Review: Iron Man 3
PLOT: Tony Stark has faced challenges before and the effects of his previous adventure have been getting to him on a personal level. To make matters worse, he and his colleagues are soon tested by a villainous and extremely deadly terrorist by the name of Mandarin. WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
REVIEW: IRON MAN 3 begins with Tony Stark revealing a part of his past through narration. Soon, we are witness to an explosion that is bursting from behind his many Iron Man suits so prominently displayed in his in-house workshop. Something pretty devastating is clearly happening. Yet quickly, the unlikeliest of heroes changes his mind and takes the viewer back to 1999. It is then he meets the painfully awkward and spectacled Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, who is nearly unrecognizable). He asks Stark, and his date for the evening Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), if they would consider being part of a think-tank of sorts for his invention to better mankind. Promising to meet Killian, Stark forgets about the strange fellow leaving this miserable soul stranded. This decision will most certainly come back to haunt him.
Since IRON MAN 2, Stark has faced something very few mortal men could ever imagine. As part of THE AVENGERS he faced the deadly threat of an alien army and nearly fell to his death - quite literally from outer space. In the latest film from Marvel, this monumentally heroic undertaking has taken a toll on him physically and mentally. This includes a series of panic attacks and wicked nightmares. It has become so difficult that even the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), is feeling the strain. To make matters all the more complicated, there is a deadly string of bombings going on with a dastardly devil named Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) taking credit for it. When Stark’s security go-to-guy Happy (Jon Favreau) is injured during one of the attacks, the Iron Man takes it upon himself to call out this menacing terrorist.
Stark/Iron Man is a unique hero with an edge thanks to another knockout performance by the film's star. After taking this character on for the fourth time now, Robert Downey Jr. continues to create a layered individual who is trying to deal with the awesome nature of what he has become. The references to THE AVENGERS are especially well played here without becoming a crutch or relying on the previous film. Unlike IRON MAN 2, this sequel doesn’t dwell too much inside the world of the Avengers aside from how it affected Stark. As snarky and egocentric as Stark may be, he retains much of the charm he infused into the first film and feels a bit more heroic here than he did in the second film.
The stakes are also much higher for the people in Stark’s life that he holds dear. Clearly Happy finds himself in danger, yet it is Pepper Potts who faces serious danger creating a desperation that audiences can root for. I’ve always appreciated the chemistry between Downey and Paltrow and it is in full effect here. It’s sparked with humor and charm and it makes their relationship much more interesting. She is thrust into his world more so this time around which raises the stakes and also the unpredictability of the entire film. Thankfully both of these talented actors give their all and never feel as though they are simply cashing a paycheck. And am I the only one who finds Paltrow as Potts painfully adorable?
As far as supporting cast, you can’t do much better than Guy Pearce and especially Ben Kingsley. While I won’t go into detail about the role they play in all of this, I will say that Kingsley is utterly fantastic here. He is terrifying when need be and far more layered than one would expect. The actor is so good that he nearly steals the whole damn movie, even though some viewers may not be thrilled with the direction they take the character, there is no doubt that he is absolutely brilliant. Other supporting players that stand out include James Badge Dale and William Sadler - Rebecca Hall’s not so bad either. It is also satisfying to see the very talented Don Cheadle have a little more to do than simply clean up after Mr. Stark.
When Shane Black was first announced as the new director in the series, it seemed to be an intriguing, yet questionable choice. Happily the director brings out some of the intensity that he did with some of his earlier scripts including LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG (which he directed as well). There is an urgency that builds to an especially exciting climax, one which is sure to please Marvel fans. As dramatic and dark as it can get, it never loses the humor which has become an important factor in the Marvel Universe. With Favreau’s Happy Hogan consistently requesting “passes” at the workplace or the fun dialogue between the film’s stars, there is a nice balance between the dark and the light.
For anyone who has watched the trailer, when you see Stark's mansion fall, it is just as impressive as it appears to be. Considering this is only Black’s second directorial feature, he handled the effects especially well. All the effects work is definitely on par with the rest of the Marvel films which shouldn't be too surprising at this point as they seem to know what they are doing by now. Even the Iron Man models took on a brand new life in an inventive and thrilling way. By the third film (fourth if you count THE AVENGERS) the IRON MAN formula could have easily become predictable and dull. Perhaps what this particular franchise needed was a new voice and Black is a perfect fit.
IRON MAN 3 delivers on nearly all counts. My only complaint is that it runs a little long and feels like it could have been tightened up, especially as it steers closer to its impressive climax. And if you plan on seeing it in 3D, there is nothing really special about the conversion (unnecessary), although it may be worth it simply to see it in IMAX. In the end, the humor and thrills and everything else that made the original so refreshing and unique is here and then some! The score by Bryan Tyler is befitting as well and is especially nice to hear as the credits roll as opposed to some modern rock or rap song. In every way, this latest chapter is one of the best Marvel features to date. Tony Stark’s latest adventure is an enthusiastically exciting ride that never loses its humor or its edge.
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|Extra Tidbit:||At this point do I really need to remind you to stay past the credits?|