Having survived and overcome all the obstacles in “Avengers Assemble” (Whedon J.,2012) Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) finds himself struggling to come to terms with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
So we are introduced to a weakened Iron Man, who throws himself into his work on his mechanical suits. In an attempt to escape the horror and overpowering anxiety, from his memories of previous exploits as the armoured adventurer.
To make matters worse there is a particularly, unfocussed villain (Guy Pierce) with an overlay complex plan to get Stark to assist him with a formula to enhance cellular regrowth in human beings. Currently the formula grants an incredible healing factor, with some heating issues and the occasional case of explosive spontaneous combustion.
Drew Pierce co-wrote the screenplay with Shane Black. I don’t really know any of Mr. Pierce’s work and it is always difficult to gage a writers creative input but this screenplay shouldn’t do his career too much good.
Shane Black who is also the director, on the other hand, wrote on a number of remarkably enjoyable films to date, including “Lethal Weapon” (Donner R.1987) “Lethal Weapon 2”( Donner R.,1989), ”The Last Boy Scout” (Scott T.,1991) and more recently “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (Black S.,2005) which he also directed. That film being one of my favourites.
Robert Downey Jr. delivers Stark perfectly, with the strong familiar supporting cast of Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau and Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis. So the stage is well set. The film also has two formidable actors on the villainous side, with Guy Pierce and Sir Ben Kingsley both supplying strong performances.
Kingsley’s performance in particular stand out, changing with ease between the cold blooded terrorist of this films Mandarin to a drug addicted humourlessly harmless, out of work actor.
The special effects are well done and there was certainly no lack of financing for this film.
Black makes use of a montage technique with the Mandarin’s terror broadcasts, which is stunningly effective. They should be seen as a sign of predictive cinematic technique. Coupled with Kingsley’s performance those clips, in my not so humble opinion, seem to be the logical amalgamation of Tony Scott’s incredible stylistic title sequence of “Man on Fire” (Scott T.,) and Niel Blomkamp’s news footage, mocumentary style, narrative used in District 9 (Blomkamp N., 2009).
So what went wrong, they seemed to have ticket all the boxes. From a script writing perspective, I am fairly certain if you look, you will find every faze of the Hero’s journey there. You will even see signs of the inner journey taking place.
That is the problem though, simply ticking off all the boxes, is not good enough.
The 3D is a joke at best, it is barely visible and darkens the entire film. There is one scene in particular where Iron Man is trapped in the ocean under the rubble of his former home, where all you can make out is that he is in trouble. We are relieved to see him lift up a metal bar which had him pinned, for a second, before contemplating the fact that we can’t make out any of the action.
The story is an insult to fans of the source material, who have been patiently waiting for this particular villain to make his appearance.
The film itself can not stand on its own, since a core source of Starks dilemma plays of in a previous film. The flashbacks of previous action from Avengers Assemble (Whedon J.,2012) do serve to unite the franchise but do little for this film. In that sense they dropped the ball as not a single reference to S.H.I.E.L.D. is made, particularly odd, considering that the villain, in the beginning of the film, is clearly outlined as a threat to national security and more of a terrorist than previous characters.
Then there is the curious case of the “Watchmen” ( Snyder Z., 2009) reference. In a romantic scene Pepper Pot’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) comes home to discover an enormous stuffed bunny rabbit outside. She walks in to find a romantic dinner and Tony in the Iron Man suit. He lets her sit down and messages her shoulders and when she tries to kiss him it becomes clear that he is actually controlling the suit remotely. For some unknown reason he is to busy doing pull-ups in his lab instead.
Compared to the source referenced, where Dr. Manhattan (Billy Cradop) is making love to the Silk Spectre 2(Malin Akerman) and she discovers that there is more than one of him pleasuring her, while he is actually working with Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) in his lab. The scene is tame and pointless. You can’t go from Cunnilingus to dinner and a movie.
The peculiar blend of cheesy clichéd romance and one liners between Pot’s and Stark is still present. It feels like they ended up taking the worst aspects of the previous films into the third.
The film has large sections with Tony Stark running around playing Macgyver and Culombo, without his suit. Also a bit of a “First Blood” (Kotcheff T.,1982) reference there, once again referencing from a stronger original version to something… less.
For some reason Stark seems to have forgotten about the incredible resources available to him, right up until the last act. Then he goes through suits as if they are disposable diapers. To be fair Aldrich Killian(Guy Pierce), cuts through them as if they are made of confetti.
Which brings us to the climax, where Tony Stark’s girlfriend defeats the villain and every single as pect of the story, is quickly wrapped up in a neat Dous Ex Machina style resolution.
The thing that really irritates me is the fact that there is absolutely no reason for the villain to do anything. He is already in charge of a government funded think tank. The president which he tries to replace is already endorsing his technology. If he really wanted a solution to his formula, although according to me it is working very well. He could have simply tried to trick Tony Stark into believing that the application is for the disabled. He stands to gains absolutely nothing through his actions.
So in closing, try to get your hands on those news clips of the Mandarin and give the film a skip until it is broadcast on public television.