Friday, May 03, 2013

IRON MAN 3: The Film Babble Blog Review

Opening today at just about every multiplex in North America: 

IRON MAN 3 (Dir. Shane Black, 2013) 

Shane Black, best known for writing such action hits as LETHAL WEAPON and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, delivers a vast improvement over Jon Favreau’s IRON MAN 2 in this big-ass third installment of the series that features Robert Downey Jr.’s sharpest, and funniest, performance as the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark yet.

There are possibly more laughs (most of them from Downey Jr.-delivered one-liners) than there are thrills throughout, but the centerpiece sequence of Stark’s ultra-modern Malibu cliff-side house being destroyed by missile-firing attack helicopters puts the humor on hold for an armrest-gripping eye-popping experience of major proportions.

But onto the plot: Downey Jr.’s Stark, sleepless for months and still shaken from events in last summer’s Marvel smash THE AVENGERS, via opening narration takes us back to a New Year’s Eve in 1999 in Switzerland when he had a fling with a beautiful botanist (Rebecca Hall), and drunkenly disregarded a shaggy Guy Pearce as a scientist who wanted to work with him.

Pearce, of course, comes back to bite Downey Jr. in the ass in the present day as a slicked back charmer of a villain who wants to own the war on terror via a super-soldier virus that Hall's character developed.

Jon Favreau, not letting not directing get in the way of reprising his role as Stark’s bodyguard turned head of security, senses Pearce is a threat, mainly because he’s flirting with Gynneth Paltrow, who returns as Downey Jr.’s girlfriend/Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts.

While trailing one of Pearce’s thugs (James Badge Dale), Favreau gets injured in a bombing, one of many brought about by the mysterious Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), the leader of the international terrorist organization The Ten Rings, who has the power to interrupt major network broadcasts to make his menacing threats to all of America.

Downey Jr. then makes a threat of his own right into a reporter’s camera phone for the Mandarin to bring the fight to him, and even leaves his home address. This results in the before mentioned incredible destruction of Stark’s homestead, in which the CGI crew members (of which there are thousands – check the credits) really outdid themselves on.

The rest deals with Downey Jr. rebuilding his Iron Man suit (and some of his soul) with the help of a kid (Ty Simpkins) he meets while doing some sleuthing in Tennessee, tracking down the bad guys in Florida for some shoot-outs (I love one moment when a hired thug yells: “Honestly, I hate working for these guys. They’re so weird!” So Downey Jr. lets him go), and another stunner of a scene in which Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle (also back for more as Colonel James Rhoades/the Iron Patriot) race to save the lives of the President (William Sadler) and 14 other passengers from a crashing Air Force One.

Cheadle, who does strong work and at times is as funny as Downey Jr., is largely absent from the film until the third act, which mainly involves a nighttime battle on an oil rig. 

The second half of IRON MAN 3 can be a bit overstuffed with spectacle at times and a few twists don't have the intended impact, but there are some warm moments involving Downey Jr.’s amusing bantering with Simpkins (was so glad he didn’t let the kid tag along for the remainder of the movie though), and affecting bits where we get a window into the darkness behind the snark of Tony Stark.

The way the villains' scenario with Pearce and Kingsley both showing their true colors worked more for Pearce, who got more and more intense, than Kingsley who got a bit too goofy, but to say anything more would be Spoiler City.

As in THE AVENGERS, the Marvel movie formula is in full swing here with all the expected yet welcome elements - Stan Lee cameo, stinger after the end credits, shout-outs to previous adventures, etc - but what makes IRON MAN 3 really pop is Black’s deft handling of the characters and the action set-pieces through his and co-writer Drew Pearce's quick-witted screenplay. Wasn’t really a fan of his previous film, Black’s glibly meta directorial debut KISS KISS BANG BANG, but his amped-up approach feels dead on in this film.

I’ve seen some cinephiles complain online about the glut of superhero movies, but if every now and then, we can get ones as smart, funny, and thrilling as IRON MAN 3, I won’t be complaining.

Oh yeah, the 3D didn’t make much difference – some shots were slightly enhanced early on but I largely forgot about it most of the film. However, you do get some specially made IRON MAN 3D glasses (I saw several different types at the screening I attended) so that might sway you.

More later...


magicalmathias said...

I agree the second half did seem a bit stuffed, but Robert Downey Jr's one liners were pretty good though! Great review though!

John p said...

The Iron Man Mark 3 collectible figure was deemed a necessary object after the Iron Man movie. It has over 36 points of articulation and has a metallic paint job.