Mania Review: Iron Man 3 -

Mania Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce
  • Written by: Shane Black and Drew Pearce
  • Directed by: Shane Black
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: Iron Man 3

Life outside the tin can.

By Rob Vaux     May 03, 2013

 Iron Man 3 has a fairly monumental task before it. For starters, it’s the opening salvo of Marvel’s ambitious Phase Two… which means, among other things, that it has to follow up the triumph of The Avengers. It’s also the first Iron Man without Jon Favreau at the helm, the official opener to the summer of 2013, and the conclusion to a trilogy… which normally doesn’t bode well for the film in question. Against those looming expectations, Iron Man 3 relies on the tried-and-true charms of star Robert Downey Jr., as well as a plan to shake things up by going smaller instead of bigger. I’m pleased to report that it comes through with flying colors.

The intimate nature of the film may be its secret weapon, focusing on Tony Stark’s (Downey) emotional state and the identity crisis provoked by events in The Avengers. He didn’t come through the final battle unscathed, with night sweats and PTSD freak-outs becoming increasingly common. He responds by diving back into his workshop, tinkering with new kinds of armor to keep him even safer. Naturally, that’s when the walls cave in, thanks to a notorious terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and spurned biotechnology developer Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). As the ads imply, he loses everything, and has to resolve himself to battling these threats without any help from his high-tech toys.

The crisis of confidence becomes Tony’s biggest challenge, with those he loves in the crosshairs and no idea if he can pull it off. Thor’s a god, the Hulk is unstoppable, and even Captain America can always find a path to victory. “I’m just a guy in a tin can,” he confesses to gal pal Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), an impression he needs to shake if he wants to come out of this on top. Downey never loses sight of those insecurities, bubbling beneath his one-liners and threatening to cripple Tony at the worst possible moments. Thanks to the strength of the character and a performer who knows him so well by now, his journey proves as riveting as any alien invader or larger-than-life catastrophe.

Director/co-writer Shane Black deserves a great deal of the credit not only for making that journey so harrowing, but keeping the energy and humor up as well. Iron Man has always been the funniest of Marvel’s Avengers entries, and Black knows how to deliver that without turning the characters into parodies of themselves. We get the easy banter between the characters – some of the dialogue ranks as the funniest uttered all year – but it doesn’t detract from their fundamental dilemmas, or from the danger looming above them all. It’s quite a trick to pull off, but Black makes it look very easy.

That goes double for the film’s action sequences, which suffer from some surprisingly sketchy effects work, but still play like gangbusters thanks to the imagination at their heart. The best of them involves thirteen people in free-fall, with Tony only able to carry four. Black not only finds a creative solution to the problem, but delivers it to us with precisely the kind of white-knuckle exhilaration that movies like this are made for.

Perhaps most importantly, Iron Man 3 avoids the fatal doldrums that gripped Iron Man 2. That film started out a little stronger than this one, but faltered badly as it made its way to the finish line. Here, the filmmakers never lose focus, and though the occasional dead spot crops up here and there, it stays on target instead of meandering all over the landscape. It gets some help from a colossal twist midway through, one that I’m certain will polarize fans as sharply as anything we’ve yet seen in the Marvel movie universe. I thought it was a work of genius, but others might disagree; expect the resulting nerd wars to be epic.

That, of course, is part and parcel of the Marvel franchise, now ranking as one of the most epic in movie history and showing no signs of slowing down. Iron Man 3 retains the organic connection to its predecessors, including some quiet nods to The Avengers that remind us where we’ve been without drawing the wrong kind of conclusions. Marvel truly seems to have transferred the heart of its comic books directly to the big screen, complete with crossover arcs and ongoing adventures bound tightly in the entries that came before it. Downey has been a driving force from the beginning: an ideal choice for Tony Stark who has fulfilled the character’s potential in ways we could never imagine. Iron Man 3 brings his accomplishment full circle, and while I can’t imagine anyone else being able to step into this role, he could walk away now and leave nothing but honor in his wake. Whether it marks an ending, a beginning or something in between, it really doesn’t matter. Iron Man 3 starts the summer off right; we could hardly ask for anything more.   


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irockdiesel 5/3/2013 12:10:38 AM

I JUST got finished watching it.  I can DEFINITELY tell Shane Black had a hand in writing it because his Lethal Weapon dialogue banter plays throughout.  I agree with the grade.  It's not as good as the first, but definitely better than the second.  The big reveal after the closing credits, to me, doesn't set up the "next-big-thing" like every other movie did so don't expect much.  Good night ladies and gents...

kennynine 5/3/2013 12:49:23 AM

I loved "Avengers", "Iron Man", and "Thor." I liked "Iron Man 2" and "Captain America." Sad to say, I think "Iron Man 3" is terrible.  

This flick was a poorly executed slap-stick comedy/action movie. Some of the one liners were hilarious, and the free fall scene was exhilarating. RDJ was awesome as always and Ben Kingsley was great in his role. But the rest of the movie was garbage in my opinion. Border line Michael Bay BS complete with huge plot holes and leaps in logic. Dumb action sequences. Example: Remember the scene in "Revenge of The Fallen", where one of the stupid "twins" was swinging around on  "Devastators" crane cables? Or the scene in the Indiana Jones Crystal Skull movie where they are swinging on Vines with monkeys? Well, there is a scene involving "Iron Patriot" reminiscent of those moments. 

I did enjoy the ambitious twist, I just wish it was woven into a better movie. 

DarthBob 5/3/2013 5:24:40 AM

It was just OK for me; I found it to be the least of the three. The whole Iron Patriot thing was contrived and added nothing to the movie. The twist didn't work for me; it was silly and poorly executed. Tony Stark was reduced to being a goofball in this movie and I didn't buy the green beret infiltration soldier sequence. Stark has PTSD and freaks out at the mere mention of NYC by a kid and is not a trained soldier then infiltrates the Mandarin's mansion with a bunch of MacGyver type weapons. Some of the jokes were funny but many simply fell flat. I thought Guy Pearce was a great villain and I liked the Extremis soldiers, they were rather BA!. There were some great action sequences. The midair rescue sequence was intense and one of the best parts of the movie. And there was too much product placement; at some points in the movie it felt like a commercial than a movie. The after credits scene was dumb and a waste of time. I rate it a C.

Wiseguy 5/3/2013 5:51:53 AM

Caught the IM marathon. It was great seeing them all on the big screen again with The Avengers. I thought the film was great and rivals the first 2 and include part 2 because I think that film has been wrongfully maligned


I thought everything worked. Tony having issues and working himself through them. The villain part I thought was excellently done. So Aldrich is the Mandarin but got a drugged up "out of it" delusional watched up actor to give the character a face. But Killian is the Mandarin and behind all the evil acts committed

The action sequences top both previous IM films by a mile. And the shit gets real with a lot of jokers dying.

In the comics there's an arc with suicide bombers injected by the next thing after IM which makes them bombs, It was an Ezekiel Stane plan used to try and bring Starks down. The bombers were very reminiscent of the film. There's also an arc where Mandarin is working as a scientist before revealing himself and I thought the Killian story here used that as inspiration.


Film gets an A from me. Best superhero film since Avengers

Wiseguy 5/3/2013 5:55:04 AM


Oh yeah and going back to the beginning to Bern and tie it up with the cat from the original film was pretty cool.

And I have to admit to diggin what they did with Peppers. Turned her into a badass for a little while.

I am wondering if he was able to stabilize the extremis so it can heal only or if Pepper remains a superhuman.

SmokingFrog77 5/3/2013 6:28:44 AM

One of the few times I disagree with Rob, and agree with some of the more critical comments here. I enjoyed it, it was better than IM2, but I'd probably give it a C . Yes, very well written, very funny, and great performances from all the leads. BUT: Tony Stark the commando - stupid. Rhodes shooting out steel cables with a handgun - stupid. The whole final action sequence was unnecessarily ridiculous and OTT. The "polarising twist" was a wonderfully humourous moment which highlighted just why Ben Kingsley is so highly regarded, BUT completely undermined The Mandarin as a character, who is supposed to be Iron Man's be-all-end-all foe, and to reduce him to actually being an American bio-tech mogul who can breathe fire (WTF? - the whole Extremis Powerz thing was way OTT in my opinion) with so little to link him back to the first film or explore (or even acknowledge) the mystery and mysticism around the actual character was very disappointing I felt.

SmokingFrog77 5/3/2013 6:29:23 AM

Sorry, I meant to say I gave it a C plus.


monkeyfoot 5/3/2013 7:03:59 AM

Not reading the review or anybody's comments. Will see it tomorrow.

ddiaz28 5/3/2013 7:11:14 AM

Taking the wife to see it tomorrow as well. 

redhairs99 5/3/2013 7:56:02 AM

Caught this last night, and yes there will be SPOILERS in my comments so scroll right passed if you don't want to read them.



I thought the film was great fun and I loved the twist with The Mandarin, or I should say half-loved it.  I totally didn't see the turn with Ben Kingsely, and I loved, loved it!  However, the reveal at the end by Guy Pierce was plan weak.  There shoul dhave been a reveal at the end to show the "real" Mandarin (even in the shadows) that he's been running things from the get go.  That should have been the end credit scene. Though I did like the bit with Tony and Bruce.  Honestly at this point, there's no real reason to add end credit scenes in Marvel's flicks that set anything up.  They served that purpose with Phase One where they had to tell people "we're building to Avengers."  Now, they can just have fun with the end scenes.

Overall I thought the film was nearly as great as the first one.  I'm a sucker for a good origin flick and that's probably what gives the first the edge in my mind.  The first one loses points because while Jeff Bridges was great in the role, I thought the evil was pretty weak.  Granted I've never been an Iron Man fan until the first movie, so I didn't have any pre-conceived ideas going in.


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