Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Time to scrap Iron Man?

Published Thursday, 02 May 2013
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Are you sick of superheroes? No, of course you are not, cinema audiences are lapping up any caped crusader movies ...

But I am, especially when as in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is an angst ridden shambles suffering from performance anxiety. What's so super about that?

"I have a lot of apologies to make," whimpers Stark. "Nothing's been the same since New York." That's since The Avengers assembled and Iron Man joined Hulk, Thor and Captain America to battle aliens in the Big Apple. "I can't sleep," Stark continues. "And when I do I have nightmares."

And no wonder, because Iron Man 3 has plenty of polish but lacks real punch. Downey Jr is of course engaging, but even he looks slightly bored.

Billionaire/Industrialist Tony Stark can now control his heroic invention remotely, so sadly he spends most of the time out of the Iron Man suit. Indeed along with Colonel Rhodes (Don Cheadle), he even takes on the villains with an old fashioned hand gun! Huh? Of course, director Shane Black was the screenwriter of the Lethal Weapon movies.

Iron Man 3 is the seventh instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and first since The Avengers. And that is the major problem. The Marvel characters undoubtedly work better as a team, with the action flitting from one hero to another. Back on his own again, the man in the iron suit looks decidedly rusty.

Also, surely now that you are friends with Bruce Banner, when you find yourself and the entire world under attack, you would simply call The Hulk? Not so. Appearing on TV screens at will is the self proclaimed enemy to the free world, the Osama Bin-Laden styled 'Mandarin' (Ben Kingsley). "You know who I am," he says. "You don't know where I am. And you will never see me coming." Unfortunately these days, I can see Sir Ben coming.

For despite a much heralded twist, this is another ridiculous and ham-fisted performance from the one-time Oscar winning star of Gandhi. What I can't understand is why Marvel don't stick to the superior character creations of the comics, where the Mandarin is a fearsome Chinese warlord not an overacting English knight.

But the real master villain of Iron Man 3 is smooth scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Dressed like a Don Johnson impersonator, complete with shiny suit, slip-on shoes and blonde highlights, this Miami Vice megalomaniac and his army of mutant soldiers are intent in destroying Iron Man and planet earth.

Pearce, who is normally one of my favourite actors, joins Sir Ben with an equally laughable performance. This film is so desperate to be witty, it even comes with irreverent henchmen, making it more Austin Powers than super powers.

The script is confusing in tone, but not nearly as confusing as the Christmas backdrop to the action, a very strange setting for a summer blockbuster. In the end, Tony asks long suffering girlfriend Peppa Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow): "Who's the hot mess now?"

I'm afraid you are, Iron Man.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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