Warning: may contain spoilers (particularly to those who haven’t yet seen the film)
I have been stoked about the official kick-off film for the 2013 Summer Blockbuster™ season ever since the holidays, but coming out of G4 Cinema 1 after last Saturday’s packed screening (in 3D), I have had positive to mixed feelings about the whole shebang.
For starters, as this is a movie titled Iron Man (3), we don’t see too much of Ol’ Shell-Head himself. Yes, you got your requisite explosions and jaw-dropping rescue sequences (visual clue below)
It all makes sense, though, since this film is supposed to focus more on the human side of Tony Stark than his heroic side. Apparently, his involvement in the Avengers initiative might have unhinged him.
The story itself stretches almost ten years back, with a chance fling in Bern tying him to a shadowy scientific organization that has ties to a series of bizarre spontaneous-combustion incidents involving Afghan-war veterans. Then a mysterious warlord called “The Mandarin” hijacks national TV airtime with cryptic messages which quickly escalate into serious code-red threats. Suffice to say (spoiler alert!!!) The Mandarin is exposed as a front for Advanced Idea Mechanics, which has launched Extremis as a way to hot-wire the human regenerative process (end of spoiler) . Meanwhile, longtime Stark ally James Rhodes shills himself off to the US Government as the Iron Patriot (like, where’s Captain America when you need him?). Before we know it, (spoiler alert!!!) Stark and Rhodes wind up saving the POTUS from the burning rage of an Extremis-infected Aldrich Killian – along with a battalion of remote-controlled Iron Man armours (end of spoiler)
That is where the light-hearted but rather polarizing comedy comes in. Apparently, director Shane Black’s history with the Lethal Weapon franchise must’ve rubbed in upon the dialog in his take on this Marvel Cinematic Universe tent-pole. Even as Disney’s ownership of Marvel means they have to down-play the alcoholism that has long been a character flaw of Tony Stark, he is still portrayed as a flighty playboy by Robert Downey Jr., whose gravitas enables him to glide through the film’s frequent comedic sequences (particularly with the AI butler JARVIS). Ben Kingsley, as usual, is all game (spoiler alert!!!) even when he happens to play nothing more than a fake “supervillain”, an out-0f-work actor turned Bin Laden wanna-be, born Trevor Slattery(end of spoiler)
Which brings me to the way that fan-favourite villain The Mandarin was portrayed. (spoiler alert!!!) To sum it up – where are the Ten Rings? I’m talking about the ten fuckin’ Makluan-tech rings? Yeah, you talk about grounding things in realism, yada yada yada, but the fanboy instinct in me takes over and tells me I wuz robbed!!! Of course this is a super-hero movie! You want to ground things in reality, so how can you explain Iron Man’s armor components flying out of a well-bolted farm like a flock of chickens? If that’s the case, I’d say the film would have been more interesting – action-wise – if The Mandarin had his rings and their awesome power sets, don’cha think???(end of spoiler)
Iron Man: Rise of Technovore Marvel/MADHOUSE OVATrailer 1
Iron Man: Rise of Technovore Marvel/MADHOUSE OVATrailer 2
Iron Man: Rise of Technovore Marvel/MADHOUSE OVATrailer 3
(w/ English VO & dubbing)
Subverted expectations aside, Iron Man 3 should be commended for a clean, brisk yet nonetheless action-packed romp which delivers. In spite of some corporate-mandated compromises, it still gets to pack one (repulsor-reinforced) punch.