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Friday, May 10, 2013

Iron Man 3 Movie Review


Marvel has defied all odds with its "Avengers" franchise. Not only did each successive film stand well on its own, but the "Avengers" film itself was a huge success both critically and financially. Much of this success can be attributed to that rare thing in Hollywood Blockbusters: intelligent decisions. Whether it's the choice of directors, stars or scripts, there seems to have been a real desire to make great blockbuster films that both entertain and stay true to their source material. Not an easy task but, when done well, it can be a great time at the movies.


Nowhere is this more evident than in "Iron Man 3". Saddled with the unenviable position of being both a third installment and the first to be released post-Avengers, "IM3" had a lot working against it. But again, good decisions (handing the directorial reins to Shane Black) and an clever, rapid-fire script by Mr. Black and Drew Pearce, make this third effort a worthy addition to the Marvel canon and possibly the best "Iron Man" film yet.

The film picks up with Tony Stark (franchise golden-child, Robert Downey Jr) suffering from anxiety attacks following the climactic "Avengers" battle in New York. He immerses himself in his work to the detriment of his health and his relationship with stalwart companion Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, almost creating a character with what she's given). When an ominous terrorist calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley, having a blast - pun intended) begins detonating bombs around the country, Tony jumps at the chance to go back into action.

On the surface, that sounds like a run-of-the-mill superhero movie: Villain, check. Love interest, check. Character flaw, check. But "IM3" has a lot more up its armored sleeve. First, there's Guy Pierce as a scientist with designs on Pepper, then there's Rebecca Hall as an ex-girlfriend coming back into Tony's life. But again, none of this is what it seems. Even those who know The Mandarin from the comics will be surprised. But it's not fair giving anything away.

The action unfolds at a brisk pace - almost as quickly as Tony's nonstop stream of one-liners. And he's given welcome backup by Don Cheadle as Iron Patriot (War Machine, rebranded) and a Tennessee boy named Harley, played by Ty Simpkins, who manages to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Downey without being overly twee or precocious.

Much of the credit must go to Mr. Black, who could give a master class in the action-comedy hybrid ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", the "Lethal Weapon" franchise). But of course, as is always the case with an action-comedy, it's tough to keep the stakes high when everything's a joke. Mr. Black does a fine job balancing the tone until a grand finale that's an explosive mess and calls into question everything that came before it (honestly, how much money does Tony Stark have?). But by that time you're so swept up in the film's palpable snark that you won't mind.

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