Iron Man 3

images Arriving with sound and fury but of little consequence, I no longer care about Tony Stark in his solo adventures. The third time is definitely not the charm as the superhero curse continues to meddle with trilogies: “Iron Man 3, Superman III (started this curse), “Batman Forever,” Spider-man III,” “ X-Men: The Last Stand,”& “The Dark Knight Rises”- all collapsed for one reason or another, the very last one far worse than IM3, which is not nearly as awful as some on the list, but it stumbles and falls where it shouldn’t and comes nowhere the fun established by the original.
It’s necessary to say that Robert Downey Jr. is as much as the titular character as Christopher Reeve has been attached to Superman. Both performances were fun, human and impressive and gather so much goodwill the audience forgave them for a lousy sequel. If RDJ can survive “Iron Man 2,” and he did by knocking it out of the park with the fantastic, “The Avengers,” he too shall survive this mostly bloated, by-the-numbers adventure.
When it was announced that Shane Black was taking over Directing duties, I was ecstatic, Black has an impressive resume and he’s not Mr. Vanilla, Jon Faveraue, but he also doesn’t have a good storytelling sense it seems. There are way too many scenes of talking and talking and talking. Much like Tarantino, Black is too much in love with his words and doesn’t know what good editing can bring to a movie. I don’t go to the movies for nice long chats; show the characters in action, don’t talk about it or tease us.
Downey starts the film off with a great flashback where we see our old friend living the good life, but throughout Iron Man 3 we’re left with a totally different Tony Stark – one Post-Avengers-Stress-Syndrome. As anyone who knows, Black loves to dump on his characters,(Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon) bring on the pain- drop them in emotional wringers and Stark is no different, he has near debilitating anxiety attacks due to his Avengers antics.  Sure, this can lead to some good drama, but it really doesn’t. The film never really uses this and seems all over the place because of it resulting in Stark having a bit of an identity crisis, not in the narrative sense, but screenplay-wise, he’s treated unjustly, but not really knowing what Stark is all about.  The first film dealt with Tony’s identity crisis as a war profiteer and being Tony Stark and then dealing with his injury. Part 2 had him slinging the booze and dealing with his identity as Iron Man. Part 3 he’s too busy cracking wise and making jokes at Pepper’s expense on top of the occasional anxiety attack which is mostly played for laughs. There is way too much humor, often times stepping close to camp. At this point, Downey’s shtick has become tiresome; his line delivery is too glib; if he doesn’t care, why should I? He’s still a fine actor, but maybe the needs a break from these solo flicks?
Movies like this live or die on the strength of the bad guy and The Mandarin is as weak as the come. Worse than in Part 2 simply because of the potential lost.   I feel this will leave many geeks split right down the middle as it either took big balls of hubris to do what they did or was the dumbest move since Richard Pryor hanging from Superman’s grasp.  I’m sure it’s more of the former, since the movie is gobbling up money like a Jewish Pac-Man, but the collateral damage may not be felt until the next installment.
I have no loyalty to either interpretation, but I didn’t care for the switcheroo. I prefer my comic book villains, mean, ego-maniacal and with a clear purpose. Is that clever storytelling or are we so entrenched and held hostage by political correctness that Marvel was afraid of charges of racism if they cannot cast an Asian actor as a baddie? I would guess the latter since it’s fashionable to cast any character any way progressive even if it’s inaccurate. There is absolutely no reason why an Asian actor could not have been cast- where the hell was Chow Yun-fat????
As if there were never bad Asians in the world before this character and none worthy of our hate. Give me a Nell Carter-sized break!  All of the comic book bad guys can’t be played by Anglos- just as all the heroes can’t, so why did the Mandarin need this strange twist because the villain we got was a bit of a dullard, odd considering Guy Pierce has played bad guys before and been very good. His lame backstory, his current position didn’t make for a compelling baddie in the slightest. He’s as every bit as rich as Stark, BUT his motivations are downright murky. What was the point of all the terrorism? Why is he committing all of these heinous acts? He says he’s attempting to create a supply and demand for his product, Extremis, but to do so he apparently feels the need to kill the President of the United States (and countless others in terrorist’s bombings) and enlist the Vice President into committing treason? Was he seeking revenge? Did a government person steal his work and reap the glory and fortune for themselves? Did they frame him for a crime and steal his money? What?  Why exactly would Killian need to go to such great lengths to gain wealth or power? Other than long-ago snub, what was his gripe with Stark? When Stark challenges and gives out his address to the Mandarin to come to his Malibu home; why didn’t he have some defenses online waiting for him? Why was it a surprise attack? It seems to me if I call a psycho out to come to my home, I’ll have the proper weaponry waiting to dispose of him and when he arrives, I’ll be READY FOR HIM! Instead Stark, acts as though it’s a complete ambush, damn near gets himself and Pepper killed in the process dodging and weaving chucks of debris and classic cars.
These questions are never answered in a satisfying way.
He’s obviously an intelligent guy, and possibly most important of all: his product works. He has an incredible product in Extremis; it rebuilds the human body and makes humans stronger. An incredible invention that should have him making more money than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, plus the awards, accolades, the overall good  guy award from the medical community most of all, Nobel prize most likely…yeah, a real bastard that one!
Why was Killian such a bad guy other than the screenplay saying so? The stupid part is, Killian’s goals are all obtainable without acts of terrorism and forcing elected officials into committing treason no matter how satisfying it was imagining our real life elected slugs in such a similar situation. Ironically, the guy would accomplish more if he were good; this is why the film fails for me, a lame real villain and a defanged fake one; both as dull as a silent fart.
And what’s up with Tony and Pepper? Are they or are they not? I guess on, but they seem bored already with each other or was that me bored with female characters that exist only to yell at the main character. Too bad, Paltrow has the old-fashioned moxy we like from comic book heroines; a Lois Lane smart-ass vibe, here she’s relegated to screaming and waiting to be rescued. She does have a heroic moment in the last act, but it feels more of an obligatory gesture instead of organic one. Downey continues to play Stark as if he has ADHD and flirts with Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen; she’s in the film no more than five minutes before she’s shot dead by her boss right in front of Stark who doesn’t seem to care- what happened to the anxiety attack then? Things like this are not just a matter of taste and preference, but shoddy screenwriting from people who should know better, who have done better and are paid way too much to ask the audience to give them a pass. I can suspend my belief; it’s my damn analytical brain that won’t turn off when stupid shows up.  Don Cheadle as Iron Patriot is given the shaft again in a terribly under written and thankless role that makes zero impression.
One of the few things that should have been a disaster plays better than it sounds was the kid sidekick, Harley. Granted, this kid was actually fairly energizing considering the mess that was the first act. He and Tony’s relationship was fairly amusing, a surprising highlight during this part of the film, finishing to the point where he’s called a pussy by Tony of course. The kid stays in check most of time and never gets in the way of the “action,” but at this point, any distraction is a welcomed one.
I will give high praise to excellent action sequences that are masterfully done- the rescue of 13 people thrown from Air Force One and the final showdown between Stark and Killian… perfectly shot and edited. The score, by Kevin Tyler, is excellent, the best a Marvel movie has ever had… too bad it was attached to such a disappointing movie.
All in all, this film simply wasn’t well fulfilled. The VFX looked immaculate, as it should, but with the lack of a well written, proper villain, and a plot which strays constantly; it’s a very messy affair. The first film was streamlined and with purpose, the second film less so, but focused; here it’s warm-fuzzy and all over the place.
The film ends with a big wrap up bow on top, not sure what to think of a “fixed” Stark, with his metal fragments removed from his chest and Stark HQ mansion as rubble in the ocean.
An Iron Man 4 is promised, but if this keeps up, Downey and company can shove their iron suits.

About the Author: Dan

I live for movies and hate things like Lord of the Rings. That's all you need to know right now.

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