After the disappointment of Iron Man 2 I had no interest in the next instalment of this franchise. Robert Downey Jnr’s turn in The Avengers didn’t help as I realised that Tony Stark works better as a show stealing ensemble character rather than the main draw.
It wasn’t until the positive waves rolled in with the early reviews that I sat up and took notice. Once this happened the trailer started to look all the more intriguing. I am a sheep. I follow where I am led.
PLOT: The events in New York have taken their toll on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) who has become a reclusive shut in. It isn’t until after one of his own is injured in an attack by The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley) that he sits up and takes notice. After his home is destroyed Tony is cut off from Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), presumed dead and has to go back to basics in order to defeat a new and potentially unstoppable enemy. END PLOT
Iron Man 3 is an almost perfect mixture of character development and action although it has to be said that perhaps the film is a shade too long as it clocks in at 130mins (IMDB). The pacing was fast but there were a few occasions when the film did begin to lag.
The films only real weakness is the ending which didn’t pack an emotional punch as the events were dealt with by way of a montage narrated by a breezy voice over. It felt like a half-baked attempt to bring the franchise to a close without fully committing to it. The Avengers 2 is just around the corner and as we all know that Robert Downey Jnr is going to appear there was never really any sense of danger.
In Iron Man 3 Tony Stark is struggling with panic attacks before being well and truly humbled by a new enemy. This was the correct way to go because Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jnr (they are essentially the same person) was in real danger of becoming an obnoxious caricature. Allowing the character to have his weaknesses displayed for the world to see and then to rise above them humanised Stark. This is a trait that Tony Stark had been lacking up until now.
Robert Downey Jnr is excellent as always and handles the character development with ease. There are plenty of fast paced one liners, some of which are genuinely hilarious, and Downey Jnr's eyes are sparkling with glee at the hilarity of it all. I am curious to know just how many of Stark’s zingers were courtesy of Downey Jnr ad-libbing as there were occasions when the witty quips had a very unscripted feel about them.
Stark’s attitude to his new found super hero status gave a bit more depth to Robert Downey Jnr’s performance and kept the film from feeling overly familiar.
Gwyneth Paltrow has always been fine as Pepper Potts. Paltrow gets her chance to shine before handing the reigns back to Robert Downey Jnr. As a general rule less is always more when it comes to Gwyneth Paltrow but in the Iron Man films she has never been grating. This is the franchises biggest triumph.
Sir Ben Kingsley is fantastic as The Mandarin and gives an extremely memorable performance. Kingsley is enjoying himself as much as Downy Jnr and his casting was an inspired choice.
Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and an ever expanding Jon Favreau were all strong in their various supporting roles.
I had no choice but to see Iron Man 3 in 3D and it wasn’t worth it – even during the flying scenes it served no purpose. Despite the disappointment over the 3D the action is excellent and keeps the usage of the Iron Man suits feeling fresh and clever. There are some brilliant set pieces and, as per usual, during a sequence involving a crashing aeroplane I felt ill.
Shane Black has replaced Jon Favreau in the director’s chair and has done a commendable job of coming into an established series and keeping the flow feeling consistent yet surprising.
Iron Man 3 is by no means perfect but the performances alone are strong enough to carry the film through any potential plot holes. It was always going to better Iron Man 2 but Iron Man 3 can hold its head up high and gets an 8.5/10. A second viewing is perhaps necessary if only to enjoy the spectacle over again.
The constant references to Christmas suggest that Iron Man 3 was originally scheduled for a winter release but it officially opened Summer Season and set the bar high. Bring on the