Monday, May 6, 2013

IRON MAN 3: Review

I loved the movie. I loved the acting. I enjoyed myself immensely. Some people didn't. To avoid big spoilers, I can't be specific about some of the accusations fans are making about plot holes, but the movie had reasonable explanations for things some folks are saying. Seems to me they just didn't want to see those explanations. In a really good movie, stories can't be pat. No deus ex machina here despite what some think of Jarvis. Options open to Iron Man that he did not use earlier on in the story weren't used because they were destructive and not yet necessary. Later on, they were used as a last resort, a final solution that the hero - until that moment - was not ready to accept. The film made that clear to me, even if others couldn't see it. How's that for discussing things without discussing them?

If that's not helpful, then just go see the movie, it's great entertainment. Time raced by while I was in the theatre and gasps and laughs were plenty. There were even some tears.

Still, I've read a lot of complaints by die-hard Marvel comics fans who are upset with the portrayal of the Mandarin in the IRON MAN 3 movie. Surprised by the vitriol I saw, I read about the Mandarin of the comics. Here's the thing I'm thinking... Without a setup movie of his own, the Mandarin of the comics is an extremely complex character for a one movie deal. There's so much there (some of it, frankly, quite laughable). Maybe they should have chosen another villain to appease the masses of fans, but what if this is just the beginning of the introduction of the Mandarin? What if this character as portrayed IS far more than he seems to be - far more than even he is revealed to be? The comics version of the character used his own power at one point in his history to force himself to believe a lie about his origins. This makes it possible for me to believe that he might not even know who he is and thus appeared to be used when he is the user. And that's just one possible explanation. Just think about the meaning of the word "genius", Horatio. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your myopic philosophy

The Mandarin: Art by Robert De La Torre
I asked myself, would most audiences have bought the Super Villain genius scientist who is also a superhumanly skilled martial artist (who looks strangely like the Russian villain of Iron Man 2. I mean, look at that lightning. All he needs is a cockatiel)? Hard to say. Maybe. But to expect audiences to buy a genius scientist who is also a superhumanly skilled martial artist whose primary sources of power are ten power rings that he adapted from the alien technology of a crashed spaceship ...? Naw, sorry fans. That is much too much for one film. Give the creators of the movies credit. They know what works, they know what sells. And they aren't selling just to fans. Seriously, when I read how each ring has a different power and is worn on a specific finger, I immediately was reminded of all the other movies with magic/space-tech rings (LOTR, Green Lantern and even the Jackie Chan cartoon series...though, those were talismans, not rings but each had a different power). And I started laughing. More rings? Oish. At this early stage, it just would not have flown. As much as comic fans want everything to be the way they see it in those pages they adore, the rest of us want believability that doesn't blow our ability to suspend certain beliefs out of the water. That must go hand in hand with a good story full of realistic emotion from our heroes.

Brief (maybe tiny?) SPOILER Alert!!

I know what anxiety attacks are like and when we saw the first one in the movie, my first thought was, "That's exactly right!" I felt the same shortness of breath, the same confusion, the same pressure in my chest like I was having a heart attack. Fear and the need to escape. For those unfamiliar with such things, let me tell you, it can be terrifying. RDJ hit it spot on. This is a perfectly understandable reaction for someone who, not long ago, met aliens and gods for the first freaking time in his life that we as a movie-going audience are aware of. I *liked* that he suffered that. It was gritty and real. After all, Tony Stark may be Iron Man, but he's also very human. And that makes him even more the hero.

I loved the twists in the movie regarding the Mandarin. Since the movie is being hailed as #1 in the world right now, a lot of other people did too. There is room for the Ben Kingsley portrayal of the Mandarin to grow into the villain the comics contain. The appeal is undeniable of the franchise and these guys actually know what they're doing.

Longtime fans must face facts. The movies are not the comics. They are made to appeal to a broader audience - thank God! - and if comic book fans expect to see the storylines of the comics in the movies, they're probably going to be disappointed. What works in pulp fiction doesn't always translate well to the big screen or bring in the large audiences of people who have never picked up a comic book in their lives. Let's admit it, movies are about entertainment and making money. At least with Iron Man, it is money well spent.

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