Kudos has to go to Marvel for some very brave decisions, not only for allowing director/writer Shane Black to have free reign with the script and include his trademarks, but also with some of their character/story usage. Seriously, one of the character twists was very bold, I'm not sure how the pure comic fans will take it. It works extremely well as a twist, but unfortunately undermines the earlier sections of the film and a lot of the marketing material. I can't help but think the film would have been stronger if this was played straight.
The tone of the film is also a bit jarring, the Iron Man films have always had a touch more humour to them compared to other superhero films primarily as result of Tony Stark's wit, which made them fun. But here the humour sometimes becomes quite goofy, this contrast quite oddly when the main character is then suffering from PTSD and anxiety attacks. Again another bold choice to have the usually cock-sure Stark being played more insecure.
I don't want to criticise the film, Shane Black's script delivers some really cool dialogue and interesting takes on what you'd expect in a superhero film. The action scenes involving Iron Man are amazing, though much shorter than I expected and I was surprised how little Stark was actually in the suit during the film. This creates some interesting sequences where only part of the suit is on, (primarily done to make the hero more vulnerable) however there's only so many windows/walls Stark can get thrown through before you realise he's pretty invincible himself.
All the acting from the main cast is solid, the special effects are incredible (especially when Starks house is destroyed) and the direction/editing is top-notch.
Marvel have definitely made amends for IM2 by telling a cohesive story, with great characters and awesome action, I just feel if some of the "bold" decisions had been played a bit more traditional the film could have been truly amazing.
Oh, and with the exception of Die Hard this is one hell of a Christmas movie...
- Update -
Having watched Iron Man 3 for a 2nd time today I think I need to re-adjust my review score (originally 8/10) as I believe my initial thoughts were probably influenced by my own over hyped expectations (a problem that's becoming more frequent with huge marketing campaigns).
I would definitely say this is the best film in the Iron Man series and I like the decision that was taken with the Mandarin as it makes sense in this society and to the story. I appreciated the twists and story much more on a second viewing, so if you were one of people who were disheartened on your first viewing I suggest checking it out again. I'm glad I did.
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