The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Iron Man 3


So I was hanging out with my brother, watching "Game of Thrones" when we took off for our local movie theater, to pick up tickets for the midnight show and stop at McDonald's. We arrived at about 10:30 to find there was a show about to start. We bought our tickets and rushed inside in time for the "Thor" trailer, which is looking good. After sitting through the terrible looking "Lone Ranger" trailer that followed "Thor," the movie began.

I liked it better than "Iron Man 2" but not as much as "The Avengers," or the first "Iron Man." But it was great summer blockbuster fun, without ever talking down to its audience. The central focus in this film was where it belonged, on Tony Stark. Unlike "Iron Man 2" which acted as a launching pad for other movies, this was definitely Tony's movie.... which is a good thing when you have as compelling and strong a protagonist as Tony Stark.

What can I say about Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark that I haven't said or others haven't said already? RDJ owns that role. He is Tony Stark. After three previous movies, he could easily phone it in and collect a paycheck, but doesn't. As of this moment, he hasn't signed on for anymore, but I hope he does. Tony Stark spent this movie dealing with post traumatic stress (I feel dirty calling it that, George Carlin was right... it should still be called shell shock) after the events "The Avengers" which is unique to a movie like this. It gave him another of his many personal crises to overcome without him having to learn previous lessons. While some people might complain that he doesn't spend enough time in the armor, I think the core truth of Tony Stark is that he is almost always more interesting out of the suit. That's the mark of a strong superhero character.

Gwyneth Paltrow really comes into her own as Pepper Potts in this one. Well done love interests in superhero movies are very rare - not even Christopher Nolan pulled it off with the Rachel Dawes character - but I always liked her the most in these Marvel movies. While at one point she does end up in a typical damsel in distress scenario, she also shares in the action this time around.

I didn't much like Don Cheedle as James Rhodes in "Iron Man 2" mostly because I didn't think he and RDJ had much chemistry together, and couldn't buy their friendship. This problem has been corrected in this installment. It helps that the two of them have a lot more screen time together.

Guy Pierce plays Aldrich Killian, a scientist who ends up becoming the founder of the Advanced Idea Mechanics (aka A.I.M.), and really seems to be having a good time on screen. He is, of course, connected to our movie's Big Bad....

The Mandarin, played by Sir Ben Kingsley. I've known this character for most of my life. Hell I knew him long before the Marvel Action Hour dyed his skin green and had him pal around with M.O.D.O.K., for me he was always Iron Man's greatest enemy. What did I think of this? As much as I love Sir Ben Kingsley, I was annoyed when his casting was announced.... I figured there were plenty of East Asian actors who could have pulled off the part of the Mandarin. Of course with China being a huge market, and a business partner on the production of this movie, I knew we weren't going to see the Chinese warlord wielding the ten rings of power who sought to dominate China. Considering the character's origins as a racial caricature, I knew there was no way. I enjoyed what we got. It was a very different and original take, but in the context of the movie, it works. Would I have liked to see a more faithful take? Sure. But I liked what we received.

Go see it.

21 comments:

  1. I intend to see this one too. Unlike you, thouh, I loved the casting of Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin when it was announced. And if what I hear about the character in this movie is true, then it makes total sense.

    Also, if this entry means you can take breaks in between Tarantino Month, then can we (PLEASE) expect to see one detailing your thoughts on "Game Of Thrones"? I'm real interested to hear that. ^^

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    1. It makes sense in the context of the movie. But if the Mandarin was played closer to his roots, I would have preferred an Asian actor. Ben Kingsley is great, but he's not Asian.

      I'm both re-watching GoT and in the middle of a move. We'll see.

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  2. I intend on seeing it myself, I have positive feelings about it.

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  3. Kind of unrelated, but have you seen Pain & Gain, Greg? I'm kind of curious as to what you think about it, considering it's surprisingly layered and smart for a Michael Bay film.

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    1. Everyone involved in that movie should be a little ashamed. Taking a real life case of a (historically recent) kidnapping, torture, and premeditated murder and turning it into a screwball comedy is pretty disgusting. They even changed the manner of the guy's death to make people sympathize with his killers more.

      Further proof that Michael Bay is a piece of human bile that slithered his way from the deepest cesspool of bad taste.

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    2. Screwball comedy? The humor in the movie is pitch black and derived almost entirely from how serious the crimes are, and Bay stops just short of walking onscreen and flat-out saying "Daniel Lugo and his accomplices are psychopathic idiots to be ridiculed, and Lugo himself is representative of the sociopathic obsession with success inherent in American culture." (That, and the story is so outrageous that I don't think it would even be possible to adapt as a serious drama.)

      It kind of feels like you're overly simplifying what Bay was trying to say with this film.

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    3. Bay wasn't trying to say a thing. Bay never says a thing. He has nothing at all to say.

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    4. I've been hearing the film didn't glorify the criminals. I heard the story itself is crazy anyway so I doubt he intended to sympathize with the criminals.

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  4. Were we watching the same film? It's not even subtext: there are several moments where speeches about the American Dream are intentionally juxtaposed with imagery of Lugo in prison, an immigrant being forced into prostitution, and people being conned out of money by a slick inspirational speakers and Lugo himself (some of these parts even have the American flag prominently displayed in the frame!), and all the spaces in between are dedicated towards showing the disgusting excess of American culture. The ending, with Lugo in prison talking about how he clearly didn't work hard enough to achieve the American Dream after everything he did, ties the whole movie together and shows that Lugo is no different from bankers or CEOs or anyone else who exploits others for personal gain, and that none of these people will ever be satisfied despite all the people they've hurt.

    Just because the film isn't holding the audience's hand and beating them over the head with "AMERICANS ARE STUPID AND PSYCHOPATHIC" like Idiocracy or God Bless America doesn't mean that it doesn't have the same message. I don't think it's Bay's fault if you're not even going to attempt to analyze or engage this film just because he made some movies you didn't like in the past.

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    1. Wow.... at no point here did I make this personal with you. But since you dove into making this personal with me, you lose the argument.

      'k, bye!

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  5. Huh? No personal attacks intended, just wanted to explain my view of the film. Sorry that I might have came off a little too aggressive.

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  6. Kingsley is a great actor. He actually unnerved me in a few scenes. That's all I'll say and no more.

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    1. The scene with the Roxxon accountant especially.

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  7. Just to remind Greg that this is what our Pain-And-Gain-Lovin' Chdr thinks of Marvel movies.

    https://twitter.com/chdr/status/332544565393379329
    https://twitter.com/chdr/status/332545275916849152

    Stupidity never got painful for this boy. <3

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    1. People I know who aren't the biggest Bay fans aren't the biggest fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe either. So I don't think it's fair to call someone stupid if they have a good reason.

      In my case considering yesterday, I rather loved both Iron Man 3 and Pain & Gain.

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  8. Personally, I think given the yellowface nature of The Mandarin in the comic books, I don't think it'd turn out well. Not to mention, he'd be too absurd for these films.

    Quite frankly, I rather prefer the Mandarin that was utilized in this film and I rather liked Guy Pearce. I thought he was the best villain in the Iron Man trilogy.

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    1. A more faithful Mandarin could have worked, especially after "Avengers." But for obvious reasons I see why they didn't do it.

      I still think Obadiah Stane was the best villain in the trilogy.

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    2. I think Thanos is far as they could go but that's just me, just not comfortable with the yellowface thing you know.

      I got to say though, I love the Extremis flunkies. Great effects work too and I loved Pepper's crowning moment of awesome during the climax.

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    3. I still don't get why people still use the "yellowface" excuse. The character has been modernized and updated since then. The comics recently did a decent job with that. Even the mediocre Teen Tony show managed to do it.

      It worked within the context with the film, and I get what they did with the "Mandarin" personal and Killian, but the character's not impossible to adapt either.

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    4. It was never going to happen, China is too big and too important a market.

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    5. Not a good idea staying faithful to a character that would piss off an entire country to the point of loosing funding.

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