Iron Man 3

Posted: May 3, 2013 in Film reviews

Directed by Shane Black. Starring Robert Downey Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley.

And so, a year after The Avengers (oh go on then, Avengers Assemble) blew most viewers away (certainly me as it was my top film of 2012) one Avenger gets his third outing, as Robert Downey Jr. dons the armoured suit once more as Tony Stark.

The film opens several months after the events of the Avengers film, where Iron Man helped take down an alien invasion fleet, and Tony Stark almost died closing a wormhole. Still traumatised by the events of that day, Stark can’t sleep, and spends his nights working on a whole host of new prototype suits. This doesn’t please his girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Paltrow), who’s now moved into his home.

Meanwhile the American Government is trying to track down a vicious terrorist mastermind called The Mandarin (Kingsley) who appears to be behind a series of bombings across the globe that leave no trace of a bomb… When Stark’s former bodyguard (Jon Favreau, relieved of directorial duties but still allowed to attend the party it seems) is injured in one such blast Stark issues a challenge to the Mandarin to come and face him, even going as far as to provide his home address. The Mandarin duly obliges by sending helicopter gunships to attack, destroying Stark’s home and very nearly killing him and Pepper.

With only a single battered suit and a slender clue as to the true nature of the bombings, Stark sets out to find out more and defeat the Mandarin, but is everything as it seems, and just how is sleazy scientist Aldrich Killian (Pearce) connected to the Mandarin?

The first thing to make perfectly clear about Iron Man 3 is this. It isn’t as good as the Avengers, though frankly I’d have been amazed if it had been given what a perfect storm of a film that was. This isn’t to denigrate Iron Man 3 however, as it’s pretty close to being one of the most enjoyable superhero films.

A huge part of the film’s enjoyment stems from Downey’s performance, and yet again kudos to whoever originally had the idea of getting him to play Tony Stark, because as casting decisions go it’s a doozy, and whilst you can imagine someone else playing most superheroes, it really is impossible to imagine anyone else doing Iron Man justice. It takes a certain class of actor to play a character who’s arrogant, superficial and, quite often, downright rude, yet for that character to still be as engaging and downright likable as Tony Stark is.

From flirting with Pepper to bantering with Iron Patriot and the bad guys, to creating a snarky double act with a young boy and making it anything but cringe worthy, Downey Jr. is superb, and he owns every scene he’s in, though it’s testament to the fact that Downey Jr.’s ego probably isn’t anywhere near as big as Tony Stark’s that he doesn’t insist on Stark being an infallible, indestructible, dull character, and he’s even quite happy for someone else to lay the final smack down on the bad guy.

Of course even Downey Jr. can’t save a film from being a washout, or from just being a bit average, on his own; Iron Man 2 proved that and as well as the film’s lead, credit needs to be given to its director and one of its screenwriters, Shane Black, the man responsible for writing Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and a whole host of films featuring witty banter and set and Christmas…er, kind of like this one!

Black’s line is banter and Downey Jr.’s pithy delivery really are a match made in heaven (as anyone who’s ever seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang can attest) and he directs well, keeping the pace going and making it a thrilling ride.

Cast wise the film is filled with talent. Paltrow plays a great Pepper, and it really is refreshing to see the male lead in a relationship with a woman who’s actually not much younger than him, rather than someone half his age. Guy Pearce is pretty much excellent in everything he does, and he doesn’t disappoint here, smoozing around dressed like Don Johnson in Miami Vice. Rebecca Hall is somewhat underused, but thankfully Don Cheadle’s role gets meatier as the film progresses.

The star of the show though (aside from Robery Downy Jr. and maybe the kid) is Ben Kingsley as the nefarious Mandarin. He’s fantastic, and it’s a performance you won’t forget in a hurry…

The film does take a while to get going, and there are times in the early stages where it feels a little all over the place, but once things start to slot into place earlier events suddenly take on a whole new meaning, and whilst some have criticised the wham bam ending, I actually quite enjoyed it, and whilst it is cgi heavy, that’s only to be expected, and Black does at least avoid the trap of having faceless characters who might as well just be from a video game slugging it out, and for much of the action Downey isn’t even in the suit. We’ve come a long way since the horror that was Spider Man vs. the Green Goblin all those years ago; two faceless masks in a pointless fight.

At heart the film could be accused of being somewhat hollow, though I’d argue there is some meat beneath the flashy effects and snippy dialogue, but even if there weren’t, not every film has to be deep and meaningful. At the end of the day what I most want from a film is to be entertained, and Iron Man 3 did just that. Funny, action packed, exciting. It’s no understatement to say I had a big grin on my face when I left the cinema.

Iron Man, gold standard….

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Overall, it’s another great movie for the beginning of what looks to be a great summer. Nice review.

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