Review: “Iron Man 3″ is franchise’s best

May 2nd, 2013 at 11:59 pm by under Entertainment

Usually by the third movie in a franchise, we’ve come to expect “just okay” or “good enough”.

But “Iron Man” joins elite movie company as a movie that is not only better than the second movie, its better than the first… and one of the best 3rd movies of a franchise… all time.

"Iron Man 3" poster courtesy Disney

“Iron Man 3″ poster courtesy Disney

(My spoiler-free review)

So how in the world do you follow “The Avengers” – the highest grossing comicbook movie ever and one of the best reviewed movies in the genre ever?

If you’re Marvel, you start Phase2 with your most popular character … your most charismatic hero… and a superhero movie that plays as much like a thriller as it does a big budget action movie.

The story picks up after the events of “The Avengers” with Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) trying to come to grips with what happened and what to do now.   But this chapter is much much better better than the last – “Iron Man 2″ (2010) had its story flaws,  production critiques, and overall tone problems that even a talented cast couldn’t make great.   This is closer in style and character to the first “Iron Man” (2008) but it also plays more like a really good thriller, putting our hero in peril.  Much of the movie has Tony outside the trademark suits from the other movies – we now see our hero as vulnerable – physically and emotionally … allowing the audience a stronger  connection to the man inside the superhero suit.

The plot seems simple but is full of cliffhangers and twists to keep us guessing and interested until the final scenes. (see below for more on if there’s a final scene – in the credits*)   The basic story is once again grounded in the real world and filled with action and comic relief, as with the other successful Marvel movies.  There’s plenty of character development both for the returning characters of Tony (Robert Downey Jr.), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), Happy (Jon Favreau), and Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and the new characters of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), and The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Its more than just a great cast on paper: in their careers, they’ve won 2 oscars, were nominated for 6 more, won 7 golden globes, and were nominated for 12 more. The individual performances as well as the great on screen chemistry between all the characters make this movie incredibly interesting to watch.

Ben Kingsley as "The Mandarin" in "Iron Man 3" photo courtesy Disney

Ben Kingsley as “The Mandarin” in “Iron Man 3″ photo courtesy Disney

RDJ’s Tony Stark is great as always, but even grittier and more vulnerable this time around.  Cheadle’s Colonel Rhodes is a great compliment to Iron Man.  While Paltrow’s ‘Pepper’ and Favreau’s ‘Happy’ show they are more than just supporting characters this time around. One of Tony’s new supporting characters is a 10 year old kid called ‘Harley’ who helps our hero – he’s played great by Ty Simpkins… a nice touch for the movie to really make itself even more accessible for the young fans in the audience.

But this movie really shows its strength with the mysterious new characters of Aldrich Killian (Pearce), Maya (Hall), and The Mandarin (Kingsley).  Pearce always has the uncanny ability to play a character with so many layers that you’re not sure whether you like him or hate him for being who he is… Hall is more than just a damsel in distress, she’s a smart scientist with some baggage, and then there’s The Mandarin.

I’m not sure that another actor could have pulled off what Kingsley did - he’s such a complicated and compelling character as The Mandarin.  He’s a villain cloaked in mystery, a shadowy figure reminiscent of Osama Bin Laden who was bent on terrorizing the United States.  This isn’t a villain with over-the-top comic book theatrics and a showcase of who has the best powers, this is a tense, terror threat set in the real world, with a scary real world villian.  Kingsley’s turn as The Mandarin has to be one of the most unique villains in movie history.  Remember without character development we don’t care about the heroes and without scary villains, we aren’t worried about what might happen to our heroes.

The other cool thing about any movie with Tony Stark is the cool new technology we get introduced too, not just the newest versions of the suit, but also weapons, computers, and communications.

*Yes, it is worth staying through the credits for the extra scene at the end of “Iron Man 3″, while its not neccesarily a bridge to the next movie, but it is a fun look at the interaction between two members of S.H.I.E.L.D.  There is also text stating that “Tony Stark will return”.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

“Iron Man 3″ is great – full of action, its well crafted, looks great and will have some suprises for you… I give it 9.0 out of 10.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle in "Iron Man 3" photo courtesy Disney

Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle in “Iron Man 3″ photo courtesy Disney

“Iron Man 3”

(2013) (rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content)
(2 hr, 10 min)

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany (voice), William Sadler, Ty Simpkins, Miguel Ferrer, Mark Ruffalo

Director: Shane Black [ Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)]

Writers: Drew Pearce & Shane Black

Genre:  Action/Adventure

The Plot: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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“Iron Man 3” poster and photos courtesy Disney

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