Saturday, June 22, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Iron Man 3

Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)   directs this latest Iron Man outing. Robert Downey Jr stars yet again as the witty and glib weaponry expert / scientist Tony Stark and once again he makes a Harry Potter hand gesture, setting the iconic suit (a half frightening, half comforting prosthetic machine) into motion.

Here he is pitted against a rival genius-freak Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who is your garden variety blond and effete megalomaniac from comic books and James Bond films.  Killian aligns himself with the fearsome-seeming Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) who is a bit like Christopher Lee. Kingsley is both scary and self deprecating as a man of many faces. Along with Robert Downey Jr himself, he is the most compelling and comic character in the film.

At the start of this sequel, Tony Stark explains that we create our own demons, relating a back story when in 1999, as a playboy weaponry entrepreneur, he self centeredly snubbed a fledgling scientist. Now back in the present, he quips and bickers about his bod and his machines. Somehow Stark has a system which can summon the iron suit to attach itself with a mere thrust of the arm. Even though this is a logical impossibility, it makes for some fun, given Robert Downey Jr's irreverent sarcasm and screen presence. Just when Stark settles in for a sleepy cuddle with Virginia "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark's nocturnal security with People magazine's "Most Beautiful Woman" is threatened by  Killian, who renders his bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) into a coma and has control of some virally-enhanced supermen  who appear as part man and part devil. They glow a volcanic red when they are mad and are nearly impossible to kill.

Oh boy.

More distressing are the actions of Mandarin who jams Tv networks nationwide  with militant Eastern symbols and then promptly shoots an oil accountant live onscreen.

The Mandarin appears as a terrorist without fear.

To complicate matters, Stark now has anxiety attacks stemming from a past world rescue and battle with aliens in New York City as depicted in "The Avengers." Time and time again, panic grips him as soon as he resolves to soar.

His suit is battered at half life and his magicians' arrogance wanes. In one stirring and near-poignant moment, Stark trudges through the Tennessee snow, carrying his battered iron man behind him like a sick twin brother.

As a mere groundling biped, Stark meets the precocious youngster Harley (Ty Simkins) who gives him a plastic potato gun, a laptop, and a Dora The Explorer watch to get rebooted.

Who knew that Tony Stark is also Macgyver?

Hey, this is a film after all.

The best scenes in "Iron Man 3" feature some terrific repartee by Tony Stark as he engages the eccentric Mandarin. Also interesting is the concept of a self assured Stark having anxiety. There is something eerie and haunting too, in the iron man alone. The machine has a dualistic form as both Superhero and a shadowy alloyed wraith that is difficult to define.

The film delivers enough satisfying crunches of state of the art 3D action and narrative, despite its metals becoming a bit cloudy by the film's end by so much dizzy booming and zooming. The showdown is so frenetic with several  self-same iron men, that the wonder in gadgetry loses its surprise.

The most poetic element of the "Iron Man" films is the character of Stark himself as a fragile little man encased in a larger than life soldier-skeleton, an Ego of metal. As portrayed by Robert Downey Jr, he channels his inner manias to protect the world not because he wants to, but because he craves to be highly regarded by doing right.

Write Ian at

No comments: