Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

The third installments of superhero franchises are known for being let downs, and “Iron Man 3” will do little to dispel that reputation.

I don’t mind shallow if a movie compensates with spectacle. The action here, though, wasn’t enough to save the day. I found “Iron Man 3” to be at times silly, misguided, dull, and disappointing. It’s still a big budget summer superhero movie, and as such, carries an inherent entertainment value. But anything else above and beyond is squandered, sadly.

A terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) has been hijacking national airwaves and broadcasting anti-American diatribes, claiming responsibility for a series of mysterious explosions. When someone Tony Stark (Robert Downey) is close to is caught in one, he publicly vows revenge. Unfortunately, this makes him a target for the Mandarin and his forces. Stark’s ocean-view estate is destroyed by a helicopter assault soon thereafter, and he’s left without his headquarters and back up armors.

There’s no time to regroup, however. In addition finding and stopping the Mandarin, Stark will have also have to determine what, if any, is the connection between the explosions and A.I.M., the biological research group headed by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). A.I.M. has been conducting experiments with a genetic compound known as Extremis, which grant people extreme regenerative (and other) powers, but at the cost of becoming unstable on a molecular level.

When Stark’s girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), is abducted by A.I.M., Stark has to use his wits and suddenly limited resources to rescue her and stop the terrorists.

I have a number of issues with “Iron Man 3”, many of them major.

I’m not enamored of either villain in this film. Ben Kingsley puts on an angry Walter Cronkite impersonation before the film absolutely neuters his character (something the comic book fan in me is very, very angry about). Pearce’s character, meanwhile, is given poor to no motivation to be who he is or to do what he’s doing. In fact, what his master plan was is still a bit of a grey area for me, I’m still not certain I know 100% what his character was hoping to accomplish. The evil henchmen glow in the dark and attack people by grabbing hold of them (something the film makes easy for them, in spite of the fact that our hero can fly). One of them even breathes fire at one point. It was a level of ridiculous I wasn’t prepared to fully accept.

I’m not a fan of the fact that Tony Stark adopts a kid sidekick for a significant stretch of the film, nor of the fact that his girlfriend actually dons the armor. The Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) exists solely to give someone for Stark to crack jokes to, outside of one lame action moment that I swear was written just to give him something to do.

The action content was disappointing to me as well. It was sparse, carried little weight, and was occasionally silly. By this point in time, Stark’s armor is practically magic. He can leap into it in mid-air, telepathically summon it from hundreds of miles away, use it to encase or entrap others, or explode them remotely. The suits even fight on their own now, which, frankly, removes the stakes from combat. Should audiences worry that a robot Iron Man is going to be destroyed? Of course not. The resulting action is hollow, unfortunately. Certainly, much of this is done to illustrate that it’s Tony Stark, and not the armor that’s the hero (as he spends so much time WITHOUT the suit), but that doesn’t help the fact that as an audience we don’t actually get a lot of Iron Man, and when we do, Tony Stark isn’t even always in the suit.

“Iron Man 3” illustrates some of the worst aspects superhero storytelling. There’s honestly no real reason for it to exist except to make a third movie in the franchise. There’s no new characters that were begging to be brought to life on the big screen (and don’t get me started on what they did to the one that was, the Mandarin), there’s no story that needed conclusion from prior installments, it’s not a direct adaptation of a story from the comics (Yes, I’m aware of the “Extremis” arc) and in and of itself, there’s really nothing original here worth telling. As a result, we wind up with a film that feels like an excuse just to have a superhero movie.

I wouldn’t have minded any of that, if this movie didn’t make me feel it so blatantly.

Were it not for my pre-existing affection for these characters, and the big budget spectacle of it all, I’d be tempted to call this film bad outright. As it is, it’s still a big movie, loaded with visual effects, telling a story about characters that I’ve liked in other context, both in comics and prior films.


Daniel Fogarty


127 thoughts on “Iron Man 3

  1. kinda bummed by this….. I was thinking of maybe taking the squirt to see it tonight. putting the review aside, would you say it’s too violent/scary for a 6 yr old?

    • Rich, I think it’s PG-13 is justified. There’s a lot of shooting in this and a ton of violence; it’s close to an R. I wouldn’t recommend for a 6 year old IMO.

  2. The twist by the end will piss a lot of people off, but I didn’t mind it as much. Risky? Definitely. But Shane Black is a capable enough writer and director to really get this movie going no matter what. Good review Fogs.

    • Thanks Dan, I was just on my way over to yours, too.

      I agree that the “Twist” pissed people off. Namely, me. The rest I disagree with… at least Black didnt demonstrate it here, lets say that. 😦

  3. You summed up quite a bit of my thoughts to. And we ended with the similar score. Nice review man. I was disappointed…but it was still ok (?) Haha. Oh well. I was upset abt Iron Patriot, The Mandarin and several other things u mentioned.

    • T, good to hear we see eye to eye on this. I look forward to getting over to your review.

      There’s NOTHING worse as a reviewer than being the party pooper. Telling people that that movie that they just liked so much was really, actually dumb. 😦

      So it’s nice to have people that you see eye to eye with in situations like that! Really glad to hear it, even though I’m sad it had to happen. 😦

    • Cindy, if you’re not a fan of the comics you may like it b/c your expectations won’t be as high as the Iron Man purists; i for one don’t pay attention to the comics, and I liked this film. If you don’t go in with a certain expectation you’ll probably like it pretty well.

      I think Fogs would probably like it much more if not for the comics he’s such a fan of – so it’s not that the movie is bad per se, but just different. I think I sensed some pain in Fogs words as I read them. I just hope he didn’t go in the bathroom and cry after the movie. lol. 🙂

      • Hhhmmm. A valid point, Gary. I’m a lover of art portrayed on film. I think every film has a moment of true beauty on the screen, and I look for that one shot, that one exchange between actors, that interesting insight into humanity. I suspect IM3 and the upcoming Superman are full of special effects but lacking dialogue and originality. I’m just tired of one-liner dialogues, too much CGI, and not enough art out there.

      • LOL, thanks for the concern Gary. No, I did not go cry. 🙄

        If they had surrounded “it” with a better movie, I wouldnt have been as upset by the bastardization of Iron Man’s comic book arch nemisis. As it was though, with all the other complaints, I had a hard time not lumping that in.

        Cindy, if you’re “just tired of one-liner dialogues, too much CGI, and not enough art out there”, this is NOT the movie for you. LOL I understand what you’re saying, I wish superhero films could truly find that level of artistry, too, but for now, we’ll have to settle for entertainment.

        I didnt feel this even did a great job of that, though. 😦

    • B- isnt a very high score from me, Brik. I’m sure that people who spend any amount of time here know that.

      Frankly, I dont think a B- is a “high score” under any context… Would a C+ be a “High Score”? I mean, a B- is one mere notch above that…

      That said, it’s still a multi zillion dollar movie with lots of great special effects, an A list star in the lead, and a superhero fighting a supervillain. There’s got to be some serious suck involved to drop below the B- floor for that type of film.

  4. I agree with a lot of what you said Fogs. Even though I did enjoy the movie to a certain extent but I was very disappointed too. I had high hopes for this one and I was let down. What made the film really frustrating was the Mandarin story. Good review.

  5. Well-written review. I actually thought it was a blast. Really fun. I agree with the kid stuff though. Tell me, are you a fan of Shane Black’s work?

    • Thanks Ben, even though we disagree.

      I like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, sure, but this is only his second directorial effort. I enjoy the movies he’s written well enough, but not to the point where I’d be seeking out his work. It’s funny, outside of the first Lethal Weapon movies, they qualify all his contributions to the Lethal Weapon series on IMDb (such a “Characters”). If you take that into consideration, he’s not all that prolific, really, and his directorial filmography is now batting .500 with me…

  6. Interesting that you felt this way, I can understand the points you make but none of them really bothered me. At this point the concept of the Iron Man suit is so unrealistic that I don’t mind it getting all magic-y, and as far as Cheadle went his “buddy” position was basically the same as in the last movie so I didn’t mind that either.

    The thing I do agree with you 100% on though is Pearce’s character and the questionable motivations that make it really difficult for him to have a whole lot of lasting impact. They basically just made him a really savvy business man, which I guess is “evil” enough but it just doesn’t have the impact of other, better villains.

    Sorry to hear you didn’t care for this one, but hopefully the rest of the summer will treat you better!

    • Yeah, no kidding. If the rest of this summers crop are let downs like this, I’m quitting! LOL

      The War Machine/Iron Patriot stuff was much better in 2. They had the whole argument over whether or not the Iron Man armor should be Nationalized or not, the comedic banter between the two was much better, they had a fight scene between the two characters, and then in the finale, he was an active assistant. The role they gave the character in the final fight in this movie was token at best. Because they had to give the big licks to Pepper. 🙄 🙄 🙄

      The villains were so weak here it angers me. A, there was the anger worthy treatment of the Mandarin, B, Pearce as a villain was bland C, WTF was his plot again? Like… explain what he was… doing?

      Anyways, yeah, this one disappointed the hell out of me. 😦


      • Interesting, I sort of want to watch the second one again now since we seem to see it so much differently. As for the treatment of the Mandarin, idk, I absolutely love it when a movie can surprise me and I guess the sense of humor involved in that twist just worked for me. I love Ben Kingsley in comically skewed roles so this was right where I wanted to be. Still agree with you on Pearce though, I really hope General Zod is more imposing in Man of Steel but I have a feeling he will be w/ Nolan’s pedigree in the mix

      • Fogs quit? You can’t quit! The Host sequel hasn’t come out yet!!! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Iron Man 3 Review: Starting Off the Summer with a Bang | Rorschach Reviews

  8. Pingback: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Review: Whedonites Assemble! | Rorschach Reviews

  9. Sorry to hear you were so disappointed with this, Fogs. I don’t have much knowledge of the comics or anything so I wasn’t hugely bothered by the whole Mandarin thing but I can totally appreciate those who are. I know the character is a big deal so I can imagine it must feel like a bit of a slap in the face.

    I enjoyed it for the most part. I thought it was fun, humorous and visually impressive. I didn’t go into it with massive expectations after being disappointed by the second one but I had fun with this.

    • “Slap in the face” was right, but even to those who have no stakes in the comics, I have to imagine people will feel gyped. The entire marketing campaign for this movie was built around him… gimme a #%$&ing break with what they chose to do! 😯

      I had no expectations for this one reall, other than the general hope that it would be a great summer movie. This wasn’t a Prometheus situation where outrageous expectations let me down, you know? 😦

  10. While I’m kind of in a very different boat, I can totally see your perspective with this movie. I think it’s one of those ‘love-it’ or ‘hate-it’ things, and I do agree it makes a few mistakes, I still loved it. But then again, I’m not overly picky with my superhero flicks. 🙂

    • I’m not either, but a lot of the mistakes this movie made were glaring. The villains were a huge huge problem for me, Pepper spends as much time in the suit as Tony does, and aside from the mid air rescue sequence, the action scenes here were really a bit lame. Especially the finale.

      Sorry Will, this one was a big flat tire, in my book. 😦

  11. “I’d be tempted to call this film bad outright” That’s a tad harsh. But fair points, thinking about giving it a slightly lower score on mine, just not sure.

    Good review, why the mandarin? why?!

  12. I thought the stakes were much higher in Iron Man 3 than the Avengers. The villains weren’t as stupid as Loki. the second time I saw the Avengers I just wanted someone to kill him for all his stupidity.

    But Iron man had so many great moments of nuance. I thought the kid was great and it was a really interesting parallel there. The action sequences were stunning. I was holding my breath during the houses destruction and clapped after the airplane skydive save.

    I also loved that Stark had so much growth in character, showing that he is Iron Man even without the suit and he doesn’t need the suit to be apart of him. It was great fun as well.

    • Well, Grant, I appreciate you commenting and adding into the discussion. I pretty much disagree with everything you said there, though, let’s just leave it at that. This movie isn’t worthy of comparison to “The Avengers” on any level, especially not favorably. 😦 I didnt really feel all the “nuance” either, unfortunately.

      Still, glad you enjoyed it. I wish I wasnt as let down as I was. 😦

  13. Wow! Fogs knocks a superhero movie. I never. But I totally believe you.
    I always question why they open a movie world wide except here? Having already made more than 200mil the franchise is secure, America gets it last because we’re more jade and discerning. We spot its’ flaws.
    I heard a Ben Kingsley(SIR Ben Kingsley, he insists on that) give an interview where he said he used all his experience as a Shakespearean Actor in the role of Mandarin. Invoking Shakespeare always makes me suspicious. Bold review. Keep on telling it like it is!

    • LOL at the thought of Kingsley envoking Shakespeare here. After you see, you’ll understand. 🙄

      They open in advance in other countries in order to build anticipation here. That seems to be the new “move”. 😦

      Hey, I didnt want to do this, in fact, it sucks having to do this. I hate having to tell all the happy people the movie they liked really wasn’t that good… but here I am, so…

  14. 😦 I really, really liked this movie! I had a ton of fun with it! I really liked how he teamed up with that kid and dressed up as a redneck in Tennessee; I thought it was hilarious! I also liked the twist with the villain, because I also thought that was really funny and I didn’t see it coming. I’ll have to agree with you on Killian not having a good master plan though, I don’t know what he was getting at either. I suppose it’s good to have some way to explain what he’s doing, but we these types of movies the plans seem to usually be ridiculous anyway so from my point of view it doesn’t really matter if they explain it or not. What I especially liked about this movie is when some really intense stuff was happening, the humorous banter would kick in to dilute it, which I found very entertaining. Of course, I don’t have any comic book knowledge or even very much superhero movie knowledge, so maybe I’m overreacting and most of them are better? I don’t know. But I really enjoyed this film, it was so much fun.

    • “I really, really liked this movie! I had a ton of fun with it!” Glad to hear it Hunter, happy you enjoyed it.

      I wouldnt exactly lean on the kid portion as a selling point, though, just reading this sentence “I really liked how he teamed up with that kid and dressed up as a redneck in Tennessee” should give people pause. He did what? I’m going to Iron Man 3 to see… what again?

      Thanks for seeing eye to eye that the “master plan” was awol here. That’s… well, that’s important, to me.

      I wouldnt say MOST superhero movies are better. We’re getting deluged with them 4 and 5 per year now, so there’s too many out there that are bad to say that. I would say that there are MANY that are better though, yes. Several.

  15. There seems to be a big gulf between fans of the comic books and people who don’t know. I’ve never read an iron man comic in my life but I loved this. Apart from the slow start it was ridiculously good fun

    • I guess. I missed when the fun started. RDJ seemed tired, and being a comic book fan, a lot of what they did pissed me off, but I’m all for people having a good time at the movies, so I’m happy you enjoyed it Mikey!

  16. Hi, Fogs:

    So, what you have here is an up budgeted and effected couple of episodes from the old 1940-50s Republic serials, ‘Copperhead’ (Pre-Superman, George Reeves) and ‘Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe’.

    Really upset that Whedon got rid of Clark Gregg’s. Though I like Jon Favreau, he is no Agent Coulson. Better to have the Ben Kingsley from ‘Sexy Beast’ than a Ming The Merciless nemesis.

    • “So, what you have here is an up budgeted and effected couple of episodes from the old 1940-50s Republic serials, ‘Copperhead’ (Pre-Superman, George Reeves) and ‘Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe’.” Uhhhhhh…. do I? 😀 LOL

      Yeah, seeing agent Coulson get killed was shocking. I think it was good for that movie though. Doesn’t help to have all your heroes be bullet proof and invincible. Someone had to go at some point.

      Meanwhile, I’d gladly trade for Ming the Merciless here. This movie could use a genuine villain. 😦

Join in the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s