(Walt Disney Studios)
(Not so) hard at work in the writers’ room.
(Walt Disney Studios)

After briefly regaining his charm in the company of his fellow Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his Iron Man 2 annoyance in the saga’s third installment.  A hodgepodge of special effects and sloppy storytelling, neither of which have any soul, Shane Black’s film loses the viewer from its opening scatterbrained monologue and makes minimal effort to corral the mess that follows.

 (Walt Disney Studios)
Another American accent gone wrong.
(Walt Disney Studios)

Occurring in a distracting, arbitrary Christmas setting complete with seasonal tunes, Iron Man 3 posits Stark as struggling with the aftermath of the Avengers’ New York City heroics.  Rather than develop Starks’ panic attacks and reinforced love for Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) into a situation of empathy and intrigue, however, Black strains to connect these latest woes to the larger Marvel universe, making the references feel more like contract obligations than an informed offshoot of a greater story.

Falling back into some of the same issues that made the franchise’s last installment a Grade A burden, the film caters to a very specific brand of humor in which Stark’s motormouthed verbosity serves as its central appeal regardless of what’s actually being said.  Establishing its conflict with a dull flashback and a surplus of equally dry workshop tinkering, Iron Man 3’s dreadfully slow beginning gives way to sudden bursts of action that arise with minimal buildup, daring the audience to care about Stark, Potts, or anyone in their universe.

(Walt Disney Studios)
Well, someone took the Men’s Warehouse challenge.
(Walt Disney Studios)

The source of the ill-timed explosions is a terrorist called The Mandarin (a mismanaged Ben Kingsley), whose signal-hijacking broadcasts specifically target the U.S. President (William Sadler).  Offering up ambiguous motivation for his mayhem, The Mandarin’s threat is further diluted by mad scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), his apparent second-in-command with even less founding for evil.  Propelling him to an unknown degree, Killian’s 13-year-old vendetta against Stark for ignoring him when he was a crippled nerd is flimsy at best, but his aim for global dominance not only has zero founding, it may not even be what he’s truly after.

With the exception of a poor final act twist, one of several that aid in the film’s gradual self-destruction, the apparent purpose of Killian and his army of fiery super-humans is to have drawn out battles against Iron Man and, occasionally, fellow metallic crusader Iron Patriot (a dumbed-down Don Cheadle).  An odd cross between Terminator 2’s T-1000 and Ghost Rider’s Johnny Blaze, these baddies are at once immortal and susceptible to undefined faults, the same of which may be said of Stark and his limitless yet buggy tech.  Operating in these extremely loose boundaries in which anything goes, their battle scenes are a drunken CGI mess, as if Black chose each step on the spot and at random.

 (Walt Disney Studios)
Subtle.
(Walt Disney Studios)

Poor action aside, Iron Man 3’s biggest obstacle is Stark himself.  While fans of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are high on Downey once more spouting Black’s dialogue, the actual material is typical generic superhero babble, made all the worse by grating attempts at screwball comedy.  Stark’s aimless rambles are a frequent chore and his back-and-forths with inquisitive young Tennesseean Harley (Ty Simkins) while on a fact-finding mission border on torture.  Other than one good Christmas Story joke at a Ralphie lookalike’s expense, it’s crickets for this charisma-free performance, one so far removed from the charms of its origin story that it’s practically unrecognizable.  With no Avengers to balance out his irritants nor Joss Whedon to highlight his assets, Iron Man 3 is Stark unfiltered and unfocused, an approach that didn’t work in Iron Man 2 and doesn’t work here either.

Grade: D

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.

Iron Man 3 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke1Y3P9D0Bc]

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One Comment

  1. Abraham Lincoln says:

    corporate garbage

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