I visit the cinema a lot. No, seriously. A. LOT. But it appears that the production companies and directors of Hollywood’s vast movie making empire do not want me to cast my eyes on even a moment of sunlight this summer, and have decided instead, to hole me up in a dark enclosed movie theatre watching all the latest superhero epics and science fiction thrillers that my retinas (and bank balance) can possibly withstand. Not that I’m complaining of course!
During one of my most recent ‘imprisonments’, I was reunited with the self proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist – Tony Stark/AKA Iron Man. In this most recent Marvel venture, we are reunited with the suited man and his long suffering partner, Pepper Potts. In the aftermath of his defeat of the Chitauri with the newly appointed Avengers, Stark finds himself tormented by panic attacks, caused by his ascension into the wormhole of another dimension. Most of the film follows suit, exploring the cracks that have evidently started to appear in the couples relationship, mainly down to Stark’s increasing obsession with perfecting and creating his Iron Man suits.
Once again, Robert Downey Jr gives us a strong, frank performance as the suited and booted Tony Stark, whose humourous side goes into overdrive in this action adventure. You can certainly tell that there is a change of director as the creators enjoy the frequent use of witty one liners, much of it overdone but then again, isn’t that what Stark is about – an overbearing, over the top genius who loves rubbing his wealth and intelligence in peoples noses every second of the day? The frank humour mirrors his personality and makes him even more amusingly arrogant, particularly as he tells a ten year old kid that “Dad’s leave, that’s what they do. No need to be a pussy about it”. Another humourous change is the use of Ben Kingsley’s character, the Mandarin. Kingsley is typically found playing evil uncles in The Prince Of Persia and other similar, serious characters, which seems to be the direction he takes at the beginning of this movie. However, as time goes on, we see him turn into the complete antitheses of his former character into something altogether more laughable and completely out of the blue. Let us also not forget the signature Stan Lee scene, in which the Godfather of the comic book world graces us with his presence as the judge of a beauty pageant. And any die hard fan will know about the agonising wait you have to endure, as most people are exiting the cinema, just to get a glimpse of that long awaited post credit scene, hopefully giving us a teaser into the next movie. Without spoiling it for others, I will only mention the cameo from Bruce Banner played by Mark Ruffalo, in another playful exchange.
Guy Pearce makes an appearance early on as the odd but intellectual Aldrich Killian, the rejected C.E.O of Advanced Idea Mechanics and suitor of Pepper. His creepy, leering exterior from the beginning of the film is swiftly replaced by a polished, chiseled and suave looking man, reminding me of the geeky high schoolers who relish in showing their tormentors their physical success. The concepts behind Killian’s need for power coupled with his hatred for Stark ties in nicely with the Extremis story arc and keeps at an intellectual pace throughout the film. Terrorism played a strong part, seeming to be a recurring theme in many superhero movies recently, most likely to tug at the hearts of many viewers who know all too well about the effects of mass bombings. The Mandarin uses media manipulation to terrorise the public and with the mention of the military and injured war veterans, this theme was always to going to relate to the audiences and probably make you glorify Iron Man and salute his conquests even more than before.
As the Avengers was the last remaining port of call for Tony Stark, I was always interested to see how they tied Iron Man 3 over into a new story arc. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the constant references to the happenings that occurred in the previous installment, from Stark’s wormhole panic attacks, to the many mentions of the Avenger members. This allows the audience to follow the story in a clean consecutive fashion, despite the time lapse between the two and gives the directors a chance to link in a lot of ideas for many of the up and coming movies. My other favourite part about the film was the lack of time that Stark actually spent in the suit. Yes, I know, how boring that sounds, because without the suit, what is he except an ordinary albeit filthy rich man. And yet life goes on, even with Stark spending an inordinate amount of time in his everyday clothing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed getting to know the man behind the iron and delving more into his personal life with Pepper. I suppose this was one of the only directions the writers could go seeing as his long term relationship put a stop to all of his playboy antics.
The film is reasonably long – a running time of 130 minutes – and yet I found that in spite of the lengthy, drawn out build up of the narrative, I was kept constantly entertained and interested and the story never seemed to flack at any point. The ideas kept on building themselves, intertwined with relationship complexities, and so you were never left pondering over one scene for lengthy unnecessary periods of time. The action sequences and fighting choreography was well thought out and the graphics really added to the realism of the shots. Although I only saw this in 2D (I curse you 3D!), the visual effects were eye popping and I was impressed by the quality of the multiple Iron Man armours.
My criticisms about Iron Man 3 are small and possibly pedantic, but I found certain areas a little predictable. The opening scene for instance already set my mind into overdrive and from Killian and Rebecca Hall’s first meeting in the lift (not to mention Stark deserting her after a one night coitus session), I knew those two were going to form some kind of alliance as an act of revenge against the man who has everything and left them with nothing. Pepper’s demise also fell a little short for me as we had all witnessed her going through the Extremis procedure, to which we were fully aware of it’s healing qualities, making her resurrection a little anti climatic and foreseeable for me.
Overall, this was perhaps my favourite of the Iron Man trilogy, though all equally as good. I just preferred that little bit of extra tongue in cheek humour and an inside look into the real Iron Man. Whatever your opinions though, this really is a must see movie, so guys – you’d better suit up and head on over, because heroes aren’t born, they’re built.