Generation Iron 3

3 out of 5

Directed by: Vlad Yudin

While still lacking the fortune of a natural structure determined by the contest prep that the original Generation Iron followed, Generation Iron 3 is able to move past the open-endedness of GI 2 that made it rather unfocused by literally expanding its scope: GI 3 takes a look at bodybuilding worldwide, exploring not only what it takes to pursue the sport in certain conditions, but also what it means to the competitors / hopefuls from various nations.

Generation Iron 3 has a lot of faces to cycle us through, and so director Vlad Yudin smartly sinks back behind the camera once more, excepting an opening question-and-answer session with the public that highlights the film’s main flaw: a lack of a cohesive idea about what the movie is trying to accomplish.  Yudin’s question to people on the streets is “What do you think about bodybuilding?,” and that’s intended to branch into how that question could be interpreted internationally, but it gets lost behind wandering discussions with Kai Greene – a fascinating guy, but his thoughts didn’t seem too applicable to the general subject matter this time around – and some time spent exploring the different divisions of bodybuilding.  In the latter case, we again meet some really endearing, interesting people, but the fitness and classic competitors are almost deserving of their own film which can do their focus and prep proud; whenever we get a more personal story from Brazil, or Russia, or India, it takes over the screen, and elevates and drives the film.

These different tracks followed are thematically linked enough to not feel like the chasing-its-own-tail structure of GI 2, it just makes you wish Yudin was willing to drill down a bit deeper on any one section.  Still, the stories we get are worthwhile, and there’s a larger sense of humanity that runs through the film that makes it more inspiring than the curiosity aspects of 1 and 2.