There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that this is better than Iron Man 2. The bad news is that it’s not nearly as good as the first one. There was something so fun about being introduced to Tony Snark (that’s what I call him), with his clever quips and playboy attitude. This just has the feel of a “been there/done that.”
The story has Stark dealing with insomnia, nightmares (when he does fall asleep), and a lot of villains. I think it’s a requirement that super hero sequels up the amount of villains each time.
Stark is living with Pepper Potts, who was more fun to watch now that People Magazine named her the sexiest woman alive. Strange that there are two women in the movie that are prettier than her (and her mom Blythe Danner has always been more attractive).
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Stark’s insomnia. The good news is that he’s able to build at least 50 iron man suits since he has the time. The bad news is…those 50 suits will be involved in goofy fights that reminded me of how much I hated that fight near the end of the second movie. I grew tired of those big battles long ago. As great as CGI and special effects are…the final fight scene in The Avengers looked just like the one in the Transformers film before it. A little of this goes a long way. There’s also a problem with the fact that if you have so many of these iron suits, it takes away the significance of what they can do. Oh, there’s one smashed up when an 18-wheeler hit it. Oh, that one exploded. No biggie, we got 48 more flying over to help out.
And one of the things people like about Batman and Iron Man as super heroes is the fact that they don’t have super powers. They’re human, inside great suits with weapons. Yet if Stark is able to jump off any bridge or building, and his suit will just be flying below him so he can fall into it – he basically is a super hero. You’re never on the edge of your seat wondering if he’s in any real danger. Especially when he can touch his ear or forearm, and the suits will reassemble and fly to him from California, even if he’s in Tennessee.
The villains in the Iron Man series have been fun. Jeff Bridges was bald, which I think I liked just because he was Lebowski clean shaven. Mickey Rourke as the Russian was a blast, because I was still stoked over his performances in The Wrestler and Sin City. Getting Ben Kingsley to play the Mandarin, a Bin Laden type of terrorist, seems perfect for the time. Yet there’s a direction they go in with that character that didn’t really work for me. I can’t explain it without giving anything away.
Another villain is played by Australian actor Guy Pearce. I’ve been disappointed in the last few movies he’s done (I can’t even remember the name of that horrible horror flick), but he’s had enough solid performances over the years in good films (Memento, L.A. Confidential, The King’s Speech). I thought his character would be fun. He was bland in some scenes, and overacting in others.
The set up for his nerdy scientist character (Aldrich Killian) was okay, until you really started thinking about it. He’s this angry over being blown-off by a billionaire more interested in partying on New Year’s Eve?
A lot of the humor works. There are Downton Abbey jokes, and the changing of the name War Machine to Iron Patriot is a hoot.
Writer/director Shane Black deserves credit for these touches. He’s a screenwriter that was making insane amounts of money after the success of Lethal Weapon. After a few big budget films he was paid millions to pen flopped (The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight), he was laying low for awhile. He came back with the funny, faux noir flick Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey, Jr. That lead to him getting this gig, as Jon Favreau was relegated to his role as head of security for Stark.
The supporting cast is solid, but the writing isn’t. Rebecca Hall, as a scientist who Stark once slept with, should’ve gotten a rise out of Pepper Potts. It would’ve added something to the film. And, is she good or evil? I’m still not sure.
Don Cheadle is wasted in this role. I prefer him trying to talk sense into Stark, not just shooting and fighting the bad guys along side him.
Ty Simpkins, the boy in this, was adorable as the sidekick and added a lot. Think Indiana Jones with Short Round. They should’ve spend a few more scenes with Cheadle or Favreau, and a few less with Simpkins. And somebody really needs to explain to me why the theatre erupted in laughter when we’re first introduced to this cute kid, who tells Stark his dad left his mom, only to hear the response “Dads leave. That’s what they do. Don’t be a p**sy about it!”
The movie is a little uneven, and I don’t think every scene needed to end with a zinger. The set-pieces were stunning. Unfortunately, the script has flaws that are hard to discuss without giving things away.
The fanboys and action-adventure crowd will love it. It’s really not that bad, but I left the theatre feeling disappointed; even though the 2 hours and 15 minutes flew by.
The 3D adds nothing. Don’t spend the extra few bucks if you don’t have to.
I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5.