Sunday, May 5, 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Director: Shane Black
Notable Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley

After the record shattering success of "The Avengers" and proof that the ambitious concept of separate films building into something more known as 'Phase One,' it was a tentative time for Marvel and Disney to see if their even more ambitious 'Phase Two' would work. Would audiences even want to see solo tales of our heroes anymore now that we were spoiled with how well Whedon pulled off the ultimate super hero film? The first film of 'Phase Two' proves that not only can they pull off a film where audiences would eat it up, but that it could be a great film too. Marvel at this point turns to the franchise that set all of this success up and delivers a knock out sequel in "Iron Man 3" that rivals as one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also one of the best super hero films ever made.

Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) has had to rethink his life since the events in New York. Nothing is certain anymore and despite being at the most stable place in his life with a loving girlfriend Pepper (Paltrow) and a life free of worry, he can't sleep at night and he has become obsessed with building Iron Man suits for every possibility. When a terrorist known as The Mandarin (Kingsley) starts threatening the powers that be in the USA with bombings, the terror comes too close to home...and Stark will have to rethink how he does things to be able to fight an organization powerful and hidden.

It's a left/right combo!
The brilliance behind "Iron Man 3" lies in on one man: Shane Black. Although not quite as daring of a choice as some of Marvel's previous directors, Shane Black knows how to combine action and humor in the best of ways - just see his ridiculously awesome writing resume on IMDB for proof. That, and his directorial debut "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" featured the Robert Downey Jr. that more than likely solidified him into the role of Tony Stark. Although Shane Black's directorial prowess is strong and he ably constructs action sequences riveting and visceral enough to rival "The Avengers" in scope and execution, his true MVP award comes from co-writing the script.

Rust in peace.
This is where "Iron Man 3" works best. Yeah, it has a ton of great action set pieces including the attack on Stark's Malibu home or the finale of massive explosions and vigorous beat downs on top of an shipping yard, but that's all fluff without the solidity of a good script. "Iron Man 3" delivers such a script. It focuses down on making Stark even more human despite the feats accomplished in three films previous and the darker streaks of character flaws that Black delivers with the right amount of sarcasm and one liners make for an film that not only follows in the "Iron Man" vein, but adds a whole new level of depth to the franchise.

This blend of action, humor, and human heart is ably portrayed with another round of superb casting from Marvel. Downey Jr. was made for this role and the chemistry that he and Paltrow have is infectious here in "Iron Man 3." Not only that, but the casting of Kingsley and Pearce as villains topped the charts for a cult film fan like myself (Pearce has to be one of the most underrated actors of all time). Although I could have done with a bit more of Pearce myself - I almost wanted more banter between him and Stark - the balance in the film is done just right.

He's seen better days...weeks even.
"Iron Man 3" is a comic book movie done right. The humor is quick firing and hilarious, the action is stunningly well paced and effective, the cast is perfectly done, and a smart script make this is must see blockbuster whether or not you enjoy comic book films. It's a near perfect blend of over the top concepts and thoughtful character development. Not only that, but Shane Black pushes some darker and more violent boundaries for the PG-13 rating which is what needed to happen with this franchise. I am a huge "Iron Man 2" fan, but I'll be damned if "Iron Man 3" doesn't inch it out as my favorite of the Marvel solo films.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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