Review: Iron Man 3

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Sometimes it’s just about fun. Iron Man 3 isn’t a great film, but damn I had fun while watching it. It has some pretty good action, but mostly it has Robert Downey Jr. getting out of scrapes and making quip after quip. I watched with pure pleasure.

The film, directed by Shane Black, is really a James Bond film. We have the wealthy, brilliant, megalomaniacal villain, with an industrial lair for the finale; a secondary and tertiary villain, our hero bound as he listens to the villain’s plans, a femme fatale, lots of gadgets (though in this case Bond is his own Q), and the hero’s coolness under pressure, with a joke for every occasion.

Of course, James Bond never had a iron suit, but in this film Tony Stark, the billionaire behind the mask, is out of the suit much more than he’s in it. In fact, the suit is rendered almost superfluous, as, by my count, six different people in the course of the film wear one of them. At the end of the film there are so many of them, flown by Stark’s computer, Jarvis, that you wonder if a person even needs to be in one. These are the drones of the comic book world.

The film’s two villains: Adridge Kililan (Guy Pearce) who as a gawky and crippled young man gets dissed by Stark and then plots his revenge, in what seems to be an homage to The Incredibles, and the Mandarin, a quasi-Arab terrorist (Ben Kingsley) who is setting off bombs all over the country. Then there’s the guy with red eyes (James Badge Dale) and who’s hands get really hot.

Stark issues a challenge to the Mandarin and gets his house blown into the water. I do hope his homeowner’s insurance covers helicopter attacks. During this sequence Stark’s girlfriend (he’s monogamous now) Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), dons the iron suit for a few moments, a bit of girl power, but then at the end of the film she’s trussed up a prisoner of the villain so nothing is really new.

The overall theme of the film seems to be Stark’s struggle with his own demons. He’s suffering PSTD after the events that occurred in The Avengers. Luckily, in this film, he only has to deal with people who can breathe fire and melt things at the touch. The hot-shot playboy also is forced to team up with a kid in rural Tennessee, and the sentiment is kept a minimum. I do find it interesting that Stark, at the end of the film, doesn’t reward the fatherless boy with companionship, but with things. A lot of comic book heroes, such as Batman, Professor X, The Fantastic Four, etc., are filthy rich, but none so ostentatiously so as Stark. He’s the hero for Wall Street.

But that’s all for the college class on comic book films. For the rabble, including me, are lots of funny lines, some great action scenes (my favorite was a terrific one involving Iron Man saving 13 people that have fallen from Air Force One while name-checking the old game Barrel of Monkeys). There is probably a bit too much here–Don Cheadle is back as Rhodes, this time wearing a red, white and blue iron suit and now called The Iron Patriot, and a bland white guy president that seems quaint in the era of Obama (although they do have Miguel Ferrer as Vice-President). The finale, with all of the iron man suits at once, is too busy, but I was kind of mesmerized by the all the sound and fury. It was like watching fireworks, and I was tempted to go “ooh, ahh.”

This was my favorite of the Iron Man film,s and it’s due mostly to Downey Jr., who just grabs hold of the film and doesn’t let go. When they cast him way back when it was an atypical move, and it’s turned out to be a master stroke. Downey Jr. clearly loves playing this character: when he says, “I am Iron Man” it comes directly from the actor. He’s just so much fun to watch.

My grade for Iron Man 3: B+

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

15 responses »

  1. I have no idea why this rubbed me the wrong way, but I had an almost blasé feeling with this film. Sure I laughed at all the parts you’re supposed to laugh at, but it didn’t seem all that fun to me. There didn’t seem to be any suspense, and although I loved the Mandarin reveal (the first reveal, that is) the enemy seemed to be part all-powerful, continually resurrectable and easily vanquish-able.

    There were too many things to take for granted (or suspend disbelief) that I don’t want to spoil here. But, additionally, how omni-present is Jarvis? Gaaahhh….

  2. I’ve never took to Favreau’s bland first two entires, so everything I’m hearing about this one seems to be a step in the right direction.

  3. Yeah, but does Shane Black make a cameo where he tells a joke about his wife’s genitals that starts “So I went to my wife the other day and said-“?
    I won’t see this,but I’ll stand in line for any of the original work on its way that the success of this movie allows Black to make.

  4. **************Spoilers ahead:*******************************

    So…it’s written every bit as ’80’s and ridiculous and frenetic and hollow as Last Action hero and Last Boy Scout.
    Some of the most ridiculous, asinine things wrapped in visceral, kick-ass 80’s action. And this is some of the most ‘comic book’ action there’s ever been, with motivations and results and character dramatizations practically lifted whole-cloth from the comics medium.
    Iron Man does inexplicable things that lead to more inexplicable things involving characters so broadly drawn it’s like they have to stretch the dramatics out for twenty issues. And it has such by the numbers action and dramatic beats that telegraph and choreograph themselves you could map the movie out on a sheet and be a step ahead through the entire movie. So, basically, it’s a Shane Black action movie.
    He entered AIM’s secure website with I’m assuming encrypted files from a newsvan with a guy that managed to-eh, never mind, Black’s dialogue and interactions (especially right before the news van hacking) are still crackling and first-rate. Too bad McTiernan or Scott (RIP) or Donner weren’t used (or available) to direct this. Not that Shane Black actually did that bad a job. He did quite well.
    And when he goes all ‘Iron Man’ without the Iron man suit. Stupid. But again, perfectly comic-booky. The complete tonal shift that scene represents is as though we’ve gotten to issue ‘5’ of ten. I would say this is perhaps the most faithful comic book adaptation ever.
    I’m ashamed how much I liked it, but I’m not ashamed I liked it so much because I like 80’s action movies and comic books so much.
    And I’m kinda appalled how violent a PG-13 movie can be so long as you don’t say ‘fuck’..just like a comic book. Although, Red Dawn was only PG-13, and that was pretty violent.
    And yeah, that ‘water save’ scene was pretty freaking good.
    I’m with Slim on this one.It was a whole hell of a lot of stupid fun, in spite of itself.

  5. Yeah, this was a great film to watch. Really fun, mindless action by a master of fun, mindless action. I want to watch it again. I feel like I’ve built up a sheen of pessimism over movies, and this just got rid of it? Too high of praise? Oh, well. It’s refreshing.

  6. Another head-scratcher is the Christmas timeframe. I know it’s not the first summer blockbuster to take place in a different season (or even Christmas, hello Die Hard) but it just felt ‘off’ to me for this early May film to keep referencing Christmas time. I’m sure it will do wonders for DVD sales at Thanksgiving though

  7. I didn’t really see much wrong with it, as movies are set in different seasons, I mean, I looked at it as Black saying “Look, LA ALWAYS looks like this, while in the rest of America, they’re living in blizzard conditions.” Like it strengthened his point of the disparity between Stark’s 1 percent world and the rest of America and how this kid comes from that. The scene with the shotgun outside the bar was perfect. Everyone has a gun, here in this depressing, snow-ridden backwater, and that’s where this young kid dreams and dreams big about Iron Man, while at the end, he’s back in the sun and fun of being Iron Man. i though it was quite a good conceit.

  8. i sure hope it’s nothing as vapid as ‘trying to sell more dvd’s at thanksgiving’.

  9. It’s the same kind of ‘clunky symbolism’ a comic book would use….I’m telling you, this was the most faithful adaptation of a comic book ever.

  10. It’s as if Black lifted the story straight off the pages of a graphic novel, from the ridiculous first Mandarin reveal (that was refreshingly funny, and that Kingsley *killed* by the way), and things as idiotic as Downey and Cheadle jumping tens of stories onto metal beams and being able to fight and *jumping into armor* and, holy hell, this fanboy *loves* that aspect of the movie and that it didn’t aspire to be anything other than a pretty kickass motion comic. I could almost see the ‘swooshes’ in big red letters and the ‘artistic motion lines’.
    I didn’t see Downey jumping into the suit as ridiculous, I saw it as a panel one a page, in my mind, a flash of some awesome art depicting something you want superheroes to do. Everything before or after, whatever, just get me to the next panel. And he had a double-page spread of Iron Man suits exploding over the scene as they embrace. Kick. Ass.

  11. I think this is pretty much where the Marvel franchise is over for me. It’s tedious and loud and almost completely without wit or cleverness (with the exception of the Mandarin reveal, which was genuinely inspired).

    I don’t understand the praise at all. What’s in this movie that sets it apart from any other generic Hollywood franchise? Robert Downey’s smart-ass quips, which we’re seeing in exactly the same iteration for the fourth time now? Surely we should expect a little more than that at this point?

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