Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley
The first Iron Man film was, quite frankly, one of the best entries into the Marvel universe of films. It was a movie that embraced the silliness of the comic book yet somehow managed to bring some substance to the story. Now, with the third film looking to break box-office records, there’s something missing from this franchise… a heart. There are some saving graces in this third installment that will help to make it an improvement upon it’s predecessor (I can’t even remember one scene or one thing that happened in Iron Man 2). Writer/Director Shane Black (I’ll talk more about him soon) infuses a little bit of his cleverness into the dialogue and Robert Downey Jr. is still great as the Tony Stark character (although it definitely seems like he’s losing interest in the role). Overall thought, this is film that is very two-faced and doesn’t seem to know in which direction it wants to be going. It’s a film that’s struggling to find an identity; that wants to make itself darker but can’t find a proper balance between the inherent ridiculousness and fun of the concept of Iron Man and the more serious and poignant themes the series started to explore in the first Iron Man film.
What Iron Man 3 really comes down to is a mesh between high-octane action sequences and screwball comedic scenes where Robert Downey Jr. can be as witty and sarcastic as the script allows. This may not seem like a bad formula, but the execution of that formula in this particular film isn’t really present. The film may be hurt by the fact that Iron Man has actually become too big (as in popular, well-known, etc.) to really fit in with the small scale situations this film is tries to deal with. This is a film that has the opportunity to go big, but it ends up failing when it tries because there is no way for it to deal with the more intimate moments in a real way. The romance aspect between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts does not for one second seem sincere and bringing in an old one-night stand (Maya Hansen, a thankless and useless role given to Rebecca Hall) flat-out does not work.
The film starts with a flashback to 1999, before Tony Stark discovered Iron Man and when that “blue” song was popular (thanks a lot for bringing that song back Iron Man). A scientist named Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce) has a proposal to run by Tony. Stark ignores him and then we are brought back to the present with Downey Jr.’s voice-over talking about how we create our own demons. You could probably guess what happens from then on. Killian turns into a brilliant scientist and is the lead of a project that could be easily weaponized if the technology comes into the wrong hands… and it’s up to Iron Man to stop that from happening!!!!!!! The wrong hands are thought to be a villain’s, who goes by the name of “The Mandarin,” a terrorist who resembles Osama Bin Laden (and played by Ben Kingsley).
Sarcasm aside, the film suffers from the creation of these villains, as there is a deceptive feeling oozing through the screen. This is a film that appears to be more interested in tricking the audience than letting the story grow organically; too involved in creating cheap television plot twists than creating a “serious” superhero film.
I also feel that there is the inevitable “Avengers” question that will arise in the Marvel films from now on. Don’t get me wrong. I believe The Avengers was one of the better films released last year and it found the balance between goofiness and sincerity that Iron Man 3 missed out on, but The Avengers may become a problem for the stand-alone series of films (i.e. Iron Man, Hulk, etc.). The question will arise, since in this Iron Man world The Avengers exist, where are the rest of the Avengers? Couldn’t they be helping out a little bit. I mean I realize it’s not the entire world that’s at stake in this film but one would think at least one of them would be available to assist. And no, I don’t know much about the comics but the Marvel film universe has been created this way and this type of thinking will inevitably bring these types of questions into the fray.
This isn’t the only question that will arise if the audience doesn’t just shut their brains off during this movie (that’s a very distinct possibility though). There is one of the most literal Deus Ex Machina moments I have ever seen in this film. And the scene makes you kind of wonder why it didn’t happen earlier. Of course I’m probably being a little too hard about this movie and it’s not like it wasn’t expected to have its problems (plot holes in a superhero movie? who would’ve thought?). The truth is, even though it didn’t quite capture me as well as the first Iron Man film and has quite a few negatives, I still enjoyed myself while I was watching.
Seriously, even though it seems like I bashed this film completely, it’s a fun experience and is worth catching, especially if you’re wanting to keep track of what’s going on in the Marvel world to keep up with the next Avengers movie.
My Rating: 3 ouf of 5