Going into Iron Man 3 I expected more drama, emotion and intensity from the possible conclusion of the Iron Man series. I got that, for the first hour. Shane Black’s take on the third Iron Man film falls short of being great. The trailer comes off as a darker Nolan-esque take, but in the end, Black gets trapped in his own aesthetic.
The film begins through a narration by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) talking about how the past can work as a series of unfortunate events for the present. Though a series of flashbacks we see Stark sleep with a talented botanist (Rebecca Hall) and deny a talented creep (Guy Pierce at his finest sleaze) five minutes of his time. These events will find a way to cripple Stark, who is already dealing with the personal demons from New York (The Avengers).
The antagonist we follow is The Mandarin brilliantly played by Ben Kingsley. He’s basically Osama Bin Laden with this pastoral, preacher voice that gave me the chills. The Mandarin is a master terrorist who is the leader of the ten rings, his organization that has wreaked havoc all over the world while remaining anonymous.
The first half of the film is terrific; Robert Downey Jr. successfully taps into Tony Starks’ vulnerability for the first time. The incident that happened during The Avengers makes for a fine parallel for the modern age after 9/11. As viewers, we experience Stark’s conflicts being internal and his increased paranoia strains his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow).
With the rise of the Mandarin’s work as a master terrorist, Stark makes it his personal goal to destroy him. This is where his past meets with his present and makes for an unlikely conflict.
For the first half of the film Shane Black (Screenwriter for the Lethal Weapon series and director of the severely underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) does a fine job directing his first blockbuster, but relies too much on his own tricks. A lot of 90’s homage (villains extremely similar to the terminator and buddy cop dialogue) was thrown at the end. What was supposed to be an excellent villain in The Mandarin ends up being somewhat of a pointless joke. I came into the theater looking for a superhero movie and the last 45 minutes of the film was just an action comedy.
The finest point of the film was the acting for sure. I haven’t seen Ben Kingsley in a role this juicy since Sexy Beast. He just had fun being The Mandarin and he turned out being one of the more memorable villains from the marvel series. Robert Downey Jr. can play Tony Stark in his sleep but he really turned it up a notch in this one. He truly tapped into Stark’s psyche this time around. Downey Jr., in my opinion is the most talented actor in Hollywood and he’s always able to make a bad movie into a watchable one. I wish he worked with better directors. It is such an injustice to see him kill it in films, but the films end up being just so-so themselves.
In the end I felt that Iron Man was a good movie but not great. After 2012’s miraculous year of comic book movies Its hard not make comparisons. I felt that Iron Man 3 was a slight improvement from the second one but it wasn’t enough for me. The first hour was very tight and dense and it slowly just fell apart for me. If Black stayed with that direction for the rest of the movie it could have been great but it just fell short of that.
Filmtastic Aggregate Score: