Superhero movies are making a HUGE comeback and have continued to rack up dollars at the box office for the past couple years. You can thank Sam Raimi and Christopher Nolan for revamping our interest in the genre. With ‘Iron Man’ making a giant splash with critics and audiences in 2008, it was only a matter of time before Robert Downey Jr. became a franchise all his own (since he IS Iron Man), and now in 2013 his name is synonymous with big budget Hollywood franchises. In fact, if Daniel Craig hadn’t snagged the role back in 2006, I’m sure Robert Downey Jr. would have jumped at the chance to be a superhero, a sleuth AND a spy.
But, back to ‘Iron Man’.
The reviews and reception of ‘Iron Man 2’ was dismal (and deservedly, since outside of Scarlett Johansson’s hotness, the film was a mess) and so they really needed ‘The Avengers’ to be a hit, and it was, to the point that ‘Iron Man 3’ became one of the most anticipated films for all boys over the age of two and under the age of dead.
I’m late to this party. I missed it while it was in the theaters and so I had to wait until Redbox would let me rent it, and even then I waited a few weeks for some reason unknown to myself. I finally wrapped my eyes around this visual spectacle last night, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I will say this as preface; I really, really loved the first ‘Iron Man’. I hated the second one. I found ‘The Avengers’ to be, quite easily, the most overrated movie of 2012. I liked it, but my god was it pimped out to be the second coming of superhero movies, and in a year where Nolan closes out the most impressive trilogy in superhero history, you have to do better than that. It was fun, but rather messy, cluttered and underwhelming.
I know that I’m in the minority.
‘Iron Man 3’ takes place after the events that happened in ‘The Avengers’, so if you haven’t seen ‘The Avengers’ you’re going to be about as confused as my wife was while watching this last night and seeing Tony Stark have spastic panic attacks when someone mentions the word ‘alien’ or ‘wormhole’. So Stark is going through his thing, but the world is going through something else. Explosions are taking lives and some creepy man of questionable (and ambiguous) ethnic decent is taking over the airwaves to make threats and take credit for destruction. He calls himself Mandarin, and the world is in a state of panic because of him. Stark is sidetracked, but then things get personal and Tony has to man up, grab the machine by the wires and MAKE.PEOPLE.PAY!
Shane Black does a really nice job of keeping the action the center of attention, and the action is worth noting since it is done so well. The action starts relatively quickly, and it remains steady throughout the film’s two hour, ten minute running length. I’ll be the first to point out that the final fight sequence between Stark and his real rival is WAY TOO LONG, but it’s still entertaining. These scenes are glossy and sharp and upgrade the series previous installments, showing growth and not just a lot of the same (the underwater sequence is remarkable).
Another thing that ‘Iron Man 3’ gets very right is the balance of humor and realism. The film has its stark dramatic core and yet Downey Jr. is so easy and effortless in his role that he exudes such natural charm and his humor is spot on. The dialog between Stark and Hogan and Rhodes are littered with sharp jabs and a lot of fun.
And let’s just say that Ben Kingsley is amazing here for SO MANY reasons.
I never followed the comics, so I can’t voice in on the treatment of Mandarin, but I do understand that fans have mixed emotions about it here. I thought it was brilliant, but that’s mostly because Kingsley handles it so well. The rest of the cast is fine, but nothing remarkable. Hall is wasting her career, Pearce is too obvious, Cheadle has become so boring and Favreau has so little to do, but Paltrow is great and Badge Dale is effective.
It’s a tad long, the last act is drug out too much and the finale feels like a ‘Dark Knight Rises’ rip off, but the film is far more focused than ‘The Avengers’ and Downey Jr. was really born for this (a far better fit for him than that of Sherlock Holmes), and those effects are jaw dropping.
I give it an easy B. Oscar is bound to bite here, since they have with the past two films. Visual Effects is locked up, but I wonder if it can pull off a Sound Editing nomination as well.