I seriously have a hard time staying awake in this film. Somehow, the creative team sought to make an exciting Iron Man film that revolved around... boardroom politics. Some of the scenes seem to be intentionally made boring such as watching businessmen wait silently in a room with a ticking clock. The film seems to take forever to get off the ground and even after it does it doesn't seem to have a firm direction.
The plot is a little thin. For some reason, Tony is interested in raising an ancient Chinese city. Somehow, that will bring back the Mandarin. Some elementals show up and there's a dragon and a group of rebels. And the board members. Don't forget about the board members. It's all a little confusing and plot developments seem all too convenient. For example, after Tony hammers out the "first" Iron Man armor in captivity, he returns home where an entire army of Iron Man armors awaits him. Seems kinda convenient that he has an armor for all of the different environments he needs to go into, doesn't it? Oh, and why didn't he use that armor to rescue Jim Rhodes in the beginning of the film?
One of the main characters, Li Mei, changes directions without a whim or a cause. At one point, she doesn't want to harm others. At another, she's framing Tony for crimes. In another, she's in love with Tony (even though she barely knows him). At another point, she is trying to stop the Mandarin. Then she's helping him. It's all too confusing. Ultimately, you end up not really caring about any of the characters or the thin plot.
The film vacillates between showing respect to the comics and turning its back on them. In the hall of armors, plenty of armors are shown that were first presented in the comics such as the Ultimate Iron Man armor. But somehow, the Mandarin only has five rings in the film when he should have ten. And one of those rings turns out to be a bracelet, not a ring? Huh? Tony's password to his secret lab is his mother's name, Maria. But in the film he designed all of the Iron Man armors without a heroic motive.
I think the thing that bothers me the most about the film is that Tony doesn't go through a personal journey. His damaged heart isn't an issue. He doesn't learn a lesson like, don't be selfish. The film tries to call upon the theme of fatherly expectations but it only faintly noticeable. Why is Tony a hero? What's his motivation?
In conclusion, it's like this film has all the right elements, they just seem forced and don't work together. Kinda like diving into a swimming pool full of Oxygen and Hydrogen - you're going to fall flat on your face if they aren't joined together as water.
1LR Review - 6 out of 20 - It's a failure!