Greetings, true believers! This week, I cut in a nasty chin-strap beard and clomped down to the local cinema to check out Iron Man 3 (2013) starring Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Shane Black.
The story of Iron Man 3 is rather complex. Needlessly so, in point of fact. The film is meant to be viewed as a follow up to The Avengers (2012) more so than to Iron Man 2 (2010). It follows Tony on his latest quest to save the world, this time from the evil Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. Along the way he meets up with Maya (Rebecca Hall), a genetic botonist and former one night stand, Aldritch Killian (Guy Pearce), a former dweeb that Tony wasn't very nice to once upon a time, and a host of minor characters that include the President (William Sadler) and Vice President (Miguel Ferrer) of the United States. James "Rhodey" Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, also appears, returning as the newly rebranded Iron Patriot with a nifty new paintjob. And, of course, there's Pepper Pots played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Just a warning before you read any further. There are a few twists in this film that I can't help but talk about, so if you don't want any spoilers, now might be a good time to read one of my other bitter reviews!
Watching the trailers and knowing the lore and history of Iron Man, I was extremely pumped to see Sir Ben Kingsley debuting as the villainous Mandarin. A terrorist hell bent on giving Tony Stark a major ass kicking from which Tony would struggle to rise from and eventually overcome seemed like a match made in heaven. Well, it wasn't. As it turns out, nearly everyone in this movie is the bad guy except for the actual bad guy. The rather douchey Aldritch Killian character? Bad guy, but kind of obvious for all that. Former flame and cute sciency Maya? Oh yeah, she's a bad guy (or girl, as it were) as well. The Vice President of the United States? Hey, why not? Who couldn't use one more bad guy? But but...what about The Mandarin, you say? The best of the bad guys, maybe? The one the rest of the bad guys are working for and plotting with? Yeah...no. In what had to be the biggest slap in the face to geeks and fanboys since Bane in Batman and Robin (1997), The Mandarin turns out to be just a drug addicted stage actor being paid to front the whole operation. Don't get me wrong; Kingsley is absolutely magnificient in the role. His acting is stellar. It's the role itself that winds up leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth. It's a twist that you keep expecting to twist back. It just never does. Instead we get an entire cadre of baddies, none of which I care a fig about.
Still, with all these nefarious nogoodniks lounging about, you'd think it would give our intrepid heroes all kinds of opportunities to strap on the old armour and kick a bunch of tail, right? Wrong. If you're going to this movie to see Cheadle and Downey blasting away as Iron Patriot and Iron Man respectively, you're going to be sorely disappointed. There's a small scene at the beginning as Tony is tinkering with a modular suit (which turns out to be so flimsy that he can make it fall to pieces with a single bare-handed blow) and another scene early on made popular in the trailers of Tony's mansion being attacked by helicopters. Even this scene doesn't have Tony as Iron Man through half of it (it's actually Pepper in the suit). Then we get a long second act where Tony is without any armour of any kind. He ends up playing sleuthy detective and trading witty, if somewhat inappropriate, banter with an 11 year old kid throughout most of the second act. Oh, and also having anxiety attacks after the events of The Avengers. Yes, Tony Stark, billionaire playboy, genius, philanthropist spends a good chunk of the movie curled up in a ball trying not to cry.
Even in the third act and the climactic end battle scene, Tony spends so little time in the suit you start to wonder why they keep calling him Iron Man. In fact, Tony doesn't kill the bad guy. Neither does Rhodey, for that matter, who spends even less time in his suit than Tony does (and doesn't fire a single shot in it, if I'm not mistaken). Nope, it's Pepper that kills the bad guy. Yeah, that Pepper. In fact, Pepper ends up kicking all kinds of ass in this one. Maybe they should call it Iron Woman...
So, in the end, what we're left with is a bunch of bad guys with little to no motivation for being bad in a story that I cared nothing about with an absentee super-hero who's name is right in the goddamn title of the movie. This film should have been called "RDJ Cracks Wise For Two Hours in a Movie That Makes No Sense. Thanks For All Your Money". Ok, that's a little wordy for a movie title. How about "You Love RDJ, So You're Gonna Pay"? Hey, at least it rhymes.
Avoid this one if you can. Wait for Avengers 2.
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Reviewed by The Bitter Critic on May 06 2013
Reviewed by The Bitter Critic on May 06 2013