Iron Man 3

IRON MAN 3 does have some stylized moments that are genuinely entertaining, but most of it feels clunky and disappears under the sheer weight of previous films in the franchise.

Caught between 2013’s promising line-up of superhero movies and previous Iron Man films, this third installment is a mixed bag of juggernaut heroics and metaphorical ironies that alternate between action mayhem and screwball humour. While Iron Man 3 does have some stylized moments that are genuinely entertaining, most of it feels clunky and disappears under the sheer weight of previous films in the franchise.

 Reprising his role as Tony Stark—the billionaire entrepreneur and head of weapons manufacturer Stark Industries —Robert Downey Jr. continues to play one of the only superheroes who doesn’t hide behind a mask or alter ego. As we have seen in director Jon Favreau’s first two films of the series, Stark is as brilliant as he is arrogant and sarcastic. Through the opening scene, Stark tells us that he is a changed man. Finally committed to a relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark has evidently given up his playboy days, but his arrogance as a self-righteous motor-mouth prevails. No surprise then, when after a series of terrorist bombings, Stark publicly invites the perpetrator (Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin) to a showdown at his Malibu mansion. The Mandarin responds with all-out rocket propelled mayhem. Barely surviving the attack, Stark begins backtracking and learns that he may have inadvertently created his own worst enemy: Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist hell-bent on revenge.

Last seen together in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, an action comedy about a whodunit murder mystery, director Shane Black and Downy Jr. team up for this three-quel, but this time the pairing leaves more to be desired. Co-scripted by the director, fans of the series will initially find Stark’s one-liners pepped with the kind of wit Black scripted in the Lethal Weapon franchise. And as if testing your patience, Black will have you endure a talky first act before Stark dons one of his many and newly scripted suits. Then when the action starts, it reaches such frenzy that I felt my optic nerves couldn’t keep up; and this is not necessarily a good thing when forced to take in all this information through post-converted 3D. Overdone aesthetics aside, Black’s script relies heavily on the story taking place after the events in The Avengers. As such, there are multiple references that seem to unnecessarily refurbish the best moments from the first two films. Besides Downey Jr. doing what he does best, the only other silver lining is Ben Kingsley and I was amused every time he was on screen. “You’ll never see me coming”…true to his words, Kingsley’s Mandarin may be farfetched in keeping with Marvel comics and his real side was well-hidden in pre-release trailers, but there is also a side of Kingsley, the actor, we rarely get to see. On the other hand, Pearce’s Killian is overdone with heavily influenced CGI, and he never appears threatening enough for a super villain. When it comes to the premise, the audience may find the story embedded with hyperlinks to current events and the alarming rise in home-grown terrorism. But given the awkwardly recent Boston bombings, some viewers may also find a discomforting gaping hole that asks more questions without offering any answers.

In keeping with the recent fad in superhero movies (thanks to Christopher Nolan) Black’s Tony Stark is given a set of personal demons to deal with. Fundamentally, this detracts from everything we have come to learn and like about our overly self-assured hero. It doesn’t work and results in the inevitable fact that when neglected, iron turns to rust.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.