Running Time: 130 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist
It’s coming up to the summer blockbuster season again and the first to arrive with a bang at the multiplexes is a third outing for Tony Stark’s titular hero. With most fans championing last year’s Avengers as raising the bar in the convoluted but lucrative superhero genre, Iron Man 3 had a formidable task in coming up trumps. Rather than attempting to bring something new to the table, director Shane Black sticks to a tried and tested formula with a few clever twists and turns to keep things interesting.
At the end of Avengers the wise cracking, millionaire, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) managed to save the day against an alien invasion. Since the ordeal he has suffered reoccurring anxiety attacks and insomnia. His loving partner, Pepper Potts (a ribbed Gwyneth Paltrow) is worried about him but cannot seem to reach him. Tony holes himself up with his technological toys as a form of therapy while the world outside is under threat from the terrorist movement of the Mandarin (a fantastic and hilarious cameo from Ben Kingsley). He instructs, ‘Ladies, children, sheep… Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes, there is no such thing’.
It seems that Stark has amassed a plethora of enemies due to his arrogance and ignorance in the early days of his success. One young, talented but socially awkward scientist called Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) that approached him at a science conference and was shunned has created a regenerative drug that may or may not be being used by the Mandarin and his army. Soon Tony’s past will be coming back to haunt him and threaten to destroy everything that he loves.
The first two Iron Man movies neglected the need for a proper plot and focus on the wise cracking exploits of Tony Stark. It becomes fairly obvious within the first five minutes of his latest adventure that this is going to be much of the same format. That is not to say the Stark is not an absorbing character. The more that Stark appears to be out of his depth and struggling, the more that he seems to crack a joke and mock the situation. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black makes sure that these jokes come thick and fast. Robert Downey Jnr might be a one trick pony but it is a wonderful trick and he was born to play the role. Unfortunately there is so much time spent on Stark that all of the supporting characters have very little time to shine. Kingsley and Pearce are both impressive in their own right as the villains of the piece but appear for around ten minutes in a two hour movie. Don Cheadle and previous director, Jon Favereau have no more than brief cameos as Tony’s long-suffering friends and colleagues. Gwyneth Paltrow is charming in the role of the loyal and devoted love interest, Pepper Potts. Fortunately she is given a little more to do than just play the damsel in distress in this chapter.
The special effects and action scenes are solid but fairly standard for this type of film. The standout set pieces are a very loud, helicopter attack on Tony’s cliff top pad and a short but fantastic shootout in Killian’s mansion where Tony acrobatically makes short change on some extremely tough henchman with only an armoured arm and leg. The final showdown between iron men and bad guys is left to the CGI gurus and fairly forgettable. The film peaks in the final third when some twists and revelations are added to the mix. Not only are the characters caught off guard but so are the audience and the film really cranks into top gear. Similar to the last film, Iron Man is around 30 minutes too long and a lot of fat could have been trimmed off the middle section. However there is still a lot of fun to be had and for once the after-credits sequence is worth the wait with a welcome and comical return from The Avengers most successful new recruit.