By Botond Gergely (Cluj, Romania)
I’ve decided to keep talking about movies at random, because Grown Ups 2 just came out in my city and I don’t like aneurisms. So here’s another, critic wise, underappreciated movie. I won’t link a trailer because I don’t condone advertising pizza with pictures of ice cream.
Let’s face it: Shane Black had it easy. He only had to follow up the biggest Avengers teaser ever made, which is conveniently titled Iron Man 3. With his writing and directorial talent, re-teaming with RDJ, the return of the rest of the cast, the additions of Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce this was primed to be the best Iron Man and a top tier Marvel movie. Flaws aside, with a – thankfully – non-formulaic approach, it comes very close.
Happy Hogan: He’s the Jar-Jar of the Marvel Universe, with an uncontrollable badge fetish. He also survives a 3000 degree heat blast by ducking in front of a desk in a mall.
Meet the biggest supervillain of them all, Jon Favreau.
Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) is in there somewhere also, but she gets surprisingly little to do for the amount of screen time she gets. Her banter with Tony – who’s again excellently played by RDJ – are good and that’s kind of it. Oh, and she’s basically half naked in the 2nd half of the movie.
Iron Man’s other partner and best friend, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, finally gets to show us that there’s a badass under and without that grey iron suit. Also, Don Cheadle should legally change his name to “Still Not Terrence Howard”.
Aldrich Killian. If spelling Cillian with a K doesn’t give away that he’s evil, the combed back hair and being played by Guy Pearce will. He’s also the man behind the Extremis soldiers (super-powered men at day, ticking time bombs come night time).
Ben Kingsley: Dude can A-R-T-I-C-U-L-A-T-E (and act).
And Robert Downey has a scene or two in here. He’s snarky, talks fast and acts cool. After that he even tries to act. So he’s great.
Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback, introducing the Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).It also sets up some future events, but leaves us with enough to wonder how do they (if they ever) tiein the main story. After this we cut back to present time, see a now successful Aldrich and get introduce to the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) character and the terror he brings to the world. Then events escalate, the fight becomes personal for Iron Man, he screws up, battles his inner demons – when convenient for the plot – Pepper gets kidnapped and chases the super-powered antagonists.
The movie doesn’t follow traditional Hollywood tropes, and that’s to be applauded. Being a Shane Black film, it feels very similar to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Dialogue is witty, the action is entertaining and clever twists happen. The plot falters a bit at small moments because of some minor flaws. Ambivalence aside, I’ll try to put them in stark contrast for you.
Play-by-Play (not really)
Where’s Iron Man?
No time for a house party. After Happy’s long awaited coma time, Tony Stark takes matters into his own hands and informs the good people of his home address. So when enemy choppers trash his place why did he act surprised and why wasn’t he prepared with more than a prototype which can barely fly? If only he had a contingency plan… Never mind, he took out a helicopter with a piano. Talk about a well-orchestrated move. This is the only scene with Iron Man action in the first hour.
Side story with discount Macaulay Culkin. The child actor playing the kid is actually good and their moments together – for the most part – feel sincere, but this little PSA reel still unnecessarily slows down the movie with a noticeable lack of Iron Man presence. At least we get to see Tony defeats an Extremis soldier with raw brain power (and some electricity).
PTSD BS. Tony is shown having panic attacks in the first half of the movie and freaks out when talking to children or driving. But when the time comes to blow everything up, he’s cool. Because being MacGyver cures mental disorders (the movie says so).
You never saw this coming
Spoiler! The “Mandarin” pulls a reverse Keyser Soze. I sincerely feel torn about this one. It’s hilarious, because of the clever setup and execution, yet the decision itself to do this can be questionable. Also, every time this scene gets mentioned, a die-hard comic nerd gets a stroke.
Can you imagine how many boxes of cereal did Kingsley have to go through for this picture to be possible?
Fights, camera, action!
Some Hulk-proof barn doors can be found in America. Stopping indestructible, propulsor – accelerated metal is what small town people are prepared for. At the same time, one of the most creative movie shootouts in recent memory is its result.
Fool Pepper once, shame on her, fool me twice… you brilliant motherf*cker. That prototype armor is good for something after all.
The Iron Patriot. All I could hear when it was on screen was the Team America theme. Then in the climax of the movie, a character is put into it. The suit clearly wasn’t functioning at the time. After Rhodey having reclaimed it, he could fly away instantly. Also, he didn’t quite bother to hurry back to help his friend fight against a compact army of Extremis soldiers.
The end fight. Besides the dialogue being too jokey for a life and death battle, this is on par with the best Marvel could offer. The lead-up wasn’t perfectly logical (with Tony and Rhodey sneaking into the villains hideout on foot, risking getting captured or killed, so that Shane Black gets to do 3 minutes of Lethal Weapon).
Clean slate (= Tabula Rasa). SPOILER for the ending! It was a very grand and symbolic character moment and all, but the whole plot of the movie was an indicator for why the world needs Iron Man, and why Tony needs replacement suits.
All in all, Shane Black ironed out most of the kinks that lead led to the fall of Iron Man 2, delivered on a very entertaining piece of cinema and made continuity fanboys throw out their Arc Reactor themed shirts. It’s not quite better than the first Iron Man, but it’s certainly unique in terms of structure and execution.
Note to Marvel: After credits scenes are tedious at best. Not unlike this post review remark… Just let it go.BEST QUOTES