Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3Robert Downey Jr. returns to the big screen again as Tony “Iron Man” Stark in Iron Man 3.  It’s the flagship title of Marvel Films “Phase 2”, kicking of another series of movies leading up to Avengers 2.  In the wake of the events of The Avengers, Tony finds himself having a hard time adjusting to his experience fighting of a legion of aliens, lead by an angry Norse God.  Acknowledging his own mortality, and the fact that he’s just “a man in a can” has left him sleepless and reclusive.  Adding to the troubles is the appearance of frightening cultural Hodge-Podge of  a terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who’s been linked to 9 mysterious explosive attacks on American interests around the world.

Distracted and distant, Tony is once again at risk of losing the one thing he fights so hard to protect, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), when a man from their past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) returns with a business proposal.  Between blowing up all the bad guys, Tony once again has to set himself on a course of learning personal responsibility and what it means to grow up.

My head’s rolling around after this one.  It really is.  By all rights, this movie should be fucking terrible, and I should hate it.  I don’t know how to write this review without spoiler-upon-spoiler, but I’m going to try.  I want to rip it apart and then explain why none of it matters.  I’m bordering on making another Red Pill/Blue Pill set of reviews here.  Instead, I can only say what I feel:  I had a fucking blast watching this movie.  If you can turn off your brain, and just enjoy RDJ being Tony Stark, and like watching big explosions, then this is the show for you.

This movie’s not without problems.  The plot is terrible.  Characters make choices that run against their character.  The characterization of almost anyone other than Tony is handled outright poorly.   But none of it mattered for me, because I went into the movie wanting to:

A) Laugh.
B) See FUCKYEAH levels of action and/or badassery on screen.

A & B were true.

Often scenes, like this one, filled both criteria.

Often, scenes filled both criteria.

All the rest tried to flicker on little fanboy lights in my brain, but I shut that shit off.  It tried to power back up more than once, but shortly after that something would blow up.  And as long time readers will know, if something blows up well enough, I’m willing to be a bit more forgiving.

If you’ll allow me to sound like I’m making excuses for the movie for a second, the flawed plot and divergent characters almost made it a more enjoyable Comic Book Movie.  What Nolan has done for the genre in terms of creating a view of legitimacy is great…  but Nolan’s story doesn’t feel like a comic book story.  Creating a gritty, realistic version of a Comic means you’re white-washing–well dark-washing, I guess–over the fun and camp that made comics fun to read in the 70s and 80s.  Plot holes, McGuffins, Deus Ex Machinas, side kicks, immersion breaking comedic one-liners, shit that just can’t happen… that’s all stuff that adds to a comic book feel.  Of course, this movie also goes the other route, with the grounded, realistic early portrayal of The Mandarin.

Anyway, the plot sucked.  You get it, and I didn’t care.  Here’s why.

This movie is the Robert Downey Jr. show.  He’s pretty much constantly the focus.  He’s practically the only character with any development.  He’s always hilarious.  Seriously, I don’t think he’s ever been funnier than in this movie, and he’s been really great in a lot of movies.  When stuff’s not blowing up, he’s throwing out one-liners like crazy.  Or, from time to time, RDJ’s even showing us Tony’s vunerable side.  It’s nice to see that he’s slowly travelling deeper and deeper down a stressed out path that he can’t cope with.

When we’re not getting glimpses of Tony’s many issues, we’re treated to excellent performances from Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley.  Even if the story that surrounds them is lifted from the pages of the Star Wars prequels, they still give it 100%.

And when they’re not trying to sell us on the shitty excuse for a plot, stuff is blowing up.  The action sequences in this are fantastic.  They’re fun, exciting visual spectacles.  They run through almost every trope and cop-out in the book, and for me, it only adds to that old school comic book feel.

Speaking of adding to the old school feel… I love, love, loved the credits.  The scene after them was great, but the beginning of the credits themselves is a 70s/80s action movie/tv show intro style montage that is absolutely fantastic.  When it was over, I was wishing they were making an Iron Man series, instead of S.H.I.E.L.D. *

Anyway… if you want to watch Tony Stark and the Explosions, you’re going to be pleased.  If you think there’s going to beyond that here, I think you could very well end up sorely disappointed.  This one’s teetering on the border of a 5/5, but it can’t quite get there.


*That’s not entirely true, I’m still really stoked for S.H.I.E.L.D.

21 comments on “Iron Man 3 (2013)

  1. Unfortunately, A and B were not true for me, I felt that B failed, so that left me in the unenviable position of leaving my brain on to watch this, and my intellect rejected it 😦

    At least you concede that the plot sucked.

    I still grade it out to credit it for all the pretty, flashy lights (which I enjoy, too) but the damage by the actual script was too much to overcome…

    • Yeah, I wasn’t surprised to read that the action wasn’t enough for you. From all the turn off your brain movies I’ve seen in the years since you’ve started your blog, it seems you’re not as readily able to turn off your brain as I am. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I personally think of it as a gift I have.

      I do kinda wish I was more interested in turning my brain back on. Early-20s-Me would have loved a lot of artsier stuff that I’ve given shit to in the last year (My Dinner With Andre is a good example). But now, I’m way more interested in popcorn fluff and so-bad-its-good stuff than Hoity-Toity stuff.

  2. It has me stoked for the summer and what’s left to come for this second phase of Marvel, but I can’t say that it’s as strong as I would have wished. Good review.

    • Yeah, it definitely should have been better. I was happy to enjoy, on any level, a movie with #3 in the title at least. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I’m kind of with you, except that the plot didn’t really bother me. Yeah, it’s a bit ‘out-there’, and if you try and dissect it you’ll find problems with it, but for me, this was all about Tony so the plot didn’t bother me. And I just freaking love superhero movies (even the horrible ones), so I’m always forgiving of small flaws (small in my case anyway).

    I totally loved this movie still (gave it a 9.0), and am really hoping to see it again soon. I can imagine it’d get better each time you watch it. 🙂

    • I figured this would be right up your alley. I knew you’d be forgiving of the plot… I mean, it is ripped from the pages of one of your favourite things ever… the Prequel Trilogy.

      Tony Stark and the Explosions put on a good enough show for me to enjoy myself, and that’s really the best I was hoping for out of a Part 3.

      Your score’s right in line with mine, if I used a 10 (or 20 :P) point system. I don’t imagine I’ll watch it again. Unless Phase 2 is amazing enough for me to go back through them all.

      Can’t see that though… Guardians of the Galaxy? Seriously? Marvel’s playing with fire this time out, I think.

      • When did you get the idea that the Prequel Trilogy is one of my favorite things ever? Sure, they’re okay, but man, nothing beats the Original Trilogy. Nothing. 🙂

        As for Guardians of the Galaxy, well, I’m not holding my breath, but I’m still interested to see how it plays out. Could be interesting. Maybe…

      • Now, now… I never said you thought it was better than the OT. Just that it was (what seemed pretty clearly to me) one of your favourite things ever.

        I loathe it… but I’ve got nicer things to say about it than most folks I’ve talked to in my peer group.

        You’ve been pretty vocal about loving all things Star Wars, so it certainly seemed that the PT would be one of your favourite things ever.

        Guardians… Comic heroes from Space… can work on the big screen. Comic heroes in space… hasn’t worked yet (for the general public, anyway) that I can think of. Hopefully they prove me wrong.

      • Yeah, I guess that’s an accurate way to say that. 🙂 I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Guardians works out, but I am nervous about it. I would’ve preferred if Marvel took a risk with a character like Black Panther or someone like that. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • Thanks. I’m glad I enjoyed it too.

      I think the fact that I was really expecting another shitty Part 3 left me enjoying the rip-offs homages of various sci-fi/geek/comic tropes, camp and action.

      Sorry it wasn’t as good as you wanted it to be, but glad to hear you at least had fun!

    • Thanks.

      I doubt it was a case of over-hype on your part. I can completely understand why anyone would have problems with this movie. Once the 70s Credit Reel ended, my brother asked me what I thought, and I told him “I should hate this movie.”

      But I laughed my ass off, and enjoyed the action. That’s really all I wanted out of it. So to be even remotely engaged by the anxiety sub-plot was a bonus. And as I’ve said, I felt the camp, plot holes, etc. created an almost old-school comic book feel. Yes, that’s a cop-out justification for poor storytelling… but I liked it, I guess.

      This trend of liking otherwise shitty movies has given me hope for Man of Steel, though.

  4. It’s been four days since I saw it, and I’ve decided I like it well enough. It actually has some very funny dialogue, there are some decent surprises, and RDJ is worth the price of admission.

    • I saw your comments over at FMR and was nodding along as I read them.

      I still find it funny how much I enjoyed it. I’ve been pretty vocal about how much I thought Dark Knight Rises sucked, and this kinda failed on many of the same levels.

      But I guess it turns out the only thing I really wanted out of it was RDJ and Explosions… and I got ’em. If 13 year old me was as attached to The Mandarin as I was to Comic Book Bane, things might have ended up differently.

      Thanks for takin’ time away from Ghandi’s Civ V war threats to read and comment. 😛

      • Oooo, we should schedule some CiV multi-player.

        For DKR, I just can’t get past the obvious technical hurdle of having a major character be essentially unintelligible. I still can’t even really evaluate that movie on it’s script/directing/acting because of that overwhelmingly glaring weakness.

  5. Pingback: Into Darkness, Hipster Heroes & Monster Makers | filmhipster

  6. Swinging back to this now that I’ve finally seen the movie… I get what you’re saying about the plot being weak. I don’t think it actually sucked, but there are shaky elements there, no doubt. I was able to enjoy it though, even without completely turning off my brain.

    Of course, like you, no attachment to the Mandarin before. Really wondering how that element played to those who were.

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