Iron Man 3 Final Cut Score: 70%
That thrill has flown the proverbial coop in Iron Man 3, a movie so block-headed, so aimlessly busy, you'd think Michael Bay directed the thing.
Actually, that would be an upgrade.
Downey Jr. dons the iconic metal outfit – more off than on in this installment – for the fourth time, his Tony Stark suffering from post-traumatic Avengers disorder — that flick's big ol' alien invasion bestowing anxiety attacks upon the billionaire bad boy. Tinkering with his armor-encasing ensemble, Stark's latest breakthrough has pieces of the suit fusing to his body on command via microchip implantation. A lame attempt to make the film's ineffectual – flat – 3D effects relevant.
With a ruthless terrorist, The Mandarin (the great Ben Kingsley), bringing the world to its knees, blowing up military bases and whatnot, it's not until Stark's ex-bodyguard (a bursting-out-of-his-suit-in-a-balloonish-way Jon Favreau, director of the first two editions) winds up a casualty that Iron Man goes after the Osama bin Laden knockoff whose pattern of speech resembles a Southern Baptist preacher.
But one bad guy isn't enough for director/co-writer Shane Black. A freak show from Stark's past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pierce doppelganging for Brad Pitt), takes captive Stark's lovey dovey, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), threatening to make the World's Most Beautiful Woman® spontaneously combust with an injection of a gene-regeneration therapy, which has a nasty side effect of turning human beings into bombs. (Insert eye roll here)
Black egregiously overplays his hand, introducing a crapload of cursory plot points. The most irritating: Stark playing a father figure to a barn-dwelling kid genius as the pair do detective work in rural Tennessee. Aside from one riotous quip from RDJ, it's pointless.
What's up with Black's insistence of setting his projects at Christmas time? From Lethal Weapon to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the one-time actor is crazy obsessed with Santa. A summer tentpole has no business taking place in December. Unnecessarily awkward.
While those issues are problematic, Black's single worst misdeed is the neutering of The Mandarin. The maniacal megalomaniac takes a jarring – disastrous – turn from menacing to amusing. The character's castration is straight-up deplorable.
And don't get me started on the interminable, mind-numbing battle at an abandoned shipyard to close things out.
What did Marvel expect after surrendering a $200M enterprise to a dude whose directing credits totaled one. Downey Jr's prior relationship with Black on the aforementioned Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (a wholly forgettable film) clearly got Black the gig — the result: a quasi-nepotistic-created piece of nullity.
As Stark proclaims at the close: "I fix things". He should have focused that super power on the annoyingly strung-out script.