Tony Stark’s Iron Man is among the most likeable superheroes. Like Bruce Wayne’s Batman, Iron Man has the money, and he has the gadgets. But Tony Stark also happens to have a personality which pleases everybody. With Robert Downey delivering the goods, it’s a pleasure to watch the billionaire – with all his extravagance and arrogance – it’s the reason we love him.
Iron Man 3: Random Anxiety Attacks
Iron Man 3 doesn’t show us much of that personality though. Like most of the third installments in superhero franchises where our hero goes through hard times and mental stress (Spiderman 3? The Dark Knight Rises?), we see Tony Stark facing random ‘anxiety attacks’ (following the epic New York City battle in The Avengers), sleep deprivation, and revenge from people he pissed off more than a decade ago, while working to keep things nice with girlfriend Pepper. Too much to handle perhaps? Even for a superhero?
Iron Man 3 begins in flashback mode, with Robert Downey Jr describing how he rejected scientist Aldrich Killian’s (played by Guy Pearce), and his think tank AIM’s ideas on regenerative treatment. More than 13 years later, Aldrich is angry over the dismissal, and has made serious progress with his research on regeneration. Expectedly, his technology can be used for the wrong purposes, and it is. Working with terrorist Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), he proceeds to bomb places all over Earth. The Mandarin is shown to be completely anti-American, and of course, as evil as possible. He makes himself known only through televised threats when he hijacks the airwaves, which includes a public execution while he threatens the American President.
When Mandarin attacks one of Stark’s expos and injures his security chief, Tony Stark is provoked enough to retaliate on television. Stark challenges the Mandarin, asking him to come and get him, and states out his address, even telling him he’ll “leave the door unlocked”. What follows is some wonderful use of CGI depicting Stark’s Malibu home destroyed by missiles from Mandarin. Stark then ends up in Tennessee. With help from a ten-year old boy, he starts off on a path to redeem himself, and seek revenge.
It is a promising story. With nothing but a dysfunctional prototype suit, Stark has to fix himself and find the Mandarin, while making sure that Pepper stays safe. The plot is darker than the previous two movies, and has adequate potential to appeal emotionally to the audience. We see a more human and emotional side to Stark, and less of the care-free and disconnected attitude we’ve grown accustomed to. But soon the movie takes a turn for the worse.
Stark’s efforts to get to Mandarin are long-drawn, and a large part of the movie fails to keep the interest alive. It doesn’t help that there are multiple loopholes in the plot too. More than once, Iron Man 3 goes over-the-top and you are reminded that the plot is unrealistic, even for a superhero movie. If, after The Avengers, the US government, or even the world, is aware that there are aliens lurking out there in space, why does no one seem to care? Another facepalm moment for me as a geek, is when the American President is shown using an Android phone. C’mon.
At the same time, we also get to see some really clever tactics from Tony Stark while he takes on Mandarin. The plot switches from impressing you to disappointing you a couple of times – whether it’s the former or the latter that win out, is hard to say.
Ben Kingsley’s character is a colossal waste. Nothing is more disappointing than the film’s depiction of Kingsley as the villain, owing to a severely disappointing plot twist.
However, the film does a good job of balancing its darker tone with its light moments. While The Dark Knight trilogy adopted a serious approach throughout the three movies, there is plenty of humor throughout Iron Man 3. Now the comedy is necessary because, thanks to Robert Downey Jr, we can’t imagine Tony Stark without his eccentricity. It is effective, but after a point you begin to wonder if it is overdone. Broadly, the underlying theme of the series – and the focus on Tony Stark as an individual, is well maintained in Iron Man 3.
Iron Man 3: Spectacular Special Effects
Moving on to special effects, Iron Man 3 is undeniably a visual spectacle. The movie employs some truly spectacular special effects that are convincing and appealing. Emphasis on ‘convincing’ – seeing we’ve reached saturation point with visual effects in movies lately. There is such an overdose of Vfx in our movies, we hardly ever notice or appreciate the complexity on display.
When was the last time you actually appreciated the visual effects in a movie, instead of absentmindedly waiting for action to move past? After a long time, Iron Man 3 is one such movie – it makes you notice the work done by the CGI team. Whether it’s the bombing of Tony Stark’s Malibu mansion, or Iron Man saving a dozen people falling from an airplane, or even the epic battle at the end involving an army of Iron Man suits, the visual effects make the moments a dazzling experience. The action works – as if the plot suddenly jumps out of stagnation and gets back on track.
Robert Downey Jr, as always, is great as Tony Stark/Iron Man. It is hard to say if anyone else could’ve ever played Tony Stark the way he does. The arrogance and exuberance is toned down, in line with the darker theme and emotional reach, and yet, it is JUST right. Downey pulls off this act effortlessly.
Guy Pearce does a fine job as Aldrich Killian, the founder of think tank AIM, which indulges in some slick bio-engineering to create literally hot superhumans – and they play a rather important role in this flick.
Ben Kingsley has the potential to steal the show from Robert Downey Jr, but the plot ruins his role as Mandarin. It is disappointing, to say the least.
There is also a cameo by Mark Ruffalo as Dr Bruce Banner, in a post-credits scene. You might want to sit right till the end.
Summing up, Iron Man 3 is a movie you need to watch at the theater. Although such a case is unusual, this movie’s action and special effects compensate for plot holes and somewhat loose storyline. The action is riveting, and nicely timed in line with the plot. It is actually difficult to pick one action sequence over another – each is unique in its own way – while all of them are equally impressive.
Remember The Matrix Revolutions? Yes, it was disappointing and like The Matrix Reloaded, did not compare to the quality of the first movie of the trilogy. But the movie did set an absolutely high bar in terms of visual effects. The epic battle between Neo and Agent Smith at the end had special effects you’d never seen before.
Iron Man 3 is a similar experience. More than anything else, it’s the visual effects that will linger on your mind once you walk out the theater. Go for it.