Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. brought Iron Man to the big screen for the first time a mere five years ago. I say mere because with this weekend’s release of Iron Man 3 Mr. Downey will have played the character four times in five years.
That first movie may have glorified the military industrial complex somewhat but it was also an immensely entertaining movie.
Iron Man 2 came out in 2010. It made a lot of money but it was nowhere near as fun as its predecessor. Of course Tony Stark and his expensive suit of armour were front and centre again in last year’s Avengers movie as well so we should really be quite saturated with smart talk and technological gee-whizzery from this character.
A character called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is the latest bad guy wanting to spread terror and rule the world in Iron Man 3. Bombs are exploding in different parts of the world and nobody knows what explosives were used.
Meanwhile Tony can’t sleep because he is still visited by memories of the time he flew a nuke into the tailpipe of the alien mothership and helped his superhero buddies save Earth.
Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) runs Stark’s company now, Happy (Jon Favreau) is his head of security, and an ex-lover named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and a rival businessman Aldrich killian (Guy Pearce) re-enter Stark’s life as all hell breaks loose.
Writer/director Shane Black takes over the reigns from Mr. Favreau for Iron Man 3 and the man’s signature jokey dialogue causes some tonal dissonance as the movie begins. Because Tony continues to use flippancy to cope with whatever demons he hasn’t made his peace with, while the world around him burns. For large portions of the movie the picture just felt a little too ‘in-yer-face’ for my comfort.
So there it is: weird jokey-serious tone, and uncomfortable cinematography.
Is that all? No! Not by a long shot.
This is a Big Budget Summer Action Movie right? Well what most big budget summer action movies forget to do, is deliver on the action. That is definitely not the problem with Iron Man 3. The action set-pieces are big, beautiful and dramatic. There is some intensely cool fight choreography on display here, and as the narrative unfolded I realized that the filmmakers kept a tidy bit of information about their movie out of their promotional materials. And that hidden stuff is very cool.
Mr. Downey still seems to derive some relish from the role he has truly come to own. He is glib, troubled, capable, and just the right amount of rich jackass to make his Tony Stark rank right up there with his performance as Chaplin.
Don Cheadle seems to properly get in on the action this time, as does Ms Paltrow. Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce are afforded enough screen time to do their characters justice. So really fun performances, visually rich sequences, and a return to enjoyability mark this third edition in the Iron Man movies.
Final Analysis: To my mind Iron Man 3 is the action/adventure spectacular the Avengers movie should have been. Shane Black is back (again!), and I want to watch this one again, as soon as possible.
My Advice: Catch it on the big screen but skip the 3D.