Iron Man 3 — More Talk, Less Action, Please

Iron Man 3 is quite entertaining. It is also over-bloated, poorly plotted and scripted, and  in fact, a mess. But what makes it entertaining, not unsurprisingly, is its cast, especially Robert Downey Jr., who is back as Tony Stark, the brilliant motor-mouthed inventor and creator of all those cool yet heavy metal suits. While onscreen Downey never stops talking, which in some other actor's case might be annoying, but with him is a blessing. Downey even gets to explore a side of Tony Stark that we don't usually get to see — all-out panic.

Stark, "I'm Tony Stark. I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world. So why can't I sleep?"

Apparently since his last adventure with The Avengers, Stark has had trouble sleeping. And coping, especially whenever any mention is made of The Big Apple. He has one or two full-fledged anxiety attacks in the course of the film. It was an interesting twist on the cockiest of characters, which was suddenly dropped, and then never referred to again about two-thirds into Iron Man 3. That sort of schizophrenic, kitchen-sink approach to the script plagues the movie and the audience's patience. If it weren't for some great chemistry between Downey and his fellow actors the film might be more of a chore to sit through.

An Iron Man and his girl
Tony Stark taking a moment
Don Cheadle in his "War Machine Roxx" gear

 

What didn't work: the endless blowing up of buildings and other heavy objects, creating an anxiety in the viewer similar to the one Tony Stark was experiencing. The "burning man" subplot had some interesting special effects, but made no sense whatsoever. The terrorist subplot was also unconvincing. I have to admit that I saw one of the major plot twists coming from miles away.

While Stark is battling his way out of the bad guy's lair, one of the henchmen surrenders and gets a chance to get a laugh, too. Guard, "Don't shoot! Seriously, I don't even wanna work for them. They are so weird!"

What worked: Most of the action scenes were a snore, but there were two memorable sequences — one featuring a daring in-flight rescue, and the other incorporating multiple Iron Man suits. Downey's interactions with Gwyneth Paltrow as his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, and with his best friend Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle (criminally underused, as always) were also always fun to watch. Ben Kingsley was impressive in his cameo, and Guy Pearce had a blast is the in-house villain, Aldrich Killian. The usual bonus Marvel universe after-the-credits scene was also fun. Downey seemed to be having a lot of fun in his scenes mid-film with a kid named Harley (Ty Simpkins). Harley's character is proof that the film-makers were of two minds about what sort of movie they were making and what sort of audience to attract. Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13, but the character of Iron Man has definitely appeal (and is heavily marketed) to a younger crowd.

Quibbles aside, I still had fun. I saw it in 3D, which didn't really seem to be necessary or add much to the already loud and fast-moving experience. The Iron Man series may be done (for now), but Tony Stark and his wise-cracking sense of humor are sure to be back in future Avengers movies. Things are bound to blow up in those movies, too, but hopefully Downey will get just as much of a chance to talk as ever.

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