Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is the film we have been waiting for since Dark Knight Rises. It has a phenomenally powerful heroic arc for many of its characters, pits our hero against a terrifying enemy, gives us a nice love story, and does it all without wallowing in darkness and a fairly nihilistic worldview. And it is explosively funny at perfect moments.

As of its release, Iron Man 3 is the best movie of 2013.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released May 3, 2013

Written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black, based on the comic by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Directed by Shane Black 

Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, and Ty Simpkins

Rated: PG-13

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Story

Iron Man 3 comes chronologically after Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. In this story, the events from The Avengers are referred to as ‘New York’ from the year before. This is important, because the heroic efforts Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) made in that conflict have left their mark on him. He is torn up and is having trouble sleeping. 

But he’s been working obsessively with his suits, making them able to move remotely and even be controlled by Jarvis (Bettany) so they can be nearly autonomous. At the same time, Rhodey (Cheadle) is using the suit the US Government appropriated, which is now called the Iron Patriot. Rhodey and Tony are still friends. Pepper (Paltrow) is very worried about Tony. He is unable to stay in bed, is acting a little too manic, and their relationship is suffering. She wishes he could have a life without the suits.

Meanwhile, there is a terrorist called the Mandarin (Kingsley) who is incredibly well outfitted for mass destruction. He is bombing all kinds of places and appears to want to knock the world’s systems completely off balance. But there’s also another bad guy named Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who is a brilliant inventor and developer and who seems to have a personal bone to pick with Tony Stark. And this guy is not entirely human.

When Tony’s home and lab are completely destroyed, Stark is left with his one final suit, panic attacks, and a pushy kid (Simpkins) who might be able to help him save the world. The Mandarin’s plans move forward, putting countless lives in danger, and Killian’s plans do much the same. Now Tony has to somehow rescue his relationship, the president, and the entire world from a madman who is bent on molding the world after his own vision.

Leading to a visually stunning showdown that does all kinds of crazy things that will come as a surprise to most viewers.

Critique

There’s not much bad to say about this film. It starts with a script that knows how to throw punches at our hero, leaving him on his back, nearly dead, in the snow. The script allows characters to explore relationships and to inhabit their emotional space. This consists of allowing scenes to continue for enough time to let us see the character do natural, often heroic things.

The script also allows for all kinds of humor at surprising and perfect times. Most of that humor is clever dialogue, but it’s so effective because of its timing. Furthermore, the bad guys are ruthless and smart and incredibly dangerous. They win every encounter because they’re better prepared than anyone else.

As expected, the acting is excellent. This is a surprising role for Ben Kingsley, but the guy really gets it done. Guy Pearce is effectively smarmy and villainous, as are the sidekicks. The role of Stark was of course written for Robert Downey Jr, but there is more asked of him here. He has to move beyond clever snark to real self exploration, while staying true to himself. He does that well. Gwyneth Paltrow is as Gwyneth as ever, but the presence and acting of Rebecca Hall offsets the Gwyneth factor nicely.

The effects are remarkable. Seamless, creative, stunning, and altogether wonderful.

You’re going to love this movie.

Content warnings: Lots of superhero violence and some at times creepy or difficult images. Nothing gory.

Writing: 5          Acting: 5          Overall: 5

Iron out the kinks in your relationships, man (or woman!), and share this review with your friends. Then drop a Hamilton and go see this flick.

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Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 doesn’t have quite the freshness that the first Iron Man film had, but it offers an interesting villain combination in Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke and the set pieces are mighty fine. The character of Tony Stark continues to be far more than meets the eye and the acting and deceptive light-heartedness of these films really sets them apart.

Plus, Don Cheadle.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released May 7, 2010

Written by Justin Theroux. Based on the comics by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Samuel Jackson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, and Clark Gregg

Rated: PG-13

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Story

After revealing that he is Iron Man, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) is immediately targeted by the US government, who wants to confiscate his technology, aided by Justin Hammer (Rockwell), a rival weapons manufacturer who has no ethics and a chip on his shoulder. At the same time, a vengeful genius Russian inventor, Vanko (Rourke) targets Tony and hatches a plan to kill him.

When the plan fails, Hammer and Vanko team up, while at the same time, Tony’s friend Rhodey (Cheadle) grows increasingly concerned about Tony’s mental stability and becomes torn between his loyalty to his friend and his nation. While all of this is happening, we learn that Tony is being steadily poisoned by his arc reactor and that Tony needs to find a way to make the reactor safer– but this requires the use of an element that doesn’t exist.

Add to all of this the presence of Agent Coulson (Gregg) and Nick Fury (Jackson), who seem to want Stark to get involved in some kind of heroic initiative. Supporting Tony through all of this and running Tony’s company is Pepper Potts (Paltrow in one of her only palatable roles), who is also Tony’s love interest.

These tensions result in lots of explosions, snappy dialogue, and a heroic arc that takes Stark to a showdown with some seriously nasty weapons created by Vanko and Hammer.

Critique

Downey Jr. seems to have been made for this role– or maybe it’s the other way around. The edgy snark that is laid over the top of kindness, fear of hurting those he cares about, and honor, is once again deftly handled by probably the only actor who could pull this off. His performance is very well complemented by Cheadle playing a conflicted Rhodey and Rockwell doing his characteristically great job playing a layered slimeball.

The story is well-crafted also, with conflicts and tension arising from high stakes personal issues as well as global issues. Favreau keeps the pace moving along at an engaging clip, leaving time for characters to have moments that help them grow, but leaving no lag whatsoever.

As a sequel, Iron Man 2 is one of the few, such as Empire Strikes Back, that takes the original story and satisfyingly adds to it, despite not having quite the level of fresh wonder of the first. This film bursts with charm, humanity, humor, and action. It’s hard to enjoy Mickey Rourke, but he is quite convincing as a vengeful thug– although his ability as an inventor strains credulity.

If you liked the first Iron Man, you’ll like this one.

Content warnings: some salty language, plenty of explosive violence, a little blood, some suggestiveness.

Writing: 4.5          Acting: 4.5           Overall: 4.5

Iron out the kinks and share this review with all of your peeps, man.

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