Iron Man 3 Film Review
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Iron Man is back and his return was as awesome as hoped for. Iron Man 3 is a funny, emotional, and thrilling superhero action film that delves into the mind of Tony Stark, challenging him to his very core. After last year's gigantic success of The Avengers, the question was whether or not Marvel could continue to deliver with their individual films and the answer is a resounding yes. The future release of the Thor sequel, the Captain America sequel, and Guardians of the Galaxy have a high standard to live up on the road to the Avengers sequel.
Iron Man 3 begins with a flashback to New Years Eve 1999 where Tony Stark arrogantly disrespects crippled scientist Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, while getting ready to sleep with Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, at a technical conference. It is in this flashback where we are shown the capabilities of the substance known as Extremis, which is used to heal wounded veterans but turns into a corrupted super soldier virus. We then jump to the present day where the world is under constant threat from The Mandarin who has committed various acts of terrorism across the United States. Tony Stark is also dealing with severe anxiety and possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his experiences in The Avengers. He can't sleep and fills his time building Iron Man suits, which puts a strain on his relationship with Pepper. After Happy Hogan gets injured in a Mandarin attack, Tony issues a public challenge to the terrorist that destroys his world and sets him out on a journey to rebuild whats left of his life and take down those responsible for taking it from him.
I'm sure many of you who will read this have either seen the film or know what happens, but for the sake of those who haven't seen the film, I will not divulge the major twist of the film. I will simply discuss it's execution and impact on the film. In a surprising twist of events, a major shift occurs where everything Tony, Rhodes, and company thought was true gets undone. The impact of this twist has sent fans into a frenzy of either despising the change or understanding and accepting the change for the benefit of the film. I personally enjoyed the surprise and understood why they made the change. I felt like even though we did not get to see what we all had expected, we got something creative in an attempt to take something that's classic in the comics and do something new with it to better serve the story. I believe the change worked and was still somewhat faithful to the comics if you seek out certain stories with elements similar to what was done in the film.
The performance from Robert Downey Jr. was arguably his best yet as Tony Stark. We see everything that Tony Stark used to be get ripped apart after his experiences in The Avengers. He can't be selfish in a world with super soldiers, Norse Gods, and alien armies that threaten the Earth. His inability to reconcile his personal wishes with his moral obligations to a changed world serves as the centerpiece of Iron Man 3's drama. He endures anxiety attacks, has nightmares about the New York battle, and consistently avoids any discussion of the battle or The Avengers. His struggle to come to terms with his reality takes Tony to the depths of his own mind. To see him rebuild after being completely undone was a highly entertaining experience since I think that the real success of Robert Downey Jr. in this role is that he's a lot more interesting when he's not in the armor.
However, when he is the armor, the action is top notch. The action sequences in this film were thrilling and often brutal as Tony battles the Extremis powered soldiers. The destruction of Tony's house, the Air Force One rescue, and the climactic oil rig battle are all stand out action sequences. The use of all of Iron Man's armors in the climax was very well done as Tony would switch from armor to armor throughout the fight.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle deliver fine performances once gain as Pepper and Rhodey. Rebecca Hall does well as Maya Hansen. However, other than RDJ, the other standout performances are Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian and Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. Both stood as equals to Robert Downey Jr. and were very captivating on screen.
Overall, Marvel has delivered another fantastic film with the Marvel Cinematic Universe that continues to keep the bar high for future Marvel releases. The road to the Avengers sequel has begun and it's off to a great start.
Update: I have seen the film again after it's release on blu-ray and I stand by my opinion. It is a fantastic superhero film that gets the second phase of the Marvel Universe off to a great start. Robert Downey Jr. delivers what is arguably his best performance yet as Tony Stark, Ben Kingsley gives a scene-stealing performance as the "Mandarin," Guy Pearce puts on his villain shoes and does a great job as Aldrich Killian/the real Mandarin, Gwyneth Paltrow delivers as Pepper Potts, James Badge Dale does a nice job as the baddie Eric Savin, and Don Cheadle is good as always as Colonel James Rhodes a.k.a. Iron Patriot. The action was great and featured standout sequences in the destruction of Tony's house, the attack on Air Force One, and the climactic battle on the oil tanker. Tony's story arc that sees him trying to discover if he makes the machine or does the machine make him provided RDJ with an opportunity to portray Tony Stark completely isolated after the Mandarin literally attacks him at his front door. it was nice to see the creative team focus solely on Tony Stark without any inclusion from the Avengers or SHIELD since it allowed Tony a chance to prover his mettle on his own for the first time since the original film. I still give this film five stars.