Review: Iron Man 3
Directed by: Shane Black.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, Paul Bettany.
Things have not been going great recently for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). The events he experienced in New York during his time with The Avengers has taken it’s toll on his mental state, and in the short time since then, he has barely slept and suffers from occasional panic attacks due to the resulting P.T.S.D. Throwing himself into his work, he’s devoted his time entirely to building different and more advanced versions of his Iron Man armour, including the new advanced Mark 42, which through chips implanted in his body, he can assemble onto himself purely by thinking about it. As a result of this, he has neglected all other aspects of his life including his friendship with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), now head of Security at Stark Industries, and his romantic relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Things in the world are also becoming somewhat similarly bleak, with terrorist attacks on U.S. soil by a villain who identifies himself in hijacked television broadcasts as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). After one of these attacks, Happy is injured and left in a coma, causing Stark to openly issue a challenge to The Mandarin via the press, meanwhile Pepper meets with Aldrich Killian (Guy Pierce), a man who years earlier at college was turned away by Stark while partying with botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). Now Killian, working with Hansen, has come up with an amazing advancement in biological engineering called Extremis, which he plans to use for his own gains. When The Mandarin responds to Stark’s challenge by attacking his mansion, Stark must deal with the toughest enemy of his life, while still not at his best, to save everything he loves.
Fans of the Extremis comic book series will have recognised it’s strong influence over the first two Iron Man movies, with the origin of the Tony Stark character taking from this heavily in the first movie, and smaller elements such as the suitcase suit shown in the second movie. Here, a lot more has been referenced, including the characters of Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen and most of all Extremis. There’s also another element which has been taken from the comics, that of the Iron Patriot, which side-kick James Rhodes’ War Machine has been re-branded in the movie by the American government to inspire hope in the face of The Mandarin terrorist attacks.
Often, elements from comics that are transferred to the big screen do not work, largely due to the time since the comic’s publishing and changes to the world view during that time, but to ensure this co-writer and director Shane Black has reworked certain elements to make this a modern set story, influenced by the subjects that greatly affect the world today such as the threat of terrorism. Some purist fans of the comic book will take issue with a few of these ret-conned elements, but for me they worked to make this more connectible and relevant.
The cast are pitch perfect. Being that this is based on a comic book, there was much chance of someone going over the top with their performance and chewing scenery, which some do occasionally come close to doing, but are reeled back from doing so in the end. Though there are understandably some characters that are short-changed slightly for screen time, what we’re given is solid performances from the supporting cast around a great lead performance from Robert Downey Jr. Here he’s likeable as ever in the role, but because of his damaged persona, struggling to deal with his mental state, it makes him a more interesting and real character, and feels like what was missing from the first two versions of his character in the previous movies.
There’s also lots of nice touches for fans throughout, with some callbacks to the previous movies including a flashback meeting between Stark and Yinsin (Shaun Toub), which was mentioned during their time in the first movie, and of course references to the events of The Avengers (a.k.a. Avengers Assemble), but at no time are these intrusive to the story, which Shane Black keeps on track and centre stage. His view of the Iron Man world may be darker than that of director Jon Favreau (who directed the first two movies), but it’s a lot more confident in it’s handling of the Iron Man persona, and injects a lot more humorous elements into the movie closer to the humour of the first movie without them feeling out of place and using a skilled subtlety that makes them work without feeling like they’ve been forced into place with a sledgehammer.
In fact the character’s emotional state isn’t all that’s been given a work over, a great deal of issues people had with the previous movies is that they began to lose interest once Stark put on the suit and the movie just became two guys fighting in a suit. Here though there’s been a conscious effort to stay away from that wherever possible, with Stark, due to power limitations of his new suit design, not being able to just use the armour whenever he wants, and being forced to take action as Tony Stark and not as Iron Man. There’s a extremely well choreographed action scene which involves Stark only using parts of the Iron Man suit instead of the whole thing, and it’s a joy to watch what must have been a logistical nightmare to film, but is pulled off beautifully.
Stay until the very end of the movie’s credits for a nice cameo sequence, after which there’s a James Bond-like text card appearing on screen promising “Tony Stark will return”. After pulling off a final part of a super-hero comic book trilogy that is both as dark as The Dark Night Rises yet a more fun and enjoyable experience, I hope that Shane Black will as well.
Posted on April 25, 2013, in Reviews and tagged Aldrich Killian, based on comic book, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Extremis, guy pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Happy Hogan, iron man, James Badge Dale, jon favreau, marvel, Maya Hansen, paul bettany, pepper potts, Rebecca Hall, robert downey jr, shane black, stan lee, the mandarin, tony stark, trilogy, William Sadler. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.