<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Shane Black. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ty Simpkins
There will be mixed reviews for this film for sure. I didn’t like the lack of an actual Iron Man, the jittery Tony Stark or the fact that they simply tamper with one of the main villains in slapstick fashion (fan boys may not be pleased).
Iron Man 3 is a direct sequel to Marvel’s Avengers movie that did very well last year and was lauded for its ability to cast so many actors as super heroes and still give them all relatively equal footing in a film that had a good plot and served up comic book fans with enough references and geek-trivia to keep them thumpingly happy. Which is why the bar was raised and unfortunately has not been met.
Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback to the 90s in Switzerland with our playboy mechanic billionaire and a brainy babe called Maya. This scene supposedly sets up a flimsy ‘motive’ for one of the villains, Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, to get back at Stark for rebuffing him.
Return to the present day. After the alien wormhole attack in New York, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is back home but he’s still not sleeping and has developed post-traumatic stress disorder. So he develops a Mark 42 Iron Man suit that can fly around and do his bidding without him having to get inside it. Also, his suit can now be summoned to his body thanks to some implants. Like magnets or moths to a flame they are drawn to him. But this serves hardly any useful purpose considering Stark is out of his suit for 90 per cent of the film!
He’s scared of any mention of New York and breaks down a couple of times during the movie (reminiscent of the Spider-Man film with Tobey Maguire breaking down) but then gets back up with a snide comment or one-liner. The film’s full of them, not all hilariously funny mind you. His new partner in life Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is his pride and joy but he’s afraid he won’t be able to protect her. And he’s right: Stark gives away the address to their covert home in the hills to the Mandarin as a sort of challenge after his good friend and Man Friday, Happy (Jon Favreau, director of the last two Iron Man films) is critically wounded in a mysterious explosion. For a guy who’s shaky and eager to protect his girlfriend, this seems ridiculous.
The Mandarin will hardly be recognisable to fans of the comics seeing as how he’s not a Chinese ‘Fu Manchu’ villain imbued with the powers of an alien race. Nor do the ten rings on his fingers have any powers like they do in the comics. He has a weird accent (probably following suit from The Dark Knight Rises and the Bane inflection, accents are in!) and is ‘modelled on’ more of a Middle Eastern terrorist.
Director Shane Black – who has written classic films like Lethal Weapon, Predator and Last Action Hero and directed Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – said he wanted the film to be more grounded in reality than being sci-fi. Yes of course. Having amputees participate in the Extremis experiment to regrow their limbs who then mutate into ‘fire creatures’ who may spontaneously combust destroying everything around them is so damn real Shane!
Anyway, so apart from all the whining and soul searching and stupidity, Stark hasn’t lost his attitude and ego. Robert Downey Jr’s flair for this made the first two Iron Man films and the Avengers a treat to watch, almost like Johnny Depp made Pirates of the Caribbean (well the first two at least) a joy. In Iron Man 3 however, you can’t help but feel sorry for him since his attitude seems juvenile and lacking any sophistication or mirth.
Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in this new ultimately comic avatar is wonderful to watch and provides some good giggles. Guy Pearce’s Killian is all right. I thought it was sad not to give Gwyneth Paltrow some more to do until of course the finale of the film, which sees her kick some butt, only too little too late.
There are some nice scenes like the rescue of 13 people who are rudely ejected from the President’s Air Force One. And then they go and show you how Stark executed this, which only leaves you a bit cold and hollow. That’s not very hero like, you say. Quite.
And yes the trailer showed as all the Iron Man suits coming together at the end. All controlled by the trusty and dutiful computer Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany) and there’s a huge play-by-the-numbers fight sequence at the end without Iron Man actually being a part of it.
Don Cheadle as James Rhodes aka War Machine aka the Iron Patriot plays his part but you’re left wondering: if everyone including Pepper Potts can get in that suit and play Iron Man, then Tony Stark is a bit redundant isn’t he?
You’ll get your dose of fun and kicks from the film, but don’t expect too much, certainly not a lot of Iron Man. And yes for those of you who will stay patiently till after the end credits there is a bonus scene. One of the other Avengers cast members make an appearance with Downey’s Stark. But it’s yet another comedic scene and nothing that really tells you anything about the next Avengers film. I’m pretty sure this is the last Iron Man film though and I wonder if Robert Downey Jr wants to continue in that role or not…
PS: The 3D is quite useless so you can watch it in 2D just as well. Oh and what on earth is the whole environmental message buried in the bad guys’ motivations about?? Hopefully the new Thor movie will be more substantial and have a coherent plot.