Sunday, October 6, 2013

Iron Man 3

(A note from J.A. Morris & RigbyMel: We don't normally post reviews of Christmas programming in October, but this was just released the other day on Blu-Ray.  Plus, those who haven't seen it can add it to their "things to watch this Christmas" list.)

Released May 3, 2013.

"Here's a little Holiday greeting I've been wanting to send to the Mandarin.  I just didn't know how to phrase it until now.
My name is Tony Stark and I'm not afraid of you.  I know you're a coward, so I decided...that you just died, pal.  I'm gonna come get the body.  There's no politics here, just good old fashioned revenge."
-Tony Stark

Stark tinkers in his lab.

It's Christmas time, but Tony Stark () isn't feeling very merry.  He's been unable to get past his near-death experience during the battle of New York (as seen  in The Avengers), and it's been depriving him of sleep.  He uses his sleepless nights to tinker with his Iron Man armor, constantly trying to improve it.  This has created tension in his relationship with Pepper Potts (), who is now managing Stark's company.

The Mandarin issues a threat to the President after taking credit for bombing an Air Base.
At the same time, a terrorist known as the Mandarin () has taken credit for several bombings all over the world.  The President of the United States (William Sadler) declares war on the Mandarin and selects Stark's friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes () to capture the terrorist.  Rhodey will hunt the down the Mandarin using Iron Patriot armor.

Rhodey becomes the Iron Patriot and pursues the Mandarin.
Complicating things further is the arrival of Aldrich Killian ().  Years earlier, he asked Stark to join his company Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) and was rejected. AIM has developed something called Extremis, which allows people who've lost limbs to regenerate them.  Extremis' creator is a "biological coder" named Maya Hansen (), who also has a history with Stark.  Unfortunately, Extremis has a side effect that drives its test subjects crazy and turns them into living bombs.

Aldrich Killian shows off Extremis to Pepper.
In one of the Mandarin's attacks, Tony's friend Happy Hogan () is injured and slips into a coma.  Stark publicly challenges the Mandarin and even tells him his home address.  Predictably, this leads to an attack that destroys Stark's home.  He dons his Iron Man armor and manages to get Pepper to safety.  However, Stark is buried under rubble and presumed dead.    

Stark's mansion falls into the Pacific Ocean.
In his attempt to escape, Stark crash-lands in Rose Hill Tennessee.  His Iron Man suit is severely damaged and drained of energy. 

He's powerless and freezing cold and things are looking bad for Iron Man.  But he meets a young boy named Harley Keener () who turns out to be a budding technological genius. Stark doesn't like the idea of working with a kid, but realizes he has no choice.

Things heat up (literally AND figuratively) when Stark learns that Killian, who is somehow connected to the Mandarin,  has captured Pepper.  Iron Man enlists the aid of Iron Patriot in rescuing her.

But even if they are successful, the Mandarin has saved Christmas Day for his most explosive act of terror:he will blow up the President on live television.

Can Stark and Rhodey save Pepper and bring Killian and Mandarin to justice?

J.A. Morris says:

I'll admit up front that I grew up reading Marvel Comics and I've generally enjoyed the recent Marvel movies.  But I don't watch them uncritically (I wasn't crazy about the Fantastic Four & Spider-Man movies).  I didn't know Iron Man 3 was a "Christmas movie" until I saw it in the theater.  I'm guessing the May release date caused the studio to downplay the  movie's holiday aspects.

Stark listens to Christmas LPs in his workshop;Check out the 'Charlie Brown Christmas' soundtrack near the bottom left.
But Christmas trees, lights and songs show up throughout the movie.  Stark makes grenades out of Christmas ornaments.  Some of the soundtrack music even employs jingle bells. 

Happy expresses concern over Killian...while standing next to a Christmas tree!
And if that's not enough, the film opens with a New Year's Eve party (a flashback to a "Y2K"-Eve party, to be exact).

Tony Stark & Maya Hansen ring in the year 2000.
In addition to the Christmas stuff, Iron Man 3 contains one of the greatest action sequences I've ever seen. When Iron Man has to save passengers when their plane blows up, he plays a unique game of "Barrel Of Monkeys".  And unlike other "big, dumb,action flicks", this movie has a cast of very good actors.  Ben Kingsley is great in one of the showiest roles of his 40 year career (and that's saying something!).    

Stark tells a young fan:"I loved you in 'A Christmas Story' by the way."
And there's also plenty of humor to lighten things up between explosions.  Examples include some funny lines about Happy's Downton Abbey fandom, and one of Stark's "worker" robots wears a dunce cap:

If Iron Man 3 has any flaws, it's the many injuries that Stark DOESN'T suffer when he's out of his armor.  Stark survives a building blowing up & falling down on top of him, more than one fall of (what appears to be) at least 20 feet, and he doesn't seem to be hurt at all.  I know asking for "realism" in a superhero movie sounds silly, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Stark & Rhodey fight on without their armor.

As others have said, the nice thing about Christmas movies/specials/episodes is that there's something for everyone.  Sentimental dramas, slasher movies, Rudolph, and now we have a great example of a Christmas movie built around a superhero.

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 and a half Candy Canes

RigbyMel says:

This movie is part of a proud subgenre of Christmas themed action flicks like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard.  Interestingly enough, it was written and directed by Shane Black, who also wrote the screenplay for Lethal Weapon.  Iron Man 3 is a fun action movie in its own right and the Christmas themes filtered through a superhero lens add to the fun.   

Tony Stark's recent trauma prevents him from properly getting into the holiday spirit.  He acts selfishly and impulsively resulting in inappropriately over the top giant bunny gift giving to outright friend/girlfriend endangerment ... 

Pepper is surprised by an extremely large Christmas bunny in the driveway.
... to say nothing of endangerment of the general public at the hands of the Mandarin and Killian.  
Mandarin blows up the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Stark is made to pay the price for his selfishness -  losing his home, the functionality of his armor and finding himself in a bit of a fish-out-of-water situation with a Tiny Tim-esque moppet in Tennessee.  

Potato-gun-wielding moppet.
Stark must reconnect with others as human beings and use teamwork with his surrogate family to win the day against the bad guys.   Plus, as J.A. Morris has mentioned above, the Christmas ornament grenades would make MacGyver proud.

I was never particularly a fan of Iron Man in the comics, as Stark says in this movie he's sort of "just a man in a can."   However, these movies and Robert Downey Jr.'s great performance in them have made me appreciate the character more.  If you like your Christmas movies with a side of explosions,  Iron Man 3 is ripe for holiday viewing (and newly available on Blu-Ray, DVD, streaming, etc). 

RigbyMel's rating:

3 and a half candy canes

No comments: