Marvel sequel with Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow
Calling Iron Man 3 a mixed bag doesn’t really do justice to the heady peaks and interminable troughs. In the minus column, there’s the tedious, talky first act, the script’s uneasy attempts at psychological realism, and Robert Downey Jr’s disastrously smarmy facial furniture. But they’re balanced out by a handful of punchy one-liners courtesy of Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black, and a sprawling cast of reliable supporting players. Towering above them all is Ben Kingsley as one of comic book cinema’s most astonishing and unlikely supervillains.
Despite his unimpeachable screenwriting CV, this is only Black’s second film as a director and it shows. When he’s in his element Black delivers the goods in style, but he seems out of his depth during the larger set pieces: the action sequences are busy and confusing, especially the misjudged, threat-free climax.
The result is a film which never settles into a comfortable groove. It tries to be an angsty Dark Knight-style game changer, an ’80’s-throwback action romp, a nudge-wink pastiche and a CG-fuelled spectacular. It’s undeniably entertaining with the misfires never fully overshadowing the moments of glory. But Iron Man 3 still feels like something of a disappointment.