Sunday, September 15, 2013

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 was a clogged up, fidgety, ejaculating bit of huffing that more or less reflects director Shane Black's film work so far, the principle examples being the homicidal idiocy that was (and remains) Lethal Weapon, as we the  painfully self-aware, winking-at-the-audience faux noir effort Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black seems to content on being a hip Michael Bay, or an idiot's version of Quentin Tarantino. 
Tellingly, lead actor Robert Downey Jr seems distracted through out the affair, listless even; fitting for a movie about a super hero who depends on what is essentially a robot suit to fight improbable villains and moronically conceived threats to the world (or at least New York City, given that this is a Marvel property), Downey clicks into default selection of mannerisms, vocal inflections and registers and spastic body language. To be sure, the action sequences and the special effects are nicely rendered and deployed, but this leads us into the realm of "so what", by which I mean that it is harder to admire films for technical competence in genre required scenes--in this case, further destruction of urban landscape. All the sequences look good , the way motel room "looks good" or elevator music "sounds pretty". 
For the rest, Iron Man 3 managed to be nerve-rattling erratic and tedious at the same time, as in someone suggested, it seems, that they try for some of that Chris Nolan "darkness" the worked effectively in his Dark Knight trilogy; we have a Tony Stark who appears beset by Billionaire's Angst, the worst kind you can get, where in he seems to realize that nothing he can build or spend money on will give him peace of mind or happiness. Interestingly, one of Iron Man's most problematic villains, The Mandarin, is the looming threat in this movie as Stark/ Iron Man tries to quip his way out of his encroaching depression; created in the early Sixties, the Mandarin is a villain that collects all the stereotypes of nasty, slant-eyed Asian geniuses who have plans to enslave the West. 
In the film he is portrayed by Ben Kingsly, the Asian characteristics are smoothed out of his appearance--you really cannot tell what nationality, religion or culture the movie Mandarin represents--and align him vaguely with Bin Ladin and other terrorists who have historically complicated death wishes for The West. At this point we might have had an interesting, complicated villain to contend with, an evil man who's nastiness has a nuanced rationale. This didn't happen. In keeping with a movie that keeps your attention jerking from action scenes that are as senseless as Battle Bots being played with by meth heads in steel storage container and scenes that are dime store pathos, lugubrious and reeking like a man who's waited to long to take a bathroom break, the true nature and meaning of the Mandarin is revealed in a way that tells you that time and money were getting tight as a carnie's lips wrapped around a Marlboro 100.

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