Now I would love to follow that opening statement with a glowing endorsement of Iron Man 3, but I can not. What I can do is tell you the score.
I had the opportunity to screen this at a large theater packed with a few hundred of the people who helped make it. In sitting up front as I always do, I was hyper aware that any groaning, head shakes or overt eye rolls might be detected by those talented people behind me. That being said, I took note each time I began to do one of those things as a result of something off putting on the screen before me. The count was 7. Caught my self shaking my head or throwing it back in anger 7 separate times. Each time I was able to recover and turn the motion into a shoulder roll as though I was having neck pain so as not to be detected as a jerk at their screening, or at least I hope. The 3D glasses helped with this ruse as I was constantly fumbling with them throughout, as I always do.
These reactions were caused by various offenses including clunky one liners, a young actor whose role was forced down our throats and some questionable CGI and predictable action maneuvers (the 3 point Iron Man landing can be seen here in spades.)
On the brighter side, I found my self laughing with genuine purpose on 5 separate occasions. Robert Downey Jr. continues near perfection as Tony Stark, anyone else in this role might leave this franchise worthless and unwatchable. His new found vulnerabilities were both believable and added a level of depth to his character. Gwyneth Paltrow works as his endearing Pepper, however, she was responsible for one of the previously mentioned 7 head shakes/shoulder rolls before it was over. While Guy Pearce didn’t do much for me, Ben Kingsley was lots of fun as The Mandarin and filled out the evil villain void left in Pearce’s wake.
By far and away the best thing to be experienced in Iron Man 3 is a high altitude rescue. This rivals the opening high altitude sequence in The Dark Knight Rises.
Perhaps the most interesting credit to note here is Shane Black‘s. The Pittsburgh born director known more for penning The Lethal Weapons has only been at the the helm on 2 other movies and not since the 2005 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang staring RDJ and Val Kilmer. If you haven’t had a chance to check this one out, it’s worth sending away for. I credit his style to some of the funnier lines and exchanges (especially between the aforementioned young actor and RDJ.) Dialogue that might have been considered choppy, unpolished and blown by some made the cut and the stutters and miscues worked well and felt natural and endearing. Almost allowed me to like that kid.
So in the end the score was 7 angry head shakes, 5 audible laughs and 1 exceptionally impressive action sequence. That’s about par for the summer blockbuster course, despite the fact that the entire story takes place during the height of the Christmas season.
Finally, it might be worth your while to stick around through the credits. Could be the longest list of names I’ve ever seen and I sit through most of them. The visual effects team alone looked more like a list of lost World War II vets. If large throngs of names don’t peak your interest, there is some Tony Stark voice over for you before it’s all over.
COULD WATCH 3 0f 5
Must Watch = 5 0f 5 (See it in the theater if possible/buy it or pay for rental)
Should Watch = 4 of 5 (Worth sending away for)
Could Watch = 3 of 5 (If it’s on a pay channel or streaming for free)
Should Not Watch = 2 of 5 (Only if friends or family insist)
Do Not Watch = 1 of 5 (Don’t allow friends or family to make this mistake)