Has a tendency to bite
Join Date: May 2011
Re: Official Iron Man 3 rate/review thread.
Originally Posted by shuffleboard
This is a really solid review, **** out of five. Iron Man 3
seems to be shaping up as an instance where many of the critics really get it, while some of the fans missed the boat, the train, the point, etc., and got left at the platform.
Here is a sentence that as recently as 12 months ago, I never expected to write: the superhero film craze has reached dramatic maturity. I can tell you’re sceptical, so cast your mind back to the summer of 2008, when cinema-goers first queued to see Iron Man.
The attraction, back then, was the chance to see the appurtenances of superheroism on screen: the Iron Mask; the Iron Suit; the Iron Arch-Foes being smelted to a purée. Nowadays people are still queueing, and in still greater numbers if last year’s £1billion global gross for Marvel Avengers Assemble is anything to go by, but beloved characters, not recognisable costumes, are increasingly the draw.
In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman’s famous scowl was off-screen more than on it, and likewise, for a significant portion of Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark is unmasked and mortal. His new Iron Man suit is a swarm of free-flying components that individually clunk into place on his body, so in some scenes he has, say, a super-powered left leg and right elbow, while the rest of him remains human, vulnerable, and visible.
That’s a great idea for a special effect, but it also means we never lose touch with the man behind the iron. Shane Black, the director, wrote the Lethal Weapon films that codified the buddy cop genre in the late 1980s, and he knows that a raised eyebrow or sideways glance can be more thrilling than any amount of digital whiz-bang.
Iron Man 3 is a direct sequel to last summer’s Avengers film, in which Tony and his super-colleagues feuded with Norse gods and aliens, destroying much of Manhattan in the process. These events have left him prone to panic attacks, and his worries are compounded by the arrival of two new super-villains on the scene. They are The Mandarin, the inscrutable figurehead of a global terrorist group played by Ben Kingsley (below), and Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, a dashing geneticist with a special virus that turns his victims’ guts to lava.
These two characters have been culled from the comics, but Black and his co-writer Drew Pearce take wild liberties with both, and even viewers who have never once flicked through a graphic novel will be able to appreciate the lateral thinking at play here. In fact, Kingsley’s Mandarin might be the smartest screen interpretation of a villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight (2008), although for very different reasons, and the moment his diabolical purpose is finally unveiled brings the house down.
In that scene, and elsewhere, Black has an instinctive feel for balancing action set-pieces against the passages of soap-opera that are required to make them matter. He also avoids the preeningly self-satisfied insider gags that made Iron Man 2 (2010) such a slog: instead, there are jokes about Downton Abbey and Croydon, and we can all laugh at those. The supporting cast get it, too. Don Cheadle, as Col. James Rhodes, the pilot of Iron Man’s official US military counterpart War Machine, channels the Lethal Weapon spirit, happily playing Murtaugh to Downey’s Riggs; while Gwyneth Paltrow, as Tony’s sweetheart Pepper Potts, may not have been this straightforwardly likeable in a decade.
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