The official summer movie season has begun with Marvel Studio's newest production, Iron Man 3. I was a huge fan of the first two Iron Man films and an even bigger fan of The Avengers last summer. The trailers hinted at a more serious, high-stakes adventure for Tony Stark in the latest film and a worthy continuation of the Iron Man legacy. So needless to say, I was incredibly hyped about this movie. One of the hardest things about critically analyzing films you are anticipating is setting aside your own excitement and love for the already-established characters and looking at the movie on its own merits. Unfortunately, I couldn't really do that for Iron Man 3. Knowing that my objectivity would be somewhat diminished, I simply attempted to set aside my critical tendencies for as long as I possibly could.
Tony Stark survived the attack on New York where the Avengers first assembled, but he did not return to his Malibu mansion unscathed. His psyche bears the daily weight of the trauma he experienced that day, and he spends his restless nights in his lab doing what he does best... building the latest and greatest Iron Man suits. Meanwhile, an international terrorist calling himself "The Mandarin" is taking over television airwaves across the nation, warning the people of his impending attacks. Tony, following a cataclysmic explosion at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, publicly calls The Mandarin out by giving him his home address. However, shortly after the press arrives, missile-towing helicopters begin raining destruction down on Tony, eliminating his Iron Man suits and forcing him into seclusion. With his Iron Man suit out of commission and the enhanced DNA of his enemies making them almost impossible to kill, Tony must find a way to protect the one thing he cares about and thwart a national catastrophe.
While there may be some mild spoilers in the plot introduction, that much can easily be surmised by the trailer as well. One of the best things about this movie also turned into one of the primary complaints I have about it... the plot twists. Don't worry, I won't be giving any away in this review. However, I will say that some of the twists in this film are spectacular, some are somewhat predictable, and some are actually a bit of a let-down. Perhaps repeat viewings will rectify my initial reaction to this, but it definitely left me a little unsatisfied.
One thing the film definitely got right, however, was the visual effects. Tony Stark's mansion being destroyed is one of the most impressive things I've seen in the theatres, and a scene of Iron Man attempting to rescue over a dozen people being sucked out of an airborne plane is incredibly effective. Despite not being much of a fan of the format, we saw this film in 3D, and for the most part it wasn't a problem. Having said that, there were moments where the CGI looked a little cartoony being superimposed to look closer than other objects. The Iron Man suits still looked incredibly real, however, and the final battle is a wonder to behold. Surprisingly, Tony's circumstances are such that he isn't necessarily in the suit that often throughout the film. This might be a problem if the performance of Robert Downey Jr. wasn't so captivating. He's at his comedic best in this film, and his portrayal of a man with a damaged psyche is truly impressive.
I don't feel I can go into much more without spoiling some of the surprises in this movie. Suffice it to say, Iron Man 3 may not be the best film in the official Marvel Universe, but it is a solid entry that makes me excited for future installments as we build towards the next Avengers film. It's a very entertaining two hours that will have you engaged (laughing, clutching the arm rest, etc.) throughout its running time. I recommend seeing this film in theatres, and as with all Marvel films, please stay through the closing credits. This film is a lot of fun (though perhaps squandering some of its potential) and I give it a solid three stars.
IRON MAN 3 is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content