The first in a series of film reviews originally published in the Genesis Sci-Fi club magazine. I write a column reviewing older movies as well as recent releases in a semi-coherent fashion. This is Iron Man 3. The rating system is plutos, a gold standard our book group made up because a Pluto is neither one thing nor the other, as were a lot of the books were were reading. Enjoy.
Iron Man 3
Tony Stark (the indefatigable Robert Downey Jr) is just perfecting his latest way of getting into his suit, when an evil terrorist smashes through his house with tracer missiles and wrecks a rendezvous with an ex-girlfriend and her mutant plant genetic code. Meanwhile, the evil Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is waging a campaign of destruction throughout America and beyond. In other words, it’s a big, dumb movie from the people who brought you …other big dumb movies.
Except it’s not quite so dumb, though it is big and loud. I saw Iron Man a couple of years ago when it was just on at a friend’s house and no-one could be bothered to change the channel, so thanks to that little moment of glorious madness, I knew I’d enjoy this before I went in. I’m not really into the genre: I just love big dumb movies with big dumb heroes who get the girl at the end and have a cute black sidekick in order to cross all the i’s and dot all the t’s. (Pepper Potts and Warmachine do play a bigger role in this one; I get the feeling I need to see Iron Man 2, because Warmachine is a new character to me, working closer with the US Government than Stark/Iron Man does.) Unless they seriously messed with the superhero formula, and made this all about the terrible angst of being an internationally renowned, sexy, rich guy with a basement full of toys that you can use to shoot and blow up terrorists (actually, wait…ALL superheroes have to feel this way now, it’s a legal requirement – see also the upcoming Superman Man of Steel film), it was going to have an easy ride, because although I’m not really into the Avengers metaplot, it’s an entertaining way to spend a bank holiday afternoon.
The good thing about the film is it doesn’t take itself terribly seriously: there is serious action, and yes, a bit of angst over what Tony Stark saw in New York during the Avengers Assemble movie, but it’s all mixed in with some hilarious moments. Sadly describing one of the best would also be a humungous spoiler, as would speculating on whether there will be an Iron Man 4. Much of the comedy is all in the timing, but Iron Man’s crazy manoeuvre to get all thirteen survivors of an air crash to safety is enjoyably cheesy, and the way Stark fumbles around with his suit is typical of the crazy inventor. There’s the creepy Bond Villain action from Guy Pearce (or, as I’m informed, Mike Young from Neighbours), Tony’s attempts not to get punched in the face by his own codpiece, and the will-they-won’t-they romp at the end across a disused oil tanker to rescue the President, with a dramatic role for both Pepper and Warmachine that makes strides forward as regards the place of women and ethnic minorities in action films. The villain is also an equal opportunities employer too.
It’s both exciting and hilarious in equal measure. Superman and Batman might be played absolutely straight but I do get the impression Iron Man is meant to be a little bit more tongue-in-cheek. I’m not saying that I instantly want to jump into the whole series of Avengers films and watch them start to finish, but I would like to see Iron Man 2 at some point and fill in some of the blanks.
I’ll give it 4 and a half Plutos. The half mark is really lost because the film is a bit too tongue-in-cheek in some places, and the role of the Vice President is never fully explained (I suspect there was more but it got left on the cutting-room floor). But it’s an enjoyable romp – so definitely worth watching. If you haven’t caught it at the cinema, then I would advise giving it a look on DVD.