(director/writer: Shane Black; screenwriters: Drew Pearce/based on the Marvel comic book Super Hero Iron Man; cinematographer: John Toll; editors: Jeffrey Ford/ Peter S. Elliot; music: Brian Tyler; cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Don Cheadle (Col. James Rhodes), Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian), Rebecca Hall (Dr. Maya Hansen), Stephanie Szostak (Ellen Brandt), James Badge Dale (Eric Savin), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Ben Kingsley (the Mandarin), Ty Simpkins (Harley), William Sadler (President Ellis), Miguel Ferrer (Vice President Rodriquez), James Rackley (Chad Davis), Paul Bettany (Jarvis); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Kevin Feige; Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures; 2013)
Suffers from franchise rust.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Marvel comic book super hero film suffers from franchise rust the third time around under new director Shane Black(“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), the former writer for Lethal Weapon. Black keeps it fast-paced, James Bond-like loaded with one-liner quips, with gimmicky gadgets, with loud explosions, and offers a twisty ending. It’s a solid production, but I found it a bore. Black co-wrote the blockbuster action pic with Drew Pearce, in a script that exploits the present terrorism situation without adding anything new.

The sardonic playboy billionaire mogul inventor of the Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), after his Avenger “wormhole” trip in the last episode wrestles with panic attacks and inner demons in his Malibu retreat, while blissfully living there with business partner and lover Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). A bearded bin Laden lookalike called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) hijacks the airwaves to make anti-American rants and causes terror across America by bombing various soft targets and spewing out threats to destroy the country and its President (William Sadler), and promises a bigger unpleasant surprise for Christmas. When Tony’s loyal former bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, director of the previous Iron Man), now head of security for Pepper, is attacked by the Mandarin’s minions and left in a coma after the Chinese Theater bombing, the Iron Man goes into action to save the world. The Iron Man seeks to unravel these mysterious attacks, which include the destruction of his palatial Malibu residence, and is helped by Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who wears the costume armor of the “Iron Patriot.” The Iron Man is also helped by an adolescent orphan from the boonies of Tennessee named Harley (Ty Simpkins), who gets into the swing of things by handling all the gizmos Iron Man lays on him while the Iron Man hunts down the trail of a supposed military suicidal bomber.

The other featured villain, oddly associated with the Mandarin, is an oily research scientist named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who was scorned by Tony at a New Year’s Eve bash in Switzerland and returns to seek revenge on Tony and America. Killian partners with genius botanist Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a one-night stand of Tony’s at that same Swiss party in 1999.

The pic makes a lot of noise and offers a lot of action sequences, but it remains confusing, offers no tension and no action scene sticks out as exceptional. The jokes keep coming via Downey, but they are as tiresome as the pic’s many crowd-pleasing gestures.

Iron Man 3