Reel Reviews
Movie: Third Time is a Charm for “Iron Man 3”
May 5, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Welcome to the start of the summer blockbuster season, buckle up and get ready for several months of explosions, action and adventure. The month of May is packed with high profile, must see films, the first of which to hit the big screen is “Iron Man 3.”

Self-proclaimed “billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist” Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., “Chaplin”) has been having some trouble since we last saw him in “The Avengers.” Triggered by his memories of the destruction in New York, he can no longer sleep and has developed an anxiety disorder. In order to counteract these issues, he does what he does best: tinker and create things. While he is at his Malibu mansion creating an Iron Man suit that he can control without being inside of it, his girlfriend Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow, “Shakespeare in Love”) is running Stark Industries and making new contacts including scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, “Memento”), who is using his company AIM and its research to, among other things, genetically grow back people’s limbs. Generally, all is going well in Tony and Pepper’s lives, but, as always, that is short lived.

When his bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau, “Swingers”) is injured in a terrorist attack orchestrated by The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley, “Gandhi”), Tony threatens the man on national television and gives out his home address so that the two can settle this like men. The Mandarin destroys Tony’s mansion and he ends up stranded in the Midwest with an Iron Man suit. He soon realizes that the terrorist attacks may be more elaborate than the world thinks and, with Pepper in danger and with the help of Rhodey (Don Cheadle, “Hotel Rwanda”), he needs to overcome his insecurities to save her life.

The “Iron Man” series is a phenomenon in the best sense of the word and without those movies none of the other Marvel films, that all led to “The Avengers,” would have been made; the current superhero obsession owes quite a bit to the popularity of Tony Stark. “Iron Man 3” is fast paced and fun and the dark undertones are balanced well with dark comedy and laugh out loud moments. The script is sharp, the Extremis and Mandarin storyline’s enjoyable and the action sequences topnotch. It is easy to overlook the plot holes or the not explained character rationale for certain events due the films popcorn movie appeal.

What makes the film, as usual and as it should be, is Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony. All acerbic wit and flash there is the Tony we all love, but there is also the Tony that is in pain, his flaws on display more than ever before. Downey Jr. has always seemed to easily slip into the role of Stark, fans often say they think he just is Stark in real life, but this film really shows how good of an actor he is, as it is easy to forget. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper is efficient and controlled, which is nothing new, but getting to see her join in the fighting and help Tony was great; Paltrow handled herself extremely well with the new aspects added to her character. Don Cheadle and Jon Favreau are both admirable in their supporting roles and often bring comedy into the film; Happy loving “Downton Abbey” got many laughs in my theater.

The bad guys, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce, are both fantastic in their own ways. Kingsley brings a surprise twist and a lot of humor to his role, which was played differently than many people expected, but, I think, in the only way it could have been played without it becoming a racist stereotype. On the other hand, Pearce’s Aldrich Killian is equal parts ambition and sleaze with a dash of genius manipulation thrown in. As the puppet master behind The Mandarin, Killian takes the audiences preconceived notions of what a terrorist is and turns it on its head, using the audiences fear as a plot device really effectively.  

With the disappointing “Iron Man 2” still fresh on the mind it was exciting to see the film series come back to form, if not become better than ever, in “Iron Man 3.” With all Marvel films, be sure to stay after the credits for a special scene that is sure to make fans of “The Avengers” and the ‘science bros’ happy.       

“Iron Man 3” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content and runs 130 minutes. It is in theaters now.