Iron Man 3

Back when I was reviewing Iron Man 2, I talked about sequels and their outrageous expensiveness. Well, this time around, having seen how popular the last Iron Man flick was, the studio raised the budget and, apparently, told the scriptwriters and the director to go wild with the effects, and gave them full permission to break anything they liked as long as it was dramatic.

Eventually, though, outrageousness will end up going too far, and I'm afraid we've reached that point. The effects are dazzling, don't get me wrong. The dialogue is good and the acting is solid all around, even from the lone child actor. But I couldn't keep up with all the plot holes, and most of those can be traced to a healthy dose of Drama-Preserving Handicap (WARNING: That link leads to TV Tropes, so click only if you don't have to be someplace anytime soon).

As previously mentioned, Robert Downey Jr., last seen as Iron Man in The Avengers, was born to play Tony Stark, and that's still true. He joins forces with a smart and adorable ten-year-old and never once gets the slightest bit sentimental, plus he has a wonderful knack for doing nice things in truly annoying ways. I don't know how Pepper puts up with him, but I guess if she can tolerate the name she's stuck with, she can handle anything. She's still nicely played by Gwyneth Paltrow (who was of course in The Avengers as well, but let me also mention Contagion). And Don Cheadle is back as Rhodey, and even Jon Favreau (John Carter) as Happy Hogan, who really shouldn't ever work in security even though he does manage to produce a vital clue in a really improbable way.

I'd better swear off the word 'improbable', though, or it will creep into every sentence. Just pretend it's already there. The movie is based on the Extremis story arc, so if you've read that you already know a lot of what will happen here. They did throw in a few new plot twists, though none of them will surprise you, most likely. Guy Pearce (Prometheus) plays Aldrich Killian, a scientist with a secret, while Rebecca Hill is Maya Hansen, another scientist and former one-night stand of Tony's. Rebecca was also in Red Riding 1974, which also featured Andrew Garfield, who is now Spider-Man. She's a superhero groupie. And, yes, also British-sounding-American, which is so ridiculously common now I can't even joke about it anymore.

Ben Kingsley from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time plays The Mandarin, though they've changed him around so much it might have been better if they'd given him a different name entirely. Oh, and there are a bunch of bad guys who are lava monsters. That's due to an... interesting little side effect of Extremis, which is actually a serum meant to help the human body heal itself. It doesn't always work, though, as that would be too powerful... which is exactly the problem with the lava monsters, for those not brave or foolish enough to enter the land of TV tropes. When the script calls for it, they can destroy anything by looking at it funny; when something or someone needs to last a little longer, the lava monsters are suddenly not all that tough.

There are plenty of other plot problems, though it's rather depressing to dwell on them because I was looking forward to this movie. Once, Tony says the suits are all 'coded' to him, meaning only he can use them; but twice, he does something that seems to prove the contrary. He might have been making a joke about the coding thing, but given the circumstances it would have been a pretty cruel and dangerous joke even by his standards. The suits run out of power purely for dramatic effect, and the A.I. Jarvis, normally so sensible, once turns shockingly impractical and silly. And they wrap all the loose ends in a thirty-second voice-over, as if the entire cast and crew suddenly remembered they had to rush off for an important appointment.

Now, I've only read a synopsis of the actual Extremis comics, so maybe these flaws were there, too; but they really bothered me here. I can't go any higher than three out of five, and .25 of that is mostly me taking pity on the filmmakers. And yes, I know most people are raving about how wonderful it was. Really, I liked it a lot more before I had the chance to think about it, when I was still blinded by the special effects. Just stay through the credits; the end teaser scene is one of the best parts. And hopefully, Star Trek: Into Darkness will make up for all this.

Image: 
The suit Mark 42 settles in to watch The Avengers on Blu-Ray.

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