Director: Shane Black
Writers: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall
Running Length: 131 minutes
Synopsis: Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle.
With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Review: Now that Iron Man is a firmly established franchise together with the Avengers, it’s hard to feel any surprise about this third installment of Iron Man. Whilst no one can be accused of dialing in their performances (which are in fact quite good given the genre), there’s this overall sense of not really trying too hard with this film. The requisite action sequences are in place, as well as Robert Downey Jr’s by-now trademark wisecracking take on Tony Stark/Iron Man, but the change of directors to Shane Black brings nothing new to the table. Not that change is a necessity, but since this should be the swansong for the Iron Man franchise, I had truly expected the trilogy to end on a higher note.
This is essentially the darkest Iron Man film to date, focusing on the more intimate aspects of the Iron Man universe – Stark’s inability to cope with the events that unfolded in The Avengers, his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his personal vendetta against the terrorist figure known only as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Robert Downey Jr. actually spends a fair amount of time outside the suit, and apart from a lengthy, overly cheesy and somewhat unnecessary “buddy movie” sequence with a young boy, his performance as a superhero is impressive and only a distant second from Christian Bale’s incomparable turn as the Dark Knight. Ben Kingsley is the most seasoned actor amongst the cast, and despite a limited number of scenes, easily steals the limelight from everyone else, Downey Jr. included.
Action set pieces are on the whole quite well done, especially the scene involving Air Force One, but my personal opinion is that the climactic showdown in the final reel is a letdown. Having a whole bunch of Iron Man suits fighting the villain’s henchmen makes it look like a scaled down version of Transformers, and honestly the entire denouement fails to make much sense on most levels. The finale also attempts to inject some emotionality to the proceedings but it’s not a very successful attempt (as compared to, for example, the final sequence in The Dark Knight Rises).
This is the first Iron Man film to be in 3D, but like many conversions to 3D, it is not necessary to watch the film in the third dimension. There’s very little depth to the picture, and 3D actually makes the image muddy and causes a lot of strain to the eyes. Having caught the film once each in 3D and 2D, I can safely say the viewing experience is far better in 2D.
Iron Man 3 is a perfectly fine start to the summer blockbuster season for 2013, and only the fussiest moviegoers will walk out of the cinema not feeling entertained. It is unlikely we will see Iron Man as a standalone feature moving forward, but Tony Stark’s appearance in related franchises (next up in Avengers 2) should leave fans satiated.
P.S There is a post credits sequence which is quite amusing but inconsequential – whether it’s worth sitting through the ten minute credits crawl is of course, a personal choice.
Rating: * * * (out of four stars)