Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has had a rough time of it since the alien invasion of New York and his time with the Avengers as Iron Man. Stark can’t sleep and when he does his dreams are filled with images of the worm hole and his falling and more. To occupy his time, Stark has built several different versions of his Iron Man suit. He now is up to the 42nd design. Stark has also injected himself with microprocessors that allow him to control his suits remotely. Girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) now lives with Stark but his preoccupation with his various suits and his unfocused behavior is taking a toll on their relationship. Potts, who now runs Stark Industries, is visited in her office by an old acquaintance, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Potts remembers Killian is a bit of a pest who frequently asked her out, but now Killian looks different. He’s much more stylish and confident, and the limp he had is now gone. Killian wants Stark Industries to invest in his project to hack into human DNA as a way to cure disease and repair injury, a project he calls Extremis. Potts is concerned the project could easily be weaponized and she refuses. Happy Hogan (Jon Javreau), who is now security chief at Stark Industries, doesn’t like the look of Killian’s driver Savin (James Badge Dale) and decides to follow him. Hogan sees Savin give an apparently sick man at a shopping area a briefcase. When the pair split up, Hogan bumps into the man Savin met and causes him to drop the case which pops open. Hogan helps the man pick up the items that fell from the case but palms one that looks like a syringe of some type. Savin intercepts Hogan and the pair begins to fight. Hogan punches Savin in the face, breaking his nose, but the injury heals in seconds. Savin’s eyes and skin begin to glow red and he throws Hogan around like a ragdoll. As Savin approaches Hogan to finish him off, the man Savin met begins to scream and is growing more brightly red. Savin and Hogan both hide as the man erupts into a massive explosion. Hogan barely survives and witnesses a charred and still burning Savin walking away from the carnage, his body quickly healing, replacing body parts that were blown off in the blast. The detonation is blamed on a terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). The Mandarin is able to override all the broadcast and cable stations and take credit for his attacks which he implies are only going to get worse. After seeing Hogan in the hospital, Stark is swarmed by reporters and issues a challenge to the Mandarin to come get him at his home and gives the address. It wasn’t a good idea and helicopter gunships arrive, destroying his house. Stark is believed dead but is actually investigating other explosions similar to the one that injured Hogan and others that have been attributed to the Mandarin.
Robert Downey, Jr.’s third go round as Tony Stark just shows what a good actor he is. Downey is able to find new and fresh things in Stark and make you believe this character is mostly just an average guy, despite his enormous wealth and the whole superhero thing. He also once again displays his precise comic timing and improvisational skills as many of his more humorous replies and retorts in the film seem unscripted. If they are scripted, it is even more impressive that Downey can make them sound fresh and in-the-moment.
“Iron Man 3” is about what you’d expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which seems to be an official title). The action is massive and relentless. The characters are well-rounded and many are as familiar as old friends. The bad guys are easy to pick out and they even manage to throw a surprise or two at the crowd. All in all, it’s a very good effort and is much better (in my opinion) than “Iron Man 2.” If the film lacks anything, it’s a place to let the audience breathe a little. While Stark is investigating the Mandarin when everyone thinks he’s dead, there is only a small lull that is quickly blown up by another action scene. Perhaps because I saw the 3D IMAX version, I felt almost assaulted by the film. IMAX movies are so loud and the explosions are so concussive, it really felt like I was under attack as much as Iron Man. Maybe the filmmakers are concerned that if they don’t load up the action that the audience with get bored. Perhaps the younger ones would; but that shouldn’t stop the writers and director from allowing the audience to rest from the last SFX-loaded action scene before the next one comes to beat us over the head.
I also thought the motivations of the Mandarin were a bit vague. The reasons given in the film seemed a bit thin and unworthy of such a massive conspiracy. All the bad guys are following orders that don’t appear to be moving their group in any particular direction. “Kill Iron Man” isn’t enough of a reason for all the effort this group seems to be going to. I would have liked a more concrete reason for all the mayhem.
While I thought the film was a bit hyperactive and the motivations of the villain a bit fuzzy, I still enjoyed it. The cast is excellent with Guy Pearce as a loathsome villain, Ben Kingsley giving a surprising performance (I don’t want to give too much away about his role) and Gwyneth Paltrow delivering a sweet but steely performance as Pepper Potts. In the previous films, Paltrow has largely been window dressing; but this time, she’s a major portion of the plot. Granted, she’s the woman in need of saving but that old cliché gets flipped over on its ear. Another member of the cast that needs some recognition is a young actor named Ty Simpkins who plays a troubled boy named Harley that Stark meets while on the lamb. While it is shameless manipulation to give Stark a child sidekick, it works to perfection. It doesn’t hurt that Simpkins is a cute kid and a very good actor who has a fair amount of comic ability at such a young age. I don’t know if there’s any room for Harley in future Iron Man cinematic adventures, but I know I wouldn’t mind if he turned up again.
“Iron Man 3” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. There are plenty of explosions and CGI punches thrown throughout the film. Some of the people who are modified are shown with severe injuries that heal quickly. The brief suggestive content is very brief and not terribly suggestive. Foul language is widely scattered and very mild.
Much is made about the bonus scenes at the end of Marvel character movies. There is one at the very end of the credits of this film as well but unlike the first round of pre-Avengers films, it doesn’t set up any future combination of characters or introduce us to the Guardians of the Galaxy. It is a mildly funny scene involving one of Downey’s “Avengers” co-stars but it isn’t anything earth-shattering. Also, the 3D conversion is nothing special. So much so that I forgot I was watching the film in 3D. Save your money and see the standard version.
“Iron Man 3” gets five guitars.
Two new films arrive for your consideration this week. Tell me what to see and I’ll be your humble servant. Vote for the next film I see and review.
The Great Gatsby— Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby's circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.
Peeples— After a year of living with his girlfriend Grace, Wade Walker is eager to propose to her, but she's still reluctant to introduce him to her snobbish family.
Stan’s Choice—Stan see and reviews and film of his choice currently playing in theatres.
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