REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.Ben Kingsley in Iron Man Three (2013)Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man Three (2013)The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.Iron Man Three (2013)As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.

REVIEW: IRON MAN (2008)

 

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Terrence Howard (The Brave One)
Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark0
Faran Tahir (Supergirl TV)
Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Tim Guinee (Blade)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Samuel L. Jackson (XXX)
Nazanin Boniadi (How I Met Your Mother)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)

MV5BMTUzODkyNDE2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just an industrialist or one of the most brilliant minds on the planet: he’s practically a rock star. C’mon, when was the last time you saw a billionaire weapons manufacturer on the cover of “Rolling Stone”? Following in his late father’s footsteps and mentored by Stark Industries CEO Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Tony keeps the world safe for democracy — and rakes in eight figure paychecks and a parade of “Maxim” cover girls in the process — by engineering the most efficiently destructive arsenal that the U.S. military has ever had at its fingertips.During a trip to Afghanistan to show off the latest and greatest missile technology that Stark Industries has on the table, Tony’s convoy is attacked by an underground group of soldiers using his own weapons against him. Despite being on the brink of death from the shrapnel embedded deep in his heart and kept alive only by a jury-rigged electromagnet in his chest, Tony is ordered by his captors to recreate the Jericho missile. Tony’s brilliant mind immediately starts spinning — not to build a missile but to create a suit of armor that’ll carve through the waves of heavily-armed thugs and get him and his newfound friend Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) far out of harm’s way. Fueled by months of bottled-up rage and the miniature arc reactor that keeps the shards of shrapnel from skewering his heart, Tony does manage to escape in his armor, and the devastation he’s seen his own weapons wrought makes him vow to leave that life of arms manufacturing behind.Stane nods his head when Tony drops that bombshell in a press conference, asking the weaponeering wunderkind to lay low for a few months while he smooths things over with the company’s board of directors. Tony uses that time to rebuild and refine his armor technology, assembling a more efficient arc reactor and learning to fly with boot-jets and flight stabilizing gauntlets. He’s not setting out to build a weapon, but when Tony learns that his company’s hardware is being sold under the table to butcher untold thousands of innocent people, he slips on his newly-crafted armor to destroy every last trace of that arsenal. This attracts the unwanted attention of the U.S. military — including Tony’s old friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) — as well as what’s left of his captors in Afghanistan, who start piecing back together the scraps of the ramshackle suit that Tony used to escape.Robert Downey Jr. is the most inspired casting choice for a superhero flick since Christopher Reeve back in the Superman days. Even before the camera pans over to Downey’s face for the first time — when all we see is a hand holding a glass of scotch, with chunks of ice clinking around as a Humvee bounds up and down a barren stretch of Afghan desert — he is Tony Stark. The smirking charm, that swaggering confidence, a brilliance that he tends to keep restrained until he’s off by himself…Downey’s so perfect in Iron Man that it’s hard to believe the script wasn’t written with him expressly in mind. One of the hallmarks of a truly great superhero story is if it’s still compelling when the character isn’t in the suit, and that’s certainly the case here.Still building it for most of the movie — but some of Iron Man’s best moments are when he’s working out the kinks in the hardware. Tony’s inventiveness and half-bungled experiments in refining the tech in the Mark I armor score some pretty enormous laughs while also bringing out that wide-eyed sense of wonder I had reading comics growing up. As for the supporting cast, Gwyneth Paltrow — looking more drop-dead gorgeous than she ever has on-screen — captures the dogged loyalty of Tony’s right-hand, Pepper Potts, while infusing her with a charming sort of awkward energy.MV5BMTMwOTIwMTk2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDEzNTIzMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Iron Man is and always will be one of my all time favorite movies.