Iron Man 3 is one of those movies you don’t really look forward to seeing, but when you do, it actually turns out to be much better than you ever thought it would be. In fact, I think I’ll go out on a limb a little bit here and say that it’s a pretty nifty movie and you won’t be disappointed.
The beginning did fill me with a sense of foreboding. The whole thing begins with a flashback in which all the actors pushed their characters just a bit much (Guy Pearce is particularly weak here; well, actually, I thought he was embarrassingly bad, but perhaps that’s just me) and the humor was just a bit too, too. But once everything jumps to 2013, the film quickly finds its sea legs and we’re off on an adventure that is basically, as is the norm for a Marvel superhero, an existential crisis meets the apocalypse.
Not everything works quite as well as it might. Robert Downey, Jr., back once again as the man in the tuna can, can’t quite sell his anxiety attacks and his voice over is a bit clunky at times (though it does lead to a nice little punch line at the end which means, non-spoiler alert, you must, MUST, stay in your seat until that last little credit has left the screen). But let’s not be petty. Director Shane Black, who co-wrote the screenplay with Drew Pearce, has filled the dialog with tons of wit of the tongue planted firmly in check kind and has come up with a story in which excitement abounds by leaps and.
But perhaps what really makes this entry is an unexpected delight of a first rate supporting cast. In fact, in many ways, that’s all this movie is. Not a series of action scenes filled with CGI special effects in which a director is trying to make up for his penis size, but a series of roundelays in which Robert Downey, Jr.’s acting style has a pax de duex with one character after another. In fact, as a friend of mine pointed out, this was an Iron Man movie without Iron Man since Tony Stark is separated from his body armor for such long periods of time, he actually has to solve the problem as a mere mortal like the rest of us. He’s also more than dependent on his sidekicks than usual, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Pot and Don Cheadle as Rhodes, both of whom made the wise decision of sticking around for the paycheck (they’re both very good, Paltrow surprisingly so).
But to get back to subject, these scene stealers include such cameos as the not seen enough Dale Dickey as the mother of a suspected suicide bomber (I guess she’s the person you go for if you can’t get Melissa Leo); Andrew Lauer as an “I’m your biggest fan” satellite technician; and a series of guards who quickly realize that they aren’t paid enough for this shit. But certainly special note should be made of Ty Simpkins who plays a precocious tyke whose cajones haven’t dropped yet, but he still has enough of them to try to guilt trip Stark. If he’s not brought back for the next installment, his manager should sue.
Still, with no reflection on the aforesaids, no one can quite steal a scene like the sly Sir Ben Kingsley. Like the movie, his first scene as the Mandarin (or Man Daren in the Chinese version) filled me with a sense of foreboding as he employs just about the worst American accent I’ve heard in some time. But suddenly, he…no, sorry, I’m not supposed to say, it’s one of the best twists in the movie, and he gives the best performance in the film. I mean, when he…no, I can’t, I just can’t. You’ll just have to see it.
And what superhero, studio blockbuster would be complete without villains, villains and more villains. In fact, that was about the only thing worth the price of admission for Iron Man II, Mickey Rourke’s powerhouse performance as Ivan Vanko. Here we have Pearce as Aldrich Killian, a scientist who does some sort of rigmarole with the brain and DNA that has the unfortunate side effect of creating human time bombs (my friend said he wished they had dealt more with that and I said they could have dealt with it for the entire movie and I still wouldn’t have had any idea what they were talking about). Pearce gives one of his more relaxed performances in awhile. Oh, and Rebecca Hall is his second in command, but you’ll have to forgive me if I almost forgot her since she doesn’t really have anything to do.
But speaking of the villains, I do have to be honest and say I am a bit squeamish in the movie’s attitude toward terrorism, blaming it on bullying and a hell hath no fury like a woman scorned one night stand. It’s all a bit cartoonish, even for a comic.
But hey, arrive for the CGI and stay for the Kingsley.
Tell me what you think.