Apr 292013
 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale

Director: Shane Black

“We create our own demons.”

So goes the opening line of this threequel, opening to massive expectations and no doubt, box office following Iron Man’s last triumphant outing as part of the superhero powerhouse which was The Avengers.

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as billionaire Tony Stark – who, this time around, is suffering a little from PTSD following the events at the end of the alien Chitauri invasion masterminded by Loki. Well, you’d expect that from someone who escaped from a wormhole with a nuke in tow…Facing a distinct lack of sleep, Stark has been distancing himself from the love of his life Pepper Potts (Paltrow), who’s working hard at Stark Industries and is dwelling on building other Iron Man suits within his basement.

But when bearded terrorist The Mandarin strikes, taking down everything Tony Stark holds dear, Stark has no choice but to go back to basics to try and save the day…

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Iron Man 3 is not what you would expect in terms of blockbuster outing.

Sure, Shane Black’s fashioned some killer crowd-pleasing, large exploding moments of spectacle but the overall feel of this flick is somewhat of a downer, darker and slightly dour affair – despite moments of humour throughout.

Stark is prone to panic and anxiety attacks – and it gives Downey Jr a new facet to play with onscreen as well as humanising the smarmy, egotistical philanthropist. But it also gives depth and a degree of heartbreak to his distancing himself from Potts (their relationship being the pulsing heart of this latest film) as it all plays out. Downey Jr is never anything less than eminently watchable as it unfolds, whether it’s raging anger when laying down a challenge to Mandarin  and chasing after the bearded terrorist (bin Laden allegories, anyone?) or realising how mortal he is post Avengers’ incidents.

Likewise, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin character is a fabulous addition to the pantheon of Marvel baddies. To say too much about this bearded Bin Laden-esque terrorist, with his cyber-hacking broadcasts is to give too much away from the film. But he adds a menace which is befitting and the equal of Stark’s theatricality as he exacts his diabolical plots. Guy Pearce brings a level of nastiness as Aldrich Killian, but Rebecca Hall is frankly wasted in a role, which amounts to little more than an extended cameo. Don Cheadle gets a Lethal Weapon-esque team up with Stark toward the end of the film as Iron Patriot falls into trouble.

Despite there being plenty of twists and turns, and some eye catching action sequences, there’s a horrendously saggy middle piece which sees Stark paired off with a kid and a woodshed cum factory as he tries to piece together what’s happened and start afresh with only one Iron Man suit.  Thankfully, some wonderfully uncaring one liners sour the saccharine a little, but it’s still not enough to lift the energy lull. There’s also a bit of muddled side plotting going on with the whole Extremis/ Killian storyline which detracts from the blockbuster action on offer.

I think the potential problem with Iron Man 3 is one of expectations; they were so high following the team up of The Avengers – and perhaps wisely, those involved chose to take the Marvel Phase 2 down a deeper, more introspective route; I really did enjoy the whole “Stark having to rely on Stark rather than the suit angle”, but couldn’t help feeling that I potentially wanted a little more from the film.

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