Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Iron Man 3 Review (with mega spoilers)

I may be the only person I know who thinks Iron Man 2 is the best of the three Iron Man movies. I'm not much of a fan of any of them. I probably enjoyed the second the most because I went into it with very low expectations. I had been disappointed by the first Iron Man, which strained credulity beyond the breaking point, and even thematically seemed utterly confused. So I went into Iron Man 3 with very low expectations, too. Given that, I was surprised at how disappointing it still was.  To put it bluntly, I see no reason to recommend this movie unless you're devoted to the franchise or just can't live without a superhero fix, no matter how unfulfilling. It's passable as blockbuster entertainment, but that's about it, and that's not saying much.  The biggest problem I had was that the charisma and charm that carried the first two movies is almost nowhere to be found in this installment. That made the rest of the film's weaknesses that much graver.

That's it for the spoiler-free portion of this post.  What I have written below spoils some of the movie's biggest plot points. You've been warned. What follows is NOT a review for people who are deciding whether or not to see the movie. It's a review for people who have already seen it and who are looking to dwell on its faults.

Here are some of them:

There is no reason to give Tony Stark anxiety attacks. They never get worked into the plot. Strangely, he never has an attack that makes any difference at all to the story. He never has any problems engaging his enemies, or getting from point A to point B. Furthermore, he never actively tries to deal with his anxiety. His anxiety attacks have no function in the movie whatsoever, except as a gimmick. But for what? To make him more sympathetic? We don't need any gimmicks to make Tony Stark sympathetic. We're already invested in the character by now. The anxiety attacks are a distraction, plausibly an attempt to make the movie seem more character-driven than it really is.

The attempt to make Stark into a sort of father figure was not convincing or compelling.

There is no explanation for the villains' powers (apart from the power to regenerate). Why do their eyes turn red? Why are they able to burn things? Why are they super strong?

How is Pepper able to kill Killian by shooting a curiously shaped grenade she kicks at him, but Stark can't kill him by exploding him inside of one of his robotic suits? (And did the serum give her sensational martial arts skills, too?)

We are led to believe that Stark perfects the science behind Killian's project, leading to its reasonably safe application as well as a viable process for reversing its effects. (He reverses the effects on Pepper, and he uses the process on himself to get rid of his chest problem.) And then what? Stark destroys a technology that would cure the human race of all disease and ailment? What does he do with it? Nothing, apparently.

Why, with an army of JARVIS-controlled robots waiting to be deployed, does Stark spend half the movie more or less out of service (or out of robotic suit, at least)?

How did Favreau's character survive that blast? How did he survive it without major burns covering his entire body?

How is Stark able to save 13 people from falling to their deaths when JARVIS says he can only carry four? Is it supposed to be because they're all "carrying" each other? That doesn't make sense, physically speaking. Stark is the only one able to resist the force of gravity. The fact that they're all holding hands doesn't make one whit of difference. He tried to carry 13 when he could in fact only carry four. They all should've died.

Those are some of the more ridiculous plot holes that annoyed me as I watched the movie. Plot holes don't generally ruin a movie for me, unless the movie exists primarily because of the plot, or unless the holes are so numerous and gaping that they take me out of the story. Superhero movies don't generally rest on the integrity of their plots. They're more about character and action. So I'm usually able to forgive a large number of gaping holes. I think you have to, if you're a fan of the genre. In this case, the action and characters weren't strong enough to keep me happy, so the plot holes were a major nuisance. The action in this movie was okay. Nothing special, nothing original, but not particularly boring. The biggest problem was the characters. I just didn't believe them. They had some moments, but rarely engaged me enough.

One of Russell Blackford's major complaints is what the movie does with the character of The Mandarin. You might come away from the movie thinking that the entire character is fictional (a fiction within the fiction of the movie itself). Kingsley's character was supposed to be The Mandarin, but he turns out to be the farthest thing from a supervillain. I think the idea is that Killian was The Mandarin all along--a point which Killian inexplicably and ridiculously announces to Stark at the end of the movie. Killian has at least some of the powers traditionally attributed to the Mandarin. He is an excellent fighter, able to destroy an Iron Man suit with his bare hands, and he has fire-breathing and heat-inducing abilities. So he resembles the traditional Mandarin a little. They just had to give him a few more abilities and worked the rings in somehow. They totally could've done that. I attribute the failure to laziness. But I like the idea of a bait-and-switch. And it was fun watching Kingsley take full advantage of the role of the pathetic actor.