Friday, May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3: Review

Iron Man 3:Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow | A Constantly Racing Mind“I’m just a man in a can.”

I  had to ask myself why do we (the royal we, of course) go and see films about comic book characters?  What do we expect today from our superheroes from our childhood?  We expect action, adventure, comedy, and maybe something of a story.  "Iron Man 3" is out today, and I guarantee that this cinematic assault on the senses, has all the above, but perhaps a little light on the narrative.  Returning for the third installment of the "Iron Man" series is Robert Downey Jr. as our brash, cocky hero, Tony Stark, and Gwyneth Paltrow as the ever lovely Pepper Potts.  Don Cheadle returns for his second go round as Col. Rhodes including a suit of his own.  A pleasant and comfortable character to return for this installment is that of the defacto deus ex machina, Jarvis, voiced by Paul Bettany.  Every hero needs an antagonist, and in this case, writer and director Shane Black (writer of "Lethal Weapon" franchise) give us two villains for the price of one. 

Director Emeritus Jon Favreau also returns as the lovable, but bumbling, Happy Hogan.  Favreau takes not only a role on camera, but also one as executive producer behind the scenes.  After the roller-coaster rides that were "Iron Man,” and "Iron Man 2," director Favreau really needed a rest.  This is a fun movie to watch, however, like Tony's equipment and his plans; "Iron Man 3" has a few flaws, mostly around story and character development.  Don't worry, there is so much action going on that you will quickly move from the first act to the third act so fast you won't realize that you have been gazing with mouth agape for two hours and 10 minutes.  "Iron Man 3" is rated PG-13.

Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. are no stranger to each other.  Black directed Robert Downey Jr. in 2005 when they worked together in the barely break even film, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."  Writer and director Black and his writing partner Drew Pearce, frame our story with Tony narrating his state of mind to the audience. His story quickly digresses into his past, and to an incident that happens on New Year’s Eve 1999 in Bern, Switzerland.  Hints are given about the story trigger and then we arrive at present day.  "Iron Man 3" takes place not long after Stark's adventures in New York with his Avenger team, and he is not doing well.  Adding to Stark's anxiety is the fact that now he has someone in his life that he cares about, Pepper.  Not sleeping, Tony haunts his mansion working on his  "brobots" -- not my name -- Pepper said it not me.

Iron Man 3: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man | A Constantly Racing Mind
Pepper Potts pretty much presides over Stark Industries and promotes peaceful, non-military products and services.  Enter the pretty face of our villain played with a cheeky smile by Guy Pearce as rebuffed scientist, Aldrich Killian.  The Mandarin villain comes later and his role is even more mysterious.  After some death and destruction to LA, Tony has not only receives his quest, but accepts in an audacious, and foolhardy way, our story not only picks up, but moves quickly from first gear to full on overdrive. 

As another comic book character once said in a non-Marvel film, "Some men just want to watch the world burn," and this is the part of the story that I have a problem with.  If destroying the world, or ruling the world was the goal then, I think the story that started to unfold wouldn't have caused that twitch in my eye that I contracted while trying to understand WTF the Mandarin wanted or how he was planning on ruling the world.  The surprises are few, and some plot points are even predictable. One of the few surprises is a new trick that Tony pulls with his suit.  I will leave it at that. 

There is a lot going on in "Iron Man 3" that it is easy to overlook some key factors as to why you should see this film. The first is the acting. Between the quick chemistry between Tony and Pepper that Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow embue is easy and comfortable.  Ben Kingsley's Mandarin is delightful and fresh. Pearce's Aldrich Killian is menacing and like Stark, is flip and arrogant, unlike Downey Jr.'s character, however, Pearce's Aldrich doesn't spew "cheeky one-liners."  Twice during the film we meet Tony's former girlfriend, scientist Maya Hansen played smartly by Rebecca Hall.  The best part of "Iron Man 3" comes when Stark if forced to work with Ty Simpkins ("Insidious") as young Harley, a latch key kid who is into gadgets (what kid isn't).  The banter between Tony and Harley result in the few comedic moments in the film.

I have to admit, Shane Black really made the effort to fill Jon Favreau's directing shoes. Between John Toll's photography, and the editing team of Peter S. Elliot and Jeffrey Ford who all worked together to pace the scenes quickly, but evenly, giving us plenty of beautifully filmed action interspersed with moments to catch our breath and sort out all that we just witnessed. The effects are flawless, and because this is a PG-13 film there is no blood

Iron Man 3: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts | A Constantly Racing Mind

From the production point of view, I want to point out the music of Brian Tyler.  Tyler has worked on films such as "The Final Destination," "The Expendables," and "Battle Los Angeles."  Tyler uses deep brasses that vibrates the bones, and gives one a sense of the foreboding, and darkness that is to come.  The score plays out like the music for a video game, driving the action and the audience to a point of a cathartic crescendo.  Oh, did I mention that Mr.Tyler also did the music for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" video game?

Overall, "Iron Man 3" is a comic book story for people looking for some fun action to relieve the stress of today's problems.  Instead of some global world dominating goals for our villain, the "Iron Man 3" overall narrative devolves into a damsel in distress story, a showdown with the bad guy, and some nifty brobot fun.  To sum up "Iron Man 3," as the Mandarin says, and I paraphrase, "…the Chinese fortune cookie is not Chinese, but American.  It is hollow and filled with lies.”  Tony Stark does change at the end of the film, which is kind of a surprise, but a pleasant one, leaving the viewer purified and satiated.


Iron Man 3 Trailer
Iron Man 3 Wallpaper
Iron Man Trailer #5

Movie Data

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller
Year:  2013
Staring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle
Director: Shane Black 
Producer(s): Kevin Feige
Writer: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 130 minutes
Release Date: 5/3/2013

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