REVIEW: Iron Man 3

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Marvel Studios kicked off their movie experiment with Iron Man in 2008, and began the road to Avengers with 2010’s Iron Man 2, so it’s only fitting that Iron Man 3 is the first post Avengers movie, and is used to kick-off Marvel’s Phase 2. With a new writer and director calling the shots, does Iron Man 3 crack under the weight of expectation?


ironman3-BnWIRON MAN 3
Directed by: Shane Black

Written by: Shane Black and Drew Pearce

Tony Stark/ Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr.
Pepper Potts: Gwyneth Paltrow
The Mandarin: Ben Kingsley
Aldrich Killian: Guy Pearce
James Rhodes/ War Machine: Don Cheadle
Maya Hansen: Rebecca Hall
Jarvis (voice): Paul Bettany
Happy Hogan: Jon Favreau
President Sal Kennedy: William Sadler

Following the Battle Of New York, in the climax of The Avengers, Tony Stark is falling apart. He is not sleeping  and may be suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress. Enter enigmatic terrorist The Mandarin, and some Extremis shenanigans, all of which leaves Tony Stark going on a journey of self discovery to rebuild himself…

Much like how The Avengers has Joss Whedon’s fingerprints all over it, this movie definitely feels like a Shane Black movie. The man who created Lethal Weapon, and brought us the brilliant Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, now brings Iron Man in a new direction. Right from the first music cue, which is definitely not AC/DC, you know this is going to be a very different Iron Man movie.

A MOVIE FORGED BY A TALENTED BLACKSMITH

This is undeniably a Shane Black movie: it is set at Christmas; it is book-ended with a quirky voice-over; it has a solid story; good performances; is very funny; and is peppered with a variety of fun action sequences. It is precisely what you want from an Iron Man movie.

The performances are of the high quality that you’d expect. Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark, the man is charisma factory. He works as well here as he did with Black in Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. He delivers everything just perfectly, be it he sparkling and witty dialogue  or his heart-felt “hot mess” speech to Pepper. Paltrow gets a bit more to do here, and is as sweet as she was in the previous two. Cheadle brings his usual cool, and is kinda the straight-man here. Murtaugh to RDJ’s Riggs, if you will. Pearce too is very good, but I suspect that, much like Aaron Eckhart was over-looked in The Dark Knight, he may be over-shadowed by Kingsly.

Ben Kingsley is brilliant here, in a surprisingly difficult role. His voice is very cool and easily mimicable, much like Joker and Bane before him. There were always going to be issues about how to use the magic-based Mandarin in the tech-based Iron Man world, but this works. They do alter the character quite a bit, in a possibly controversial manner actually, but it works brilliantly for the movie and will likely have people talking about it for a while.

In fact I can see how aspects of the movie may irritate Iron Man comic purists. I’ve not read the Extremis story, upon which this movie is clearly based, so I don’t know how closely it sticks to it. Then there’s the character changes and developments, that presumably differ from the books, that could raise the ire of the more extreme fans, but it does all work for the movie.

CLEVER AND FUNNY SCRIPT, CRAFTED BY A WORDSMITH

The writing here is pretty darn solid. The story starts slowly, with hints of what is happening, and of what is to come. It is wicked clever in places, never force-feeding you the plot, instead trusting the audience to pick up on bits, and follow along. It isn’t just a dumb comic-book action movie. The Malibu action sequence has a few genuinely touching moments as everything is going kablamo around them.

This is also a very funny movie. Shane Black’s movies are always filled with quips and clever one-liners, and this is no exception. There are also a few laugh out loud sight gags too. Even the Tennessee kid side-kick, which was presumably Disney mandated, is actually pretty cool, with some of the funniest moments in the movie. He and RDJ have good chemistry.

On top of all that, there’s the action, which is all pretty awesome, and different. There are a lot of action scenes where Tony is out of the suit, particularly in the middle Tennessee section, and these scenes are just as fun as the massive Iron Man action sequences. The climactic act is action packed, with a Lethal Weapon 2-esque setting. It is refreshing that the final fight isn’t entirely a CGI-fest, in that it’s not just two guys in suits whaling on each other. That said, there is a lot of fun suit-based explosions at the end. It is all very cool, and all the suits are cool, even if it is a somewhat flagrant ploy for toy sales.

The movie isn’t perfect though. The Black influence may not be to everyone’s taste, and the fact that Tony is out of suit for a lot of the movie may not please everyone. The story, and cartoon violence, may be a little much for the very young audience members. And the way the story conveniently wraps up half way through the final at, getting plot out of the way so massive action can explode all over the place, is a bit convenient. This movie may not be the awesomest awesome that ever did awesome, but it is still pretty darn awesome.

BOTTOM LINE: IRON-CLAD FUN

So… This movie is a big barrel of monkey fun, and possibly Shell Head’s best solo outing yet. There is a definite tonal and visual change from Iron Men 1&2. It looks more noir, much like Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, and less bright than IM1. Possibly not quite the breath of fresh air that IM1 was, but it’s a damn sight better than IM2, which was showing rust. Iron Man 3 is really a Tony Stark movie, and in the hands of Shane Black, it is a damn fine, fun and funny film.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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