Review Roundup - Lesson number three

IRON MAN 3 (2013)

When I was young we used to watch the Marvel Action Hour on TV. The memories are pretty fuzzy, but besides those moments when the Fantastic Four went up against Galactus, the main thing that stuck was simply how cool the idea of Iron Man was to me. So I was pleased that the original movie outing pushed the right buttons, but the sequel left a bad taste. It's grown a little more on me since, but still misses the mark. So to nobodies surprise, this is an easy improvement on Iron Man 2. Despite liking the cast, and thinking Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke were great additions, it just wasn't a good enough follow up thanks to messy plot points and worst of all - anti-climactic set pieces. Here we get a more focused story, though the running time feels too long. Looking into the deleted scenes a lot was already trimmed; perhaps they should have gone further. Also on the downside, despite a better plot the motivation of the villains is a little unclear, and I think my major complaint has to be throwaway lines being used to explain major points, particularly towards the end.

The action is fun and inventive, and honestly the best parts are probably the scenes without the armour. Or at one point, just parts of it. There seem to be complaints that Tony Stark is in this too much without the suit, but I felt there was a good balance and having him need to use his wits to escape and having to improvise was a great choice. There is an excessive robotic showdown at the end, but it's got enough variety in the battle, and the big bad and his minions are used in ways that mean it's more fun to see that just a repeat of the finale in the original movie. The big trailer selling points of a plane crash and a helicopter attack are also very well done. They also add a few new technological advances to keep the man in a can idea fresh, adding to the visual fun and the action beats in new ways.

Onto the subject of bad guys, there has been a lot of debate on the Mandarin, and how that turns out in the events of the film. I didn't mind it that much but to avoid going into too much detail will just say it wasn't that unexpected and was far more amusing that irritating. I can see why it was done but can easily see why this caused all the fan rage. Everyone else has their moments, and again the cast is likeable with Guy Pearce being a good addition. The others are as good as in the previous two movies, and the character banter is done well. It is a darker entry to the series, but in other places has a lot of humour which stops it becoming too one note. As I said the film length is an issue, but imagine it's because of the way the cast plays off each other and how much their improv may have stretched out the scenes. There's a dreaded child actor moment which appears in the mid section, but thankfully doesn't outstay it's welcome even if personally that's where it could have done with some more cuts in the editing room.

In the end it boils down to how good the characters are and not how much CGI they throw about, so there I put it about equal with part one, in places higher but neither has huge amounts of depth in a serious way. I think this pulls enough new ideas to make it a more human story, and helps me forget the basement particle accelerator moments in part 2. The first still edges it because of a simpler plot and that original arc. Here Tony's relationship issues have some closure, and though there are some PTSD anxiety attack moments that don't seem to get enough explanation, it's an interesting weakness to include so I can give it a pass. Perhaps almost dying in a vacuum and seeing aliens invade would do that. Overall it rounds them off as a set, and I can see Iron Man becoming an Avengers supporting team member in future appearances, rather than being in another sequel - I guess time and profits will tell.