‘Iron Man 3′ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated September 3rd, 2014 at 2:56 am,

Iron Man 3 Mark 42 Armor Iron Man 3 Review

Iron Man 3 continues the story of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who, after the Battle of New York in Avengers, is struggling with his place in the steadily expanding superhero community. Unable to sleep, Stark has prioritized tinkering with new suits over his personal relationships – even neglecting the one person he “cannot live without,” Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

However, when mysterious terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) kills American citizens and targets Iron Man (as well as his friends), Stark is stripped of his trademark armor, and forced to investigate the threat as an ordinary man. He embarks on a dangerous mission to bring the Mandarin to justice – as well as prove that Tony Stark is more than just his Iron Man suit.

Following on the heels of The Avengers, Marvel Studios had a tough task ahead of them: deliver a batch of standalone character stories set in the Avengers shared universe, without undercutting the excitement and momentum generated by the epic 2012 superhero team-up. The first post-Avengers solo entry, Iron Man 3 is led by first-time Marvel helmer Shane Black – known for blending slick action (and humor) with memorable character stories as both a writer (Lethal Weapon) and director (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Does Black’s “buddy cop” movie pedigree make him the right man to usher in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, via a smart Tony Stark story with some exciting Iron Man combat?

Iron Man 3 Robert Downey Jr Tony Stark Iron Man 3 Review

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in ‘Iron Man 3′

Interestingly, while Black succeeds in presenting the most personal and intimate Tony Stark story in the series thus far, it sometimes comes at the expense of iconic Iron Man action that die-hard fans will be expecting. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of exciting moments featuring the Iron Man armor(s), but Robert Downey Jr. spends a significant amount of time outside of the suit this round (even during several key battles).

That said, the Extremis super-soldier villains are a welcome change of pace from the suit-on-suit brawls of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and the Mark 42 Armor (which Stark can remotely control) adds plenty of slick new set-pieces that are sure to be memorable for comic lovers and newcomers alike.Still, even though Iron Man 3 includes some of the best moments in the franchise, certain moviegoers will be underwhelmed by the final ratio between Tony Stark and Iron Man armor-centric action.

Like prior entries, the central story examines Stark’s relationship to the Iron Man persona – this time making it a point to show the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist is pretty adept without his armor. As a result, moviegoers spend a lot of time watching Robert Downey Jr. fire off one-liners (with some genuine vulnerability this round) – especially when paired with kid-helper Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins). In general, Downey once again delivers with the charming and self-absorbed Stark – even in scenes where the filmmakers settled for less-subtle comedy gags (an interaction with a cable news technician, for example) or heavy-handed soap box moments (such as a second act conversation about scientific ethics).

Robert Downey Jr Don Cheadle Iron Man 3 Iron Man 3 Review

Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle in ‘Iron Man 3′

Nevertheless, while the film leans heavily on shared universe events from The Avengers as an emotional crutch for the Tony Stark storyline, Iron Man 3 entirely side-steps explaining why none of superhero team (or even S.H.I.E.L.D. members) attempt to provide backup  - resulting in an awkward middle-ground where some viewers might have trouble suspending disbelief.

Returning Iron Man series staples Pepper (Paltro), Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – as well as former Iron Man series director Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan) – all offer solid turns as their respective characters, and each one is allowed a bit more to do in Iron Man 3. Cheadle especially helps solidify his place in the Marvel movie universe – as the War Machine character is less of a sidekick this round, earning his own superhero spotlight.

Franchise newcomers are a mixed bag, with Ben Kingsley presenting a captivating terrorist persona for the Mandarin. The Mandarin is unsettling, but considering the character’s importance in comic book lore (not to mention the totally unexplored ties to the original Iron Man film), longtime comic fans might be underwhelmed by Iron Man 3‘s use of the fan-favorite villain. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian isn’t an especially unique (or memorable) addition to the Iron Man series roster, but scene to scene, the character is a satisfying aspect of the primary Iron Man 3 conflict. Unfortunately, Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen is almost entirely wasted – with an underdeveloped arc that lacks any impactful payoff.

Iron Man 3 Ben Kingsley Mandarin Iron Man 3 Review

Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in ‘Iron Man 3′

The superfluous Hansen character serves as an example of Iron Man 3‘s biggest drawback: in an effort to deliver a movie that could follow The Avengers, the film is packed with too many characters and overcomplicated tangents that take away from a relatively straightforward character story. A lot of ideas (and comic book references) are haphazardly thrown into the mix, but few of them develop into worthwhile contributions to the onscreen storyline – and, worse yet, outright distract from the emotionally-charged Stark character journey.

Similarly, action set-pieces are bigger than prior Iron Man entries, with epic eye-popping effects, but several sequences suffer from CGI-overload, where the Iron Man armor takes a backseat to crumbling buildings and mid-air explosions. The set-pieces are enormous, but instead of highlighting Tony Stark and the various capabilities of his iconic suit, the scope sometimes undercuts would-be blockbuster moments with a muddled blur of armor and explosions.

Iron Man 3 is playing in both 3D as well as an IMAX Experience – and both versions are on-par with premium presentations of The Avengers. The 3D, specifically, relies on subtle (not pop-out) effects, courtesy of a crisp post-conversion from frequent Marvel Studios collaborator, StereoD (Jurassic Park 3D). Neither IMAX or the 3D is essential to enjoying the film, but moviegoers who are willing to spring for the added ticket cost should get their money’s worth.

Iron Man 3 Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts Iron Man 3 Review

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in ‘Iron Man 3′

In attempting to maintain the bar set by The Avengers’ superhero action, Iron Man 3 at times handcuffs its hero (and story) – throwing too much style and attempted substance at the screen without being mindful of the carefully-paced discovery and wonder that made the first film (and even the flawed second entry) so memorable. Nevertheless, Iron Man 3 is a crowd-pleasing blockbuster that includes a number of unique action beats and antagonists that break up the suit vs. suit monotony that dominated the first two entries.

It isn’t the best of the Marvel Studios shared universe offerings, but Iron Man 3 should provide enough fun and excitement for both Iron Man die-hards and newly acquired Avengers fans. If you’re still on the fence, check out the Iron Man 3 trailer below:

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Iron Man 3 runs 130 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. Now playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Iron Man 3 Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Iron Man 3 episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: iron man 3

356 Comments

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  1. I saw this last week — I wanted time to digest it.

    Coming out of the theater I had a mixed feeling. Was it expectations-not-met? Or Just too short? Or not enough real peril for Tony Stark?

    Something did not _feel_ “epic” about the movie.

    So a week went by.

    And I viewed Star Trek: Into Darkness (second time with different people) and found THE thing that failed in Iron Man 3: the musical score.

    In “Thor” there was an awesome musical score. The “Avengers,” amazing.

    But Iron Man 3…there was absolutely nothing memorable about the music.

    As has been discussed here already (348 comments), IM3 had weak plot twists, a story-line that was kinda flimsy…but all of that stuff is sort of what one should expect from a super-hero movie about an arms dealer that makes the greatest armor tech around. The CGI was very good (not great) the sets, costumes, etc. all the visuals were on-par.

    The music. Just completely blah. Can anyone here on SR actually recall any single bit of music from the movie?

    • hi

  2. In all fairness, I was expecting them to slip up at one point even though they have done outstanding with the others, ever since Disney’s givin them more support for better impact, so lets give them a break.I had a feeling it was going to be Iron Man because of the constant attention on it, specially by new fans, and that might that is a ball ache for Marvel Heart fans.
    It still was good, but could have been better, it depends how they are working the flow building up to the next films, it might be a balance they are wanting because it’s the same really for comics, you get a “fill in” one now and again, same for movies, same for anything, but I’m confident and sure many others are in the direction it’s going, but Avengers 2…

    Really really need to bring in Black Panther, he’s such a big part in it all, and gives such a strong position of the black superhero (not racist, just saying)

    the only down fall that is stopping that from happening is the story of him, and I really really hope they don’t change it, its just hard to see the “Big screen and Big money” making a movie about a well advanced civilisation in technology and spirituality, two powerful forces united together that can actually work, completely cut off from the west with their dealings, has its own source of material and just perfect. I really hope they make a movie about him because it’s what we need, but its that type of movie that would probably kick off a revolution because of how true it can be, Marvel are legends for showing the truth subliminally and I’m sure have a lot more tactics up their sleeves to dish out for the public to wake up. It’s just whether the big corporations and the “Big cat Elite” will let that happen, I just hope it stays in the right hands because Marvel are doing incredible so far. and yeah Falcon is cool, but come on, he’s not the Black Panther.

  3. I was very disappointed. They ended the trilogy with the worst one.

  4. Why was maggie grace hardly used does any one know did she start getting diva

  5. Iron Man almost follows the comic book. If the movie put in some of the actual technology that the Iron Man suit would be using it would be more interesting and believable.

  6. First film is the best, second film was good, third film is my favorite. Great action, Great villian(who cares about the Mandrin), Great humor, decent story. Bought the best out of Tony Stark cause he took a lot of pain in this one. Love it. People need to stop crying that things are not like the comics. Something just don’t work in the big screen, like a guy use. There are flaws but the movie was highly entertaining.

    • Incorrect. DC fanboys need to stop crying about how things aren’t the way they are in Marvel comics.

    • “Greate action” :).
      Plastic Man and Tony 007 Stark :).

      “Greate villian” :).
      Nerdy Pseudo Mandarin, Al Killian :).

      “Greate humor”
      Terrible humor and fall of Ben Kingsley :).

  7. First film is the best, second film was good, third film is my favorite. Great action, Great villian(who cares about the Mandrin, Killan aka Mallen was a beast), Great humor, decent story. Bought the best out of Tony Stark cause he took a lot of pain in this one. Love it. People need to stop crying that things are not like the comics. Something just don’t work in the big screen. There are flaws but the movie was highly entertaining.

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