Iron Man 3 – 2013
Director Shane Black
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak
Screenplay by Black and Drew Pearce
“Don’t shoot! Seriously, I don’t even like working here. They are so weird!”
Shane Black is the most original screenwriting voices to emerge, submerge and re-emerge from Hollywood. After bringing the first 2 Lethal Weapon films into the world, he sold a few more well-received scripts (Last Boy Scout and Long Kiss Goodnight) and one complete dud (Last Action Hero) before taking a sabbatical. What he did during that time, I have no idea. Looks like he stayed healthy, though. His return to the world of movies in 2005 in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang featured Robert Downey, Jr., who worked a delicate comedic balance with Val Kilmer. Even if the film was overlooked, Downey, Jr. remembered Black when it came time to make this, the third film in the series that catapulted Marvel to the top of the comic book movie heap.
The series being forced into a new direction after the insane success of The Avengers sent Iron Man out of the range of a mere comic book hero. As bad guy Aldrich Killian (Pearce) says: “…ever since that big dude with a hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety’s kinda had its day.” Black’s decision resulted in a deft move to life outside the suit.
As the story begins, we see Tony as a man who is unable to get a full night’s sleep, but at least he is putting the time to good use. His efforts have brought the suits up to a Mark 42. This suit is unique in its ability to work remotely. This gives the concept of Iron Man a unique new twist that is put to use effectively more than once. For any one who thought that the cat left the bag for good after he revealed his identity, this new twist should spice things up a bit.
The story is a familiar one for those who have read more than a few of the comics. There’s always someone who wants to work with Tony Stark. There’s even more people that he just rubs the wrong way. Then there is the Mandarin (Kingsley). How one responds to his character is dependent upon whether or not one read the comics or not. Personally, I thought it was quite inventive, if predictable. In the time of publicist/terrorists it does make sense. What will the decision mean for the future of the franchise? Will it matter? It will if one wants to avoid a recurring story line of the mad inventor/scientist/business man. This series could use a little mysticism.
Even so, the set pieces for Iron Man 3 are spectacular. The destruction of the home in Malibu, the barrel of monkeys and the dockyard are all excellently drawn and inventive. The first time through, it was a little frustrating waiting for Black to obey the convention of the suit and just make Tony fly around and shoot things, safe and stoic. A second viewing allowed the realization that Black and Downey, Jr. were making brave choices, and introducing real peril to the cash cow.
Harley Keener: So now you’re just going to leave me here, like my dad?
Tony Stark: Yeah. Wait, you’re guilt tripping me, aren’t you?
Harley Keener: I’m cold.
Tony Stark: I can tell. You know how I can tell? ‘Cause we’re connected.
Harley Keener: [sighs] It was worth a try.
The best thing about Iron Man 3 is the dialogue. For once it seems like the writing has caught up with the character of Tony Stark. There are so many excellent lines that flow through the film, it feels like you are right there, beside them in real-time. The effect is better than any special effect could ever be. One great sequence involves Tony with a little kid. The meeting has sappy disaster written all over it. Tony’s reaction to the kid’s sob story makes it apparent that the combination is a win. The lines are fast and smart, without being smarmy. The punchline to the Killian statement “…The early bird gets the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese….” comes so smoothly, you could almost miss it. But pay attention. It’s worth it.
The ending to Iron Man 3 is filled with all sorts of ambiguity. One is left with a genuine anticipation for what lies ahead. It is completely the opposite feeling one expects to have in the conclusion of a blockbuster. It’s likely that if you have read this review, you’ve already seen the film, but still there is no need to discuss it further. Black has left the character balanced on a pendulum. It’s unsettling, but it keeps you looking forward. That is what a good film should always do.
I give Iron Man III ****1/2 (4 in a half) stars out of five.
My favorite parts were when
1. When Tony (aka) Robert Downey Jr. put magnets in his skin and pulled his suit on him and one part that goes to his private part hit him hard there.
2. When Pepper (aka) Gwyneth Paltrow (spoiler) killed Killian (aka) Guy Pierce (who would name their little boy Guy?) and she said “That was so violent!”
3. When the little kid said to Tony “You’re gonna leave me like my father?” Tony said, “Yes.”
“Too bad,” and he drove off.
Parts I did not like where 1. (Spoiler) When Killian came back after he was blown up.