Iron Man 3

by Alan Rapp on May 3, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Iron Man 3
  • IMDB: link

Iron Man 3The third time is hardly ever the charm in movie franchises, especially those adapted from comics. Shane Black, who replaces Jon Favreau behind the camera (although Favreau stays on to continue his role as Happy Hogan), delivers a thoroughly satisfying third (and quite possibly final) entry in a way Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan, Richard Lester, and Brett Ratner all failed to do.

After some rather unsubtle foreshadowing involving Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) meeting with a pair of scientists (Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce) back in 1999, we catch up some months after the events of The Avengers with a shaken Stark agonizing over the enormity of how much his world has changed since the alien attack that leveled much of New York.

While struggling with both anxiety attacks and his relationship with the ever-plucky Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark’s world is further shaken by an attack that leaves Happy severely injured by the hands of a new terrorist calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Overcome by grief, Stark goes on the offensive calling out the terrorist and puts everyone he cares about, and everything he has worked towards since his capture in Afghanistan, in jeopardy. Needless to say, this doesn’t go well. To save his loved ones, protect the President of the United States (William Sadler), and rescue the woman he loves, he’ll have to confront the mistakes of his past and, without the help of his friends or high-tech gadgetry, figure out how to still be the hero the world needs him to be.

The script by Black and Drew Pearce crams an awful lot of plot into a two-hour popcorn flick that somehow never seems overburdened with juggling the various story elements. Although Stark still has his trademark smirk and snarkiness, in this film it’s balanced by real fear of being thrust into a world with cosmic threats which he honestly doesn’t know if he can handle. One of the failings of Iron Man 2 is it didn’t take advantage of having a terrific actor in its leading role. Iron Man 3 doesn’t make the same mistake.

Iron Man 3

Comic and cartoon fans of the Mandarin are not likely to recognize this version of the character. Gone are the magic rings and a quest for world domination. Black’s script instead recreates the character as the new Osama bin Laden, the overly dramatic leader of a terrorist cell responsible for several bombings around the world. I must say I had very mixed feelings about the change, but this version of the Mandarin (although far different than the comic character who spawned him) has far more going on than you may initially realize (and makes terrific use of the decision to cast Kingsley in the role).

Along with the threat of the Mandarin, Iron Man must also deal with super-powered killers (James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak) enhanced by the Extremis virus, a magic bullet that hacks the repair centers of the body to repair damage, regrow lost limbs, and make those infected with it into living weapons. Tied to the film’s opening scene in Switzerland, Stark will have to deal with Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who he left alone for more than a decade to use Maya Hansen‘s (Hall) research to weaponize Extemis, with frightening results.

Iron Man 3

Along with these stories the film still finds time to include subplots about Rhodes‘ (Don Cheadle) new role as the U.S. Government rebrands War Machine as the Iron Patriot and a storyline involving a young kid (Ty Simpkins) in Tennessee who helps Stark get back on his feet and back in the game after the film’s villains deal our hero a near crippling blow. The later could have been truly awful, but Stark’s dickish behavior to the kid keeps the segment from getting too sentimental or schmaltzy.

The film isn’t perfect. Pearce is far too ridiculous in the film’s opening scene, Hall’s character isn’t really given the arc it deserves, Paltrow gets a big heroic moment that though deserved after two movies stuck as the girl Friday still feels forced, and the 3D, while neither awful or distracting, is almost entirely forgettable. These are are minor quibbles, however, for a film that is far more fun than I expected. Black’s involvement seems to have rejuvenated Downey’s interest in the character and seeing Downey in full egotist mode spit out Shane Black’s snark-filled dialogue is a hell of a lot of fun. And yes, you should stay through the 70’s style credits for one final scene that’s worth seeing.

Although I don’t think it quite reaches the dramatic heights of the first film, Iron Man 3 doesn’t suffer the same fate of both Iron Man or Iron Man 2 whose final acts fizzle out with somewhat disappointing action sequences. Iron Man 3 is the only one of the three films that continues to get better (after a shaky beginning) and finds a proper way to deliver an astounding final fight sequence and epilogues that, if Marvel wishes, close the door on the franchise on a high note.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

CoosCoos May 3, 2013 at 3:14 am

It was amazing. Full of twists and turns. While definitely the darkest and most serious of the three movies, it also is the most hilarious. The pacing is relentless, with almost non-stop action and humor.

Kingsley is absolutely incredible, steals almost every scene he’s in. The fan boys were already in a huff about how The Mandarin wasn’t going to be up to par with the comic version, but just wait till they see him. Those with an open mind will embrace him.

The scenes from 1999, which actually manage to tie in the first movie, are great.

And hey, finally it’s not Iron Man against a guy in a suit! They broke the cycle!

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Alan Rapp May 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

They found a much better way to highlight the actors during the final fight than the first two movies where both the heroes and villains kept popping their helmets off for no reason to remind the audience that there were actual actors involved. It really helps Killian and his crew aren’t in suits. What they do with Stark during the fight gets a little ridiculous (because it happens over and over again) but it’s a pretty cool idea and it’s so refreshing to see them doing something different with that final fight.

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travis May 8, 2013 at 10:04 am

I don’t understand why so many fanboys are killing this movie. I have liked what they did with the Mandarin.

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homer May 12, 2013 at 6:29 am

I guess I’m one of those comic nerds that just didn’t get what they were trying to do. Why waste the Mandarin on a character like this?

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ambowe May 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

He wasn’t the Mandarin I wanted to see with his rings and crazy magic but I enjoyed Kingsley.

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oaktree May 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

Forget Star Trek and go see Iron Man 3 again. This movie kicks ass.

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