For a third film in a franchise, Iron Man 3 doesn't feel like a rehash of the same. For a modern comic book movie, it remains effective entertainment. But it's crowning achievement is perhaps the clever writing, keeping the audience engaged and guessing with its ingenious twists and turns in both the story and character developments.

I have to say I did not expect a lot of what I got, and it was delivered in a such really smart and fun way a few times I saw myself taking off my imaginary hat to the film. Film three may not have the same level of wit as the first, but it is on par when it comes to entertaining the audience, perhaps even more successful in terms of balancing thematic depth and popcorn humor.

I have intimately followed the Marvel movies, and have felt a sense of gratitude to the studio for taking their characters so seriously up to this point; making them not only epic, but very watchable even to your non-geeks. They are films you can have discussions about afterwards, which is part of the cinema-going experience for me. This film in particular is also very re-watchable, because it is an eye-candy with nutrition for our intelligence. It's been a while since I've seen an audience so engaged with a film, I daresay even more than The Avengers for the session I watched. I'm very glad I watched it while it was fresh in the theaters and not after the hype is over.

Tony Stark is his usual lovable swift who takes the titular superhero to the next level by questioning the whole concept of who actually is Iron Man. I really appreciate that they explore this element of his character not through words, but through mostly visuals while still jabbing out witty remarks here and there. The centrality of the issue on Starks' ability to protect his 'family' does come with the assumption you know what happened in The Avengers, so I would say the film makes more sense to the franchise chasers than the casual viewer who probably already forgot what happened in the preceding film. But seeing how much money they've already earned before it's even opened in US, I doubt it's a major problem.

Unfortunately, no film is without flaws. For me the biggest downside in this film is that the back-story of some of the new characters are clumsy and do not justify their actions in the story properly. And while it isn't distracting, it does come across artificial and exaggerated in a few places, particularly for the climax and resolution of the film. Pepper Potts' role in the film expands in a pleasing but still limited way, very much still the love interest Tony Stark has to protect and save, but occasionally she gets to hold a machine gun which she doesn't know how to nor want to fire; she is a weaponized damsel in distress if you will.

But overall, it was a lot of fun and there were many funny scenes and dialogue throughout the film. The action scenes in are very inventive though a bit overt at the end, but that's what most fans were hoping for I'm guessing. Perhaps if they didn't knit the funny and deeper scenes so closely, it would leave more space for the viewer to ingest each scenes rather than feel like they're in a high speed roller coaster ride of emotions.

And for those who know the quirk of Marvel movies, yes, there IS a post-credits scene but you'll have to wait even longer than previous Marvel movies to get to it (since it's after ALL the credits, and not just the main ones).

8.0 / 10.0

Booby Bunny and Surprises

This film fascinates me from a character development perspective. The director or writer seems to hold back from developing Tony Stark in a 100% serious manner, like how Christopher Nolan went all out with the Batman franchise. The story and setting allowed for so much potential growth of Iron Man as a superhero but short of becoming an immortal symbol of good. Instead we end on a revelation, an epiphany that consummates in an uncertain future, which is fine and all but does deprive the film from achieving a 'great' status.

The giant bunny with boobs is perhaps a strong indicator of this reservation because a changed Stark wouldn't be selling his girlfriend such a cheap laugh, especially after events in The Avengers. Perhaps it's all his way of hiding insecurities, but the tone and setting of each scene doesn't allow for us the audience to fully appreciate his actions.

In terms of the scene where Stark threatens on public television to take on The Mandarin, there you can see that he is trying to hide his fears with being irresponsibly daring, and we do see the consequences he and Pepper had to bear with those words. However his quick and sincere apology to Pepper does show that he's not the same old self-absorbed egotistic man, but that he is still-in-progress changing to be the Iron Man and Tony Stark people need him to be, and making mistakes along the way while working out who and what he should be.

The Ben Kingsley...I mean Mandarin

How they incorporated the mandarin into the film is brilliant and effective, although some fans of the comic book may be annoyed or even feel betrayed that the supernatural aspects of the mandarin was discarded to keep the film more 'earthly'. In the fan's defense, The Avengers pretty much tossed reality aside for a cosmic story so I would've been happy if The Mandarin was real and not just a figurehead.

The character of The Mandarin/Trevor in this film is perhaps the second best thing behind Tony Stark, because he demonstrates that terror is a symbol and not a person. When the person that represents unstoppable threat exists as an idea over an individual, you gain a higher level of respect and fear for that terror. How the American government as portrayed in this film deals with the Mandarin is perhaps how the real government would react to such an unstoppable force. Yet on the flip side, Trevor is just hilarious. That's all I can say really. His postures, his demeanor and dialogue is practically another Jack Sparrow. It's a pity we only get like 6 minutes of him to make way for the fairly boring Killian.