Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Iron Man 3 Review

After the misguided handling of Iron Man 2, not to mention coming off of the high of the nearly perfect execution of a superhero film with The Avengers a year earlier, I was excited that the reigns of the franchise were handed off to a new voice in Shane Black. I can't say for sure whether Jon Favreau was really to blame at all for the failings of the second installment but regardless, a new voice and vision was appreciated. I still recall the first time I saw the trailer for Iron Man 3 and a shockingly dark tone seemed to hang over every frame. I was so damn excited that the character was going to shy away from some of the ridiculous comedy and instead focus on the serious side of the saga of Tony Stark.

Well...almost. Things do indeed get serious with the exploration of what troubles a superhero could face when dealing with PTSD, and some breathtaking dramatic set pieces absolutely thrill in ways the franchise never had before. Damn it though, those villains. Both the strange twist involving the Mandarin and the Extremis folk. I just can't comprehend some of the villain choices in these Marvel films.

First let me clarify my issue with the Mandarin twist. It isn't the concept of the twist itself that bothers me, because I am all for keeping an audience on their toes and doing something unexpected. What troubles me is the sudden, jarring tonal shift that takes place, going for completely bad ass terrorist to...well, that. Jokes land with a thud instead of a laugh and I couldn't help but scratch my head at not so much the idea but the execution of it. After coasting with joy for much of the movie up until that point, the way the Mandarin character was handled was unfortunate and revisits haven't changed my opinion of this. I still don't get it.

What might be even worse than the way they handled that one specific character is what it meant for the big picture of the story. By pushing aside what was by far the best villain Iron Man had faced thus far in a solo effort, we are left with Guy Pierce and his glowing band of misfits, and frankly nothing about this crew is compelling in any way. From the opening scene that takes place in 1999 to the modern day handsome version, the character of Aldrich Killian did absolutely nothing for me throughout. Yet still the streak continued, as no solo film from the MCU had gotten the villain right yet. Someday though, right Captain America?

Still though, the overall completed picture is a massive upgrade from the previous film, with a far more likable and believable turn from Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. In fact his performance in Iron Man 3 is the best of his work thus far in the universe, and with the assistance of flat out amazing sequences like the attack on his home and, of course, the Air Force One rescue, I can easily recommend Iron Man 3 as a pretty joyous blast of a picture.

I just wish it had a damn good villain like the trailer indicated. Without that misstep, this would have been up there competing for the best entry into the MCU to date.


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