Iron Man 3-attachment0

Iron Man 3

Movie Information

The Story: Tony Stark (Iron Man) does battle with a terrorist super criminal — sort of. The Lowdown: It's big. It's noisy. And it's mostly a dull mess that's marginally saved by its star. Very marginally.
Genre: Sci-Fi Comic Book Action
Director: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley
Rated: PG-13

OK, I’m not a big fan of comic book movies — and the more they try to be serious and deep-dish, the less of a fan I tend to be. I did, however, approach Iron Man 3 with every expectation of a stylish amusement that I’d be entertained by for the duration of its screen time — even if I’d never think about it again. Instead, I got this lumbering half-assed attempt at self-seriousness with lots of stuff blowing up, a smattering of snappy repartee, one excellent sequence, and a brace of not very interesting villains. Without Robert Downey Jr. it would be close to unwatchable — unless you just want to see Shane Black pull a toned-down embellishment or two out of his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) bag of tricks. (Actually, all of the Iron Man movies are Downey dependent, if it comes to that.) I should also note that Iron Man 3 probably offers the most ineffectual use of 3-D I’ve ever seen. (I even took the glasses off to assure myself it was in 3-D.) In other words, if you’re going to see this — and if you haven’t already, you probably are — don’t bother ponying up the extra money for 3-D.

It’s hard to know just where to begin in cataloguing where Iron Man 3 goes wrong — in part because so much of it is wrong. And apparently, there’s even more wrong if you’re a fan of the comics. I mean, I just detested The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley in one of his least engaging performances) because as a villain, he is strictly from herring. If he flies in the face of an established character — and seemingly he does — it’s probably worse. In fact, it’s almost certainly worse since the comic book character has to be more interesting than the dumb character — and the even dumber reveal. The sub-Osama stuff that’s supposed to make the film “relevant” only feels opportunistic and not all that interesting. After the reveal, it just becomes silly and preposterous. I guess it’s your standard issue world domination — like you find in a cheesy serial from the ‘30s or ‘40s, but with a less colorful villain. Actually, it’s probably not worth trying to figure out.

Of course, in our modern comic-book angsty hero world, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey) has all sorts of angsty problems courtesy of The Avengers — which the film assumes you’ve seen without ever explaining. In any case, Tony has gotten a bad case of super-powers envy since, unlike his Avengers compatriots, he has no real super powers and is just a “man in can.” This results in a marathon funk that, like most of the movie, isn’t all that interesting. His newfound realization that Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the most important thing in his life might play better if he didn’t just kind of shrug off her apparent death during the big, noisy, explosion-filled finale. It’s basically a tone-deaf mess. We keep hearing about Tony’s realizations of what matters — like his friendship with an even more annoying than usual Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who is blessedly sidelined in a hospital bed for most of the movie — but we see little actual evidence of those realizations.

Yes, Downey is good — especially considering what he has to work with — and there’s one really good action scene involving the rescue of a bunch of folks falling to their deaths from a plane. But it’s really not enough to justify the unfocused and slow moving bulk of the movie — unless all you want is for “stuff to blow up neat.” The film does its fair share of that, but it’s really nothing more than a slightly smarter Transformers picture when all is said and done. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.

Playing at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemas, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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15 thoughts on “Iron Man 3

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    This was easily the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in a movie theatre this year. It also further cements Downey as second only to Clooney as our current most watchable “movie star”.

    The wisest thing they did was keep Downey out of the costume for the majority of the film, thus mainly overcoming the hurdle of a shiny black metal face on their hero.

  2. Ken Hanke

    You must have had some awful experiences this year if this was the best. And much as it pains me to say this, Robert Downey Professional Smartass is starting to wear thin with me.

  3. Big Al

    Jeremy (I presume you monitor all of these), what did you think of IM1 and 2?

    I thought 1 was far more original and that 2 tried too hard and gave too little. I liked Terrance Howard better than Don Cheadle (although in general I love Don) and while I enjoyed ScarJo’s Black Widow, Mickey Rourke is a one-trick pony who should have retired after “The Wrestler”.

    I vaguely recall IM2 getting better press and reviews than 1, which baffled me, but now every review seems to bash IM2 the same as they are IM3. I’m confused. Or am I just remembering wrong?

  4. Xanadon't

    Robert Downey Professional Smartass is starting to wear thin with me.

    This started to click in with me during The Avengers. I liked the first two Iron Man films well enough, and The Avengers was fine too, but by the half-way mark it was kind of a case of “Okay, we get it. Downey gets all the best lines and always has a clever quip for every occasion.”

    It feels strange, but I may end up sitting this one out until DVD.

  5. Orbit DVD

    I actually enjoyed this one better than the second one, but I wonder how much further they can take this character. However, upon viewing last weekend’s box office, I think we will be seeing Stark for a long long time to come.

  6. Dionysis

    “Robert Downey Professional Smartass is starting to wear thin with me.”

    I’m kind of glad you bring this up, as I had begun to have the same feeling.

    As for the review of this film, I’ve read at least 50 or 60 reviews from different sources, and your review was among the kindest I’ve seen, and 2.5 stars is probably the highest rating I’ve seen so far. Since I have no desire to pay top dollar to see this at the theater, I’ll not know if I agree or not with you until it is available from Amazon Prime, Hulu or Red Box for a buck.

    It’s funny how enraged some people get; some of the scathing comments found on IMDB suggest that some fans would like to string the director up in a public square, cover him with sugar water and dump fire ants on him.

  7. Ken Hanke

    And yet it has something like a 78% critics approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    • Dionysis

      Now that is surprising. I admit, I did not check out Rotten Tomatoes (I rarely visit that website). Maybe that’s where paid shills ply their trade.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Considering I’m on there, I hope that’s not the case. And if it is, I’d like to know where my cut is.

    • Dionysis

      Well, I did not mean to imply that the website is a front for shills, only that there may be some reviews published that are not really objective reviews but are done to promote films. And even then, I would think these would be from ostensibly ‘movie buffs’, not legitimate film critics.

      I’m pretty sure this type of thing goes on in lots of quarters, for example with Amazon’s reviews.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Well, everyone on there is ostensibly a legitimate critic, who works for a paper or an established film site with a certain required level of hits or a magazine. No movie buff reviews are factored in — that’s the IMDb, where studio shills are all over the place and usually easy to spot (if someone who has never posted a review before shows up to pee down his or her leg over how great some movie they were “lucky enough to see at a special screening,” it’s almost certain a shill).

    Am I saying I take all these critics seriously? No, not by a longshot. Am I saying none of them are on the take? No, but I don’t know of any. I’m only saying they are real critics — for what that’s worth.

  10. jdawg

    You know “Team Downey” has head-bloat when he drops comments about $50 mil paychecks in this economy. The best part of the film was Ben Kingsley and his character twist. Beyond that, I felt robbed.

  11. Jeremy Dylan

    You know “Team Downey” has head-bloat when he drops comments about $50 mil paychecks in this economy.

    Why? He’s not a Wall St exec. He got a huge pay day because he had a cut of the back end of AVENGERS and a lot of people shelled out for it.

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