I can not say that I am a comic book fan per se, nevertheless I’m always a fan of live action superheroes movie adaptations. So do forgive me for my lack of knowledge and reference about the world of superheroes, and yes, I’m clueless how the costume/storyline/character fare to their counterparts in comic book.
That being said, Marvel’s Iron Man is always an enjoyable solo franchise (Marvel’s The Avengers still is my favorite installment so far, but they’re like collab of heroes, and i love The Amazing Spiderman but we’ll see how the sequel goes on that one). While the Iron Man 2 was rather disappointing, I still giddy for whatever Marvel cinematic universe gonna bring, so here’s my rambling of Iron Man 3 (yay a week early than its US release date!) so I’m whipping out my Iron Man Real D 3D glasses, catching the earliest morning show Blitzmegaplex had to offer :D
Fair warning: this article may contain spoilers.
Iron Man 3 is very unique, in a sense, it does not only become a direct sequel of Iron Man 2, but also served as some kind of pseudo sequel of The Avengers because it takes off right after The Avengers in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe timeline. We met this different Tony Stark, slightly subdued from his self-described ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’ persona that he showed in the earlier installments. Apparently the attack of New York has taken a toll of him, having panic attacs, probably a sign of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the New York battle. While psychologically strained, Tony Drawn himself from the world and recluse himself, until an enemy, a mistake from the past, resurface and attack him, stripped him off everything, leaving our Hero alone, stranded, without his friends, capitals, tricks, and gimmicks.
There’s a huge gap of difference in this movie than the previous ones, which was directed by Jon Favreau (which still returns as Happy Hogan), maybe because the movie is in the hand of a brand new director Shane black. Black with his co-writer Drew Pearce had delivered a witty take of the franchise, it’s still full of the usual snarky humor but with a dose of sentimental value that made the movie quite well-balanced, showing a more humanist side of Iron Man and engage the reality we saw our world as threats and terrors aired in our everyday News program. Worry not, the gripping action sequences and signature comedic lightness of Iron Man is still very much intact. One of the repetitive notion in the movie is ambiguity, from something as misleading as good and evil, up to guessing who’s standing inside the Iron suite.
The changes also occur in editor and cinematographer part (and quite obviously this is also the first Iron Man distributed by Disney instead of Paramount, making it the 2nd Disney movie in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe). John Toll, the academy-award winning cinematographer of Legends of The Fall (1994), Braveheart (1995) and most recently with Wachowskis’ Team on Cloud Atlas (2012), took over Matthew Libatique who worked on the previous installation. Editors Peter Ford (who previously worked on The Avengers and Captain America) and Jeffrey S. Elliot replaced Dan Lebental and Richard Pearson. Production designer Bill Brzeski (replacing the late J. Michael Riva). Giving the movie a different overall atmosphere from the previous installments, a slightly more digital, industrial feeling that is quite close to The Avengers.
There’s no doubt any Marvel installment has a guaranteed mind blowing special effects, just like what we saw in the trailer where Stark’s home is being destroyed by helicopter gunships, the final battle scene in a nocturnal setting is definitely adrenaline pumping. Although there’s this scene that i loved where Iron Man do the airborne monkey chain :D. Sadly the heat-glow effects of the enemy kinda feel short for yours truly, just not loving the orange-skin that looks like a bad tan and the glowing were-wolf eyes effect, but that’s just me. Just like The Avengers, Iron Man 3 movie is post processed to 3D, so I think there’s nothing wrong with the digital 2D version (although at the time the review is written i’ve only seen the Real D 3D version).
Robert Downey Jr. is more brilliant than ever, looking younger too (botox or just a happy dad?), as Tony Stark, giving his usual sparks in snarky comments and quips. I like his vulnerability and psychological struggles here, finally showing Starks in a multi-layers of emotions, which I wish could’ve been dug deeper but that probably made it too dramatic for a superhero movie (I think that’s more of Nolan’s Dark Knight territory). Finally I can see Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Partlow) without being heavily annoyed, I think the script allows us to see Pepper more than just as Stark’s trophy girlfriend, and shows the girl can kick ass too!
While i think the percentage of interactions with JARVIS (Paul Bettany) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is slightly decreased in this movie (pointing this out because I love Stark’s banter with JARVIS), I kinda glad to finally see Lt Rhodes (Don Cheadle) to be involved in a buddy cop action with Stark, which i believe the previous installment lacks (good to know that the Old Glory inspired suit aka Iron Patriot aka War Machine was actually Rhodes, not the Capt).
Ben Kingsley brilliant performance as the illusive arch enemy Mandarin is larger than live and saying it as entertaining is an understatement, the script give an unexpected outcome of this character, which I presume can piss off the comic fan, but really, that character is such an scene stealer! Guy Pearce as the handicapped-scientist-turns-evil-suave-think-tank-mastermind Aldrich Killian was spellbinding, his voice was dripping with so much venom, a worthy opponent of Tony Stark.
Our supporting casts was surprisingly good too! A tender moment (i believe for Tony Stark that was the standard for tender), shared with a Harley (Ty Simpkins) a child from Tennessee in an absurd mentor-student relation, reminding our hero that he can always goes back to basics (McGyver Stark, anyone?). And randomly enough Adam Pally, who i personally love to watch in his sitcom Happy Endings, as an excessively excited Gary the crew guy the die hard fan of Iron Man. And just like any Marvel movies, do not miss Stan Lee (though The Incredible Hulk (2008) and The Amazing Spiderman (2012) still held the craziest Stan Lee cameo in MCU History).
All in all i think this is the best Iron Man movie so far, while i’m still heavily biassed towards The Avengers, this one definitely has its own panache. This movie marks the end of RDJ contract as Iron Man, hopefully he’ll return as Tony Stark in Avengers 2 (and more Iron Man sequels perhaps?) because no one can be a better Stark than the dude! Here’s hoping for a great continuation of Marvel Cinematic Universe, we know we still have Thor: The Dark World on November 8 this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4 2014, Guardians of The Galaxy on August 1 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1 2015, and Ant-Man on November 6 2015 (WHERE’S MY HULK, YOU BASTARD??!).
PS: About Marvel signature post credit: It features Bruce Banner listening to Tony Stark ranting (“I’m not that kind of doctor”). I wonder whether it supposed to be from The Avengers 2 or is it slightly related to Avengers 2 just like the post-cred scene in the first Iron Man? Anyway, i was expecting a tease of Thor or Capt next movie, so that was still pleasantly surprising :) Wonder if the American release will have slightly different or an extra post-credit scene…
All pictures are taken from IMDb.