I might have said this before, but I read a lot of comic books when I was a kid, which has led to me seeing a lotta super-hero movies lately, especially the Marvel ones. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve now seen all three Iron Man movies at the theatre, and possibly in 3D. Although he was never my favourite (that would be Wolverine), I think Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of cocky billionaire genius Tony Stark aka Iron Man, is what makes this franchise such a blockbuster. Sure beats the actor’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, in any case.
Now, it seems quite clear the director/producer/studio was aiming for a Christmas release on this one, as it actually takes place over Christmastime. (Iron Man III: Die Hard?) But I guess this wasn’t blockbustery enough for blockbuster season, as it instead received a summer release–and an early-summer release, at that. There were actually more people in line at Cineplex to see The Great Gatsby, which I’ve heard doesn’t look nearly as good in 3D. More on that in a sec…
But first, we interrupt this regularly-scheduled movie review to bring you a corned-beef sandwich.
Now, Caplansky’s might have the food truck and Duff’s the brand recognition, but for my money’s worth, darn-near the best deli sandwich in this city comes from the New Yorker Deli on Bay just north of Charles. Several slices of succulent, juicy meat piled high on rye bread with a slice of swiss that adheres to the meat without melting. Delish! Now, where were we?
Right, so Iron Man III actually has a bit more of a plot than past installments, and isn’t simply a good excuse to blow stuff up. Not that there aren’t still some spectacular explosions, mind you. But much like the latest James Bond film tries to portray our hero as weakened and diminished, Shane Black and Drew Pearce attempt to do the same here, showing Stark at his most vulnerable. In the midst of a marital crisis, America just so happens to be faced with a severe terrorist threat. As if Stark’s panic attacks weren’t bad enough already, he now has to save the world from the Mandarin.
There is definitely a bit of a Western vibe here, the classic tripe of “left for dead, back for revenge”–which we also saw in Skyfall. Only in this one, our hero is helped by a cute little kid, cuz having a prepubescent sidekick is always a big box-office boost. And Gwyneth Paltrow gets to show off the rock-hard bod that made her People’s Most Beautiful Woman (although I happen to think co-star Rebecca Hall, who played Ben Affleck’s love interest in the The Town, is actually more attractive) in another classic action movie cliche: “You kidnapped my wife, now you’re gonna pay!”
Marvel fanboys will appreciate the fact that The Mandarin finally makes his film debut in this one. But while in the Marvelverse, The Mandarin is to Iron Man what The Red Skull is to Captain America (or Loki is to Thor, without the sibling rivalry), the film portrays him much differently. In the updated, modernized “War on Terror” backdrop, he’s less the evil mastermind and much more of a figurehead, which is kinda disappointing for those of us who used to read the comics. The real villains in this flick are actually a genetically-modified race of super-humans… Gee, where have we seen that before?
Alas, while Downey Jr. still shines as Stark, the cliche-ridden storyline turns this one into The Good Terminator Taken Hard III–which perhaps explains why Django Unchained got the coveted Christmas slot instead. Never thought I’d say this, but where’s Timothy Bryce when you need him?
Oh, and for what it’s worth, I think I enjoyed the sandwich more than the film. Lunch 1, Movie 0.