shower and decided to give it a shot just to see if they could.

Some of the topics I would have liked to have seen further explored are Stark's PTSD and the Avengers wormhole.  They made a point of bringing both up several times, but never expanded upon them, which was frustrating.  I think I was particularly interested in any update on the Avengers in general but I was hoping this movie would offer some sort of bridge into the next one of those flicks.  It leaves me wondering how the next Thor and Captain America might address this.

But back to Iron Man 3.  The movie has its ups and downs to be certain, but it's still summer blockbuster harmless fun.  Generally, despite its flaws, I liked the movie.  Downey, Jr. continues to embody Tony Stark, and brings lots of personality to the character.  I'm grateful that this film wasn't a complete bomb, circa Spiderman 3.

Thumbs mostly up.

 

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