Let’s face it. Those of you who are interested in films of Iron Man’s ilk and have waited through a year of comic-cons dressed like your favorite Marvel superhero, do not need Cinema Siren to tell you whether to head out this weekend to keep one of Hollywood’s biggest studio franchises alive and Robert Downey Jr. out of the poorhouse. You already have your tickets. It is the souls who usually stay home with a glass of wine watching Downton Abbey, and occasion the multiplex only for the most hyped and well reviewed blockbusters they want to charm into theaters. With its mix of magnetic superstar power, exciting action, and strong character development, Iron Man 3 has a good chance of making new Marvel fans and big dollars, making it the movie to beat this summer at the box office, and making the first big anticipated release the first mega-success of the year.
Directed and co-written by Downey Jr. pal Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), the plot involves Tony Stark/Iron Man and his best girl Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) having their world torn apart and being put in grave danger by a terrorist called The Mandarin. Stark has to figure out how to rebuild his life and get retribution against those who are responsible. He gets help from Colonel Rhodes/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), his trusty computer Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany), and a kid named Harley (Ty Simpkins), whom he must depend upon in ways his life has never required.
This movie risks a most interesting mix of intense action, humor, and genuine character development. It would have been easy enough to phone in yet another quip-heavy and effects laden marathon of explosions. Iron Man 3 chose the more complicated route, making Tony Stark a real flesh and bone character with weaknesses he must overcome, negative and positive qualities he must let go of and embrace, in order to survive and triumph. He spends very little time in the movie actually suited up, and we are all the better for it as an audience. For certain, we see plenty of action, in fact there could have been some editing of a few of the scenes with the most special effects. However, in IM3, we also see real human feeling and interaction. With last year’s Avengers throwing down the gauntlet, it’s a whole new world of “the comic book heroes next door”. Now these guys feel, struggle, are conflicted, and must make complicated human decisions, just like the rest of us.
There is no shortage of good acting to enjoy here. Cinema Siren must give credit to Gwyneth Paltrow, who has heretofore been underused in the franchise. Her character subverts the usual expectations for this sort of flick, making the last third of Iron Man 3 even more satisfying. The villains of IM3 are both entertaining and well played. Guy Pearce builds Aldrich Killian into something beyond the wronged computer genius cliche, and Ben Kingsley must be seen to be believed, making the hire of anyone else to play The Mandarin unconscionable. Ty Simpkins as Harley, the kid who befriends and helps Tony, is a rare case of great adult child chemistry, and he is the least annoying child character seen in recent memory, adding much to the story and Tony’s growth.
See this movie if at all interested in super heroes. Suffice to say, it is at once, a hoot, a wild ride, and an emotional journey. It is funny, affecting, and exciting.
We have, in large part, Robert Downey Jr. to thank for it. And that, as they say, is why he makes the big bucks