Iron Man 3 Directed by: Shane Black Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 3, 2013
PLOT: Cocky scientist billionaire Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) takes on evil terrorist the Mandarin (Kingsley), while a former fan (Pearce) hatches a mysterious scheme.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you are excited for a new Iron Man movie, or even just another installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then there is no point in me trying to stop you. However, if you're on the fence about that entity's conquering, or this movie in general, don't go; it's not very likely that this movie's over-saturation of comic relief and silly action sequences will convince you Iron Man hasn't worn out his welcome. Instead, this second sequel plays into the simple desires audiences want from entertainment, regardless of who is in the suit or not.
EXPECTATIONS: I enjoyed Avengers a great amount, but was bothered by what its success would mean for the future of Marvel movies. This being the first Marvel movie out the gate (and the beginning of "Phase Two"), I was curious as to what direction this would take the comic book/cinematic deity. Would it be more of the same, or would it be the type of exciting action that made Whedon's Marvel party such a solid superhero movie?
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man: Downey Jr. continues to own this character, especially for his smug attitude as accompanied by a motormouth. As dull as the movie may be, Downey Jr. has charisma, and a hyper-ness, that keeps this character afloat even in murkier moments. We can at least be thankful the lead character in this Marvel movie is someone as limber as Downey Jr. Score: 5
Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts: Paltrow can't do much to prevent this, but her character Potts doesn't exactly put the "interest" in love interest. Instead, as a bruised item of Tony's wandering attention, she creates this overly confusing dynamic between her and Stark, leaving us unsure of what their relationship status is, or why they are together. Score: 3
Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian: Like Edward Nygma, Aldrich is a jilted brainiac who decides to become evil when he is not validated by his billionaire peer. For an actor who has talent in making something out of small screen time, Pearce can do nothing with this important supporting character, as he is going through the comic book movie motions. There is nothing exciting about this performance, even despite its performer. Most of all, it is disappointing. Score: 4
Ben Kingley as The Mandarin: A nice surprise that this movie needed, Kingsley is a bit of a joy in this role, playing to his comedic and dramatic strengths. More so than other people, Kingsley has great fun with this role, and the joy of watching him as a fortune cookie-crushing white man named Mandarin isn't spoiled even when he becomes a pawn for this film's lighter agenda. Score: 6
TALKING: Iron Man 3 is drenched in jokes, with non-Downey Jr. actors trying to keep up with him and his fast delivery. This movie has jokes, jokes, and jokes (WILL SOMEONE TAKE THIS MOVIE SERIOUSLY, PLEASE?) I grew very tired of it. Score: 5
SIGHTS: As an action movie, Iron Man 3 has a couple of great action sequences, both involving the complicated destruction of large property. It is an involving joy to watch an entire dock fall apart, while Stark and co. battle various bad guys on different levels, through impressive scenes that require admirable premeditation, etc. The same can't be said for other action sequences, in particular a scene involving Air Force One which feels too planted to have proper tension, even for an Iron Man film. Score: 7
SOUNDS: While AC/DC followed Iron Man even to The Avengers, the rock group is nowhere to be heard from in this second sequel, which may be a sign of something ... or not at all. Instead, the Christmastime movie features a handful of Xmas songs, along with two dated '90s tidbits, "Blue" by Eiffel 65 and "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega. In place of AC/DC during the film's end credits are giddy surf guitars, more immediately connected to a "SceneIt?" interlude than an Iron Man story. Take it as you will. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: I greatly enjoyed watching Stark's house fall apart, especially with such impressive special effects.
ENDING: The final montage may nudge towards otherwise, but the Bondian text at the end says it all: "Tony Stark Will Return." See, even Iron Man isn't strong enough to defeat Disney.
QUESTIONS: Who edits Mandarin's terrorist videos? Catwoman director Pitof? Why are aliens more traumatic than fire people? What is the extent of regrowth the fire people can have?
REWATCHABILITY: Iron Man 3 would be serviceable as really light entertainment, but I wouldn't hesitate for too long to change the channel (if I had cable, suckers!).
Marvel's lap around the bases after the success of last summer's The Avengers is already over. With Iron Man 3, a crushing reality has set in, the one about one Marvel superhero not being strong enough to carry a full movie; the one about a comic book franchise's cycle of life. Eventually, they get comfortable, lighter, and then they start to die; until there is nothing left but fan angst against a franchise for ruining itself by opting to make stupid jokes, instead of writing an interesting script. It happened with Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. To quote Charlton Heston's narration in Armageddon, "It will happen again."
This third movie is Iron Man losing its compelling shimmer, instead turning into a flood of comic relief where one desires most of all relief from too much comic; here is a movie that leaves its audience yearning for something real to grab onto, instead of a fleeting joke. For the most of it, we don't get it. There are no stakes, there is no significant emotion to be had, and there are hardly any surprises. Just a bunch of yuk-yuks and shark jumps, fire people and snarky mini-heroes, all gloating in our faces the villain's line of, "subtlety's kind of had its day." With Iron Man 3, that statement becomes a cop out for not experimenting with clever screenwriting beyond sporadic action sequence construction, or seeing more than just a simple joke in the potential of a sequence. That's also the exact kind of statement that must have been said in the executive offices that made Batman Forever (of which this film is similar) which lead to the historical meltdown of comic tone that is Batman and Robin. Or, it also was said to explain the scene in Spider-Man 3 in which Peter Parker walks down the street to the BeeGees with his stupid Conor Oberst hair. Take your pick.
No superhero is stronger than what is par for the franchise course, and constantly throwing these movies in our faces isn't going to make them better. If Iron Man movies, or even all Marvel movies, are anything like the junkiness of Iron Man 3, they are going to be bad. And They. Won't. Stop.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10