Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Iron Man 3

Non Spoiler Review:
The third Iron Man outing, and the first Marvel film post-Avengers, sees Tony Stark dealing with the emotional fallout of the alien attack on New York, forcing him to focus increasingly on fine-tuning the tech of his suits. When a terrorist called the Mandarin begins a series of devastating attacks that impact Tony, Iron Man makes it personal.

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as Tony Stark, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, and Don Cheadle as Iron Patriot/James Rhodes. Ben Kingsley (The Mandarin), Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian) and Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen) round out the supporting cast. This time Shane Black directs, (and shares writing credit) instead of Jon Favreau. I can't really say I noticed much difference in direction or overall tone between films, as the look and feel remain the same.

While not exceeding the first film, the third does surpass the second, relying more on an introspective look at Tony rather than on gadgets. They're certainly there, but a large section of the movie is Tony getting back to basics and using his wits and brains to survive. Tony's character arc has evolved from his bombastic persona of the first film, through to Avengers where events have forced him to confront his own mortality and the extraordinary events he's witnessed. He's grown into a pensive and less self-centered person, suffering PTSD from nearly dying in deep space (a fact that people keep reminding him of). So it's a completely fitting and logical progression of his character when we first catch up to him.

Another major theme is Tony's struggle to keep the Iron Man identity, when the public seems more inclined to view the suit as the hero, and with the government's use and rebranding of Iron Patriot (Rhodes) to be an extension of their foreign policy.

Ben Kingsley did a great job as the Mandarin, but it's a given that this version of the comic book character will raise the ire of some fans. I found the twist to be an innovative one, though, and particularly relevant to the real world when conducting a global terrorist campaign. Paltrow also excels in her portrayal of Pepper Pots. She's really pulled off one of the best well-developed super-hero love interests in film.

There were some great effects pieces, notably the Air Force One attack which has been heavily covered in the trailers, as well as the missile attack on the Stark mansion. Given the heavy reliance on battle suits in the first and second Iron Man, it was a relief to have Tony not fight another similarly tech-outfitted villain.

The Avengers doesn't overtly weigh too heavily over the movie, but the events in New York come up just enough to add some credibility to the shared universe (though I was left wondering where S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America were during The Mandarin's reign of terror).

There's always a danger in third parts of film trilogies where the push is to go bigger and crazier. While this one avoided it for the most parts, there were some moments that came close to cringe-worthy. The last minute saves are a regular occurrence here and are nothing new to the series, and fans will have grown accustomed to that trope. Iron Man has been one of the more grounded Marvel films, relying more on technology than outright super-powers. Here was the first time where villains manifested overt comic book abilities (right down to glowing eyes and fire-breathing), which felt more suitable for Thor. Fortunately, things didn't get downright over the top as they did in X-Men 3. As well, a few plot points were wrapped up quickly in passing in the final coda.

A special call out goes to the fantastic 70s style end credits sequence. The standard post-credit scene (and you have to wait until the very end) was amusing, but doesn't tease anything further of Phase Two.

Whether Robert Downey Jr. signs a new contract with Marvel to continue in the role, at least he's taken the character back to his roots to lead into Avengers 2. Most important the film avoided most of the egregious antics that plague franchises (again, X-Men 3). It was a wise choice in hindsight to avoid plenty of Marvel cameos and focus on the characters. Iron Man 3 was enjoyable if not spectacular, and completes Tony's arc in a satisfying way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...