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Friday, May 3, 2013

(REVIEW) IRON MAN 3 Is The Epic Summer Blockbuster We Needed This Spring

The Iron Man and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)
Confession: I was one of the few people who watched the Iron Man trilogy out of order. Yes, despite my own rules, I just didn't think it was pressing that I commit to a assigned sequence for viewing a series about a man who puts on a metal body suit and sprays explosives out of his palms using said suit. So, I went ahead and watched the second movie first, which was entertaining. Then followed that with the first film, which was engrossing as all get out (and, admittedly, made me realize how inadequate the second one actually was).

Still, the series didn't really rock my world like it did for fanboys others. But it didn't leave me begging for my time back. So I was mildly hyped to see the third film, IRON MAN 3, which is actually--wait for it--wildly engaging.

Sure, it doesn't have the gravitas of which certain other superhero films can boast. But, what IRON MAN 3 does have is a ton of charisma. And not just from its lead actor, Robert Downey, Jr., (who craftily throws out one-liners left and right for the entire 130 minutes of the movie). The whole film literally bursts at the seams with excitement, charisma and lots and lots of explosions (of course).

At the start of the film, we're reunited with millionaire Tony Stark, the relentlessly arrogant playboy doing what he does best--partying. It's New Years Eve 1999 and Tony is charming the skirts off the ladies and flipping off everyone else, which includes nerdy scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who's desperate to pitch him his latest idea. Tony won't realize until thirteen years later that his conceit will catch up to him when he is in danger of loving what he loves most--his beloved Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley)
Flash forward to the year 2013 and the only thing that has really changed in Tony's life is his relationship with Pepper, which has finally blossomed into the full grown mature relationship we all saw coming two movies ago. They live together in a huge mansion filled with all of Tony's toys and gadgets. Things are pretty posh until an image of terror suspect, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), pollutes their airwaves and puts Tony on high alert for heroism. When his trusty security guard, Happy (Jon Favreau), is almost killed in a mysterious terrorist attack, Tony charges into full on Iron Man, save-the-world-by-causing-even-more-mayhem mode (complete with recklessly luring the enemy to his home address on live TV. SERIOUSLY).

Up until this point in the movie, Tony is entertaining to watch with his seemingly endless bag of zingers that reinforce his self-importance and everyone else's unimportance. But it's only when he is the tin soldier, Iron Man, that he develops compassion for others. Don't worry, his brand of empathy comes fully equipped with narcissism and punchy verbal strikes.

Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle)

Tony/Iron Man enlists the help of sidekick Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle, matching Downey, Jr.'s sarcasm blow for blow) and a young boy in Tennessee (Ty Simkins, who doesn't even try to don a southern accent) to concoct a plan to take down the terrorist plot.

And, you know, hilarity ensues. No really, it's basically Armageddon but somehow writer/director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce manage to insert humor in the midst of having the characters dodge explosions and barely escape with their lives. Bullets are flying and buildings are collapsing but everyone seems like they're having such a good time experiencing it all. So we have the same fun watching it.

That's the thing about IRON MAN 3; it doesn't really try to provide commentary on global issues or be any more that what it is. And that works for the film. You don't always have to have a message. It captivates with its grandiose effects and exciting characters that you actually care about, despite their flaws. The movie does exactly what a blockbuster should--entertain.

While Downey, Jr. is obviously the MVP here, Cheadle holds up his own as well, creating a smidgen of space for a possible War Machine movie (he can certainly carry a franchise). Even Pearce, Rebecca Hall (playing an off-type brief but significant role), Favreau and Kingsley (whose performance is more than meets the eye) are thoroughly amusing to watch. But it is Paltrow who is given much more to work with as Pepper. Pepper's usual unaffected nature and perennial damsel in distress act morphs to become more in tune with this latest adventure than she ever has before, for her own survival.

Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Dazzling special effects, a committed cast, and witty dialogue remind audiences of what it was like before a superhero movie became an allegory. It is simple, honest fun, a spectacular ending (?) of truly inspired trilogy. Stay after the credits for a memorable final scene.

Rating: B+ (**** out of *****)


Brittani Burnham said...

I liked the 2nd one the first time I saw it, then when I watched it again I realized it wasn't as good as I had initially thought. Either way, I'm glad to hear this one is good. I look forward to it.

Dan O. said...

Good review Candice. Even though it's pissing a lot of people off, at least it's way better than the second. Don't how much credit that actually is, but it's something.

Daniel said...

"The movie does exactly what a blockbuster should--entertain." I agree entirely with you about that, just wish it was a tad shorter.

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