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“Iron Man 3”: a cynical plot drowned out by the clang clang action

Summary:  Today Locke Peterseim reviews Iron Man 3. It’s “still slick and mostly entertaining, but with a cold heart that feels hung out over the chasm between Black’s cynical, subversive attitude and Marvel’s bright, shiny franchise-building.”  It’s a myth told by people who don’t like it, which requires a higher level of story-telling skill than Marvel’s agents bring to the game.

Iron Man poster

Iron Man Three:
Kiss Kiss Clang Clang

By Locke Peterseim.
From the film blog of Open Letters Monthly.
9 May 2013

Reposted with his generous permission.

I’d guess most everyone who helped give Iron Man Three the #2  box-office opening of all time (after its stable mate The Avengers last year) came away from it feeling suitably entertained by the First Summer Film of the Year. But so much of that feeling, including the public’s attendance and “A” CinemaScore, can’t help but feel obligatory, even somewhat hollow.

As I’ve said many times before, for the general movie-going public the first weekend of May (which Marvel Studios has owned for most of the past decade) is Opening Day, when, like supporters of a sports team, fans are filled with soaring, somewhat delusional hope for the upcoming season. Because it carries with it more than just cinematic promise, but also the heralding of warmer weather and higher spirits, we want so much to like the First Summer Film that not only do we forgive it most of its flaws, but to criticize it can feel like an early abandonment of the Promise of Summer itself.

Co-written by Shane Black and Drew Pearce and directed by the erstwhile action-movie wunderkind Black, Iron Man Three isn’t badly constructed or executed. Like all superhero movies, it’s full of plot stuff. Tony Stark is suffering PTSD from the epic, cosmic events of The Avengers just as a new threat arises from an international terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin.

Sir Ben Kingsley has a ball with an accent that sounds like Tom Brokaw, Hugo Weaving, and John Huston performing as a spoken-word trio, but in the wake of Ledger’s Joker and Hardy’s Bane, I think we’re all getting a little weary of the oh-so-quickly-played out “Super Villains with Weird Speech Patterns” trope. Still, as is so often the case, Kingsley’s Mandarin gets away with the best and most delightfully surprising parts of the film.

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