Sunday, September 8, 2013

Punch Out: Iron Man 3 Versus Man Of Steel

[Reviewed on August 6th 2013]

In This Corner: in the gold and red trunks, hailing from Malibu California ... Iron Man 3
Main Takeaway:  Lethal Weapon scribe writes and directs the third installment of Iron Man.  Combining a 80s buddy-cop vibe with modern drone army overtones, you keep expecting Tony Stark to shake his head and mutter to himself, "I'm getting too old for this shit".  Verdict:  Matinee.  3D not necessary.

  • Tony Stark in typical Tony *Snark*-mode, but at the same time, full of doubts due to the events that occurred in Avengers
  • Great rescue scene in the middle act, which puntuates the minor reveal about his Iron Man armor
  • Ben Kingsley's Mandarin character is awesome
  • Makes reference to Downton Abbey
  • Gwynthe Paltrow doesn't look so hot in this movie.  Maybe her health cleanse took away some of her star luster?
  • At one moment in the movie, Tony Stark channels Martin Riggs when sneaking into a home.  I swear, I thought I was watching Lethal Weapon 5, only without Murtaugh, My Cousin Vinnie and Thor's mom
  • Guy Pearce doesn't do much in the movie, which is a shame
  • People who explode can get messy
  • The ending, while well executed, didn't do much for me.
I don't know.  While better than Iron Man 2, 3 didn't really show off the kind of harrowing escape or the fun of creating the Iron Man suit that we saw in the first Iron Man.  Nor did it show the manic genius/leader qualities of the Avengers.  Tony Stark is still a brilliantly realized character, thanks to Robert Downing Jr's acting:  he's being flippant one moment, and then rat-tat-tat details oriented another moment.  I wouldn't say that he was slumming it in this third film but really, after seeing him in four films already (1, 2, the Avengers and now 3), I think we the audience might start thinking that this shit is getting old.

In This Corner:  in the red and blue trunks, hailing from Smallville, USA by way of Krypton ... Man of Steel
Main Takeaway:  the guys who wrote Batman Begins and the Dark Knight meet up with the guy who directed 300 and The Watchmen and decide to make Superman into an alien ... just like Thor!  Only Supes is raised as a wholesome as baseball and apple pie American while Thor is raised as a DB.  Man, parenting is SO important.  Oh, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are Superman's parents.  And minor spoiler:  Kevin Costner's streak may have come to an end.  Verdict:  Matinee.  3D not necessary. 

  • The alien angle is a bold move.  It's inferred but not explicitly mentioned in the Richard Donner films.  
  • The loner aspect of moving from one place to another is also well fleshed out in the movie
  • Amy Adams ... mmmmmm.
  • I have to say that Kevin Costner gives off this Field of Dreams vibe that works in this movie
  • When Supes sets up his Fortress of Solitude and tries out that whole "leap tall buildings in a single bound" thing and watching him smile, you kind of get the same feel-good feeling when watching Tobey Maguire realizing his potential as Spiderman.  Sorry ... this is the second time I referenced a Marvel comic character.  I won't do that again.
  • Russel Crowe doesn't sing in this movie.  Seriously, I half expected him to start belting out a song (monotone, of course) about Jean Valjean.

  • I think they went full alien when they should have gone half alien.  Everyone knows you never go full alien.  I mean, look at Thor, that stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking Asgardian.
  • All of the scenes on Krypton felt like something out of Avatar.  Weird.
  • Flashbacks seem really out of place.  There were flashbacks in Batman Begins that flowed well with the story but not so much here
  • Terraforming.  Really?  Now you know that the movie went full alien on you.
  • The ending, while well executed, didn't do much for me.  And it felt so contrived.
  • Amy Adams doesn't sing in this movie

As an origins film, it hits all of the bullet points you would expect, almost following the Richard Donner template for Superman The Movie (Krypton, Smallvile, Metropolis).  Unfortunately, the narrative is so scattershot that it doesn't really flow that well ... which is a shame because this movie had so much potential.  This film had the opportunity to give people hope in the world but somewhat squandered it on showing a moody, more introspective Superman, shackled to the thought that he is more alien than human.  In the trailer, there is a scene where young Clark asks his father, "Can't I just keeping pretending to be your son" when realizing that he's not of earth.  And Kevin Costner says "You ARE my son".  And yet, for the rest of the movie, we don't see the human quality that Clark is striving for, of being part of earth, being part of Americana.

Judges Score
Iron Man 3
  • Pros:  4
  • Cons:  5
  • Summary:  3
  • Swing:  2
  • Total:  3

Man of Steel
  • Pros:  6
  • Cons:  6
  • Summary:  3
  • Swing:  4
  • Total:  5

There was an NBC News article about how a pure and straightforward character like Superman must compete in a world dominated by snarky Iron Man.  Where Tony Stark is glib and arrogant, Clark Kent is mild mannered and considerate.  He doesn't want to harm others while Tony Stark doesn't mind getting in harm's way.  Does that make Man of Steel a less interesting film or the character less interesting?  Not at all.  From an entertainment perspective, despite it's flaws, I liked Man of Steel more than Iron Man 3 just because I'm a sucker for origins films (Star Trek reboot, 007 reboot, first Iron Man) and wanted to see how they would change a movie icon so ingrained in so many people, thanks to the Donner films.  I think it worked to a certain degree but I don't think it successfully updated Superman the character to fit the modern times.  It's certainly darker with a sense of foreboding (similar to Batman) compared to the light and breezy nature of Iron Man but that not enough to make Superman modern.  It would be interesting to see in which direction the producers/directors/writers go with Man of Steel 2 with the Batman crossover.

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