Thursday, 9 May 2013

Iron Man 3

Aftermath As A New Beginning. (Proceeding 'The Avengers')
How do you follow up "The Avengers" and return to the singular character narrative without feeling a sense of loss? Last year Marvel combined it multiple heroes with and did so brilliantly changing the superhero genre forever by expanding what it was these kind of movies were capable of, but as a result the franchise reached such a ridiculously high quality that you cant help but be left wondering where can the series go from here?
No matter how you look at Iron Man 3 there is no avoiding the fact that it is an Avengers sequel, The continuing of Stark's story also continues the evolution of the Marvel Universe so from the off you cant help but anticipate how things have changed Post-Phase 1. 

Well Iron Man 3 seems to be the right film to test the water, since the 2008 Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. portrayal of the Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist can be largely held accountable for the following surge in interest in The Avengers so it only seems right that Ol' Tin Head's third installment should be the first release of "Phase 2" of Marvel's Movie Mash Up.

This is the first installment not to be directed by Jon Favreau instead being headed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and may prove to be Robert Downey Jr's last outing as Tony Stark  since "Iron Man 3" see's the end of his contract with Marvel before re-negotiations commence to decide his future in the franchise. Marvel seem confident about the return of Tony Stark since the advertisement campaign for this film has been a little insane (Countdowns to poster reveals, Trailers for upcoming trailers).

Iron Man begins by raising interesting question about Stark's mental state and how the events of The Avengers have lead to changes in him after being faced with his own mortality in comparison to heroes who's abilities dwarf his own and as a result Stark has locked himself away from the world with his sole focus set upon building more and more Iron Man Suits but when a terrorist known only as The Mandarin begins launching a series of devastating bombings on the United States Tony is lured out of his solitude and towards a confrontation with The Mandarin. 

A Terrible Privilege. (Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark)
I would argue that no other actor would be able to replace Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, I would rather see the series end than see him recast as his performance brings the character to life and make him his own. In fact no one can really be credited for this current renaissance of Super Hero movies as Robert Downey Jr. and the 'Iron Man' Movies, for where 'The Dark Knight Trilogy' showed that Super Hero movies could be tackled with the same drama and emotion as any other genre Iron Man taught us that Super Hero films could be fun again.

Iron Man 3 begins by raising several interesting questions 'Is Iron Man more than just the armor?', 'Where does Tony Stark end and Iron Man begin?' and 'Is he just a man in a suit?' 
the film explores these questions by using the destruction of his Malibu Home to cut Tony off from his newly made Avengers buddies, his current tech (with the exception of his prototype Mark 42 suit) and his resources in order to force Tony to rely on his brain to get him out of trouble instead of just his suits and explore what Stark is truly capable of.
As the film explore Stark's relationship with the Armor, the Iron Man outfit really takes a back seat this time around as Stark is forced to think on the fly, developing crude new tech from wherever he can salvage. 

It is also nice to see time given to explore Tony Stark's fragility following the events of The Avengers and the way in which he is almost suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder due to his near death experience. 
No one really relishes their Super-Hero status as much as Tony Stark and while 'Iron Man 2' explored his new found status impacted upon his already massive ego, 'Iron Man 3' deals with the impact self-doubt can have on the most self confident individuals)

Back Up. (The Cast)
Its nice to see the films focus return to the Iron Man-centric characters once again with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), James 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau)once again taking center stage, giving the audience opportunity to see what has happened to them since the events of Iron Man 2.

Tony's relationship with Pepper continues to be the heart of the film, exploring the issues raised by the way in which his new found obsession with building suits has been distracting him from the relationship and the effect this has had between them.

War Machine gets re-branded this time around and instead becomes Iron Patriot, the only major differences being the colour scheme.
Rhodey is also finally given some (Albeit brief) fight sequences outside of the Iron Patriot Suit which serves as a nice reminder that this character can be more than just the straight man to Tony Stark's humor.

Paul Bettany returns as the voice of JARVIS Stark's A.I system who is given much more to do in this outing than in previous installments especially due to the fact that now the suits can now also remote pilot with JARVIS controlling them remotely.

Rebecca Hall plays scientist Maya Hansen creator of the Extremis virus and Tony Stark's former love interest who's limited screen time never really see her rise above exposition territory, But the film does reveal enough about her to get across her feelings on how her work on Extremis is being used for warfare instead of its original design to help people as the film explores the theme of the intention of science. 

Stark also gets himself a kid side-kick named Harley (Ty Simpkins) in a strange E.T-esc sequence in which a kid finds a Super-Hero hiding in his garage. Usually I hate child sidekicks (I'm looking at you Short Round) but the child is a competent actor and the banter between him and Stark prevents him from ever becoming annoying, in fact the back and forth between Harley and Stark features many of the funniest lines of the film (Such as Harley trying to convince Stark that they are connected) and it adds another level to Stark's character as it is the first time we have seen him closely interact with a child.

You Will Never See Me Coming. (The Villain) 
In 'Iron Man 3' we finally see Tony battling his primary nemesis (The Joker to Tony Stark's Batman) The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley). I wont go into too much detail in order not to ruin anything but Stark's confrontation with The Mandarin doesn't exactly play out the way you may expect it to.
With the film taking a brilliant twist on the character that will catch both causal and die hard fans off guard due to brilliant misdirection, Arguably as a result fans reaction to the films interpretation of the character may vary but it is arguably the best way to subvert expectations.
What I will say is that Sir Ben Kingsley steals every scene that he is in and through his performance you cant help but feel he feels a real love towards his character.
Also Best Villain Voice Since Bane.
Guy Pearce also backs up the villain squad as  Aldrich Killian (the man has Kill in his name: I think he may be evil) Pearce is one of those actors who I always enjoy watching regardless of the role and while is flashback geek may not feel entirely convincing his modern day rebirth more than makes up for it.

Unlike the first two Iron Man Installments the villains power is not technological based this time around but instead in the form of Human Alteration. It is clear that extremist would have been a difficult subject to tackle before the release of 'Avengers Assemble ('The Avengers' Dammit!)' which in a way expanded the scope of what these movies could realistically involve (With the first two installments opponents being solely Tech-Based), so by introducing Asguardian Gods and Aliens the possibilities for villains have been greatly increased.

Extremis is a genetic alteration to the human body that allows the subject to under go high speed regeneration after sustaining injury to such a extent that the user is capable of regrowing entire limbs, it also increases the strength of the subject and allows heat manipulation.
The effects of Extremis allows for some impressive cinematic moments including a sequence in which an Extremis user melts a water-tower's support structure with his bare hands as well as some less impressive moments such as another user who breathes fire, It only happens the once which is just as well as in the context of an Iron Man story it just appears goofy.  
Yet Extremis allows for the final confrontation to be more that simply to men in metal suits bashing one another like the first two installments.

The Action! the Sound! 

The film's action sequence are incredible with notable mentions going to a daring mid-air rescue that boast a fantastic stunt team rather than having to rely on CGI.
Another being Stark foolishly announcing his address in a threat to the Mandarin  who proceeds to turn up and blow it to hell.The destruction of Tony's Malibu Home is a nice turn for the film as it not just an impressive visual moment but also serves to both limit Stark's options and resources and appear as a display of The Mandarin's power as he literally 'hits Tony where he lives'.
While the 3D proved to be well done (Post-Converted) it failed to really add anything to the movie mainly being used to heighten the depth of field than gimmicky fly by moments so seeing it in 3D may add depth to the film but those of you who chose to view it in 2D will not miss out on much. 

Sadly the ACDC seems to have vanished from the films soundtrack while the instrumental score strongly resembles that of Avengers Assemble's (The Avengers Damn It!) dramatic score.

Mark 38: The Heavy Lifting suit (Igor) 
Suits You Sir. (The Armor) 
We are also introduced to the widest selection of different armors we have see to date with the total now reaching 42 different suits,
Mark 42 can now remotely assemble onto Stark upon command (to mixed results) as well as remote piloting which eliminates the need for Stark to be in it at all furthering his self doubt but allowing for a brilliant final action sequence.
Other notable mentions go to 'Mark 38' The Heavy Lifter Suit  (Let's face it: It's The Hulk-Buster) and 'Mark 35' The Red Snapper which features ground shattering fists. In fact the sheer number of different suits may have served as walking advertisements in a almost 'There will be toys for this' campaign but there is variety enough and they appear at such a perfect time you don't really notice.

Clean Slate. (The Ending)
Again I wont go into much detail and risk spoiling anything and instead briefly mention that the ending can be viewed in a couple of different ways from removing distractions, to Stark letting himself be vulnerable again, all in all if this were to be the final outing for Stark it would be the perfect ending both narratively and emotionally bring the character to a fitting conclusion.

Its hard to describe exactly how I feel about the movie as when I walked away from the cinema I couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing, something that even now I cant quite put my figure on, Was it a bad movie? Not at all, It is another example of just how well Marvel understands its own franchise and character continuing in a very natural way but it seemed to lack the heart that the previous installments had.  
So all in all an enjoyable (if not perfect) return to the Solo-Character-Centric Marvel Stories and welcome edition to the ever expanding Marvel-verse and I recommend checking it out.

Oh and be sure to stay after the credits for a special treat. 

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