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An Iron Man of the People - a review of Iron Man 3
Summary: Shane Black steps into the director’s chair and this installment to the trilogy still retains the heart and soul of the characters. The human story still stands out against the special effects. A top-notch production.
The trouble with some blockbuster adventures on the big screen is that the producers and directors forget that, underneath the explosions and mayhem, the story has to shine through the special effects to keep us, as audience members, grounded. That’s why the Star Wars prequels tend to lose their mature audience.
Iron Man, though, was always about the human element. Underneath the armor, there was a living, breathing man – a flawed one to be sure, but a man nevertheless.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a real character against a fantastic backdrop. He’s still as narcissistic as ever, elevating his own agenda and beliefs above those of everyone around him as he strives to produce the perfect weaponized armor to defend the country and the people he loves.
This time, he’s facing off against an Osama Bin Laden type, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) who is intent on bringing the young mogul to his knees. The story is rife with subplots that will keep the comic book on which this movie is based flying off shelves for months to come.
But along with the powerful battle storyline, there comes a sense of closure to the Iron Man trilogy. Will there be a fourth installment? Only time will tell.
The strength of the story lies in the caliber of the acting. Downey not only brings the character to life, but grounds him in reality even against a backdrop that forces suspension of disbelief.
Supporting actors Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau (who also directed one and two) and Guy Pearce, all Oscar level performers, not only lend credibility to the story but elevate the production from merely a glorified retelling of a comic book tale to a real big screen experience.
Beyond the acting, the story is very effective at keeping us on the edge of our seats. There are at least two gasp out loud moments that will shock the audience and at least one moment where I had to stop and cringe – there’s no way a non CGI enhanced actor could have survived the pummeling. But that’s the beauty of summer blockbusters. If characters weren’t pushed to their limits, the fun factor would be drastically reduced.
Iron Man 3 is the perfect movie to kick off the 2013 summer season. It has an ideal blend of humor, action and pathos to satisfy even the most discerning of moviegoers. There’s a lot more to look forward to over the next few months, but I suspect Downey and company will have staying power for quite a while. I give the film 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.