I spent a good portion of the week in Wisconsin for a family reunion. Much of that time was spent out in the country at my Aunt and Uncle’s house where I had exactly zero internet or phone reception. While scary at first, the tradeoff is amazing scenery including beautiful old barns in various states of dilapidation, checking in on a pair of bald eagles every day, and spending quality time with my amazing family who indulge me when I ask them to participate in “May the Fourth be with you” and “Revenge of the Fifth” (or Sixth, apparently someone decided to change it. Whatever, who cares) photo sessions. I even baked. Yes, I BAKED. Shocking, I know, considering my history with baking. My Grandma, Aunt Johnna, Mama Jedi, and I spent a good chunk of Monday baking sandbakkels, a traditional Norwegian cookie that tastes kind of like shortbread and is labor intensive enough to only be fun when doing it with a group of female relatives.
We also decided to surprise my cousin Paul by taking him to see Iron Man 3 in 3D while I was there. He was pretty stoked.
*Spoiler alert: I try not to but I probably do. You’ve been warned. Also, I usually go way into the comic books for my reviews but this will be quick and dirty because I’m playing catch up after my trip.
The basic plot of the movie is that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) rang in the year 2000 in Switzerland with a sexy super botanist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). While there he runs into Yinson (Shaun Toub aka the dude who builds the electromagnet precursor to the arc reactor way back in that cave in Afghanistan), and a gimpyy-looking guy in desperate need of a shower who introduces himself as Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics, a think tank for smart, sadistic people. Stark blows off Killian, just like he does everyone who doesn’t have a nice rack and Killian looks very disappointed about it. Flash forward to present day and Tony’s having post-New York PTSD issues. This is complicated by the fact that a mysterious villain called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is setting off inexplicable bombs. When Tony double dog dares him, The Mandarin accepts and the shit hits the fan. There’s a kid named after a motorcycle, some day-glo baddie henchmen, and not everyone is what they seem. Dun-dun-dun![youtube:http://youtu.be/YLorLVa95Xo]
FYI, this movie is based on a 2005-2006 Iron Man comic book series called “Extremis” in which Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian are scientists trying to (surprise!) recreate the super-soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. There are a few similarities between the book and the movie but, for the most part, it’s very different. Killian’s role, for example, is greatly expanded for the film. Iron Man and Iron Man 2 also took cues from this particular story arc.
The trademark humor and action are intact. Tony has some hilarious zingers, even in the midst of his panic attacks. The part near the beginning when he’s trying on the new Mark 42 suit and his scenes with Harley the kid (Ty Simpkins) are particularly notable. Some might think that the kid being there is the franchise jumping the shark but I really enjoyed their interaction.
Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally gets a chance to be badass. Twice.
Happy (Jon Favreau) gets a promotion that he takes very, very seriously. Note to self: don’t ever forget your badge. He’s smarter than he appears and Favreau does a good job getting that across.
War Machine aka Iron Patriot. Rhodie (Don Cheadle) has some hilarious moments in which he’s led on a wild goose chase to find the Mandarin. I kind of recognized the girl who took off the burqa. She looked an awful lot like Leslie Bibb but I can’t confirm that it was her without seeing it again. If it is her, then she’s uncredited. Anyone know?
Stan Lee as a beauty pageant judge. ‘Nuff said.
The part where the big bad wolf blows the house down was super exciting. I actually found myself holding my breath at parts. The piano was a nice touch.
Gary the cameraman (Adam Pally) – “I have to go, something magical is happening!”
Tony fighting with just his left arm and right boot armor and the guy who surrenders saying “Honestly, I hate working here, they are so weird.”
Barrel of monkeys. It warmed the cockles of my heart.
The ending credits were awesome and make sure you sit through them to the end. You will not be disappointed by the scene that takes place after the ending credits. I promise.
What the frak did they do to the Mandarin?!? Granted, it’s been a while since I read any Iron Man comic books that involved the Mandarin, but I remember him being a crazy evil genius with mad kung fu skills and 10 super awesome magic rings. I get the whole bait and switch thing but holy crap, they royally screwed up an epic supervillain. They’ve been building it up since 2008 when the terror cell in Afghanistan announced they were called the “Ten Rings.” Then we got word that he was being played by the always fantastic Ben Kingsley, and then they threw in some badass looking posters and got us all hot and bothered. But what do we really get? A farting wimp and a crazy white boy with a dragon tattoo?!? Don’t get me wrong; I had a good couple of laughs during the Trevor Slattery scenes but OMFG WHY?!?? Opportunity wasted Hollywood dudes.
Why do his suits keep breaking off in pieces every time he gets hit or trips on a step? Tony’s gone through three movies in suits that go through hell and back and never fall off but he goes through about 15 of them in the big battle scene alone. It was funny at times but completely atypical.
The Maya Hansen character is beyond predictable. That being said, I liked her. I like strong, intelligent, badass women. She redeems herself, albeit briefly, in the end.
Iron suits make for pretty fireworks, but was that really necessary? I mean, really?
The ending seemed final even though the powers that be keep insisting that it’s not. The arc reactor is gone (which I don’t remember ever happening in the comics but, as I mentioned before, it’s been forever since I read most of them and I haven’t read them all). I’m assuming that RDJr will at least be back for another Avengers film and they specifically state in the ending credits that “Tony Stark will return” – they just don’t say whether or not he’ll be played by RDJr. I pity the next actor who takes on that role because Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark.
A quick note about the 3D…I didn’t even notice it really. Which is a good thing since it was post-production 3D and in the past that would have been glaringly obvious. This 3D didn’t pop out at me like it did in Avatar but it wasn’t a distraction either.
3.5 out of 5 Sci-Fives!
One last note: folks have been asking me to put out a calendar for the last couple of years and I finally got around to doing it. It’s really an awesome calendar. It’s got every nerdy holiday you can imagine, plus a super handy convention calendar, and some never-before-seen pictures that will never, ever be seen anywhere else. I know it’s May but it’s worth it to get the 2013 calendar. Besides, if I don’t sell these, then there probably won’t be one next year so, ya know…buy one Since it’s May, they’re super discounted (I promise you I’m not making a fortune off of them) and the price includes taxes and shipping within the US (if you live elsewhere email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). AND I’ll sign it if you want.