I Saw A Film Today… Iron Man 3

ironman3Shane Black, the director of Iron Man 3, is also the director of one of my favorite films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It stars a then nearly unemployable Robert Downey Jr. The rest of the cast, including Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, are just as brilliant. It’s a devilishly clever film as well, a melting pot of genres ranging from noir, satire, and intelligent humor about an actor forced into a pulp fiction crime during yule tide Los Angeles with an old flame and a gay P.I. If you have the time, you should check it out. It’s quite brilliant.

Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) can’t sleep. Ever since the Avengers fought aliens in New York, all of which takes place in a little film no one saw, Tony has been substituting nocturnal slumber with tinkering, making improvement after improvement to the Iron Main suit. This leaves him with a strained relationship with Pepper (Gweneth Paltrow), little knowledge of the outside world, and panic attacks.

When he does take time to check the news, it’s not good. A terrorist going by the name Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is planting untraceable bombs around the states and making threats to the President. Which kind of brings up an interesting point: Where are the Avengers? Or SHIELD, for that matter. A terrorist is making threats to the country, and Hawkeye and Black Widow are too busy to do a security detail for the Pres? I know they all are off doing their “own thing”, but are you telling me Steve Rogers is too busy to throw a few punches for his beloved ‘Murica? Just a thought. Okay, back on topic.

But when Tony bites off a bit more than he can chew, his world quickly crumbles around him. Can he muster up enough strength to save everything he loves?

This installment of the Iron Man tale is the best so far. I was skeptical a bit if Black could produce a great film on a blockbuster format, and happily I have been proven wrong. His unique brand of comedic yet serious storytelling fits brilliantly in the world of Tony Stark. The balance is flawless between the two opposing forces of comedy and tragedy, which should be the benchmark of any future Marvel flick. That’s one of the few flaws of the Marvel films: they are a little too comedic at times, even in action scenarios.

This is more of a rediscovery film for Stark. Not a lot of actual suiting-up action here. In fact, quite the opposite with the use of an drone-esque Mark suit. Which brings up the topic of The Iron Legion’s presence in this film. During the climatic final battle scene, which I ultimately found cluttered, there are more than 40 of these Mark suit flying unmanned and fighting enemies. Which is a bit frightening if you think about it. Maybe Black is subtly making a statement about The U.S.’s policies of drone strikes around the world and the use of drones within the country itself in the last couple of years. Or at least this is what kept crossing my mind.

I didn’t see 3 in 3-D. So I can’t really tell you if you should skip the extra fee for the standard edition. But I don’t really see what 3-D would have added here, much like in The Avengers. Sure, there is a lot of action where things are flying everywhere but it wasn’t utilized very well in the previously mentioned film either. And it should be noted that this film wasn’t filmed in 3-D, but converted in post-production. My guess: save some cash and see it in good ole’ standard format.

Robert Downey Jr. was born for the role of Tony Stark, that much has been established since the first film. But this is the first time you really get an in-depth look at the man behind the mask. You see Tony at his lowest and most open and just how resilient this man is, which is exactly what I hoped Black would bring to the table. Downey shows his whit, his emotion, his charisma, and concern, sometimes all at once.

The supporting cast is equally great. Gweneth Paltrow is just lovely here as the strong Pepper Potts. I don’t really understand why this woman gets so much flak from chubby bloggers. She’s a good actress and god forbid she suggest you try eating alternative and better foods, Chubs. Don Cheadle is a fun character and provides a good sidekick/comic relief throughout. Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley make an interesting duo as Mandarin. They both have great performances, but it’s a bit disappointing with how the whole Mandarin situation is handled. To make the arch-nemesis of Iron Man such a joke is a bit insulting. Maybe there is more to Kingsley’s character than meets the eye. We’ll see I guess.

Shane Black did something with this third installment which was needed: He gave Tony Stark humility. He made him something more than the rich wise-cracker that most have come to love. You get to understand that the flamboyance is merely a show, truly.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. 130 minutes. Directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

** Poster by Midnight Marauder.

*** Thanks to my friend Cody for seeing this film with me.

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