Netflix Movie Month: "Iron Man 3" Review

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Netflix Movie Month: "Iron Man 3" Review

Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content)
Length: 130 minutes
Release Date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Shane Black
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

"Iron Man 3" picks up several weeks after the events of "The Avengers," where Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), in full Iron Man regalia, nearly died trying to save the world. Even though the world sees him as a hero, Stark is feeling anything but, and even has trouble sleeping at night. The thought of his once unstoppable suit not being enough to protect those around him and the thought of additional alien invasions has freaked him out. He is tired, traumatized, and vulnerable—basically the opposite of his confident, outspoken public persona.

There is no rest for the weary though, and before he can finish tinkering with the newest version of the Iron Man suit, someone Stark loves is once again in danger. His protective and loyal bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is nearly killed in an explosion set off by Savin (James Badge Dale) and engineered by the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Both are working in cahoots with Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a scientist who gave Savin the power to conduct heat, allowing him to set off explosions without any explosives.

When the Mandarin comes after Stark by destroying his Malibu mansion, Stark has no choice but to get back into the suit and fight. He is defeated and presumed dead, but he later turns up in rural Tennessee, where he is trying to hide out in secret. He is identified by smart street kid Harley (Ty Simpkins), who encourages him to go back to being Iron Man. Soon, the Mandarin and his henchmen find out Stark's location, setting up a battle that will test the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist's mettle and force him to decide once and for all if he wants to continue to be Iron Man or not. Of course, Stark doesn't have to do it alone; he just might be able to rely on onetime friend and current rival Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) for help.

When the original "Iron Man" first came out, people other than hardcore comic book fans didn't really know what to expect because the character wasn't nearly as popular as other Marvel mainstays like Spider-Man or Captain America. The film's success largely hinged on the charisma of Downey, who sold it to the masses during publicity interviews and press junkets. It became a smash hit and transformed Iron Man from a second-tier Marvel character to a marquee name right up there with Thor. Besides Downey's charming take on Tony Stark, audiences also loved the Iron Man suit, which was heavily featured in the first two films in the franchise. In "Iron Man 3," there is far less suit and much more Stark, which was a huge risk for Marvel to take. There was a good chance that having Downey portray Stark much more than Iron Man could backfire, but writer/director Shane Black obviously knew what he was doing. By having the film focus on Stark regaining his humanity after being traumatized by the events portrayed in "The Avengers," Black makes the character more likable. Stark is relatable and identifiable, two traits he did not have in the first two films. It was a big gamble that paid off greatly and left viewers wanting more.

Since Stark is out of the Iron Man suit for large portions of the film, Downey had to really be on his toes with his performance, and he doesn't disappoint. He brings a vulnerability to the role that was barely hinted at in the first two films. He nearly gets upstaged in the middle of the film by Simpkins, who shows why he already has over twenty acting credits to his name despite the fact that he is just twelve years old. It isn't easy to keep up with Downey when he is in full Stark mode due to his rapid talking and easy one-liners, but Simpkins does an admirable job. Pearce is also in fine form, while Kingsley chews scenery with joyous glee as the Mandarin. The performances are fantastic across the board, even among the supporting players who have much smaller parts.

When the film came out, it concluded Downey's contractual obligation to Marvel, which left fans wondering if they will ever see him put the suit on again. Since then, the studio announced that Downey will be back for the next two Avengers films, but there are no current plans to have an additional Iron Man film. If that is the case, and "Iron Man 3" is the final solo outing for Stark and company, then this film is a fine way for the franchise to bow out.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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