Tuesday, May 7, 2013

IRON MAN 3 Spoilerific Review: Javi and Jonesy's Take

Directed by: Shane Black
Written by: Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, and Ben Kingsley
Synopsis: In trying to gain back his life after the events in NYC, Tony Stark has a new villain to fight.

Please note that this is intended to be read AFTER you have seen the film as it it is completely jammed packed with spoilers. Which judging by how much it has made, most of you have probably already done.


Jonesy:  So...initial knee-jerk reaction?

Javi: I liked the movie a whole lot more than the execution of it. 

Jonesy: My reaction is it’s not better than one, but it’s a step in the right direction for the series in terms of the Avengers phase 2 as a whole. And it's definitely better than IRON MAN 2.

Javi: I don’t think that’s a standard to hold anything against.

Jonesy: Of course you can! It’s the same series.

Javi: Yeah, but that’s just like saying, “Well at least Episode One is better than ATTACK OF THE CLONES." It's not much of a praise.

Jonesy: They obviously fixed the issues which IRON MAN 2 had. They left S.H.I.E.L.D. out for the most part. You didn’t have to see all the other (Avenger) movies to appreciate this movie.

Javi: So starting with some of the film's problems...the whole anxiety attack thing was weird to me. I never quite understood it. Was it because of the fact that he almost died in New York? He almost died in the cave in the first IRON MAN, and that fact never seemed to bother him. Was it because there are aliens out there? (edit: Yeah this is sort of what it was.) Because all the other Avengers seem to be dealing with it just fine. Or was it the shwarma being terrible?

Jonesy: I’m not sure if the anxiety added anything to the story. If that aspect had been building up over a few of his films, maybe it could have been effective. What did you think of the performances?

Javi: We already know that Tony Stark is Robert Downey, Jr. If they ever do have someone else playing him, it’s not going to work out. It’s like…

Jonesy: Trying to get someone else to play Harry Potter after Daniel Radcliffe. RDJ has always added a great physicality to the character, and the fact that both Stark and RDJ have gone through similar struggles in their life is a pretty cool parallel. While the movie has so many problems, none of them are related to RDJ. Because of his screen presence, he is able to charm himself out of most any of the issues with the movie.

Javi: Gwnyeth Paltrow was very OK, and it’s so weird how I always find her attractive as Pepper but never anywhere else. Then there's Don Cheadle as Rhodey, and he was fine, but I liked Terrence Howard more. I just know that I felt more chemistry between the uptight friend with the loosey goosey guy.

Jonesy: It’s sad that the money situation kept Howard out of the pictures

Javi: Well, Marvel is a notorious low baller.

Jonesy: And it's a shame that we weren't able to get Howard's version of Rhodey in the other two films because of that. 

Javi: What about Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley? Cuz I love how Pearce has become to the go-to asshole for all sci-fi movies nowadays. I mean has he ever done something sympathetic?

Jonesy: I don't know enough about his filmography. I loved both Pearce and Kingsley. Pearce was just a good asshole. Initially, I figured that Pearce was a minion for Kingsley's Mandarin, since one would assume Kingsley is the bad guy because he's the bigger actor. Then, the best part of the movie comes when it's revealed the Mandarin was just a hired actor named Trevor. Before this happened, I randomly noted how Pearce seemed to be incredibly ripped for just being a side character.

Javi: I figured since they were going to do the Extremis story line that he would probably be altered and have more strength before he introduced the project to Pepper. It made sense to me that he ended up all jacked up and psycho. I loved how big his role was. I thought it was interesting since, if I remember correctly, The Mandarin is the biggest Iron Man villain. I'm not 100% sure, but there's also the fact that he is suppose to use the 10 magic rings which made the movie's flip all that much more effective. I love the subversion of the expectations by having a nemesis with magic rings turn out to be a phoney. Too often we want comic book movies to not be their own thing and being a literal page to screen translation. Which as we have seen doesn't really work too well because I know a lot of people hated the fact that WATCHMEN was a literal page to screen translation. Frankly, I loved that, but the consensus is that WATCHMEN didn't catch the spirit of the comic, so I guess comic book nerds want to have something that adheres strictly to the spirit and the look of the comics? And Kingsley, given how many shitty movies he's done lately, this is one of his best performances in a long time. Not necessarily the best role, but the best performance in a while.

Jonesy: And Killian's a billionaire genius who's very much like Tony. I loved his speech behind his terrorism, and how he orchestrated everything, but he's not the face of the attacks. Again, Ben Kingsley, playing the Trevor character, was such a crazy flip. I almost didn't believe. When he was the Mandarin on screen during the propaganda commercials, his accent sounded so fake, and I couldn't figure out if it was intentional or just bad acting. Turns out he was just "acting". 

Javi:  I really believe this is a case of a movie with great ideas and a weird execution. Let's take it from the top: his anxiety attack. It still doesn't make sense to me the way it's portrayed. I understand why they need it because you need the character of Tony to be vulnerable in a way that hasn't been done before and to have a human side. He's in a committed relationship, he's in love, and almost died, so the perspective changes quite a a bit. To counteract myself from earlier, maybe his near death experience in the cave didn't affect him because he wasn't in love like he was when the New York events happen? But I feel that if I have to really ponder and talk to myself about it, it probably wasn't made very clear. 

Jonesy: The anxiety was really strange in that it came from not being that big of a deal to all of the sudden being really extreme to where he couldn't function. 

Javi: Next big issue: the whole plot of breaking down a hero mentally and physically. It didn't work because never felt like Tony was ever inconvenienced THAT much. I think that in contrast, TDKR does this better by better breaking down and taking the resources that Batman/Bruce is used to and having him to build himself back up. Tony in contrast, loses his home and his armor is damaged, but it just never felt like he was at his worst...he felt like a slightly inconvenienced person

Jonesy: I disagree with that because I don't think that the movie was going for a total breakdown at all. In the first movie, he's kidnapped, broken, hurt, then the doctor saved his life, and he builds himself back up.

Javi: I loved how they included the doctor (edit: Dr. Yinsen who helps Tony build the Mark I armor from IRON MAN) from 1999. I thought that was great world building.

Jonesy: That was him!? 

Javi: Yeah! 

Jonesy: That's a nice touch. But either way, this Tony nowadays is more cunning and resourceful. He has a moment of, "Oh shit, what I going to do," but he is able to work his way out of it.

Javi: I guess I was a little dumb for falling for the marketing of the movie with the tag line of, "Even heroes fall." But what else should I be thinking about when they hint at it so strongly? So maybe I guess it could be the marketing's fault more than the movie's fault. I still just thought he wasn't changed much. He's making jokes and being a dick as usual.

Jonesy: Humor is his copping mechanism. There was so much dark humor in this film.

Javi: Yeah, that's definitely the Shane Black influence. Not only that, but the touches of the Christmas setting, and the fact that there's the voice over, which is very reminiscent of KISS, KISS BANG BANG. Now, last big complaint, a lot of the actions scenes didn't work that much. It think the best one was the house being destroyed

Jonesy: See I thought that was the worst one.

Javi: The reason I liked it is because as chaotic as it was, none of the cuts made me feel confused about what was going on and where it was going on. By the time that he was drowning, I could totally feel his frustration. Why did you not like this sequence?

Jonesy: I liked the idea, but I thought the cuts made it too chaotic and discombobulated, and I'm not sure if it was the 3D, but some of the it was too murky for me to figure out what was going on. It was only about 90 seconds, but once he fell on to the water, it never felt clear what was happening. 

Javi: I'm not sure if this is the problem of the 3D or the scene itself. 

JonesyWell, I'm can't be exactly sure because as of now, I've only see it in 3D, so I don't have anything to compare it to. 

Javi: So is it the up-conversion or the way the scene was shot?

Jonesy: I think that's probably the up conversion that made the scene worse for me. My favorite action set piece was the Barrel of Monkeys. It's one of the best "falling out of the sky" scenes I've seen.

Javi: For me, once he got to the barrel of monkeys thing, I felt that the scene's tension was gone. I wasn't into it. I was actually amazed at how little depth there was for this scene. Maybe it was the way it was shot? I'm not sure. I couldn't feel the sense of people falling in this sense. But let's get to the big action of the last scene with all of the armor suits. Initially I was very excited, and then it went away. I think that the suits didn't get enough focus. I figured that the film could have devoted a little more time to explaining them. Maybe rework the sequence at least show some of them. You know, there's the big armor, Igor, the Hulkbuster, there's another one that is supposed to have a toy, the Red Snapper. Also, I'm not sure if I saw his outer space suit. Mind you, the only reason I know about this is my buddies over at PO66 talk about the designs because they're all getting toys. But I had to look very hard. There was such a lack of tension for me. I guess it was because there was just generic dudes versus armors that you only kind of sort of see for a few seconds. And then the armors will just explode but you don't know which one it is.  Obviously, I can't expect anyone like Tony to die, but during his final fight with Killian, he goes through so many armors that you're not even sure how many he still has available. There aren't any stakes.

Jonesy: The problem is that there was no build up, and they expect it to pay off. All the armors show up and you're supposed to care? I don't know about any of the designs, so I'm just seeing some armors hanging out. Maybe they could have spent a little time showing what each were capable of. Also, another plot point that doesn't pay off is his old girlfriend. She just shows up in present day, and it's kind of confusing. She's maybe a good guy, but she's working with Killian, then she threatens to blow up herself to save Tony? Once she dies, I was very apathetic about it. She didn't really have a purpose except to maybe give Tony the name tag from 1999, which reverses the Extremis virus. She was a little pointless.

Javi: I wish she hadn't been. 

Jonesy: It would've been cool if she was the Mandarin. And just a thought on your "tension" in the battle scene, I wonder if we are just too used to this? I can't think of a final battle where I don't think that the hero will make it. I'm not sure if this is just the amount of movies that we watch or just the summer flicks being too formulaic. We know that he won't die because he has to do Avengers 2. 

Javi: In terms of final battles, KICK-ASS comes to mind where I didn't know whether Hit Girl would survive or not. But then of course, the only way for a hero to come back is to then have Deus Ex Rocket Launcher. Here's another one: CAPTAIN AMERICA. The fight in the train was full of tension. I'm not saying that they have to feel like they might die, but there has to be that small thought. But going back to this film, I think the writing has its heart in the right place, but it was just very OK for me. The humor was great and the performances were pretty great as well but the story was lacking at times.

Jonesy: Like all of the sudden, Tony's shrapnel issue is able to be fixed? That epilogue was crappy. What happened now that the couldn't fix that five years ago? Or was it that he just didn't want to? 

Javi: My question is...what the hell is going to happen with a big ole metal casing in his chest? 

Jonesy: Maybe they sealed it up as a hole? One thing I'm weirded out by, weren't the suits just operated by his reactor not by battery? So how can he be IRON MAN now? Be remote control?

Javi: That was a weird point now that you mention it. So to finish this discussion, IRON MAN 3 ends up being a fine entry into the Marvel movie Universe that ends up failing at a few of the themes and points that it's trying to convey. What saves the movie is the dialouge between Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of cast, as well as the dark comedy.

Jonesy: I completely concur. The humor and the cast were great, but it was just a few cohesive plot points short of being outstanding.

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