Iron Man 3: The Fall From Technological Grace
Iron Man 3 Official Trailer
Iron Man 3 was released this summer and already, there has been a lot of hype and in some cases, continual praise that the third film in the series is a hit. Like many others, I've been a fan of Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark since the first movie was released. In addition to the trailer and my previous enjoyment of the other two films, I was excited to sit down and get ready to watch Tony Stark triumph over evil again. However, after the screen dimmed and the credits ended I left the theater disappointed and, in some ways, depressed. "How did this happen?" I said to myself, and after several weeks of actually thinking about the film and its effect on me, I feel like I'm finally able to sit down and give an honest review about it.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead...
The third installment in the Iron Man series takes place shortly after the events that transpire in Marvel's The Avengers. Tony Stark finds himself in a state of constant panic as he tries to make sense of the fact that there is much of the universe that he doesn't understand. Unknown to Tony, is that there is a man from his past that has just found a way to make super powered humans. Angry at Iron Man, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) plots a scheme that involves a complete bait and switch that both the characters and the audience fall for (Get ready for spoilers). Cue "The Mandarin" (Ben Kingsly), a villain that has mysterious unknown origins and ties to several terrorist groups who hijacks the broadcasting networks in the film and spends his time telling the world his evil plans of domination and control. Now if you are familiar with The Mandarin from the comics, then you already have background knowledge of what The Mandarin can do. Unfortunately though, Marvel and director, Shane Black, had different plans. When Tony does finally reach the Mandarin he comes to find out that he is merely an actor and that Killian is the true source of all the destruction and death. After that, the story becomes a simple "hunt the bad guy down" journey and ends with a stand off between dozens of iron man robots versus a ton of super powered humans.
Of course that summary doesn't even begin to tell all the weird little side stories that Shane Black tries to thread into Iron Man. One of which, includes a sad boy, who is a huge fan of Tony, and a past love interest that does little to move the film along. Now of course I could continue to bash and pick appart the film, but that wouldn't be fair to everyone who worked on it. There are a few redeeming qualities that I enjoyed about Iron Man 3 that kept me interested til the credits rolled. Those two qualities would be the jokes that are inserted throughout the film and the CGI.
As with any science fiction film, the visual effects are a key part to creating a world where the impossible becomes possible and for the most part, it would be hard for a person to argue that the effects in the third Iron Man are not superb and up to standard. The central effect that I am referring to is the artificially intelligent "mind suit" that Tony's constantly tries to assemble which not only looks great, but "acts" great from beginning to end. (The whole subtext of how technology is starting to intertwine with humanity on a constant basis is now such an interesting topic to explore, especially with the invention of google glass coming out soon). Anyway I digress, back to talking about the film.
Perhaps the thing about Iron Man 3 that truly disappoints me the most, is that the marketing for the film was so deceitful and so cunning, that I worry that a lot of hollywood films are going to follow the trend in order to attract more consumers. With ticket prices on the rise every few years, movies are becoming flashier and more expensive to finance. Meanwhile, the average family is finding their entertainment budget shrink. This means that the studios have to find a way to fight against each other in order to steal a ticket sale from a competing movie, which brings me the film's trailer. Iron Man 3 was set up to be a story of a man who thought he was on top, knocked down a few notches. It was about how Tony Stark would have to fight his inner demons and accept his new reality that he finds himself in. Finally, it was about merging the two worlds of the fantastical with the scientific together so that Tony Stark could overcome his doubts, fears, and anxieties and move on to saving the world from countless other alien invaders in the several Avenger movies to come. The true outcome, however was so different from what was advertised, that I truly believe Hollywood stole my money when I bought my ticket those several weeks ago.
Sadly Iron Man 3 is all about filler, rather than substance. It tries so painfully hard to be funny, yet too serious about the situations that the characters are placed in. Worse yet, it completely misses the opportunity to truly merge the two universes (magic and science) that The Avengers did so very well, and because of that, loses an opportunity to really bring more depth to Stark's character. Instead the only thing that the film accomplishes is leaving Tony Stark feeling smart about solving a real world "superhuman" problem that seems too unreal and in the process, somehow sheds a lot of the psychological fears that he accumulated from his previous fight with aliens from another world. Although the future franchise of more Iron Man films and Avenger films is almost an absolute certainty, Marvel is going to have to find a way to rebuild my trust in their mega franchise.
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