Movie Review: Iron Man 3

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“Iron Man 3? co-stars Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow have two different stories about the armour they wear in the movie. — Courtesy Photo
“Iron Man 3? co-stars Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow have two different stories about the armour they wear in the movie. — Courtesy Photo

Graduating from intergalactic fend-offs, Tony Stark – and his best Tin-Suit — is bested by exploding agents and a ham-actor in terrorist garb.

Let me start by noting down that Iron Man 3 is an insult to intelligence. I am not saying that it’s bad, incongruous or abysmal in substance — far from it; what I mean is, its lack of creativity — and its sense of odd-ish black humor — is appalling; particularly more so for people in this part of terrestrial geography, and maybe for the 60 or so year of Marvel readership.

The main villain here calls himself The Mandarin — the Green Goblin to Iron Man’s Spider-Man, originally a man of mystic and science. Here, he’s an Arab-esque hoax molded in Bin Laden’s visage and a Chinese label (the original villain from Marvel, indeed hails from the land of communism).

The Mandarin is played by Ben Kingsley with put-upon theatrical oomph,a half-messy beard, and tendencies to skyjacking international television airways with terrorist memos that has inserts of him corrupting the underprivileged children in grief stricken (read: badly managed Islamic) territories.

There’s not much straying from previous two Iron Man’s legacy of substandard villainy (there has never been a “great” villain in any of the tin-plated Avenger’s solo movie); and it really makes me wish Mr. Kingsley’s agent would land him better offers — after all, he was Gandhi once (or maybe, because of it) — but there is necessity for his garb, and very anti-American actions.

While Mr. Kingsley sustains the mundane villain’s arc up until the radical, and shenanigan-ish, reveal, co-writers Drew Pierce and director Shane Black’s (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) screenplay beefs up his surrounding run-time by introducing Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark to nightmares and sporadic panic attacks — especially when someone mentions New York or blue worm-holes in the sky.

As it eventually had to happen, Mr. Downey Jr., who is adept at playing the frantic, finally gets to bring the part to Tony Starks spoiled-brat eccentricity. Unsurprisingly Mr. Downey Jr.’s genius pulls off Tony’s post-Avenger psychological mayhem with muted alacrity, and a smidge of very in-character wit.

Tony’s mental welfare is interjected with interconnecting subplots to a scientific breakthrough called Extremis — a wunderkind breakthrough developed by Tony’s old flame scientist Maya Hensen (a wasted Rebecca Hall) which rejuvenates crippled limbs if the host’s body manages to hold the drug; a side-effect of the Extremis program is that its survivors gain superheating ability and near-invincibility.

Extremis is backed by corporate villain-cum-scientist Aldrich Killian and owner of Advanced Idea Mechanics (Guy Pearce, in his second time as a rich antihero), who makes a brief play for Pepper Potts (Gwyenth Paltrow), the able headed CEO of Stark Industries and Tony’s only sincere squeeze, now under the charge of his former bodyguard Happy Hogan (producer Jon Favreau, a little over-weight).

Mr. Black and Mr. Pearce’s screenplay has an oversupply of material to pick, choose and compound components from: the Extremis angle comes from the comic arc by writer Warren Ellis and artistAdiGranov; Tony’s nerviness, an annex from The Avengers; a brief father-son/buddy act with Ty Simpkins (in mid second act) from just about any successful blockbuster — and of course the advancing Iron Man armor, which grows a notch into its own creepy person.

The armor, fully suited up is radio controlled by Tony. In-synch from its prelude in The Avengers, the suit runs to Tony like a trained cocker spaniel (the suit’s miscalculated latch-on is an effective running gag, by the way).

Like Tony, there’s a visible self-aware growth in Iron Man armor’s, that’s one part design and one part nod to the comic book mythos. It is also, without dumbfounding surprise, the other ace in the hole that presents Iron Man 3 with 3 evenly spaced, pricy set-pieces. One of them has a fantastic slow motion sequence of Tony’s cliff-side house, bombarded to smithereens; the other, a mid-air rescue from a crashing Air Force One; and the climatic brawl is between exploding AIM agents and a gazillion Iron Men proxies.

While Iron Man 3 loses its footing once or twice, it is, outside of The Avengers, the most exciting and gratifyingly loud of the franchise. Three movies down, I’ve decided to let comic continuity bygones be bygones and just accept the after-taste. I may hate myself in the morning, but I’m loving it right now.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley.

Directed by Shane Black, Produced by Kevin Feige, Screenplay by Drew Pearce, Mr. Black (Based on Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby; and Extremis by Warren Ellis and AdiGranov).With Music by Brian Tyler, Cinematography by John Toll, Editing by Jeffrey Ford, Peter S. Elliot.

Released by Walt Disney Picture and Footprint Entertainment,“Iron Man 3” is rated PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Children may pester for another viewing and a flying suit of armor that can automatically split and re-assemble on-cue.

The movie, playing worldwide, is releases in Pakistan on the 17th and tomorrow in North America.