I cannot hear this song and not think of David Warner on the beach screaming “Chickie!” and crying. Thank you, Oliver Stone, for taking a great song and making it unforgettable.
This shouldn’t work, but it does. Brilliant!
Iron Man 3
I wasn’t a huge fan of either of the first two Iron Man films. The first movie I felt was the very essence of mediocrity and the straw that broke the camel’s back for me as far as regular theater attendance, in that I was furious I had paid $8.50 for a movie worth at most about $4. Iron Man 2 everyone said was weak, and I only saw it in the extended hangover from the Avengers film, which was so good I simply had to see all the Marvel films I had missed (which, it turns out, was only IM2). IM2 was in fact weak, with a dopey ending, but hardly the train wreck I had read about (it was far better than Ang Lee’s Hulk, but then so was Double Dragon). However, my love of the Avengers remains strong enough to carry me through at least this year’s slate of films (I’m anticipating Thor but dreading Guardians of the Galaxy), so off I went like a good little corporate tool to plunk down $5.50 to see a (2D) movie that’s already shattered box office revenues worldwide.
IM3 is exactly what a sequel needs to be, more of the same with slight variations. Downey is back as Stark, who, despite being on top of the world, is somehow so unhappy that he can’t sleep. His relationship with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) is on shaky ground, and his pal Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is worried about him as well. When a scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whom Tony had snubbed years ago, suddenly shows up with more than a passing interest in Pepper, Tony has him followed, but soon he, like everyone else, is distracted by uber-terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who keeps blowing people up and filming it for all to see. When Happy (Jon Favreau), Tony’s former bodyguard, is injured in one of the Mandarin’s blasts, Tony issues a challenge to the terrorist, who proceeds to destroy his home (as seen in the trailer). There’s also a subplot with a kid (Ty Simpkins) that at first seems to be going nowhere but actually pans out to be very enjoyable.
The main draw of these films has always been Downey, whose Tony is flawed, egotistical, but brilliant, and quick with the quips. Grafting on a little PTSD after fighting off the aliens in New York (in Avengers), Tony has to deal with a wicked downside that only makes him more interesting because it adds an extra layer of fallibility to him. Paltrow, like Downey, is better than this material, but she’s still very good. The surprise is Don Cheadle; not that he’s good, he almost always is, but Rhodes always felt like extra baggage in these films, but here he really comes into his own, almost sharing the last third of the film with Tony. Simpkins is a cut above most child actors and his scenes with Stark are fun. Guy Pearce mostly just chews the scenery; like the leads he has more skill than this movie requires. I kept getting distracted by his haircut, which made him look more than a little like Brad Pitt.
The action’s all clever and inventive until the end, where it gets a bit out of hand with a bunch of faceless bad guys and about twenty suits of Iron Man armor; you can’t follow the big fight at the end and despite being pyrotechnically enhanced it’s less compelling than the rest of the film (a Marvel formula flaw that cropped up in IM2 and the Avengers). But the acting is fun and engaging, and it was a pleasant surprise that the film touches (no more than that) on the topical hot button of terrorism in a reasonably interesting and intelligent way. This is by far the best of the three Iron Man films, although that’s not saying that much. I didn’t find it quite as good as Cap or Thor, but it’s strong enough to be worth going to see in the movies. I wouldn’t mind seeing another one or two of these, whether that’s likely or not. It seems, at least for now, that Marvel’s strategy is a strong one.
May 4, 2013