Movie Review: Iron Man 3Posted: April 30, 2013
It seems only fitting that the first hero out of the blocks following Avengers Assemble should be the one who kicked off the cinematic Marvel universe, Iron Man. Some of the old faces return along with some new ones and there’s a new man behind the camera in Shane Black, best known for his work as a screenwriter, takes the reins from Jon Favreau.
The movie picks up Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) some time after the events of the Avengers movie, with the billionaire superhero carrying psychological scars from his near death experience which manifests in panic attacks and an obsessive devotion to developing increasingly advanced Iron Man suits.
This leaves our hero emotionally frazzled and sleep deprived, and is putting strain on his relationship with live-in girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). His friend, James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) seems aware of Tony’s problems and tries to help, but is also kept busy as his own alter-ego War Machine, now revamped as Iron Patriot.
Meanwhile, a terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) has taken responsibility for a series of bombings and hacks into television feeds with his own videos where he delivers warnings of further bombings.
One of the Mandarin’s attacks hits close to home when Tony’s friend and former bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) is badly injured, and goaded by press questions Tony delivers a televised threat to the Mandarin, which leads to an attack on his home. His latest Iron Man suit, a malfunctioning prototype enables him to survive but crashes miles from home near the location of an explosion Tony suspects is linked to the Mandarin.
Stranded and alone, can Tony overcome his demons and work his way back to Pepper? Without is suit can he still be a hero and work out what the Mandarin’s agenda is and how it ties in with two old acquaintances- Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a brilliant scientist who Tony had a fling with and who has developed a revolutionary medical process and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who previously worked and pursued Pepper, and who Tony snubbed, who now seems to have found success and still seems interested in Pepper.
First of all, I have to say I was impressed with this flick. While I’m a big fan of Black’s previous work and was looking forward to this one, a change of director can unsettle a franchise, and while Iron Man 2 was fun, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first movie, here however, the series really recaptures it’s form and Black creates a brilliant superhero movie.
As with the previous installments the movie’s major strength is it’s leading man, with Robert Downey Jr remaining effortlessly cool and charismatic as Stark, delivering a funny, engaging performance. That’s not to say it’s all glib one liners, in this installment Tony has to face up to his own demons and fears, and RDJ should be applauded for handling this just as well as the swaggering and quipping. He captures the frazzled, burnt out and insecure Tony in the early stages, and then the increasing focus and grit the hero has to adopt as the film progresses.
The film’s script is a delight, with a lot of nice touches and one little twist in particular that I really dug but won’t reveal here. It’s filled with funny one-liners and bickering dialogue, and also features a wonderful opening narration from Stark which reminded me of Black’s directorial debut, which also starred RDJ, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but if you’ve seen that movie you’ll know it’s not a bad thing to be reminded of.
RDJ is ably supported by a great supporting cast. I’ve really enjoyed Paltrow’s work as Stark’s love interest, as she’s quite smart mouthed herself and holds her own opposite RDJ. Here their relationship feels quite real, with Tony’s obsession causing problems and her feeling ignored and powerless to help him with his demons.
Enter Guy Pearce, who plays the geek turned smoothie with aplomb and tries to charm her away. Pearce is brilliant, all slick swagger while hinting at a darker underbelly and he seems to be enjoying himself as his character gets to reveal more of himself.
Don Cheadle is again rather underused as Rhodes, but he and RDJ have good chemistry as buddies and he carries himself with genuine toughness and integrity. Jon Favreau has a little more to do here after relinquishing directing duties and is amusing as Tony’s overly thorough as the new head of technology.
The best is Ben Kingsley’s work as the Mandarin, he’s largely kept in the background for much of the film and mainly appears in these wonderfully done video broadcasts, which play like dark, twisted WWE promos and he delivers them with real gravitas and a pervading sense of menace.
But this is a superhero movie and a major part of that is action sequences and spectacle and it delivers this in spades. There are some well done and impressive super-powered villains along the way and we also get to see lots of different Iron Man suits in action, which is pretty awesome. The fight sequences are over the top and characters get thrown around all over the shop, but it fits with the hyperbolic genre and they’re consistently entertaining.
What I also dug about this film was that it never goes into cheesiness or moping. Even when haunted by his demons Tony’s still charming and funny, and while the scenes where Tony befriends a young boy are sweet and endearing, there’s still enough bite in the character and the script to stop it getting too saccharine.
It’s a well made super hero movie and tons of fun, gets the series back on track and means that I’m extra excited for the further Marvel movies. There’s a sense of the series coming to a natural stopping point, which is a shame as I still think the character of Tony Stark can do more on screen. I’ve heard mention in interviews of continuing without RDJ in the title role, but personally I think you’d have to be an idiot to try and top his performance, I can’t think of anyone who would even come close.
Verdict: RDJ continues his stellar work as Tony Stark in a big scale, hugely entertaining blockbuster. It might not quite match the first, but it’s a pretty damn impressive movie and Shane Black keeps it moving nicely. The supporting cast all do their jobs, and it adds more depth to our armoured hero. The Marvel movie universe continues to impress. 8.5/10
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO