Movie Review: Iron Man 3

Tony Stark,  “man-in-a-can.”  And yet we can’t help but love the guy, because even with all the films Robert Downey Jr. has been in, it’s the Iron Man universe that he seems to have the most fun with.  And when an actor as talented as RDJ has fun, so does the audience.  Add an A+ screenplay and enough jaw-dropping FX to make even the most action-weary fan sit up and take notice, and Iron Man 3 not only keeps the franchise chugging along nicely, it raises the bar up a notch.  Or three.

The Avengers have saved NYC and the world from the evil plans of Loki.  It seems that they’ve all gone their separate ways, perhaps to eat shawarma in their own homes.  So when a terrorist that calls himself The Mandarin comes knocking, it’s Tony Stark that decides to take him down.

Not all is as it seems from the trailer.  With today’s “lemme show you everything the movie has to offer so you won’t be the least bit entertained if you see the film” type of trailers, that’s a feat of derring-do its ownself.  Without giving too much away, let me say that there are plenty of touchstones for fans of comic canon.  And viewers who haven’t picked up a comic book in years won’t have to worry either; the film is just as enjoyable even if you don’t know the backstory.  Iron Man 3 doesn’t get weighted down with exposition, and that’s a good thing.  It feels as if these new twists and turns will be adding to the Avengers 2 war-chest.  I can live with that.

Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as always as Tony Stark.  In Iron Man 3 there’s a lot he’s still dealing with from his work in The Avengers.  He’s no longer the happy-go-lucky badass from the first film, nor is he the weakened man from 2.  Stark is a man who has lived through highs and lows, done bad things and good.  Iron Man 3 shows Stark his life, and he alone has to figure out how to continue.  It’s a compelling idea, and works well even without the superhero doodads.  (There’s some awfully cool doodads here, btw.)

As much as I love RDJ as Tony Stark (and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts…haters gonna hate) it’s J.A.R.V.I.S. that comes into his own in Iron Man 3.  JARVIS. — Tony Stark’s A.I. Alfred (short for Just A Really Very Intelligent System) — is still voiced by Paul Bettany, which is a good thing.  One, because I love continuity, and two, because he’s got a the perfect voice for a hyper-intelligent Guy Friday robot.  With all the problems Tony has in this installment, you really get to see JARVIS step up and throw some seriously hilarious comeuppances in Tony’s direction.  Another character that gets to talk smack to Mr. Stark is young Ty Simpkins (Insidious) as Harley Keener, a kid that Tony Stark/Iron Man runs into.  And let’s not forget the awesome chemistry RDJ and Paltrow have as Stark and Pepper Potts.  Is there believable romance between the two?  Yep, but there’s also a genuine affection and the sense of long-lived familiarity.  Which of course lends itself to even more snark.  Hooray!

Let’s face it, the entire screenplay for Iron Man 3 is killer.  Drew Pearce and Shane Black (with help from the original comic book writers Stan lee, Don Neck, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby) get the perfect balance of action and humor here.  I’d love to share my biggest and most favorite surprise of the film, and how hilariously it plays out, but then it wouldn’t be a surprise for you now, would it?  Okay, highlight the “invisotext” below if you don’t mind being spoiled:

OMG, when Tony Stark finds out that The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is just a drug-addicted actor payed to play a Big Bad, and that “Mandarin” is really a class-A idiot?  Priceless.  Kingsley whips out an EastEnders accent and gives a performance Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack would be proud of.  Bravo, actors and screenwriters.  Bravo.

With Shane “Lethal Weapon” Black in the director’s seat, if you think there’s gonna be a ton of slam-bang action in this film…you’d be absolutely correct.  Stuff gets blown up, burned down, mashed and brutalized in various and sundry ways.  There’s also a boatload of the old “early prototypes” of the Iron Man armor, and it’s fun to see them all.

With all the amazing special effects in this film, you’d think that 3D was a given.  Not so much.  In Iron Man 3 the 3D is a post-conversion, which means the film was shot in 2D (aka “normal”), then had the 3D whizzbangs added on in post-production (aka “after the film finished filming”).  In other words, the 3D isn’t that in-your-face, and I didn’t even notice it in the climax.  What I did notice is the amazing IMAX, because the killer effects in this film warrant a bigger glimpse of the action.

So go see Iron Man 3.  You’ve seen the first two.  You wanna see the third one.  You won’t be disappointed.

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