Iron Man 3 - Review
It made sense for the first post-Avengers Marvel movie to be Iron Man 3. Not only has it been five years since his last solo outing, but out of the four main Avengers, it's Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Tony Stark that has the most charisma. Can you imagine being as interested with Chris Hemsworth's Thor, or Chris Evans' Captain America? I don't think so. And it seems like writer and director Shane Black understands this too; much like last year's The Dark Knight Returns, this is a film more concerned with the man than the mask.
Attempting to cope with the events that transpired in New York during The Avengers has left Stark suffering from panic attacks. Meanwhile, a new super-villain is on the rise, the Mandarin, who has so far has evaded capture, despite War Machine, now known as The Iron Patriot, being sent by the U.S. government to track him down.
One thing you'll notice is how long the film is, clocking in at around 180 minutes, the runtime could certainly have done with a trim in some places, especially early on. It's by no means a terrible thing, but the pacing does lag at times. This isn't a great idea when your film is essentially about a man in a metal suit who blows things up.
Fortunately, these minor foibles are counteracted by the otherwise sharp script. Even though Tony's not meant to be at his best this time, there's still plenty of chances for the film to indulge in the light-hearted comedy that ran through the first two instalments. This again comes almost solely down to the central performance from Robert Downey Jr., who continues to run that fine line of being infuriatingly arrogant, whilst at the same time weirdly funny.
Black also avoids trying to one-up the action sequences that were in The Avengers. Rather than go for a cluster of over the top fight scenes in an effort to outdo last year's film, there's instead an emphasis on seeing Tony fight without his suit. It's a refreshing change and also reminds us that, on top of having a super-powered suit of armour, Stark is also meant to be an incredibly smart guy. Make no mistake, there's still the special-effects laden sequences that we've come to expect from modern Hollywood blockbusters, it's just managed more tightly.
It also reinforces the film's themes that this particular movie is about Tony Stark attempting find his identity outside of the suit. One scene in particular, of him pulling a battered up Iron Man suit through the snow, really hammers home this idea. It's simple visual story-telling but it works, and it's nice to see a mainstream Hollywood movie spend enough time on the details, rather than just punch you in the eye-sockets with the CGI effects.
If anything, the focus on Stark has meant even less time being devoted to the rest of the cast. It would have been great to see Don Cheadle's role as War Machine fleshed out more. Admittedly, it's difficult for other characters to get any limelight with a performance such as Downey Jr.'s, but there's sometimes the impression that the other characters are there for little more reason than because they should be.
The villain this time around avoids the "evil Iron Man" problem. Both bad guys in the previous films were little more than another Iron Man, that happened to be bad, in a bigger suit. This time around we get human regenerators with the ability to burn stuff, not to mention explode on occasion. It sets up a nice contrast; Stark's technology versus human biology, but still seems lacking and can come across somewhat bland at times. There's never really been a villain that has matched Iron Man on a charismatic, or personal, level.
Overall however, Iron Man 3 makes for a suitable conclusion for the trilogy. It's difficult to see how things will pan out with the inevitable sequel, although we can of course expect Tony Stark to return for The Avengers follow-up. Like its main character, the film may not have quite the spark that the earlier instalments did but, as a finale, it isn't afraid to throw in a couple of unique ideas into the mix. If the second Thor movie can come close to what Iron Man 3 achieves, then Marvel's very lucrative film franchise(s) will still be going strong.
Iron Man 3 - Official Trailer
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