Iron Man 3

  • Year:2013
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Shane Black
  • Cast:Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce
  • Release Date:April 24, 2013
  • Distributor:Disney
  • Running time:120 minutes
  • Film Worth:$10.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Showing little respect for its source material and fans, this disappointing third installment trumps laughs and action over substance and characters.

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Those that think comic book movies are – or should be – a joke, will get a real kick out of Iron Man 3. Those who take their comic book movies a little more seriously will also get a real kick out of Iron Man 3…right in the proverbial nuts. In one of the strangest moves in recent blockbuster filmmaking, the third installment in the game-changing Iron Man trilogy takes all the hard work done by Marvel Studios in creating a rich, thoughtful but never po-faced cinematic universe filled with superheroes, aliens, demigods and wild science, and turns it into a big joke. Though the first two Iron Man movies were jam-packed with humour, the gags were never at the expense of plot. The dialogue was witty and rat-a-tat-tat, but the films took themselves admirably seriously, laying the stylistic groundwork for what was to eventually come with the slam-bang entertainment of Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers.

But with new director and co-writer, Shane Black (who helmed the too-smart-for-its-own-good neo noir, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and penned wisecracking, eighties/early nineties action juggernauts like Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and The Last Boy Scout), at the helm, everyone’s tongue is jammed tightly and abrasively in their collective cheeks, and it makes for an oddly disconcerting fit. Though filled with action and bravura special effects, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man and Iron Man 2 were both about something; they had meaning to match the pizazz, trading in themes of redemption, responsibility, identity, and familial legacy. Iron Man 3 is about what can happen when you insult someone at a party – hardly the stuff of great drama, or in this case, great comedy.

Iron Man 3 kicks off back in 1999 with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) partying hard on New Year’s Eve. When he flips off nerdy young scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), it launches a horrific ripple effect that will have explosive ramifications years later. Flash forward to the present, and Tony is having anxiety attacks (curiously played for laughs) as a result of the world-changing events of The Avengers. While vulnerable, a terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is baiting Tony Stark by letting off bombs, and making noises about bringing down the US government. Aldrich Killian is also hovering around, trying to spruik his Extremis programme, which can regenerate broken-down bits of the human anatomy…while also turning it into a weapon.

As well as his obvious fondness for humour, Shane Black has also dragged his eighties/early nineties sensibilities into the film. Echoing the Black-penned Arnold Schwarzenegger 1993 curio, Last Action Hero, a depowered and isolated Tony Stark traces The Mandarin’s reign of terror to a small town, where he is aided by a cute, cocky but troubled kid called Harley (the engaging Ty Simpkins). This relationship offers up a lot of funny Tony Stark one-liners, but the whole subplot feels like it wandered in from another film. Tony Stark with a cute kid sidekick? It’s at odds with, well, just about everything in the character’s history. Tony and his offsider, Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle), also spend a lot of time – buddy cop style! – out of their iron armour, carrying guns, cracking wise, and running around shipyards and parking lots dodging bullets from the bad guys. It’s more MacGyver than Marvel, and makes you wish that Jon Favreau had hung around to close out the trilogy that he so impressively started. While touted as the kick-off for “Phase Two” of the Marvel cinematic universe (leading up to The Avengers 2 in 2015), there’s nothing here pointing to what’s to come – no significant involvement from SHIELD, no Samuel L. Jackson cameo…nothing. There is, however, a very funny post-credits sequence that’s well worth hanging around for. In line with the rest of the film though, it’s an elaborate joke, and relates to no future Marvel properties.

The performances are all fine (if a little hammy), but Black’s biggest trespass comes with his depiction of The Mandarin, a character as important to Iron Man as The Joker is to Batman, or Lex Luthor is to Superman. His approach here has already been much discussed on – where else? – the web, and it borders on the, ahem, sacrilegious. It indicates the total lack of respect or understanding that Black seems to have for the Marvel Universe, both in print and on film. People who don’t give a shit won’t care, but for a series of films that have always catered for the fans while keeping a much larger audience in mind, it’s a strange and insensitive detour. How the Marvel honchos, or much-vaunted overseer, Joss Whedon, didn’t pull back on Shane Black’s irritatingly jocular vision for the character is anyone’s guess. That said, there’s lots of action and plenty of jokes, so expect Iron Man 3 to be a much loved smash hit, especially after the now apparently maligned and far too “complicated” Iron Man 2. Hopefully, the ha-ha-just-kidding tone of Iron Man 3 is not an indicator of where the studio is taking its next slate of films…

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