wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
The third film in the Iron Man franchise, directed by Shane Black this time, is easily the best in the series. Robert Downey Jr is at his best, the action scenes are terrific in scale, vision and execution, and Ben Kingsley’s The Mandarin makes for one of the most enigmatic screen villains ever. Good, big screen fun, this.Read more
You’d think that the best thing about the DVD of a movie that’s as fun as Iron Man 3 would be the film itself. Well, if you did think that, you’d be forgiven for being a little wrong.
An 8-minute bonus featurette titled ‘Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One’ shows the making of one of the most thrilling set pieces from the film, and believe you me, the making of that scene will blow you away even more than the scene itself. A true victory of production and VFX, it reminds you just why movies can be so magical. How one wishes though, that Shane Black had made a consequential appearance in this featurette, to provide some more insights on how the director sees such a scene.
The DVD also has another interesting bonus feature – a minute-and-a-half behind the scenes sneak peak at Thor: The Dark World, which releases in November 2013. The clip does make you look forward to it.
Then there’s the film itself, which makes for as fun a DVD watch as it was on the big screen. As is the norm these days, all of it is packed into a single disc; one that sadly has no subtitles or language options in any regional Indian language.
One small touch that Iron Man fans might enjoy is the fact that the DVD Menu loads with an intro by Jarvis, Iron Man’s AI sidekick (for want of another word.)
In that epic climactic conversation scene in Kill Bill Volume 2, one of Quentin Tarantino’s masterstrokes was Bill explaining the Superman mythology to The Bride; he says that, unlike other superheroes who wear a costume and become ‘super’, Superman is exactly who he is. Superman. Clark Kent is the disguise; that’s his costume. While what Tarantino said about Superman makes perfect sense, when it comes to what he said about the other superheroes, I will, for once, differ with the man.
We are all are known by the choices we make; all the superheroes we love, be it from the Marvel universe or the DC universe, discovered immense power that they chose to channel in a heroic manner. And the moment they made that choice, they became the superhero. So, what is true about Superman, is actually true about the others as well. It is, quite simply, the fundamental truth that lies at the core of every superhero story. Batman is always Batman; Bruce Wayne is the costume.
No superhero film, for me, has explored this fundamental facet of the superhero mythology quite like Iron Man 3 does. There may be many Iron Man suits, which anyone can wear, but there is only one Iron Man. The film also carries the message that the biggest bit of heroism is perhaps defeating the demons within. But, to heck with messages really. Iron Man 3 is, above all, smashing good fun.
The story of Iron Man 3 is set post the events that occurred in The Avengers, which was released exactly this time last year. Iron Man, if you remember, passed through a portal into another dimension and back before crashing to the ground in a freefall. Since then, Tony Stark hasn’t been the same. This time around, he also has to contend with an obscure, secretive villain known only as The Mandarin, who is responsible for a series of mysterious bomb blasts around the globe.
The film does have a bit of a slow build up, but once it gets full throttle, it can only be described as an audio-visual spectacle. Thrilling action set pieces, peppered with Tony Stark’s acerbic wit all through, along with a number of superb supporting performances make the film a rollicking ride alright. It still isn’t nearly as much fun as The Avengers, but it is quite easily the best Iron Man film so far.
Big credit for that must definitely go to Shane Black, who directs the franchise for the first time, after Jon Favreau directed the first two installments. In fact, this is Shane Black’s first feature since the insanely clever Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also starring Robert Downey Jr) way back in 2005, and only his second feature film as director. Huge jump in terms of scale, especially considering the eight year gap, but Black does full justice to it. The Iron Man – Tony Stark relationship feels so much more intense, and yet so much more comfortable, I suspect, due to the touch brought in by Black.
But then. Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark. Who is Iron Man. You can’t say either Tony Stark or Iron Man without picturing Robert Downey Jr as the man who is the face and the voice of the character. His electric presence, his spontaneity and the sheer physical character makes Iron Man the thrilling cinematic superhero that he is. Never have egotism and self-aggrandizing humour looked so good on screen. Robert Downey Jr is one of the finest mainstream male lead actors in the world, and watching him is always a joy.
Shockingly enough, it is possible for someone to steal scenes even from under Robert Downey Jr’s nose. And, to do that, who better than Sir Ben Kingsley? Though he has very little screen time, this is the kind of character and performance that an actor should die for. The Mandarin becomes one of the most enigmatic and memorable villains ever because of what perhaps no other actor could bring to the table; you see, acting twice is harder than acting once. (That’s me trying to be as enigmatic as The Mandarin. Wink.) Guy Pearce, who also joins the franchise for the first time as Aldrich Killian, the super-scientist with a secret, is superb as well. So are franchise regulars Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow as Col James Rhodes and Pepper Potts, respectively.
I watched the film in IMAX 3D, which no doubt added to the experience of watching some of the best-executed action scenes you’ll see. Otherwise, I don’t think watching it in 3D is mandatory; I’m sure the film will be good fun in 2D as well. For some phenomenal acting, great action and for those goosebumps you’ll undoubtedly get every single time Tony Stark becomes Iron Man, the film is a must watch. Submit yourself to Tony Stark’s world; you’ll have a good time, I promise.
PS – Stay right until the end of the final credit roll for a fun little Easter Egg!
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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