Iron Man 3 is hardly the perfect comic book movie and while it certainly was better than its predecessor, which was more of a prequel to The Avengers, it didn’t quite meet the standards of the first movie. Even so, Downey Jr. once again hits it out of the park and the plot itself, albeit simple, was engaging enough. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the villains although Kingsley and Pearce give it their all. Iron Man 3 is a fun, entertaining film perfect to kick off the theatrical summer season.
IRON MAN 3 (2013)
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Marvel/Paramount | PG13 – 130 min.
Directed by: Shane Black
Writer(s): Stan Lee and Don Heck and Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby (characters); Drew Pearce & Shane Black (screenplay)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak
Theatrical Release Date: May 3, 2013
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
“You know, its times like these when I realize what a superhero I am.”
Iron Man 3 marks the fourth outing for Robert Downey Jr.’s appearance as wise-cracking multi-billionaire Tony Stark tackling multiple issues from his near-death experience in New York (in The Avengers) to his romantic relationship with Pepper Potts (GWYENTH PALTROW) and the latest global threat in the form of a terrorist known as The Mandarin (BEN KINGSLEY) who has been setting off bombs worldwide and increasing rhetoric against the United States.
But something beyond terrorism is going on and it involves crippled brainiac scientist Aldrich Killian (GUY PEARCE) who, when the movie opens, had approached pre-Iron Man Stark about a great opportunity with his think tank company, A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) but Stark blows him having more fun at the party and his latest flame, botanist Maya Hansen (REBECCA HALL). We fast forward to present day and now Killian is healthy and meeting with Potts whom he had asked out multiple times in the past. He’s come to Stark Industries, run by Potts, to propose his new invention called Extremis allowing the insertion of healing agent of sorts in a subsector of the brain (at least I think that’s what it does). Realizing the moral implications, Potts declines the offer.
Killian attracts natural distrust from Potts’ bodyguard Happy Hogan (JON FAVREAU), Stark’s former protector, so he follows Killian’s right-hand henchman Savin (JAMES BADGE DALE) and discovers Savin passing off a briefcase and discovers it’s some sort of delivery system which the other man injects and suddenly goes nuclear vaporizing everyone in sight save for Hogan who happened to dodge behind a surprisingly resilient product cart. Hogan is brought the hospital in a coma which sends Stark into a rage and out for revenge speaking directly to The Mandarin egging to come after him, going so far to give his home address; kind of surprised his home address was a highly guarded secret… Meanwhile, with his address now known, Maya Hansen drops by with a bit of important information but before divulging it, the Mandarin’s minions take up his offer and blast Stark’s home nearly killing himself, Potts and Hansen. Home blown up, Stark barely makes it out alive and manages to get himself to Tennessee, flight plan drawn up by Jarvis (voice of PAUL BETTANY) prior to the attack, where his research found a similar explosion which predates the Mandarin.
In a small Tennessee town, Tony is battered and his Iron Man suit depleted of power, he encounters a boy (TY SIMPKINS) who helps him out both in healing and filling him in on the explosion which the common story was a soldier had blown himself up, killing 5 others with him. Stark manages to find the soldier’s mother who had a top secret folder meant for someone else… that someone else being Brandt (STEPHANIE SZOSTAK), a woman working for Killian and has a special set of powers which I’m still not entirely sure what they are, but they cause major damage to their opponents. After a brief encounter with Savin, Stark escapes and sets out to uncover what’s really going on and to find The Mandarin who is much closer to home than anyone realized.
Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man movies, hands over the reins to the mostly unproven Shane Black whose only other film was the underrated crime-comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where the budget was only $15 million. Black is mainly known for his script writing, in particular Lethal Weapon but also writing The Monster Squad, Last Action Hero, and the afore mentioned KKBB. In his first big budgeted extravaganza, Black does a good job delivering a concise story and mixing high octane action with funny, good-natured comedy and one-liners.
The cast, as always, is impressive. Robert Downey Jr. continues his winning streak completely comfortable as Stark, to the point its second nature to him given it’s his fourth time playing the character (not counting the cameo in The Incredible Hulk). Aside from Christopher Reeve as Superman, and by June 14 we’ll see how Henry Cavill will fare, Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man playing the part perfectly.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s role continues to grow with each movie, although this time falling into the damsel-in-distress crater which we’ve seen time and again even in the best comic book movies. Even so, Paltrow is great in the part and shares wonderful chemistry with Downey Jr. It will be interesting to see where the producers take this character in, presumably, subsequent sequels.
The rest of the cast are fine, if not average. I was disappointed the most by Guy Pearce who is an incredible actor but his part as a villain never quite connected and got cartoonish toward the end, although not nearly as bad as Nic Cage in the Ghost Rider movies… thankfully. Don Cheadle proves to be a great sidekick and friend for Iron Man playing War Machine/Iron Patriot and showing nobody misses Terrence Howard in the part. And Ben Kingsley is, well, Ben Kingsley playing a tough part but doing it well even if it wasn’t the best way to handle the character.
Outside of my disappointment with Pearce and to a lesser extent Kingsley, and I mostly blame yet another lame villain which seems to plague these Marvel movies, I was perplexed with some of the decisions made with the writing, specifically at the end where we more or less get a footnote on the proceedings including the piece of shrapnel removed from Stark’s chest. To me this is a monumental moment and to be dealt with and dispensed with in a matter of a couple of minutes was a injustice for the character, for fans of the comic book and for fans of the film series. I realize that Downey Jr.’s contract was up for the role and perhaps they wanted to wrap it up in case this was it for him in a solo Iron Man movie, but it just seemed way too rushed.
In the end, Iron Man 3 is hardly the perfect comic book movie and while it certainly was better than its predecessor, which was more of a prequel to The Avengers, it didn’t quite meet the standards of the first movie. Even so, Downey Jr. once again hits it out of the park and the plot itself, albeit simple, was engaging enough. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the villains although Kingsley and Pearce give it their all. Iron Man 3 is a fun, entertaining film perfect to kick off the theatrical summer season.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman