Iron Man: It was funny action packed, featured a smartly written lead character that was well acted. While the villain wasn’t super memorable in the grand scheme of things it’s was okay because the rest of the movie was so strong.
Panda Score: 4/5
Iron Man 2: Robert Downey Jr. is great as Tony Stark, as is Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and Don Cheadle as War Machine, but the villain was pretty weak and uninteresting and the whole film felt unnecessarily bloated due to tie-ins with upcoming non-Iron Man films. It was fine but it was a letdown from the first one.
Panda Score: 3/5
Okay. So Shane Black, writer of Lethal Weapon and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which helped revitalize Downey’s career) takes over for Jon Favreau as director. This will be the first post-Avengers Marvel Studio film which means that “Phase Two” officially begins now. It’s a tall order but we’re expecting this film to be both a sequel to the previous Iron Man movies as well as a follow-up to one of the biggest films in history. Does it succeed? Can it possibly succeed?
Full review after the jump.
[WARNING: This review is not only extremely spoiler filled but it also contains one of the most frothy nerd rants I’ve ever done. DO NOT continue reading if you are planning to see this film and/or if you’re not a jaded, bitter nerd like I am]
|The calm before the storm...|
Okay. Right. Robert Doweny Jr. plays the version of Tony Stark we all know and love, with the added dimension of the demons he has to fight within himself. The character has clearly grown beyond where it was way back in 2008. The rest of the cast are in top form and everyone pretty much gets their big moment to shine…well, War Machine seems to have taken a pretty big step back, honestly, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The villains are honestly good, certainly better than the previous two films, and I’d say that Sir Ben Kingsley is particularly good since he is playing against type (or at least he’s playing against the type he normally gets stuck with in these kind of films). The plot is very well written and the twist, despite being shocking, was well placed and instantly made sense based on what we’d seen. It’s probably the best story of the entire trilogy. Also, and I hate to say it, but Shane Black’s direction is a head above Favreau’s (despite that I really like Favreau). It’s also a very self-contained film. Unlike the previous film it doesn’t feel like it’s being stuffed with references, winks to the audiences or set-up for future films. In fact I didn’t notice any set up for future films here. So if you were hoping for some clues about the next round of films or even The Avengers 2 it doesn’t seem like this will provide it.
|So I guess Maya would have been 17 when she first slept with Tony|
CAST OLDER ACTRESSES, MARVEL!
Still here? How brave of you.
|Pictured: Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3|
Not Pictured: The Mandarin
So in the first Iron Man film it was announced that the Iron Monger (who the shit is the “Iron Monger”?) would be the villain. Okay, fine; having the arch villain show up in the first film of a franchise may not always be the best idea. And hey, the terrorist ring that kidnapped Stark were called “The Ten Rings” so maybe that was a clever seed to set up for his eventual appearance (the Mandarin uses ten power rings in the comics). Then came Iron Man 2 and it was announced that
|Pictured: Guy Pierce as Aldrich Killian|
Still Not Pictured: The Mandarin
In Iron Man 3 the Mandarin is an idea, more a red herring than a character. But we’re cheated of a good, if legitimately misused over the decades, villain who acted as the counterpoint to everything that made Iron Man special. It really, really bothered me when this reveal happened. And don’t get me wrong; the reveal itself is brilliant and executed well but I still feel like the me that has waited since 2007 (or even 1994) to finally see the two characters clash on the big screen was kicked in the balls and told to go f**k himself. Hell, I was a little disappointed that they probably weren’t using his ten rings of power (and, you know, his being played by a white guy). I didn’t realize they were tossing out everything about the character. To make my point even calling him “The Mandarin” in this film does nothing other than just piss of fans of the character. Do you think that if he were called “The Master Terrorist” or “The Gentleman” it would have affected the gross in any significant way? It was just to get the Iron Man fans excited for the film despite the fact the creators knew full well they were going to troll the shit out of them. If you weren’t going to use anything about the Mandarin in this film THEN WHY THE F**K ARE YOU CALLING HIM THE F**KING MANDARIN?!
And it’s not like I’m just against change. I don’t mind Hollywood making changes if the spirit of the character is retained. The Joker, The Green Goblin, Ra’s al Ghul, Bane, The Kingpin, The Scarecrow, The Lizard and even the Red Skull to an extent all suffered from big alteration from the source material but it worked out fine because the basics of the characters were left intact (and in some cases even improved upon) and they were still recognizable. But in this movie its closer to Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four film where what made the character intriguing was lost. And a ton of people are saying it doesn’t matter and that this change is fine but as far as I can tell there are two logical points behind this: 1) They rationalize that the changes are minor because the rest of the film is so good. Perhaps the only we remember how bad Doctor Doom and Deapool were is because their respective films were really damn bad. 2) The people who are saying it “doesn’t matter” don’t actually know enough, if anything, about the comic. Which would make sense as I’ve often noticed that beyond the movies most people don’t know anything about Iron Man. I’ve heard that the idea of bringing the Mandarin to life on the screen is an impossible dream due to the characters roots (he was created during the1960s and during that time Iron Man was a “Commie Buster” and his villains reflected this). Too politically incorrect, they say. But a martial arts master/scientific genius who found alien technology and decided to use it to make ten rings each with its own superpower is a concept too crazy and too awesome not to try to make it work somehow! It’s a fun concept but then again we live in post-Dark Knight world where the fun and the camp associated with comics is treated like the goddamn plague. Hsi name is “Iron Man” for god’s sake: it automatically isn’t high art.
|Pictured: The Mandarin (finally!)|
Not Pictured: An abundance of 1960s silliness
But the thing that really unhinges me isn’t the twist itself but how much I hate myself for getting so angry about it. I was completely unable to enjoy the film after the twist, which happened about midway through it. Even though intellectually I understood that what I was watching was good all I could think about was how much I felt personally wronged over the Mandarin reveal. I could not for the life of me get over it and, even now, I can’t accept the things that the logical portion of my brain is telling me. It disgusts me how much that one element distracted me from he rest of the movie. When I started this blog in 2010 the idea, in my mind at least, was that this would be a blog with reviews and opinions from someone who was just a regular guy, not a professional film critic or a journalism major or anything like that; just a normal dude with stuff he wanted to add to the conversation. But here I am three years later and I can’t even enjoy what it clearly a good movie in Iron Man 3 because I can’t stop being incredibly angry at that one plot point which means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I hate that and I hate myself for feeling that way. I’m seriously considering ending the blog because of this; that’s not a joke, I seriously feel like the point of things has gotten away from me. Perhaps when a grown man falls victim to incredibly rants of fan boying it’s time for him to pack it in.
Anyway the only legitimate issue I had with the film was the under use of Don Cheadle as Rhodey who, despite being important to the plot, never a heck of a lot here. And seeing as he doesn’t do much to begin with couldn’t he at least do it as War Machine and not the ridiculous “Iron Patriot” (to which the movie itself acknowledges is stupid)? I wanted more War Machine in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 does not give it to me. And don’t say “he can do more in future films” because while that’s true at 48 years of age how many more years can Cheadle convincingly play a superhero? Now maybe if he replaced Iron Man in Avengers 2...Anyway Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, felt pretty superfluous as anything she did to move the plot (her initial research) could have been done by Killian. It almost seems that she was only there so Gwyneth Paltrow wouldn't be the only woman in the film. But seeing how Hansen exited the movie it all felt pretty pointless.
|A black superhero who could potentially be looked up to by children of color?|
Better throw him in the background HUMPTY DUMPTY DOO!
Iron Man 3 gets 3 Adorable Pandas out of 5.
-Well written plot
-Great protagonist and supporting cast
-Sir Ben Kingsley is great in his role
-The film, like its predecessors, still hasn’t managed to give Iron Man a decent villain to fight
-Several characters should have been used more
-A noticeable lack of AC/DC