Wednesday 24 April 2013

Iron Man Three review

Iron Man 3 (or Three as the end credits pertain) is as near to an 80s action movie as Marvel are gonna get. It's a Shane Black movie through and through. A Shane Black movie which just happens to be about superheroes. There's even the use of profanity, the kind of word you'll unlikely hear again in a Marvel/Disney movie. Iron Man Three really is more Lethal Weapon / Long Kiss Goodnight than it is a follow-on from Iron Man 2.

Saying that, and to put things into perspective here, Iron Man 2 was better than they'd lead you to believe. It had a standout action set piece (see Monte Carlo Grand Prix sequence) and an excellent supporting cast (See Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke). And Scarlett Johansson, lest we forget.

However, '2' did suffer a little from 'Superhero-sequel-by-the-numbers' syndrome. As you can probably tell, 'Three', alas, does not suffer from this same fatigue. Marvel here have injected new life into the franchise, the first of its Phased 2 properties, and in handing Iron Man over to new blood (notably Shane Black and Drew Pearce) it seems that this Phase of Marvel movies has gotten off to a stonking start.

'Three' is quite clearly a standalone movie following on from the mammoth success of last summers Avengers (Assemble). Kudos to the studio for taking brave chances and putting an established franchise in the hands of Shane Black and Drew Pearce, the results of which are... well as you can probably tell, exceptionally surprising to say the least. That being said, the less you know about the film, the better.

Suffice to say, following the events in New York at the end of Avengers Assemble, 'Three' picks up at Christmas time with our hero suffering from some kind of Post-traumatic stress resulting in a series of panic attacks and a distinct lack of sleep.

After a savage attack on his Malibu home, Stark is presumed dead and by Act 2, the movie has successfully stripped Tony Stark of the suit and hurtles him into a world reminiscent of the action movies of the late 80s and early 90s.

He hides out in a small American town, befriends a young boy and turns to Rhodie/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) for help. The pairs banter really is dialed up a notch in this threequel and it's here that Rhodie becomes the 'Murtaugh' to Stark's 'Riggs' in a series of highly amusing one-liners in this classic, yet not so familiar, Shane Black-Marvel universe cross-breed of a film.

RDJ is, once again, on fine form, taking Stark into a new stripped-back realm where he is forced to use his own wits and tech-genius to help get him out of some rather tricky situations. However, that said, there's plenty of the famous Stark quips that the fans have come to love on display here, rest assured, the billionaire, playboy, philanthropist still does what he does best. Gwentyh Paltrow is also top-notch as she returns as Tony's squeeze, Pepper Potts, bringing a decent heart and soul to the story.

As for the rest of the supporting cast, notable mentions to Guy Pearce who plays the villainous Aldrich Killian to perfection. But no review could not mention Sir Ben Kingsley. The acclaimed British thesp here gives a performance as uber-terrorist The Mandarin which will really go down in the books 'You'll never see me coming'. Quite literally.

This is a superhero movie that's as much about characters as it is about the FX, set-pieces and the spectacle. The plot is so well developed and thought-out, it may actually take a couple of viewings for some viewers to take hold of all the sub-plots and threads that screenwriters Shane Black and Drew Pearce have perfectly weaved together.

Go in, sit back and enjoy. Marvel really are establishing themselves as a studio not afraid of taking risks with well-loved and established franchises. And so onto Thor, The Dark World...

Marc Foley-Comer

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