Film Review: 'Iron Man 3'
Opened: 25 April 2013 (UK)
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley
Director: Shane Black
Producer: Kevin Feige, Walt Disney Studios
Marvel continue with their money making superhero juggernaut with this week's big ticket release Iron Man 3, the sequel to Iron Man and Iron Man 2, the seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first major release in the franchise since The Avengers. While the first Iron Man was a major trendsetter and paved the way for many other superhero films after it, Iron Man 2 proved to be a major disappointment, focusing more on Tony Stark's alcoholism and not so much on a fast paced screenplay. Shane Black has corrected all the mistakes made in the second one, and made what is undoubtedly the best film in the series.
Set a few months after the attack on New York as depicted in The Avengers/Avengers Assemble, Iron Man 3 starts off by delving into Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) insomnia, and how his arrogance has been replaced with an edgy anxiety after witnessing what was in the 'worm hole' when he rescued the world in Marvel's last big outing. Stark is now in a live in relationship with Pepper Potts (Paltrow), who's a little on the edge too with Stark's growing obsession with creating state of the art Iron Man suits.
Coupled with Stark's psychological issues, there's an imminent terrorist threat spearheded by a madman ominously referred to simply as the Mandarin (Kingsley). When the Mandarin threatens to destroy everything dear to him, Stark decides to confront his fears and take the matter into his own hands with the help of War Machine, now known as the Iron Patriot (Cheadle).
Unsurprisingly, Iron Man 3 is astonishing visually, an experience only enhanced by viewing it in IMAX. What makes it marginally better than its predecessors, is that unlike director Jon Favreau (who directed the first two and incidentally also stars in this film), Shane Black has successfully given the franchise a more light hearted spin (Superman 3 tried this tactic all those years ago, and failed), while still focusing on the darker more underlying themes in the film - something previous two installments tried to do too but didn't entirely succeed. Of course, Black is aided greatly by Downey Jr. who simply ROCKS as Stark. He owns the role completely, has oodles of charisma and the way he delivers his dry, witty lines is in fact one of the high points of the film. He gets able support from the remaining cast, particularly Kingsley, who delivers in a short yet integral role. Paltrow, finally, has a meatier part and makes the most of it.
Another plus in the film, is that Black has successfully tied in with the Avengers film, without letting it overtake the main plot, and the inclusion of a fellow Avenger in a rib-tickling scene is cleverly done, even if it adds nothing to the plot.
Perhaps the only niggle of the film is Guy Pearce in a so-so performance as the film's lead villain. He doesn't quite deliver and while in other superhero franchises, the villain almost always walks away with the film, here Pearce is completely overshadowed by Downey Jr, perhaps for no fault of his.
That minor niggle aside, Black's film is a fitting end (?) to the trilogy. It's explosive, entertaining and gripping - basically everything that a summer blockbuster should be.
I'm going with three and a half stars for Iron Man 3, with an extra half just for Robert Downey Jr.'s rocking performance. The film is by no means perfect, but if it's a good time at the pictures you're after, then Iron Man 3 will not disappoint.
View the trailer of Iron Man 3 below.