So….the summer kicks off with the latest installment of “Iron Man.” The first 2 were HUGE blockbusters, “The Avengers” last summer was the biggest money maker of the year AND my second favorite movie of 2012. So this one had a lot on its shoulders. And try as he might, Robert Downey Jr’s snark and whiplash dialogue delivery can’t rescue “3” mostly because of such a poor script that lost me a little over a half way in.
WHAT YOU THINK THIS MOVIE IS ABOUT: An international terrorist known as “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley) is after Iron Man and attacks him at his home, causing Tony Stark to flip out and demand revenge against this new arch-rival.
SPOILER ALERT!!! (Kind Of)
WHAT THIS MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT: Not surprising, this IS NOT the plot! It starts out that way but then veers off wildly in a totally different direction that wasn’t really surprising to me considering how many movies are doing that these days. It’s the ol’ “Bait & Switch” move where the villain isn’t really the villain and the hero is left backtracking, trying to make sense of what has happened. It was used successfully in “Batman Begins” with the Ra’s Al Ghul character, then used more unsuccessfully again in “The Dark Knight Rises” with Bane and Miranda. It’s a tried and true way to extend a movie to 2 hours and director Shane Black does this even less credit by making it a farce instead of attempting to make it a more serious threat. Let me be perfectly clear…when this happens it sucked me completely out of this movie. I HATED it in “Dark Knight Rises” and I hate it even more in this movie. I’m over this plot switch technique (see my review of “Dark Knight Rises” here) so when it happens AGAIN in this movie? Ugh. I almost wanted to walk out.
SPOILER ALERT OVER
So now that THAT is over with…what were my likes and dislikes? Well…what I liked first…
Robert Downey, Jr. He makes this movie somewhat bearable because, as a super hero we’ve grown to love, we WANT to see him win and he adds a little bit of a psychological edge to Tony in this one as he grapples internally with last summer’s alien attack.
Tony Stark befriends a little boy and has great exchanges with him. Despite the fact that it’s highly unlikely that this would happen, I found it to be an entertaining way to bring Stark down to earth a little bit and the little boy, played by Ty Simpkins, is pretty good in this role.
Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s not just window dressing and, even though I didn’t like the ending, I still enjoyed her pluck with the Pepper character.
Aaaaaand that’s about it.
What I DIDN’T like? SPOILER ALERT…again.
Don Cheadle as “Iron Patriot” was a COMPLETELY wasted character. First he gets captured and allows his suit to be taken by the REAL bad guy. He’s then taken prisoner but somehow magically escapes (which is NEVER addressed how he got out) and then he is basically there in the end to bounce snappy dialogue around with Stark as they’re facing off against hundreds of bad guys…WITHOUT their armor! What a wasted character.
The Mandarin. He’s a joke. Literally.
Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian. The “mad scientist as Frankenstein” thing has been done to death. And the idea of a race of “super humans” that can regenerate limbs has been done with “X-Men.” Why bother with it in THIS film unless you’re gonna tie them in somehow?
SPOILER ALERT OVER!
But the most important thing missing from this “Iron Man?” Jon Favreau. As the director of the previous two films, the Iron Man has his share of demons but in the end, he’s there to be an ass-kicking super hero with cool gadgets and a little bit of wit and a lot of confidence. In this installment, Iron Man becomes a secondary character to the demons in his own head (the debacle in New York City, keeping Pepper safe, the destruction of his home). There’s too much going on in this film and with the added plot deficiencies, I felt like it ran off the rails pretty much by the start of the second half of it. That being said, I will still recommend it as a matinee on a blustery day because truthfully…if you’re going to see it…you should see it on the big screen. Your home television just won’t do it justice…especially the grand finale which includes an entire army of Iron Men that seemed a little over-the-top to me but I’m sure everyone else is gonna LOVE it!
Overall Rating: C