The movie opens with some narration over a scene of exploding Iron Man suits. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., again excellent in the role) takes us back to a New Year’s Eve in 1999 in Bern, Switzerland. It’s here we are introduced to two characters that will play an important part in the rest of the film- a young geneticist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), who is working on a project she calls Extremis, an agent that could hold the power for curing illness and repairing physical deformities, and an entrepreneur, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who seeks to gain Tony’s attention and investment in his start up enterprise he calls AIM. The opening shows how Stark handled both brief relationships, ones that would come back to haunt him later on.
The two characters are not the only thing new about Iron Man 3, the latest from Marvel following the blockbuster Marvel’s The Avengers. There’s also a new director in the person of Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss,Bang Bang), who brings a fresh outlook to the proceedings as well as giving it some psychological underpinnings. War Machine, Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) has a new suit of armor and a new name, the Iron Patriot. And Tony Stark has some new tricks up his sleeve as well, primarily the Mark 42, a nifty new suit whose pieces come flying through the air when summoned. And then there’s the villain, The Mandarin.
In the comics, The Mandarin was portrayed as a scientist and martial artist who gained his power through ten rings which harnessed alien technology. In the film, he’s been modernized, now a person of indeterminate nationality who is more of a warrior philosopher, and one who harbors a deep hatred for the United States. His access to highly advanced weaponry makes him a grave threat to both the American government and Tony Stark. Ben Kingsley plays the role fantastically, exuding the right amount of menace combined with intelligence and a devotion to his cause. He also brings a nice twist to the role, which I won’t divulge here. Kingsley’s performance helps lift this film above its predecessor, and puts it on equal footing if not a hair above the first film in the series.
The movie moves along at a nice pace, mixing plenty of action filled scenes, including a stunning attack on Stark’s Malibu mansion, humorous sequences (the first attempts at getting the Mark 42 are quite funny, and wait until you get a load of Tony’s special Christmas present for Pepper Potts, played very nicely again by Gwyneth Paltrow), and some psychological drama, dealing with Tony’s anxieties stemming from the alien attack on New York. The panic attacks provide a nice layer to Tony’s persona, which is usually so sure of itself. It’s also nice that director Black (who wrote the screenplay with Drew Pearce) offers these nods to what has happened before. It does turn into a sort of running gag throughout the movie, but it never comes across as overused. Seeing Stark’s reactions when he encounters Hansen and Killian again plays off well against his actions at the beginning of the film. Pearce makes good use of his character here, and is better utilized than he was in Prometheus. Rebecca Hall makes the most out of her few scenes as Maya Hansen, and though the role appears to be a small one it is a pivotal one as well. Former director Jon Favreau returns again as Happy, Tony’s former bodyguard now head of security for Stark Industries. When Happy is injured by one of The Mandarin’s associates, things become personal. This works well, forcing Tony to deal with his own shortcomings and act heroic without his superhero trappings. Watching Tony infiltrate a compound with devices made from supplies procured from a hardware store is a real treat, making him heroic out of the suit as well as within.
All in all, this is a terrific movie, a step up from Iron Man 2 and a terrific launch of Marvel’s Phase Two slate of films. The performances are terrific throughout, and there’s not one sour note among them. Action scenes are well staged, from the aforementioned attack on Tony’s home to a disaster on Air Force One. Even Pepper gets to stretch her action skills in a few scenes. The dialogue is well written and often funny, and the effects are well executed. It’s a great kick-off to the summer movie season, and as always with these films, stay in your seats for the now obligatory Marvel post credits scene. It’s quite amusing, and worth waiting for.
Latest posts by Thomas Juretus (see all)
- New Releases for the Week of October 9, 2017- Shadow of War - October 8, 2017
- New Releases for the Week of October 2, 2017- Forza Motorsport 7 - October 1, 2017
- New Releases for the Week of September 25, 2017- FIFA 18 - September 24, 2017