Iron Man 3: disappointment or excitement?

Films

Spoilers marked lower down

This morning at 12:01AM I was sitting in a crowded cinema, wearing goofy plastic glasses and praying my bladder stays empty. Yes, it was another movie premiere night.

I’m a big fan of superhero films. I feel that they can capture the dream of pretty much everyone to be a super-powered saviour, while having an explanation which fits with the story. (As opposed to something like Die Hard, which wants you to assume an ordinary man is 2000x better than other ordinary men.)
And over the last decade, superhero films have really stepped up. Spiderman started it (sort of), Batman cemented it, and the Avengers capitalised on it. It’s not longer just enough for audiences to see an iconic figure on the silver screen: we demand a great film to surround that icon!

ironman3imaxreleaseSo is Iron Man 3 a great film?

I honestly can’t decide. So I’m going to put down my thoughts, and we’ll see if I can come to a conclusion by the end.

Probably the best word to describe Iron Man 3 is fun. It’s awesome fun. Action, jokes, one-liners, gags, cool shots, epic explosions, sweet powers. If you’re looking for fun, you won’t be disappointed – heck, if you’re hoping for something better than Iron Man there’s no way you’ll be disappointed! But I didn’t want to just watch a ‘fun’ movie. The trailers implied a much deeper, darker tale – akin to Dark Knight Rises. I know movies don’t have to be serious and dark, and I know that the Marvel films have always had some of the best laugh-out-loud moments. That doesn’t matter: I was expecting something else, and so I was disappointed.

Something that really annoys me in films is forced or false emotional exposition. This is when a character tells someone/the audience what they’re feeling for the sole reason of making sure you know it so that the story can then move on. <spoiler> There was one point in particular where Tony, after making a couple of one-liners, suddenly pours out all his struggles to an angry Pepper – after about thirty seconds of talking her. There was no lead-in, no build-up. It felt rushed.</spoiler>

At times, the entire film felt rushed. Some characters who had been built up were suddenly left out for large stretches of time only to pop back in for a couple of lines. There’s also lots of half-hearted Christmas jokes/references/gags, but no clear ‘Christmas time’ theme set-up early on, which makes you think that the film was originally planned to be released in December. Hopefully there’ll be an extended cut on DVD which will fix some of these niggles.

The bad guys in Iron Man films have, I’ve felt, always been a bit mediocre. Thankfully, not anymore! Guy Pearce’s character is enjoyable, plus his right-hand man has some great scenes. Though the villain everyone is talking about is: The Mandarin. Sir Ben Kingsley embodies this mysterious character  brilliantly, but… I love the Mandarin; I also hate him. He’s done so well; he’s done terribly. Let’s just say that I didn’t enjoy his character arc.
The ‘henchmen’ in the film are all awesome. Using the Extremis storyline from the comics, Iron Man 3 is filled with super-heated bad guys who can run, jump, dodge and fight in a manner akin to Captain America.

There are some awesome, deep themes running through the film – for instance, ‘identity’ – and there’s some good ol’ emotional angst. Though some themes felt underdeveloped or only lightly touched upon, but perhaps I simply wasn’t attentive enough at 1AM.

The third act was, I felt, mediocre. It lacked the scale I’d come to expect from Dark Knight Rises or Avengers. This is because the only people in immediate danger were our main characters. Sure, there were cool things happening, lots of fighting, some good one-liners, but it felt like it lacked Heart. As Tony says early on (and in one of the trailers, so this isn’t a spoiler!) “No politics here: just good old fashioned revenge.” Revenge is a good motivation but a lifeless conclusion.
Also, as with every marvel film, there’s an after-credits scene… but it’s not worth staying for. Trust me.

the_mandarin_in_iron_man_3-wide

 

Conclusion

I place a lot of importance on how I feel when leaving the cinema. My emotions after experiencing something for the first time can tell me a lot about how it presents itself; it’s easy to think something wonderful or terrible when you know it intimately.For instance, after watching The Avengers I left with a huge grin, feeling as though I’d watched something truly worth watching; I raved about it to my family when I got home.

When I left Iron Man 3, I was disappointed. It’s not a bad film. There are lots of awesome things about it. But somehow it missed the mark. So even though there are lots of great things in this film, I can only give it:

 

1 star  1 star1 star0.5 star0 star

3.5/5

 

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