Film Review: Iron Man 3 (USA, 2013)

Iron Man 3 is the third film in the Tony Stark story arc and promises more action and intensity than the previous two incarnations. Considering its box office success and it hasn’t even had a full week on screens in Australia yet; clearly the Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are flocking to watch it.

Shane Black takes over directing and screenplay duties on this film, after having Jon Favreau steer the ship. Black is most well known for his cult hit Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which coincidentally also had Robert Downey Jr in the lead). For those not familiar with his previous work quite a bit of his twisted humour and his use of overlaid voiceover narrative in that carries across in to Iron Man 3.

Things start with Stark taking us on a Department of Back Story flashback to 1999 and a party in Switzerland where he meets the completely forgettable character of Maya (Rebecca Hall) and the ridiculous uber nerd of Aldrich Killian (a heavily dorked up looking Guy Pearce who gets a sexy transformation later on in the piece). This all seems a little time-wastey to begin with until you get the dramatic close up of a plant regenerating itself – cue foreboding music. We’re then brought back to the present, Stark’s not sleeping much and suffering PTSD courtesy of his New York run-in with the Chitauri (from The Avengers) and his insomnia has resulted in him getting a little Iron Man suit making happy in his basement much to the displeasure of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). The world is then turned upside down with the arrival of The Mandarin, who begins a terrorist campaign that lands literally right on Stark’s doorstep. Thus the good VS evil with a dash of vengeance commences.

The overall plot is basically a tweaking of the Extremis comic books storyline and therein lies the place in which comic book aficionados and just your average film punter will vary in the liking or disliking of this film. Comic fans will probably not approve of the rejigging of the Extremis story, and the major plot twist (and I won’t spoil it) involving The Mandarin is a kick in their shins. For non-fans the reveal of The Mandarin and Ben Kingsley’s stellar performance makes this film all the more fabulous for its sheer audacity. Robert Downey Jr is the embodiment of Stark, and the best thing is seeing him in his most vulnerable state, with a non-functioning Iron Man suit and having to channel MacGuyver and his witty persona to save his bacon. Jarvis (Stark’s trusty AI voiced by Paul Bettany) gets to deliver some dry one-liners, and Stark’s annoying little underaged sidekick kid and their back and forth banter are pearly nuggets of script gold.

The action scenes are numerous and larger than life. The “barrel of monkeys” skydiving sequence in particular is a white knuckle edge of your seat ride and the final battle scene will be pretty damn hard to top. The SFX with the suits, particularly Stark’s latest MK 42 suit that he can summon with his mind and operate remotely is a generational step up from the previous models seen onscreen. The villains are clearly a human lava lamp version of a T-1000 with added self destruct capabilities which makes for tough-to-beat adversaries.

As we reach the closing stages of the film we realise that all of this has taken an enormous toll on our hero. Regardless of his genius billionaire status and his fancy suits of armour, he is still a man who is even more damaged on the inside than he is physically scarred on the outside. According to initial reports this was the final film in the trilogy and that Iron Man would be no more after this apart from spin-off ensembles like The Avengers. The film does an interesting and endearing job of wrapping up the Iron Man arc, but is this really the end of our metal plated sassy man? As with all Marvel films, a sneaky little snippet at the end of the credits hints that there may yet still be more to be seen.

Review Score: 8.3 out of 10

Iron Man 3 is currently screening in theatres as of 24th April 2013.


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Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.