Iron Man 3 Review: A Satisfying Conclusion to the Blockbuster Franchise
The Marvel Universe of utter genius created an earthquake of revenue for the US film industry. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that the most recent Iron Man 3 has exceeded the initial international gross for The Avengers (2012) with $195.3 million and more cash still to come. The film’s popularity became apparent to me in the booked out Sunday night screening I had the joy to be in. Now that the Walt Disney Company owns Marvel and is happily rolling in money, the question on every action lover’s lips is: is it better than Iron Man 2? Or will it crash into the dead sea of films no one wants to speak of again?
The set up for Iron Man 3 is more hopeful than its predecessor with a tie to the past that strengthens Tony Stark’s character. Mr Stark’s newest adventure begins on New Years 1999, where he reminds us of his detestable qualities and ignores avid Stark fan and scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). It’s only now when Tony’s past catches up with him and causes problems. The entertaining tangle of events that follow can be propped to the comic Extremis, which is considered one of the best Iron Man stories and the material the film is largely based on. It is comforting the writers are adapting the best of the books in order to give us the most enjoyable theatrical Iron Man experience possible. For more information on Iron Man as a character in general, you can read about it here (from someone who has a lot more enthusiasm for the subject than me!).
Jon Favreau directed the first two films, and ditched the third to work on Magic Kingdom instead. Shane Black enters the scene as replacement director and co-writer, and gives the movie a very different feel to the previous two. He interestingly explores the darker side to Tony Stark and his personal struggle, which gives the film a healthy dose of humanity and more depth beyond explosions all too familiar to the action movie goer. Comedic moments and fight scenes are strong and take place in some interesting, unconventional locations and lead to some too-close calls (Mr Stark really should have died a couple of times). The film is altogether more well rounded and an emotional roller coaster; if you’re not laughing or touched by the emotional moments, you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.
Characters who were brushed over in past films are given more attention: Pepper is given time in the spotlight for a change, and shows off how badass she can be. Viewers who critique superhero stories for being too focused on the male save-the-day role will be delighted by this addition. The newest culprit, The Mandarin, is a very entertaining villain. You both empathize with him and dislike him. His ideas bring in a question of morality and right/wrong. Because of how human, and to some extent charismatic, he is, it is quite frightening to watch his antics and his clever plan unfold. A plot twist that occurs later in the film is likely to pleasantly surprise, not just for being a plot twist (in Iron Man, really?), but for allowing the script to break free from the majority of bad-guy formulas. The ending of the film reiterates on its beginning narration and leaves us with a comforting feeling of closure, with a noticeable change in Mr Stark’s character.
The cinematography and lighting is great, and shows off the beauty of a variety of different locations. Tennessee looks mesmerising with its mix of ice, warmth and colors, and the special effects shine with the new, shiny additions and improvements to the Iron Man suit itself (not just bigger guns like in Iron Man 2, thank god). Since it is the only Iron Man film that takes place after The Avengers, newbie to the franchise, Brian Tyler, worked hard to try to make the musical score darker and grander. He succeeds, as the score enhances the scenes – from blood boiling action to the spine tingling dramatic moments, like when Robert Jr has an emotional setback. It was a risky, but appropriate, choice to invite new talent to bring new flavors to the differing material.
There isn’t much about the acting that hasn’t already been said. Robert Downey Jr is both hateful and sympathetic, managing to portray despair as well as complete utter egoism. Guy Pearce is surprisingly good as Killian, making a bad-guy both likable, interesting and someone the viewers somewhat care about. Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper shines with slightly more screen-time, and more emotional role to play. Let’s not forget Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin, who takes on a different role in this film than the comics, but effectively portrays two opposing sides of the emotional scale.
If you’re a fan of Iron Man this is a definite title to see. For those who aren’t into the superhero business, you may enjoy it, but if you are looking for deep and meaningful fare, this isn’t it!
What do you think? Leave a comment.