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Iron Man 3 – Movie Review

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Iron Man 3 – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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With Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe complete, the studio now enters a second phase of their mega-interconnected franchise and if Iron Man 3 is any indication, their team of writers and directors will really put our favourite heroes into some serious turmoil. This is perfectly acceptable in developing the characters and showing how much pain these comic book superheroes must go through when not in costume. That is the best aspect of Iron Man 3, which continues the solid quality of the previous Marvel films and starts Phase 2 on a good note.

 The big New York battle in The Avengers definitely played a toll on Tony Stark, which no amount of shawarma can fix and director/co-writer Shane Black does a very good job of portraying his post-traumatic stress. Robert Downey, Jr. has been categorised as an actor with an impressive ability at throwing out whip-fast one-liners, but his damaged Tony shows how incredibly adept he is at dramatic roles. The hurt is evident in his facial expressions as aided by Black’s direction. It’s a fascinating piece of exploration on a character known for his heavy drinking and strong sex life, but this Tony is stripped away from that. Maybe more than the first two films, we get a true sense of what goes into the mind of Iron Man. For most of this sequel, Tony is out of his suit as he tries to balance his obsession with his robotic toys and his relationship with Pepper Potts. Being an accomplished comedic writer, Black is able to nicely mix this in with the frequent comedy, though the script takes a little while to find some funny jokes and asides.

 One addition to this film is a young boy who meets Tony Stark, while he’s completely suitless and lost in a world far from his expensive Californian lifestyle. If he was out of his element in that Middle Eastern cave in the first film, he’s an even more lost fish in the snowy American Mid-West. Having him interact with a mechanically-minded boy could have been disastrous and an obvious attempt to pander to the ten-year-olds in the audience who won’t relate to Tony’s post-Avengers trauma. However, the interaction with the two actually works very well, with a lot of credit going to Ty Simpkins for his natural performance.

The villains in the previous films were their weakest elements and comic book fans will definitely be divided by how they are portrayed here. An interesting approach is taken with the Mandarin, a bin Laden-like terrorist with a penchant for wildly edited video broadcasts and anti-American threats. It certainly provides a change from the more mechanically-obsessed antagonists from the first two films and Black is none too subtle in addressing the real world fear of actual terrorists. Where the Mandarin is taken will definitely irk a good many, but I felt it worked into the general theme of fear and how we respond to and view terrorist forces.

Ben Kingsley’s depiction certainly fits into that thesis, but the reaction people might personally take away from how they write him is as unpredictable as the twists and turns in Iron Man 3. The film throws in a lot of unexpected avenues, but none of them made me roll my eyes. In many ways, Black writes this like a detective story as the audience is invited to solve the mystery along with Tony. Multiple viewings have a good chance of revealing small hints that might have been missed the first time.

 Shane Black handles the action exceptionally well, with some breathtaking sequences. The stand-out is the destruction of Tony’s mansion, which utilised a revolving set, showing his brain is as big a weapon as his bulky suit as well as some excellent planning and choreography. The final climax throws a lot at the screen, but still managed to be intelligible. You can tell Mark Bakowski’s visual effects team worked overtime to make the exciting ending work as much as possible. Jon Favreau was always better at the small character moments than big action spectacles, but Black directs both of these Iron Man necessities with ease and big-screen entertainment.

 Iron Man 3 is what we have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, by presenting these iconic heroes on screen in a fun action adventure, while adding the necessary gravitas key in giving them development. Explosions and action alone don’t hold up superhero flicks and Shane Black crafts a strong script that gives Tony Stark a personality more than just “a cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner”, to quote him in one of the film’s funnier lines. The Mandarin will definitely be a controversial detractor for many viewers, but as a whole, Iron Man 3 keeps the consistent quality of this franchise.

Review by: Stefan Ellison


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