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David Fagin Headshot

Iron Man 3: Plenty of Iron, But Still Hopelessly Anemic

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Maybe it's my refusal to succumb to the ever-growing, integrity-sucking fungus that is the perpetual, year-round blockbuster that wouldn't let me enjoy watching one minute of the third installment in the Iron Man trilogy, or, it could've been the preposterous, completely-unbeliveable-even-for-a-fantasy-flick plot. Either way, after receiving praise from two of Hollywood's toughest critics -- my parents -- I decided to check it out. In the end, I've never been so glad it was "Optimum Free Movie Tuesday."

The reason the first Iron Man worked so well, in my opinion, is because even though we knew it was fantasy, the writers did a great job of sticking to reality for the better part of the first half of the movie; A kidnapped, brilliant industrialist is forced to engineer a nuclear weapon and, instead, constructs a suit of armor to defeat his captors. Okay, I can roll with that. Sure, the last half of Iron Man 1 is the usual trusted-friend-turns-on-hero crap, but by that time, we're already drawn in due to the terrific first part.

Fast forward to Iron Man 3 and suddenly, all traces of reality and intelligence have vanished. In its place, we're left with the requisite wall-to-wall explosions, a few well-timed jokes in tense situations, a reference to modern-day terrorism that appears completely forced, and an absolute laugher of a plot: A disabled scientist, who steals a formula to regrow limbs for disabled vets, ends up turning himself, and others, into human fireballs? Seriously?

I know I'm most likely alone in this point of view, as the thing's already grossed over $1 billion, but this ridiculous base for a story completely ruined any hope I had of suspending my disbelief. Even in fantasy. You want me to believe Robert Downey Jr. can build 50 Iron Man outfits, by himself, in his spare time in his "Wii-to-the-tenth-power" home in the Malibu hills? No problemo. But, I'm sorry. I simply cannot allow myself to believe there are all these disabled vets running around exploding. Some who can control it, some who can't, etc. etc. Nuh-uh.

A good part of the reason is directly due to the writers' continuing desire to portray Tony Stark as a 'real guy.' This shameless mixing of metaphors and "crossing of the streams," with regard to the storyline make it even more confusing and zany to watch. Add to that it looked like 98 percent of the movie was green-screened, and it felt like I was watching a high-tech cartoon for most of it.

Let's not forget poor Ben Kingsley. One of the finest actors of our time, whose rolls from Ghandi to villain extraordinaire Don Logan in Sexy Beast more than prove his prowess, has obviously decided to just take the money and run. It made it a little less painful to watch him in this tale of sound and fury that signifies nothing when we are let in on his character's funny little twist, (his role ends up being the only redeeming quality of the entire movie) but still... please, Ben... I beg of you; no more Hollywood blockbusters, okay? You're so much better than that.

Let's not even talk about the fact that Gwenyth Paltrow's character, Pepper Potts, is captured and apparently administered this deadly serum for what appears to be a good portion of the afternoon, yet somehow she doesn't blow up and is able to use it for good. And, then is put back to normal.

It's not exactly news that movies have come to the point where a script is just something agents use to stick under the wobbly table leg at Spago. Nor, is it news the studios' only concerns these days are the effects and the stars -- case in point, Will Smith appears to be on track to break the world record for "Movies made about the end of the world," but, c'mon people, at least pick one direction and stick with it.

Considering all the superheros, sequels, and special effects taking up 80 percent of our theaters these days, it's a miracle Daniel Day Lewis and Helen Mirren haven't applied for food stamps.