Title: Iron Man 3
Directed by: Shane Black
Distributed by: Paramount / Marvel
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Synopsis: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution. (Via IMDB)
Brian: Movie trilogies usually don’t work like this. Usually the first installment, the film that introduces us to all the characters, works as a fine but mostly dull origin story. Then the second film slays us with its brilliance. And then the third film, with the highest budget yet, gets so big and bloated that ultimately the suits in power have to re-launch the series a few years later with new actors and a slightly different title. (Of course I’m not talking Spider-Man, wink wink.) But the Iron Man trilogy has not worked out this way. The first Iron Man, still the best in the series, was a glorious entertainment, my favorite mainstream blockbuster of 2008 after The Dark Knight. Iron Man 2, on the other hand, was one of my ten least favorite movies of 2010; plagued with a fast schedule and multiple re-shoots, the movie was a big, loud mess. And now, after the wondrous entertainment that was last year’s The Avengers, we have Iron Man 3, a film that should have been the mess Iron Man 2 initially promised, but is instead an imperfect but super fun installment in the Marvel movie universe, with Downey Jr’s best performance as the character yet, and a hilarious, fast-moving script from the great Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight), who also turned up as director here. There are a few lulls in the middle of the movie, and the finale leaves a little to be desired, but overall I had a great time at this one.
Shaunta: I went to see Iron Man 3 on Mother’s Day with my husband and 8-year-old daughter. It was a late-ish show for a school night (bad mommy!), so I had a unique barometer to how good this film was. I watched to see if Ruby fell asleep. She did get comfy: shoes off, my jacket like a blanket, practically laying in her daddy’s lap. But she stayed awake and riveted through the entire film–including what felt like a year of credits to get to the little cookie at the end. Ruby is a superhero aficionado, and although her first love is Spiderman, she really loved this Iron Man flick. She loved the small references to the Avenger movie (the man with the hammer falling from the sky? Thor! Thor!) She loved just about everything about it. So did I. There was a lot that worked for me. There’s a kid in this one who perfectly plays against Tony Stark’s high opinion of himself. Pepper Potts gets to kick some ass, and the action scenes are the top of the top. I didn’t feel any lulls anywhere, but my husband agreed with Brian about there being a couple in the middle. I do agree though that the ending had too much of a Christmas bow on top. Too neat.
Brian: One element I thought worked really great was an onset of anxiety problems that Tony Stark is facing, mostly from the dramatic events at the end of The Avengers. Since none of the other characters from that film show up (well, until the funny little credit cookie), it would have been easy to just throw out a quick line about the previous film and let Iron Man 3 work as a complete stand-alone. Instead, Black smartly uses the extraordinary events from Joss Whedon’s film and uses it for drama here, to give vulnerability to our central superhero character. In less assured hands, this aspect to the movie might have felt cloying, but it’s an interesting and welcome addition to the film. The film is rich with great characters and performances, many from new faces to the series. Ben Kingsley is a revelation in this movie. Yeah, yeah, I know, he won the Oscar for Ghandi a bazillion freaking years ago, and he’s been great in a thousand things ever since, like House of Sand and Fog (a movie that still shakes me up every time I think of it), but the unique spin he puts on this character is part Heath Ledger, part Will Ferrell, and a complete original. Guy Pierce, as the main baddie, is equally up to the task. Also worth mentioning is little Ty Simpkins, who plays a boy that Tony takes under his wing in a middle chunk of the movie, and who gives one of the most relaxed, natural child performances I’ve seen on screen in a long, long time. The movie loses a little of its momentum in the chaotic action finale, and Gwyneth Paltrow still doesn’t do much more here than play the damsel in distress, but for those who had to endure the rocky second installment, Iron Man 3 is a return to form.
Shaunta: The one thing that distracted me during the movie was trying to figure out who the actress was playing the character Maya. I knew I knew her, but I couldn’t put my finger on from where. And then it hit me all at once. She is a dead ringer for a young Molly Ringwald, and I just saw and loved her in Parade’s End. When I say dead ringer, I’m not kidding. Look:
See? She’s a brunette in Iron Man 3, but still. Anyway, I thought Rebecca Hall as Maya was fantastic. And like I said before, the little boy was great. I also really enjoyed Don Cheadle as the Iron Patron. Honestly, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this movie. To be honest, I don’t even remember Iron Man 2–literally nothing about it–even though I know I watched it. It didn’t stick with me as a good movie, but it also didn’t upset me as a terrible movie like it did Brian. Iron Man 3 on the other hand is worth seeing in the theater. And it’s memorable. Ruby woke up talking about it. As I write this, my older daughter Adrienne is debating with me whether the message at the end, “Tony Stark will be back” means that a fourth movie is possible or if we only get more Iron Man in Avengers 2. Unlike Brian, Ben Kingsley’s character was a weak spot for me. He was too silly. The whole idea of his character just didn’t work for me. But over all, I really, really enjoyed Iron Man 3.