Children should not be aloud to be actors. It’s a simple fact that the overwhelming majority of child actors are just horrible. They can’t emote and often sound like they’re speaking English as a second language. Syllables fire off at random intervals and their faces react about a second too late.
Sadly, the fact that children are remarkably poor actors did not stop Shane Black from writing one into the story. He’s entirely useless and serves only to lob a few lines so that Tony Stark can be a dick. He’s a fun dick, to be sure, but a dick nonetheless. He openly mocks a kid whose dad left him when he was just a few years old for no real reason. And the kid’s got nothing more to say than “GARSH! I AM CRUSHINGLY ALONE!”
But the tonal issues in the movie don’t just lie within the child actor. They also stem from the simple fact that, just a few weeks ago, we got bombed by some assholes who just wanted… well we don’t know since white hat isn’t being read his Miranda Rights / is being denied legal council, but that’s neither here, nor there. Whatever the case may be, it’s all screwy. And that screwiness also relates to the way in which violence is presented in the movie. I feel like I can speak for anyone reading this who say the photos of the after-math in Boston, bombs are unpleasant. They make for a horrific scene, one that can’t really be put to film without dedicating to it fully.
The movie ends up lying within this remarkably strange middle-ground where it isn’t quite an escape from reality, a fun lark, like the first movie was. It tries its hardest to tug at your heart-strings with scenes of bombs, going so far as to bomb Jon Favreau within the first 15 or so minutes of the movie, but it totally falls flat given that he’s scratched up slightly, but not really any the worst for wear. And beyond that, he spends the beginning of the movie just being annoying. You can’t be expected to build any sort of empathy for him, because he’s just busy being obnoxious.
And he somehow survives a blast with temperatures reaching over 3000 degrees Celsius, just by hiding behind some crappy souvenir stand. I might just be thinking about bombs in light of what’s happened in Boston, but I do honestly think it’s a major problem with the movie. Bombs are evil devices, and treating them as a flashy plot device felt cheap.
One area in which Iron Man 3 did actually work for me was in the choice of villains. Guy Pierce plays a decently interesting villain and seems to have had a good time chewing the scenery throughout. His transformation from crippled to handsome evil mastermind is believable enough. Ben Kingsly also plays an interesting role with a few twists and turns. Thankfully, this isn’t just a case of “sequel=more villains!” because it feels like basically every third superhero movie falls flat on its face from just trying to amp up the action by just having a horrible clusterfuck of villain-ry. Spiderman 3, Dark Knight Rises, and X-Men: The Last Stand are all terrific examples of how an otherwise wonderful franchise can bite the dust by just trying to juggle too many balls at once.
The story remains interesting up until the last battle, when it completely falls apart thanks to some horrendous foreshadowing and writing. The following are just a selection of some of the questions that I had during the movie and immediately following. Needless to say, the end of the movie is… problematic. The Vice-President is apparently evil? Because his daughter has only one leg? And so wanting to help her makes him want to murder the President? And somehow no one will find out about this? What was Aldrich’s (Guy Pierce’s) plan for showing how he actually captured The Mandarin? Was he going to waltz into the White House with the Mandarin in tow and just expect everyone to nod along? How was he going to get the Mandarin off? Didn’t the actor know that it’d all end badly? That he’d end up in jail? What is the magic goo and why do people sometimes blow up? Is it when they take too much? Or not enough? Also, when Iron Man is fighting Super Goo, as I’ve elected to call him, since he didn’t get a name, does he not understand that he regenerates? He sees this regeneration MULTIPLE times throughout the movie, and just ignores it sometimes, while anticipating it other times. Apparently electricity stops it? Why does Super Goo shoot Maya (Rebecca Hall) if he sort of needs her to finish/fix the formula? Why can Super Goo breathe fire? What does that have to do with exploding and / or regenerating their bodies? Why can Tony just fix Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow)? Couldn’t he have just come up with some sort of Batman-style antidote to make the final fight make a lick of sense? When Tony blows up all the Iron Men, Pepper is still wearing the glove of one of the Iron Men. Why did that not explode?
I’m not kidding. I could go on. For a while even. The movie throws aside ANY pretense of any sort of logic and just has robots explode for the final 45 minutes or so of the movie. It just reeks of Disney. The forced awful child, the lack of any sort of meaningful violence, even where it would make a lick of sense, the ludicrous amount of CGI, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of vaguely fun, but the first part of the movie feels like it tries so hard to have you harbor some semblance of emotion or fear for any of the characters in the movie. When Pepper falls into the fire, it’s during the middle of fighting DOZENS of Super Goos who’re all immortal(ish.) A few people in the theater even so far as to let out derisive “PFT”‘s. There’s no fear for anyone, no stress involved for anyone watching the movie, and the one main character who dies, Maya, she does in such a way that 1. is kind of hilarious, 2. comes SO FAR out of left field that I was convinced she must be a totally different character or that I’d heard something incorrectly, or 3. she just dies half-off-screen, so she’ll just being in Iron Man 4: Iron Man Harder.