How entertaining? ★★☆☆☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
24 April 2013
This article is a review of IRON MAN 3.
“Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher,” The Mandarin
When it comes to writing action movies, Shane Black has excelled:
- LETHAL WEAPON
- THE LAST BOY SCOUT
- THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, and dare I say it…
- LAST ACTION HERO.
They are a winning mixture of whip-smart dialogue, endearing characters, and threat, especially the first two. But when it comes to directing his own work, IRON MAN 3 joins KISS KISS BANG BANG as an anticipated damp squib.
Following on the heels of THE AVENGERS was never going to be an easy task. It was a herculean contribution to the superhero/comic book subgenres. Now the next phase of Marvel Studios’ movie opus is already upon us with IRON MAN 3, and then in its slipstream: THOR: THE DARK WORLD and CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER, and in 2015, AVENGERS 2, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and ANT MAN. Wowzers! This level of storytelling is unheard of in cinema. Franchises have been linear, not as here, multi-strand.
Unfortunately, the latest Tony Stark adventure is a firework that never really goes off, and causes a re-analysis of the previous two instalments. The triptych share an enjoyably sarcastic and world-weary sense of humour, this latest the pinnacle perhaps of all modern graphic novel forays. Robert Downey Jr.’s Stark is not afraid to humorously insult a kid, rubbing salt in the wound of a father that deserted him. (Would sound callous coming from a less talented and charismatic actor.) The funny bone is definitely tickled, especially in a brilliant scene where Tony confronts The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley, who steals the whole flick). However, it is the adrenal glands that are left uncared for. The action sequences, like the rest of the trilogy, are journeyman in their execution, lacking flair, as well as fear for the protagonists. The ending in particular is dire.
The sloppy combat is not the worst crime; there are more heinous:
1. A draining of the chemistry between Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Tony.
Remember how Stark basically joins “The Avengers Initiative” because Pepper withholds her affection; or how she tosses his helmet out of a moving plane after he asks for a kiss; or her thinly veiled banter at not having to look for another job after his initial return? IRON MAN 3 lacks the sly frisson.
2. Half-baked character motivations.
[Redacted – to avoid spoilers.]
3. Illogical plot mechanics.
For a film called IRON MAN, he spends too little time in the suit. And the reasons for keeping him out of the amour are strained. Probably because the baddies aren’t equipped to fight him – why not choose foes just as formidable? When Stark’s opponents are injected with some sort of serum, they are then able to rip apart his exoskeleton – what?! If demi-god Thor’s hammer can be withstood, heated up human hands somehow, well beyond movie science believability, are able. The film totally lost me from that moment. When Stark challenges The Mandarin to come and get him at his home address, Iron Man is totally unprepared; and when The Mandarin attacks, his henchmen hold back for no apparent reason. Robot butler Jarvis conveniently goes off line, and when around makes one suit do stuff to other people that Stark needed injections for. Dear oh dear. If as much thought had gone into the story as the jokes, the filmmakers may have come out triumphant.
For those who know of, or hail from, Croydon (South London), the hilarious name-check will bring a smile to the face; but I’m grasping at straws to big up IRON MAN 3.