Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: Iron Man 3

Release Date:  May 3, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley
Who to see it with: Someone who likes action movies.  Maybe an Iron Man fan.


I loved the first Iron Man.  When mediocre superhero movies were flooding theaters, Iron Man came as a refreshing and welcome change with a perfect protagonist in Robert Downey Jr.  He has the right combination of supreme confidence, quick wit, and compassion; a billionaire playboy with a heart of gold.  And I think that's what I loved most about those movies; no matter how intense the situation became, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was always sure that he was on top and nothing could go wrong. 

Iron Man 3 tries to change that.  They introduce more vulnerability to Tony Stark's character and try to tear him down from his perch as an untouchable rich genius.  It's similar to another superhero movie, the Dark Knight Rises, but in Iron Man 3 it feels odd.  The film tries to artificially weaken Tony Stark and create a fractured character, but that's not what I enjoy about him.  The best thing about Iron Man is seeing Tony Stark in his suit kicking butt, but it feels like he spends the majority of the movie out of his armor dealing with personal issues.  The movie's plot also goes down a strange path.  It deals with themes such as domestic terrorism and political intrigue that just don't hit the right notes.  It feels like they were inserted to make the movie seem relevant and topical, but end up feeling out of place.  

Maybe it's my fault; I was expecting this movie to follow the same trajectory as the last two Iron Man movies, and be a great summer movie with dazzling effects and fun action.  And yes, the effects are well done and the explosions are top notch.  But, they suffer from what I'll call the Matrix effect--the need to constantly outdo the previous movie.  At some point having bigger explosions and ridiculous fights causes those scenes to lose their excitement in the added noise. 

I'm sure you're all going to go see Iron Man 3.  It has some really good effects and some great acting.  And it's the kick off to what appears to be a great summer of movies.  But I felt it was  the weakest movie in the series and I left the the theater feeling confused and unsatisfied.  

Rent it.

PS - There IS a stinger.  It's not great but it's funny.

I would say this is only the second weakest of the series, ahead of 2. Tony's new character flaws feel a bit unnatural considering his past portrayals (those moments kind of reminded me of Peter's random power loss due to his emotional angst in Spider-Man 2). The plot and villain's motivation sometimes seem underdeveloped. Still, I felt that IM3's more ambitious,
threatening villain, occasionally surprising plot and slightly different portrayal of Tony Stark made it more interesting than IM2 which, aside from Tony Stark's character, felt like a standard action movie with a mediocre villain. I also didn't mind the lack of Iron Man usage because the series' best qualities are its characters and humor rather than its action sequences, though IM3's final battle may be my favorite of the trilogy and will probably be a treat for fans with extensive Iron Man knowledge. Both sequels fail to beat the original, a fairly simple origin story that focused on its uniquely witty protagonist rather than a complicated, weakly written plot.

Rent it.

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