By Gary "Rust Boy" Murray

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle

Written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black

Directed by Shane Black

Running time 130 min


Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE


It is really hard to keep a franchise going to the third episode.  For every Lord of the Rings Trilogy Oscar winning ending, there is an Alien 3, Godfather 3 or a Superman 3.  The magic just seems to fade.

The other problem is that when a new director takes over the reigns, there is always this want to change everything up just to show that the director is doing their job.   After two back to back adventures, Jon Favreau decided to back out of the third adventure of Iron Man and Shane Black took over with the directing and half the writing.

The very beginning of this adventure starts in 1999 and with Tony Stark giving a voice over of events to some un-named person (watch the last scene after the credits for a special surprise).  Our hero has not become Iron Man but still has the ego of a genius millionaire playboy.  He meets Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) but in more interested in botanist Maya (Rebecca Hall).  Basically our hero gets what he wants and forgets about both of them.  The seeds of the adventure are planted within a few minutes but life goes on for the characters.

The bulk of Iron Man 3 picks up on the heels of The Avengers episode.  Tony Stark is a man preoccupied with his work again and having trouble sleeping.  It is a symptom of anxiety.  Battling for the future of the planet would be taxing for any man.   

He has become an obsessed man with Iron Man suits, making 42 of them.  His latest invention is the ability to call the suit onto his body.   This is played for comic relief on more than on occasion.

On the other side of the plot is a terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).  He is a radical fundamentalist who wants to bring down the Western world.  A series of mysterious bombing have taken place, acts of terror that he has claimed responsibility.  No one knows his true motivations or his whereabouts.  Colonel Rhodes (James Cheadle) has been tasked with finding this evil person in his own Iron Man style suit now titled Iron Patriot (Maybe another series of adventures?).

Stark’s life is not going well with Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow).  She is commissioned with running Stark Industries while Tony broods in his lab.  She has a meeting with Aldrich Killian who is somehow become much more attractive.  She loves Tony but is intrigued by this mysterious man and his AIM endeavor. 

Stark provokes an attack by The Mandarin and his henchmen, destroying his seaside house.  It is the big set piece of Act One and the CGI destruction is massive and impressive.  Our hero escapes in the #42 suit.  Everyone believes that he is dead.  It is much worse than that, he’s in rural Tennessee. 

The film is of how Tony Stark gets over his anxiety attacks and begins to piece together the connection between the explosions and The Mandarin.  He befriends a lost kid Harley who has an invention streak inside.  The area is also where one of the terrorist bombs exploded.  Tony feels that something is just not right with the blast patterns.  This mystery leads first to Miami then to a giant attack on the seeds of government.  Iron Man 3 builds to a massive fight scene in a shipyard. 

This is much more of a Tony Stark film than an Iron Man film.  The work explores more of the duplicity of the man than the actions of a hero.  Robert Downey Jr. once again proves that he is one of the best actors on the planet.  There is this smug attitude he brings to the character that is slightly off-setting but still winning.  Doing this character for the last few years has given the actor a unique opportunity to explore different aspects of the protagonist of the work.  Downey doesn’t look bored with doing Tony and seems to relish the flippant attitude.

The same cannot be said for Gwyneth Paltrow.  She is basically the damsel in distress, a character that is acted upon and not acting.  While she still looks great in business attire, she’s just not given much to do.  Rebecca Hall fairs much better at Maya.  What appears to be a one note performance becomes a bit more interesting under Rebecca Hall’s tutelage. 

But a film like Iron Man 3 is going to be a bad guy’s flick.  We have two in this outing.   Guy Pearce plays cool and sinister with equal measure.  There is something quite not right about him yet it takes until Act Three before every element of the plot is exposed. 

But the biggest praises have to go to Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin.  He seems to be channeling the ghost of Osama as he rants on the television screen.  This is a performance that gives the actor not only to chew the scenery but also on every surface around.  It is devilishly cleaver.    

Shane Black is a writer who directed the great 2005 action flick Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  Stepping into a billion dollar franchise is a daunting task and expectation are past being high, they are atmospheric.  He mostly delivers an interesting tale but not a tale that everyone anticipates.  Those expecting action from first frame may be a bit disappointed.  It is much more cerebral than flourish.

There are elements that are very far from the Marvel comic book universe.  This has caused some negative chatter in comic book circles.  This is a different animal than the world of pulp and ink and one should not expect for the writers of a screenplay to follow every aspect of a character that has been around for fifty years.  There have been so many derivations since inception that it makes it impossible to follow every little tenant set down over the decades.

Iron Man 3 is the first big summer movie and it delivers on that level.  It is an action flick that will entertain the masses though there is little reason to see it in 3D.  It adds little to the experience.  Also, the film does work as a stand alone adventure.  One does not have to have seen all the other incarnations of this Marvel universe to enjoy this adventure. 

The question the film basically asks is “Will Iron Man be back?”   Much like every James Bond adventure, the film has an ending slate of “Tony Stark will be back.”  We will just have to wait a few years for that to happen.



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