Iron Man 3 Movie Review
And people said Iron Man 2 was stupid. Robert Downey Jr. is back in the first post-Avengers Marvel film, and boy is it a cluttered mess. Featuring a bland villain, a nonsensical plot and major tonal imbalance, Iron Man 3 has plenty of laughs but very few thrills. But hey, at least Robert Downey Jr. is in it.
Iron Man 3 has been marketed as a darker film where Tony Stark's house has been destroyed, our favorite tin man is all but obliterated and Ben Kingsley-in-a-funny-costume is in control. After the entertaining but shallow Iron Man 2, that sounded awesome. So, how surprised was I to learn that Iron Man 3 is the funniest, goofiest and aimless of the three films?
Pretty damn surprised. And pretty damn disappointed.
Following the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark can't sleep and is suffering from anxiety attacks, which is writer/director Shane Black's vain attempt to make us concerned about the eccentric's billionaire well being. When a terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) declares all out war on not only the United States but Stark himself, the man of many words finds himself homeless and nearly dead.
Oh, and the Mandarin's henchmen have some genetic disorder which makes them both invincible and walking time bombs. So much for a grounded story.
And the story really is the problem. There's the Mandarin, but early on the real situation becomes annoyingly obvious. And then there's Guy Pearce, who so clearly has something up his sleeve early on it's shameful. What exactly are his intentions are murkier, though: does he want world domination? To simply kill the President? To enact revenge on Tony Stark? I'm still not sure, but I also don't really care, as he plays yet another eye-rolling-bad villain who is about as intimidating as a stale piece of French toast.
The whole genetically altered bad guy thing just doesn't fit in the world of Iron Man, even though the world of Iron Man is now the world of The Avengers, with hammer-wielding gods, aliens and other crazy stuff. But when Iron Man is on his own I want to see him battling more grounded villains, and the villains in Iron Man 3 are anything but grounded. And don't get me started on what they do with Pepper Potts. Ugh.
Iron Man 3 has some good action, but unfortunately nothing noteworthy. Audiences want to see Iron Man kick some ass, but he spends most of the movie getting his ass kicked, and even when he does have the upper hand he rarely gets to do much of anything. Shane Black, best known as the writer of the Lethal Weapon movies and the criminally underseen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also starring Downey Jr.), keeps Tony Stark out of the suit for much of the time, and when Stark is in suit he is never able to hit his stride.
That's a problem with the movie overall. Iron Man 3 isn't boring. It's fast-paced, even properly paced (though the first act takes a while to get to the point) and is largely entertaining. But Iron Man 3 isn't very suspenseful because Black doesn't build to the action in an adequate way, and he throws plot turns at the audience with little regard for their lasting effect. Even in the final climax, which I found shrugworthy despite being massive in scope, I was waiting for Iron Man to finally hit 100% and become the badass we all expect. Instead, his suits (yes, suits) fall apart or otherwise mess up, which is great for comedic effect but not so great when you're trying to keep moviegoers on the edge of their seats.
On the positive side, Iron Man 3 is funny and Robert Downey Jr. is terrific. The movie serves as good mindless entertainment... but more as an action-comedy than as an action film with comedy. And that is what distinguishes the original Iron Man from this third entry: director Jon Favreau found the right balance between humor and balls-to-the-wall awesomeness, whereas Shane Black wrote a funny script with little regard for telling a good, suspenseful story.
Maybe I was in a bad mood at the time of viewing this. Maybe, over time, I will change my mind. But this Iron Man is one of the worst sequels Marvel has created since, well, I won't even say it. But you know what I'm thinking.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.