Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, James Badge Dale, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall and Ben Kingsley
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
"We create our own demons"
Iron Man 3 is an incredibly flawed film and is quite frankly a mess, yet it is an interesting and enjoyable mess. Much talk regarding this film has focused on the character of The Mandarin and what the film decides to do with him, a development that for me is a microcosm of the film as a whole. An interesting and funny idea, yet one that is questionably executed.
The film begins with a piece of narration that seems ripped out of Shane Black’s, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” before proceeding to play Blue (Da Ba Dee) over the studio logos. It is perhaps a reflection of my enthusiasm for that song, or for the film, that it was my favourite part of the experience and perhaps the peak of my excitement throughout. The film’s plot is simultaneously overstuffed and underdeveloped, with certain aspects of the plot lacking the explanation required in order to really make an impact on the viewer, leading to much confusion regarding elements of the film’s conclusion. I am thinking in particular, of Extremis (The God of War/Clash of the Titans-esque visualization of which, I did not appreciate). The plot gets incredibly messy as it heads towards the third act, with motivations underdeveloped and resolutions rushed.
Shane Black provides the film with many examples of his black-humour, however the film never really felt like a Shane Black film, a Marvel film, or a Shane Black Marvel film, yet existed in a weird tonal purgatory between the three. At times the shift in attitudes that the film adopts is jarring, as there are moments that scream Shane Black and others, which feel delivered by committee and that are simply checking boxes. While certain lines of dialogue contain the wit and edge you’d expect from a Shane Black film, and not from what is technically a Disney film, despite his best efforts, Black must ultimately conform to conventions.
However Black and Marvel must be commended for taking some rather sizeable risks in this film. I refer of course to the way in which the character of The Mandarin is portrayed. As somebody with no affection for or knowledge of the character, I did not find it to be the heartbreaking disappointment and betrayal that I know it is for some Iron Man fans. Whilst I can understand a negative and volatile reaction towards it, as somebody slightly more removed from the source material I was able to appreciate it for the bravery that was required for its existence and for the idea it was presenting. Although I do feel as if a brave and bold idea, was ultimately executed in a rather broad manner. One cannot help however but appreciate the irony in the fact that Ben Kingsley played a more serious character in Sacha Baron Cohen’s, “The Dictator” than he did in this.
While it was expected that Black would spice up the film’s dialogue and character dynamics, his experience at directing big budget, large-scale action is rather limited. The action set pieces in this film are all well handled, with the Air Force One scene in particular being the film’s literal and metaphorical high point. It was one of the few moments in the film that genuinely excited me and reminded me why I love these type of movies when they’re done well. Sadly though this film certifies my desire to avoid trailers from now on, as in regards to the action set pieces and money shots, the best has already been shown to you multiple times in the promotional material before you even enter the theater. The final set piece in particular can’t help but feel rather underwhelming considering the promise the previews hinted at regarding the epic possibilities of the multiple suits.
A central idea of this film, is taking Tony Stark back to basics, however this is an idea that is delivered in a very half-hearted manner, with them not fully exploiting it to its maximum potential and appearing to ultimately give up on it. However what this approach does provide is a dynamic between Tony Stark and a young child (Played by Ty Simpkins), which is perhaps the film’s simplest, purest, sweetest movement and one of its biggest triumphs. The integration of child actors into a film of this magnitude is something that has failed in the past, and like a lot of things done in this film, was a risk that could have had disastrous consequences. However the way in which Black establishes their communication, results in a refreshing, believable and entertaining relationship that never felt as exploitative as it could have done under less assured hands. Along with the use of Blue and the Air Force One set piece, it was one of the film’s highlights. The way those three elements made me feel, lead to a realization of how relatively unmoved I was by the rest of the film.
In regards to the performances Robert Downey Jr. is arguably more at home in this role than any actor has ever been in a part. Whether this is his last solo outing as Iron Man is something that is up in the air, however with this effort he continues to leave very big shoes to fill for whoever is to take his place. Guy Pearce chews the scenery as Aldrich Killian, however his character could have been much better handled and as a huge fan of Guy Pearce, I can’t help but think this film only scratched the surface of his potential. Gwyneth Paltrow and Rebecca Hall both initially seemed to have a lot of promise, however the script ultimately gives up on ever trying to do anything too interesting with its female characters. The talking point however is Ben Kingsley who gives a performance that is memorable, unique and over the top to both a good and bad effect. For better or for worse, you haven’t seen a comic book movie villain quite like it.
The film’s ultimate, simple mantra that we create our own demons has found itself to be personally rather poignant and profound, with the film’s ideas regarding modern terrorism and bizarre plot turns, leaving lingering thoughts that many films of this ilk do not. Iron Man 3 is a film that must be appreciated for the risks it takes, the ideas it presents, some of the dialogue it spouts and for the set pieces it constructs. I was never bored and it is a consistently entertaining, summer blockbuster experience. However the plot does ultimately reveal itself to be a hole ridden, underdeveloped mess and one cannot help but realize that the ideas in this film are in most cases stronger than the way in which they are executed.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
P.S. The credits sequence is a joy, the after-credits scene not worth the wait and would have perhaps been better placed as the films final scene.
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