Cinema Review: Iron Man 3



DIR: Shane Black • WRI: Shane Black, Drew Pearce • PRO: Kevin Feige • DOP: John Toll • ED: Peter S Elliot, Jeffrey Ford • DES: Bill Brzeski • Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau, William Sadler, Rebecca Hall

After making his name with his ground breaking screenplay for 1987’s Lethal Weapon, Shane Black went on to achieve writing credits on films such as The Last Boy Scout, The Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight. He then disappeared off the Hollywood radar for close to a decade, before returning in some style with his 2005 directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Despite not being a major player at the box-office, this film re-established Black’s standing in the industry, and gave its stars Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer roles to die for. While Kilmer has only occasionally threatened to build on his performance under the stewardship of Black, the previously troublesome Downey Jr has seen his career going from strength to strength, to the point that he is now the face of two major franchises, Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

Along with last year’s Marvel Avengers Assemble, and his brief cameo in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3 marks Downey Jr’s fifth appearance as Tony Stark and his alter-ego, and with Black returning to the director’s chair instead of Jon Favreau, it is clear that the careers of both men have come full circle.

Having helped his fellow Avengers to defeat Loki and the Chitauri in New York City, Stark is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when a mysterious terrorist leader known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) announces himself to the world by committing a number of atrocities across the globe. His relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) becomes strained as a result, and with figures from his past re-surfacing in the shape of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian and Rebecca Hall’s botanist, Dr Maya Hansen, matters quickly become complicated for Stark and those close to him.

Taking its cue from the ‘Extremis’ (a highly advanced virus created by Killian) story arc developed by Warren Ellis, Iron Man 3 has a tough act to follow after the overwhelming success of Marvel Avengers Assemble. In addition, the last stand alone adventure for the wisecracking superhero (Iron Man 2) was somewhat disjointed, despite being enjoyable in the most part, meaning that there were some necessary adjustments to be made this time around.

With all that in mind, it is pleasing to report that the latest chapter in the big-screen adventure of Tony Stark is consistently entertaining and gripping, making it arguably the finest film of the Iron Man series thus far. As ever, the chemistry between Downey Jr and Paltrow is right on the money, and Don Cheadle now looks fully comfortable in the combine roles of Colonel James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes and War Machine.

Upon taking control of the film, Black talked about taking a step away from the premise of Iron Man facing off against another giant robot, and certainly the threat this time is an altogether more human and real-world based kind of threat.

It is also significant that Stark is taken out of comfort zone for a large section of the film, as circumstances mean that he is stranded in Tennessee (when he is presumed dead), where he has to rely on all his ingenuity to repair damage of his own making.

With one $15 million dollar film to his name before taking on this task, there were some question marks about how Black would handle the pressure of a film with such a major budget. His handling of the major set-pieces is extremely efficient, though, and in unison with co-writer Drew Pearce, he has maintained the sharp wit that has been synonymous with his work over the past couple of decades.

This framework was established by Favreau (who reprises his role as former bodyguard turned head of security Happy Hogan) in the earlier films, and blossomed under Joss Whedon in last year’s superhero team up, which makes the decision to hire Black for this film all the more obvious.

If there was a criticism to be labelled at the film, it does become slightly overblown in the extended finale, but considering all that gone before it, the filmmakers had more than earned the right to turn outlandish during the final act.

Stepping up to the plate alongside reliable regulars Downey Jr, Paltrow and Cheadle, Pearce and Kingsley offer plenty of menace, while the often under-appreciated Hall also makes the best of the screen time she is afforded.

With a sequel to Marvel Avengers Assemble (those who are intrigued by that prospect should wait around the end credits) very much in the pipeline, this will not be the last we see of Tony Stark in his iron suit, and on the basis of this film, that can only be a good thing.

Daire Walsh

12A (see IFCO website for details)

130 mins
Iron Man 3 is released on 25th April 2013

Iron Man 3 – Official Website


Iron Man

Iron Man
Iron Man

DIR: Jon Favreau • WRI: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway • PROD: Victoria Alonso, Avi Arad, Kevin Feige • DOP: Matthew Libatique • ED: Dan Lebental • DES: J. Michael Riva • CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Terence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Another summer, another superhero to whet our appetites for the heroic and the slightly imaginary. Amongst the nominees for ‘summer’s biggest boom’, Iron Man ranks slightly ahead of the crowd in being the first all-comic produced blockbuster to hit our screens. Courtesy of Marvel, and under the auspices of $140 million, Robert Downey Jr. assumes the daunting task of bringing the enigmatic steel millionaire to the public.

Cast with known names, but not huge stars, Marvel took a chance in allowing Downey Jr. the lead – a gamble mostly down to Jon Favreau – and a risk worth taking. Not only do we see a playboy millionaire as we have always wanted to see one – funny, fun, frivolous – but we also see a flawed hero in the making, brought wonderfully to life by the star (as we must henceforth refer to him).

Burdened with the obligatory ‘tale of the beginning’ weight all first-outings of superhero adaptations must carry, Iron Man does better than most in giving us much detail, but little boredom. Much of this is down to the easy manner Downey Jr. has with his part – he truly seems born to be Tony Stark. Not only does he nail the funny millionaire and the change-of-heart playboy but he is also a magnificent man of (steel) action!

And what is a leading man without a few side-players? Gwyneth Paltrow is a witty and clever Pepper Potts, giving credence to that staple of comic tales – the prim secretary who holds a torch for her philandering boss. Her role, though small, gives humanity to Downey Jr.’s humour – showing a Tony Stark capable of commitment and steadiness, despite his Iron-tendencies. Jeff Bridges grunts and minces onscreen as the villainous Obadiah Stane, and is perhaps a little too pegged into a stereotypical baddie role, but he rises above the mediocre script direction and gives enough growl to make him an obstacle.

The finale, as with most first-time tales held back by too much back story, is more skirmish than explosive, but it serves its purpose – Iron Man can hold his own in a battle. However, the lead-up to this ending is so fun and clever that you really don’t notice the time pass, as you enter into the strange world of a man in a steel suit.

Though his evolution from playboy to hard-boy can be viewed with a slight amount of incredulity – after all, it is just a tad farfetched that Tony Stark would make such a high-tech outfit in a cave in Afghanistan. But, come on – this is comic world, and such craziness should be overlooked. In fact, as comic-adaptations go, his abilities are much more believable than, say, nobody recognising Superman because of a pair of glasses, or a huge Bat Cave being built under a mansion with nobody any the wiser!

All in all, Iron Man makes it on every level – entertaining, exciting, and leaving you salivating for the next instalment. Marvel will be happy, Downey Jr. will be happy, and one hopes fanboys everywhere will be happy. Summer has landed!