Sunday, May 5, 2013

Movie Reviews- Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3
directed by Shane Black
I am trying to write shorter more concise reviews. Iron Man 3 happens to be a perfect film on which to practice that style. The foreign marketplace, especially China, is an increasingly important part of the Hollywood business model. Studios must create films which can appeal to people even if they have to use subtitles, dubbing or have no translation at all. Thus enter Iron Man 3. It is an action film. No one expects Silver Linings Playbook or Annie Hall. Subtle, Iron Man 3 is not. But there's a, I don't know a patina of boredom and paint by the numbers attitude that pervades this film. Sequels rarely live up artistically to the original and this one is no different. But even for an action film this movie seems to have a remarkable lack of feeling. Good looking woman in peril? Check. Wisecracking hero? Check. 2nd tier buddy who helps save the day? Check. Bad guy with secret past? Double check.
As mentioned China is a more important market to Hollywood these days. That country has not been shy about censoring films that are thought to be insulting to China. So The Mandarin, who in the comic was a definitively Chinese/Eurasian villain, has been reworked to be a probably non-Chinese villain of possibly Western or South/West Asian origins played by Sir Ben Kingsley. In a nod to the original comic he leads an organization called the The Ten Rings, which claims to be taking revenge on America for, well, basically everything from the slaughter of Indians to pick your reason. He's been hijacking the airwaves and ranting his manifesto immediately before or after his minions carry out another terrorist attack. No one can figure out how these bombs are being set off or for that matter how a cave dwelling crazy old man can tap into the private and public satellite network of the entire planet. 

Iron Man , Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is recovering (badly) from the events in the last Avengers movie and dealing with the challenges of living with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). No matter how rich you are or how much you love someone there's always tensions when two people live together and this couple is no different. This is all portrayed as Stark's fault. Heh-heh. He's got panic attacks and avoids emotional intimacy with Pepper.
A blast from the past appears when the scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) whom Stark once rejected and ignored turns up with a tantalizing new offer for Stark CEO Pepper Potts, both on a business and personal level. Her response sets into motion a series of plots. One person who may or may not be involved in these plots is Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a scientist who used to have an intimate connection to Tony Stark. Meanwhile, Stark's former bodyguard and now officiously paranoid Stark Industries security chief, Happy Hogan, (Jon Favreau, a previous director in this series) doesn't like what he sees in a visitor to Stark Industries. Shortly afterwards Hogan is seriously wounded in a bombing for which The Mandarin takes credit. Tony Stark takes this very personally and dares the Mandarin to come get him. And obviously things get blown up, again, and again and again. And once more with feeling.
This movie makes some very obvious allusions to 9/11. I didn't think they really worked. The film is not dark or majestic. Downey's irony and sarcasm are in full effect here but he doesn't really have much to play against -- with the exception of his relationship with Harley (Ty Simpkins) a ten year old precocious boy with a talent for computers, engineering and mechanics -- in short a younger Tony Stark. The duo provide much of the film's humor. I don't know if this was deliberate but I was occasionally reminded of Chaplin or WC Fields. Stark spends a great deal of the movie without his armor. The special effects are excellent but all in all I would say this is a wait for DVD/On-Demand film. Don Cheadle reprises his role as War Machine Iron Patriot, Colonel James Rhodes, Stark's good friend.

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