Fun, But No Cigar

Iron Man 3 (2013)
A Review by Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars
May 3, 2013 

“Get to the Point Ben!”  It’s fun, it has its moments that make you enjoy the experience overall and feel like you didn’t waste money on a ticket.  It makes you feel like it was all worth it, especially if it was an IMAX experience … … But there was something “off” about it all.  Something that makes your interest SIGNIFICANTLY drop and not want to give it the amazing feeling you had hoped to give it while eagerly sitting in the theater awaiting that oh so precious moment when the lights slowly dim to black and the trailers begin!

Robert Downey Jr. (RDJ) was BORN to play this part (Tony Stark/Iron Man)!  It seems like no one else could deliver the proper choices and charisma to properly portray this character.  It “just works” with RDJ.  Yet even as good as he is as Tony Stark, there’s just “something” about this movie that “just doesn’t work” as a whole to where not even Iron Man himself could save it.  Despite all the fun I did have experiencing it.  I’m really sad to say that. 

I mean, alas, I have no kick butt, amazingly, and powerfully moving, opening quote to give my review that bursting jolt of energy to make it a good read, like I always do.  That perfectly relays my overall feeling of this film.  I was eager to see how Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin (the villain of the story) speech from the trailer played out as it was originally intended to in the story.  If you've seen the main theatrical trailer it’s the, “people … some call me a terrorist … I’d like to call myself a teacher …”  … aaaannnnndd then he continues on in a villainous rant that kind of works, but then again it kind of doesn’t, and not blowing me away like I REALLY WANTED IT TO!  But okay, there are other parts where I wanted to see how the quote panned out … and the same thing happened again. Perfectly capturing how I felt overall about the film as a whole.  I thought there was going to be so much quotable dialogue and was disappointed here as well.  The feeling/mood of the movie overall was nothing like that of how this trailer portrays it as.  So the marketing was a little misleading.  

For starters, Rebecca Hall’s character (the botanist Maya Hansen) was pretty much un-necessary.  The camera added 10lbs and the slender eye candy from Frost/Nixon and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (one of my top 10 ALL TIME favorite films) was a story hindrance.  I NEVER say that about Rebecca Hall, I love her!  But Iron Man got me saying it.

I liked Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian) and Ben Kingsley.  The movie took a major hit with what happened with these two though in addition to all the other moments to shock the audience that were "passable" but not "spectacular" and bringing the movie down overall.  I LOVE Ben Kingsley!  I remember watching him in the biblical tale of Joseph in Sunday school.  I felt like he was downplayed a little too much in IM3.  I would NEVER say something like this about Ben Kingsley!  But Iron Man got me saying it.  

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3.
The movie itself was fun, but no cigar; we almost get to the point where we feel like this movie is just MAGNIFICENT but we don’t quite get there.  We have fun along the way, which is most important and it makes the experience feel like it wasn’t entirely pointless.  RDJ makes us laugh and have fun as the quirky and charismatic Tony Stark, a role only he can play and all that jazz, yada yada.  But this is the summer kick-off movie.  Hollywood officially starts the summer on its own with the movie in this slot, a really big summer blockbuster, FUN, experience.  Last year it was The Avengers, the year before that it was Thor, two films I’d put over this one that properly did their job of cinematically ushering in the summer. 

Not to put the film completely down, it did the job satisfactory, just not in the best way it could’ve.  Remember, before Thor, that summer kick-off movie was Iron Man 2, and I think we can all say it totally made up for the lack that film had.  I had no intentions of seeing that movie again after opening day and still haven’t seen it since.  But I’d see Iron Man 3 again ... on a friend’s disc copy … or instantly on Netflix (reiterates my point right there, good but not exactly).  I probably wouldn’t spend money to own the DVD to pull out from time to time and enjoy (like I do with Iron Man 1).  So yes, it passes the test.  But, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman passed the test … with a “C”.  She gave a satisfactory and passable performance.  Do you want to just “pass” the test or ace it with flying colors?  IM3 passes with a C or a B- if I was feeling generous.  Yet, it far from knocks it out of the ballpark. 

I think it was the randomness and the “art” of surprise that director Shane Black was going for.  That’s honestly where I think this “something is off” feeling about this film is coming from.  I LOVED the fact that Black and his fellow writer Drew Pearce made it so our hero had to work to get his suit in order and spends the majority of the film out of the Iron Man suit and learns how to work without the suit to save the day and learns about himself all the while … and all that jazz again.  But in my humble opinion, this aspect wasn’t properly integrated within this story.  To “come out of nowhere” with this cool and totally awesome point that’s going to get the audience excited and interested a little more in this movie, which it did to a certain point, but after the awesomeness wore off and we went back to following Tony in the story try to figure out how to save the day, I thought “yeah that awesomeness was cool but it didn’t feel like it fit”. 

Por ejemplo (for example), as my college Spanish professor would always say.  I LOVVVVEEDD the “barrel of monkeys” scene!!  I didn’t know how Tony was going to pull it off, and I enjoyed myself while watching him do such.  Then at the very end we get hit with a punch and then another, overall my love for the scene was dinged ever so slightly.  We go back to following Tony and I think, “yeah that scene could’ve fit a little better.” 

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3.
Un ejemplo mas (one more); the army of Iron Man soldiers show up to aid Tony & Rhodey (Don Cheadle's character with whom I agree that War Machine does rock so much harder than Iron Patriot!), and we cheer at the triumphant and "cool" moment that's just been created, we have fun (and all that jazz), yet in the middle of this because I had been doing this stop and jump out of the dream state all movie now (which is not good for a movie to do), I say to myself, "WAIT!!  WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?!  They didn't set this up at all!"  Tony says a few words to legitify the moment and we're all supposed to buy it ... ... ... Okay ... ... I guess ... ... yeah ... it works ... "it's passable".  But do you want another Catwoman reminisce moment in the middle of Iron Man?  Or do you want to be blown away while walking away from Iron Man and not comparing the entire movie to a C rated Catwoman performance?  Sorry, I'm still not over Catwoman.  But if Iron Man blew me away, I wouldn't keep comparing him to her, because there would be no comparison.  But the movie was just "off".  It didn't pan out the way I was expecting, in the bad way.  I had fun, yes, I loved what they did with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), no so much the "Rescue" Iron Man suit part (another "not quite there", jarring surprise), but I love the recently rated most beautiful woman in the world a lot more now (by People Magazine) who probably saved this movie from being a completely terrible score to a decent one when her awesome surprise kicked in the end (because it was properly integrated unlike most of the surprises of the film).  Yes, I'm glad I saw it, but I wanted all of this to blow me away, and instead, "I thought it was pretty good".  To put this in perspective, when I walked out of The Avengers I said, "OH MY GOSH THAT MOVIE WAS SO AMAZING!!!"  Talking MOSTLY about how much I loved Iron Man's part within it (I'm making the "I told you so" face right now) arguing if I liked him over The Hulk, but I sure as heck didn't say yeah The Avengers was just "pretty good".  Even the triumphant yet coll last lines of Tony Stark at the end or the golden egg at the very end prove my point and sum up the "fun, but no cigar" aspect of the entire film.  SOMETHING about it ... was just ... "off"!  If I had to sum up this movie in a sentence, you've just read it.

Overall, don't put it up on a pedal stool.  Don't expect an Oscar for best picture, or even VFX for that matter like you'd probably think it'd be up for.  Don't expect the best Summer movie experience ever (Superman has quite some expectations to fill for me!).  Just expect to have fun, which is all that really matters.  You'll probably remember a lot more of this one than the last Iron Man.  You'll probably enjoy it.  You'll probably tell your friend to go see it while it's the hot, new movie out.  But Star Trek is on the way, The Hangover is making its final grandeur, and of course Mr. Clark Kent himself soars in theaters very soon (my most anticipated film of the YEAR).  So while all these other "hot, new movies" are out running their course when it's their time, I don't think Tony Stark will hold up so triumphantly like I wanted him to.  Tony Stark from The Avengers would've held his own quite nicely against The Man of Steel or any other film for that matter!  I wanted him to do REALLY well!  I wanted him to have that amazing movie in an upbeat, charismatic, and fun kind of way, yet still of such high caliber of quality (the opposite of the fun because it's dark kind of way of Batman).

But Tony Stark from Iron Man 3? ... ... Well ... it's good for now, but when something new comes out ... that will FOR SURE fade away the Iron Man, which really pains me to say.  

Iron Man 3
Action & Adventure, 130 Minutes, PG-13
Written by: Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Based Upon Characters Appearing in Marvel Comics
Directed by: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, & Ben Kingsley

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