PhotonWaveZero Returns From The Dead: Iron Mache 3 *ehem* Iron Man 3 Review

Greetings geeks and geekettes! Quoting the cleverly narcissistic Tony Stark: "It's good to be back!" I apologize for my rather excessive absence. Life has a way of taking glorious fun time and turning it into detestable suck time (pardon my French). I'm sure everyone here can sympathize with that issue. Anyway, you didn't come here to listen to my nerdy banter, so on with the review! 

P.S. My review is very indirect, but may contain *Minor Spoilers*.

Read the entire review after the jump!

Since the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2007, which began with the release of the original Iron Man film, I - along with many of my peers - have consistently enjoyed indulging in Marvel Comics' silver screen offerings. Whether I was watching a womanizing genius walk around in a giant tin can, a "neanderthal-ish" green brute who suffers from "Gammawoopass Syndrome", a mythological demigod who beats up abominable snowmen for sport, or an average joe who has discovered that specialized tanning booths can lead to six-pack abs, I have always flocked to the theater to see Marvel's latest and greatest comic book adaption like a fat kid on a cupcake. With the releases of films such  as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and most importantly The Avengers, Marvel has single-handedly set the industry standard for what a comic book movie SHOULD be like, and has never deviated from that standard until the release of the God-awful crapfest that is Iron Man 3.

Before I delve into my disdain for the film itself, let me provide a brief synopsis. Following the events of The Avengers, billionaire not-so-much playboy anymore Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is struggling to cope with his near-death experience caused by deranged demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and some dimwit over at S.H.I.E.L.D. attempting to drop a nuke on "The Big Apple". As a result, Stark has become somewhat of a blue-balled insomniac, suffering from bad dreams about giant floating snapping turtles in space as he plunges through a hole in time and space. Now, normally you would call the Doctor to sort this kind of  weirdness out, but this particular instance is wholly different. Stricken by a series of Oscar-worthily acted panic attacks, Stark attempts to regain his grip on reality and let go of his inner demons that seem to be holding him back from living life to the fullest, as well as keeping him from his hot girlfriend.

Now, when written out like that, it all sounds indicative of a great summer popcorn flick that will keep us entertained from beginning to end. Sadly, it's all smoke and mirrors. Iron Man 3 is not at all the movie it disguises itself to be and when you inevitably enter the theaters to figure this fact out for yourself, you will have to decide whether or not you're okay with that. The theatrical trailers leading up to the film's release depicted a slightly darker approach to the Iron Man franchise than we were typically used to. A difference in direction was to be accepted, however, especially since funny man Jon Favreau was no longer sitting in the director's chair. Favreau instead opted to literally lie back as Stark's body guard, Happy Hogan. The film was instead directed by the writer of the popular Lethal Weapon franchise, Shane Black, whose directorial experience consists of one film in the form of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which ironically starred Robert Downey Jr. as well. This change in direction was initially an intriguing proposition, but who knew  it would turn into such a "hot mess"? 

The Review

"A boy and his bot."
While the film is one "chitauri" movie overall, it does have its fair share of redeeming qualities, one of those being the performances. The performances are once again top notch. Robert Downey Jr. once again manages to make moviegoers choke on their concessions, cracking "Starky" one-liners left and right. Due to the film's thin plot and sloppy writing, however, this is all Downey is really able to do to keep the script from falling flat. The depth in his character just isn't there like it was in the first two films, and it's not a result of Downey's  performance. It's the script's failure to add any actual weight or sense of genuity to his character. Quoting the late and great Philip Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D, his written dialogue just "lacks conviction" this time around. Still, there is no one on this planet who could portray the quirky genius like Downey. He is without a doubt the real-life counterpart of Tony Stark, which is what makes his performance such a pleasure to watch. 

Gwyneth Paltrow brings back her playful workaholic portrayal of Pepper Pots, providing the essential summer movie T&A (excuse my crudeness) whenever deemed necessary by the script. Charming as always, Paltrow supplies some much-needed eye candy/comic relief, at least when the movie allots her the screen time to do so. She doesn't exactly get to do much other than act as Tony's damsel in distress, and the moment the film attempts to deviate from that tried-n-true formula is when writing choices start to leave a bad taste in your mouth. 

"Bond.. James Bond..."
Franchise newcomer Guy Pearce replaces Sam Rockwell's role as Tony Stark's antecedent with his portrayal of the villainous Aldrich Killian, a hot-headed geneticist with an obvious coll-walking fetish who is hell bent on shacking up with Stark's woman with his flaming lebedo (literally). Sadly, as much as I like Guy Pearce, he just didn't make a good villain, but he was never really given the opportunity TO be a good villain. This guy played Count Mondego in The Count of Monte Cristo, okay? This guy knows how to play the biggest prick you could ever hope NEVER to meet. By the end of a film, Pearce can make you hope he gets castrated, run over by a lawn mower, set a blaze on a floating barge, tossed around by Hulk like a rag doll- you get the point. Unfortunately, he just doesn't get the build up or character development to accomplish such a feat. He also might be the first Marvel movie villain without a clear motive or ultimate goal. He is insane to be sure, but what does he hope to accomplish? The film never makes this clear, and it doesn't really explain how he lost his marbles in the first place. We will never know either, because this is pretty much a "one-and-done" story arc. I'm actually okay with that because it was such a ridiculously dumb story arc, I'm going to act as if it never happened in the first place. Superman 3 & 4 anyone?

Iron Patriot for President...
Don Cheadle does a credible job as Iron Man's sidekick, Iron Porkchop *coughs* Iron Patriot. Sporting a new name and color scheme, Rhodes spends most of the film talking about how the name "War Machine" was too "suggestive" for the American people to sympathize. There's so much wrong with that statement, but I digress. I consider Cheadle's role in this film more of a cameo than anything else, as his screen time is extremely limited and doesn't really do anything to enhance the plot in any way. In fact, I would say his role in the film more or less cheapens the plot more, and not because he isn't an interesting character, but because the tasks he's assigned throughout the film are worthy of some campy eye rolls. Still, he did great with what he had to work with, so it's hard not to appreciate his talent. Yet another underutilized actor. 

"Do I look like I've got a !@#$ing fortune cookie?!"
Leading up to the release of this movie, there has been a steady balance of uproar and praise about this next casting choice, so I will just flat-out say it what most who haven't seen the film want to know. Ben Kingsley doesn't suck as "The Mandarin". In fact, it is his performance I was most impressed with up to a certain point in the film. His portrayal of "The Shamdarin" is a totally devious act, and you could tell he was having fun pretending to be the bad guy, but there is a trade off here. When his character "dies" in the film, the rest of the movie goes with him, so enjoy Iron Man 3's first act as much as humanly possible, because the second act is a complete snooze fest. 

Crapfest or not, you can't argue with Industrial Light & Magic's quality of work as of late.  The visuals in Iron Man 3 are awesome as always, immersing you in every action scene, no matter how few and far between they actually are. The Iron Man suits look as cool as ever, even if they're built out of paper mache. I don't know if this is Jarvis' idea of a sick joke or if Tony got stuck paying for the damages done to New York in The Avengers, but the suits' quality of construction has gone WAY down. Pardon my fanboy-ish rant here, but Stark went toe-to-toe with the God of Thunder, survived a giant spinning propeller of death, and used his body as a human cannonball in the Mark 3 armor. In the Mark "24" armor, he can barely take a !@$% without his iron pelvis falling off. This movie is called "Iron Man 3", not "Tony Stark 3". This film suffers from a serious case of mistaken identity. Another huge problem is the film's sluggish pacing, which disallows the visuals from truly "wowing" you like they have in the past. It also doesn't help that the best CGI scenes in the film were pretty much in the trailer, so unless you live under a rock, you'll be walking into the theater with few surprises left to uncover - save for one really lame attempt at a plot twist that is bound to turn a few heads. It certainly put the nail on the coffin for me. 

"Cool story, honey. Now, make me a sandwich."
Iron Man 3 attempts to cover its sloppy tracks with its humor, courtesy of RDJ's ability to improvise and Shane Black's occasionally snappy comedy. I will venture to say that this is probably one of the funniest Marvel movies to date, but comedy does not necessarily make a good movie. I didn't come to watch Stark purchase stuffed busty bunnies; I came to watch him be the hero he's proved himself to be in his past adventures. We all know he's a character, but repulsion rays go a lot farther than corny one-liners. 

Another aspect of the film that leaves little to be desired is the completely lackluster soundtrack. Gone is the sweet sound of classic AC/DC and here to replace it is a dark, dreary, and truly uninspiring score by Brian Tyler. I was hoping that the exclusion of AC/DC would finally lead to the orchestration of a definitive Iron Man theme, but alas, nada'. Brian Tyler's score is pure atmospheric noise to fill in the harshly boring gaps of the film, nothing more, and nothing less. His music is serviceable at best. 

The Verdict?

Occasionally, Iron Man 3 delivers the super hero flick goods, but the amount of wasted potential here is just too much to ignore. I really wanted to like the film, but the fact is, I was just plain bored with it, and that has never happened to me with any Marvel movie. With the story as convoluted as it is, the pacing so horribly off, the music painfully boring, and the shear bad luck of being the first Marvel flick to follow the quintessential hero movie, The Avengers, Iron Man 3 is nothing more than a cash-in on a bloated name brand. Shane Black has written some great stuff, and I'm very disappointed in what he's conjured up here. One can only hope this isn't the best that Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. With Thor: The Dark World due out this November, Marvel still has a shot to end 2013 with a bang.This will please the average movie goer if all you're looking for is mindless popcorn fair, but to fans of the series and especially fans of the comics, you won't be a  happy camper. All I kept thinking while watching this movie was, "What would Joss Whedon have done?"

I give Iron Man 3 a disappointing 1.5 Geegamons.

1.5 Geegamons

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