Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Would have been better if the villain used tiny oranges: "Iron Man 3"

With the much-anticipated new "Star Trek" movie arriving in theaters last weekend, I zagged instead of zigged and caught the first blockbuster of the summer season. Downey! Paltrow! Cheadle! An Osama-esque villian! And metal! Lots and lots of metal!

After an opening flashback to the end of 1999 that seemed superfluous and surely would have NO BEARING on anything to come later, we start with Tony Stark (Robert "Air America" Downey) post-Avengers, and not exactly soaking up the adulation. Rather, he's an anxious mess, having battled aliens, soared through a wormhole and nearly kicked the bucket. So he's not sleeping and just puttering around the house, making new Iron Man suits that can instantly assemble from several pieces. Former assistant-turned-Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth "Duets" Paltrow) is still with Sir Anthony, but she's not happy with Mr. Eyes Wide Open.

Meanwhile, a mysterious and elusive man called the Mandarin (Ben "Sneakers" Kingsley) is carrying out terrorist bombings around the world. This worries the President (William Sadler!) and a bunch of others, but not Stark ... until an explosion rocks the Chinese Theater in El Lay, critically wounding Tony's former bodyguard Happy (Jon "No directing for me this time, thanks" Favreau). Happy was keeping an eye on the henchman of one of Pepper's old friends, a tech guy named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), after they met with Pepper. But Tony didn't know that, only that Happy is hurtin', thanks to the Mandarin. And now it's personal, Mandy.

This leads to some ill-advised baiting by Stark, followed by a bunch of bam-bam and Tony's life undergoing a serious setback, with him ending up in Tennessee trying to figure out the real story behind the Mandarin's bombings. Along the way he encounters the woman from the opening bit (Rebecca "I'm a better actor than this and pretty cute, too" Hall), a scientist who has been working on DNA stuff, instant healing/regeneration and the like. Turns out she works for Killian and has some concerns. And did I mention Killian had tried to get support from Tony back in that same scene in 1999? And that Tony's pal Col. Rhodes (Don "I'm an actor!" Cheadle) is still hanging around with his own iron suit, now in Captain America colors?

From there it's more action, a few twists and a bigtime climax. What, you were expecting "The Seventh Seal?" Directed by Shane Black -- whom I'll always think of as the writer of "Lethal Weapon" but who also directed the very good "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," starring Downey -- "Iron Man 3" is actually nicely balanced between Stark getting jiggy with it in the suit(s) and putting his life back together outside of it/them. Here's a guy whose ego is beyond the stratosphere, yet he can't shake the PTSD from "The Avengers," AND he's having a hard time holding onto both his best friend and his main squeeze. Black does a nice job keeping all that in the mix while advancing a decent plot and throwing some good fisticuffs at us -- not all with a tin-clad Tony.

In the end, this movie isn't transcendent by any means, and I'd still drop this series behind the latest Batman trilogy. None of Black's plot twists surprised me, but that's easily forgivable considering how much they made sense. And while other reviewers might have been annoyed by the sheer volume of Iron Men in the big finale, I liked how it brought the story full circle from what we saw Tony doing at the start of the movie. Plus, I liked the variety in the suits ... red, silver, Cool Mint, Honey Mustard ...


At 5:05 PM, Anonymous slumus lordicus said...

The multi # suits were for the fan boys -ie hulk buster armor in action. I was sad to see most of them easily destroyed. The most disappointing was not a single AIM scientist in yellow radiation suits or the appearance of MODOK. Very enjoyable except for the horrid cliche ending. Cannot wait for take on Star Trek.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Soo Pod Ray said...

Took the kids today. They liked it. Pearce has the bad-guy thing down pat and I especially enjoyed Kingsley. Not bad.


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