Iron Man 3 (2013), directed by Shane Black
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Summer Movie Season.
This is it, Iron Man 3 has officially kicked it off. From now until the end of August we will see nothing but explosions, CGI, crude comedy, Hollywood stars and huge opening weekends, all in 3D.
Some people live for summer movies. Quite frankly I prefer the treasure hunt of spring or the limited release tsunami of winter, but there’s still the child inside of me that does get pretty stoked about the prospect of seeing that perfect Hollywood blockbuster; that film which brings together the star power with the dazzling action sequences, the hot romance, the one-liners and just plain all-out thrills me.
And I have to say, as the first potential candidate, Iron Man 3 nearly gets there. Nearly
By my count there have now been seven Avengers-related movies, with the eighth, a Thor sequel, coming up later this year. And then there will be a Captain America sequel. And an Avengers sequel.
The truth of the matter is, though, that some of them are pretty darn good and in terms of the Summer Movie Season, these films have been a highlight for the past five or so years.
Iron Man 3 is no Iron Man, but it’s heads above Iron Man 2. That basically sums it up.
But we’re here for criticism so I’ll try to figure out why.
First of all, there’s Robert Downey, Jr. playing Tony Stark as a man damaged by the events of the Avengers movie, which adds a nice layer to the plot and brings some much-needed complexity to the character. He has panic attacks and hasn’t been the same man since he, what was it?, almost got sucked into a wormhole trying to jettison some sort of missile out of the earth’s atmosphere? Is that right?
Anyway, sure, it’s a pretty shallow portrayal of psychological health issues (his panic attacks are primarily humourous), but at least the film takes the character in a different direction and it honestly benefits from that.
Then you have Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley stepping in for the villain roles, and they’re both rather excellent. I firmly believe campy is the way to go if you’re playing a Marvel villain and these two thespians clearly agree.
Kingsley especially is fabulous as The Mandarin, an Osama Bin Laden-like baddy who manages to turn what looks like a stereotype-riddled plot device into something much more interesting and fun.
The main thing I enjoyed about the film was its parred-down approach. There isn’t an action sequence for at least the first half hour, Downey spends far more time out of his suit than in it, and the film puts most of its efforts into building compelling characters the audience will be interested in. It’s quite a novel approach.
It’s like the Bond films that get back to basics by getting rid of the gadgets and focusing on story and character. They’re usually the best ones.
If the film has flaws, and I believe it does, it’s that it fails to duplicate its somewhat unique take on the Iron Man story and transplant it to the action. Some of the sequences are thrilling, but the less Downey dons his iron duds, the better the film works, which is a problem for a film titled Iron Man.
Its finale is a high-octane, no-holds-barred cluster, ahem, that stands out as a disappointment compared the restraint the rest of the film showed. Sure, it has to build to something big, I understand, but the film kind of goes from, let’s say 60 to a 160 km/h, and it spoils it all a bit. I would have been happy at 120.
But it’s a summer blockbuster and it’s meant to be extreme. People don’t go to Iron Man movies for interesting character studies, they go to watch stuff get blowed up.
I believe this is a standout in the series which could have been even better with a little bit of restraint towards the end. I also believe this is a worthy kickoff to the Summer Movie Season, which will hopefully maintain this level of quality.
We’ll see about that though.
Iron Man 3 is in cinemas now.