May 112013

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as Iron Man (hopefully not for the last time!); Becca investiagtes… 


Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes) is a broken man. The battle for New York may be long over (and the Avengers may have disbanded for now), but the memories are still very fresh. He is no longer quite the cock-sure playboy philanthropist; he’s having trouble sleeping and the mere mention of ‘New York’ results in severe panic attacks. So, to occupy that time, Stark has been developing more suits, as well as the technology to summon his suit without all the whirring screws and stuff we’re so familiar with.

While this is going on, an old ‘acquaintance’, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, Prometheus, The King’s Speech) is making goo-goo-eyes at Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow, Contagion) and has apparently found the answer to self-healing. Then there’s an eccentric terrorist named the Mandarin (Ben Kingsely, looking like a weird cross between Osama Bin Laden and Kill Bill’s Pai Mei), is making quite the name for himself hijacking America’s television networks, armed with messages that are surprisingly grandiose for a bad guy with that much tacky bling on his fingers. That’s a lot for one man to deal with, but is Iron Man still up for the challenge, or has (deep breath) New York left him too damaged to save the day? Answer: Just watch him.

There was never any doubt it was going to be a rough task for anyone to best the sheer awesome power ofAvengers Assemble, and I think – I think – Shane Black has pulled it off. It has (surprisingly intense) heart; the emotional side of the film is captured in a way that often makes it raw and painful to watch, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s incredible performance. We’re so used to seeing him as (puts on dramatic voice) Tony Stark, this brilliant, supercilious guy who takes whatever comes at him with a cheeky, acidic comment and a twinkle in his eye, so it’s a real shock to see him this vulnerable, relying on his suits more and more to cope with all that has happened to him. This is demonstrated in a startlingly poignant moment when he’s having lunch with Rhodes in a crowded restaurant. A young boy and his sister approach them to have him sign a picture the boy has drawn of Iron Man being the hero of New York. This, of course, starts Stark off, causing a bit of a scene and eventually flying off in his suit which is stood (parked?) outside, waiting for him. It is here you realise how much his suits are a way of escape; they are safe…almost like a comfort blanket when Pepper isn’t around to comfort him, and even then, being with him is not always exactly a walk in the park for her either.

In contrast to this, Iron Man 3 is all about action and explosions, which doesn’t always juggle well alongside Stark and his demons. Sure, the finale is exciting (leaving many a fan squealing in delight), but everything is happening so fast, you’re left feeling a little bewildered when it’s all over, and the final scenes seem rushed, when they could be considered the most important part of the film (!).

Then there are the villains, and that is where the real holes start to appear. In hindsight, I think I came into the cinema expecting too much, hoping we would have someone complicated to hate/secretly love, perhaps like along the lines of Loki or Bane – but so much worse – for Iron Man to go all righteous hero on. But no. Not even close. Even now, a week after watching it, I still have no idea what Killian was trying to achieve, being the other bad guy. Revenge on Tony for ignoring his scientific ideas all those years ago? It seems such a petty reason for coming up with such a hazardous thing as being able to regenerate limbs out of what can only be described asfire. Was that in the comics? Because if it was, I’d probably let the script-writers off, but there is no explanation in to how that could possibly work at all. Also, though Kingsely is absolutely hypnotic as the Mandarin (apparently the crew all gave him a round of applause at the end of one particular scene), he cannot seem to decide which accent to speak in, which begs the question “who is he, really?” Prepare to be amazed…and confused, that’s all I’m saying.

All in all, Iron Man 3 is playful in some aspects, dead-serious in others, and that doesn’t always mix happily together. As great as it should be, you may leave the cinema at a loss for words over how this will eventually lead up to the sequel to Avengers Assemble (fingers crossed Robert Downey Jr will still be up reprising his role), and all the questions it leaves frustratingly unanswered. However, for a nice surprise, I suggest you stay until the credits are over. Shane Black takes Iron Man in a new direction that may or may not appease everyone (and makes the other films look way too intense). At least it’s more engaging than Iron Man 2.
Rating: 3/5