Genre: Action and Adventure
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley
Release Date: May 2nd 2013
“Nothing’s been the same since New York, ” Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) notes in an early scene in the new superhero adventure, Iron Man 3. With lines like that and an anxiety-ridden storyline, this feature lands nicely in the Marvel universe following– both onscreen and off– the story from the The Avengers (2012). Instead of steering away from last year’s blockbuster hit, IM3 follows it up with a superior film that focuses on some of the aftereffects of its storyline.
But before it can move forward, it steps back.
Iron Man 3 begins in 1999 when the vainglorious Stark abandons a budding scientist named Aldrin Killian (Guy Pearce). Killian approaches Stark at a party asking for financial support for a project he’s developing. Stark rejects him, leaving the young man waiting on a rooftop and believing that Stark will meet him there. He never does. Years later, Stark has become an Avenger and Killian is now a disgruntled scientist who wants to use his technology for an evil elaborate plot.
Joining Killian in his venomous plot is the rising international terrorist, the Mandarin (a scene-stealing Ben Kingsley), a mysterious criminal whose politically-tinged films have been featured on news broadcasts night after night. Stark, while facing anxiety attacks stemming from his brush with death in “The Avengers” and a devastating attack on his home that leaves much of his equipment dysfunctional, must regain his strength to battle these two villains before they take over the world.
Joining Stark in his adventure is his lovely girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and newcomer Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), a youngster who serves as Stark’s unlikely ally. In many ways, Keener is one of the film’s highlights because his subplot– where Stark goes underground to rebuild his suit– allows the viewer to watch Stark reconnect with the master technician that he is, without the millions of financial resources he’s accustomed to. Stark and Keener—who thrive in completely different situations— are kindred spirits. Both love gadgets and technology.
Director Shane Blake brings the story to life using grand special effects, especially in some of the earlier sequences. The sharp and humorous screenplay was co-written by Black and Drew Pearce. Admittedly, there are some flaws in the plot (including a villain whose evil plan is never fully laid out), but even when the story hits a snag, the ride is still thrilling. Of course, the performance of Downey Jr. speaks to that. With a lesser actor, this character could’ve fallen apart or been unlikeable. He seldom is in these films.
Admittedly, there are some comic book fans who will likely be disappointed in some of the script details as some characters are far different than they originally appear. However, judging from the film alone, this is an entertaining thrill ride and a great start to the summer movie season. And when the story ends, there is a time when it all feels complete as if the whole story of Stark has been told. One hopes that the saga will continue on but if not, this film serves as a fitting end to a strong trilogy.
Stark himself—a man who never seems to see his own personal flaws—would likely approve.
Review by: John Hanlon