Movie Review: IRON MAN 3

Before I start, allow me to direct you to my partner in crime William Kendall’s review of this movie at his blog, Speak of the Devil. William’s reviews are far more professional than mine. I tend to judge movies, TV shows and books quite simply on how they make me feel. In short, I review with my gut.

Darker than the two previous Iron Man movies, Iron Man 3 is a cautionary tale. It reminds me, oddly enough, of an episode of the TV series Touched By An Angel, in which the angel Monica, in an uncharacteristic bad mood, snaps at someone, setting off a chain of events that results in a woman’s suicide. One never knows what impact a seemingly unimportant act or comment might have on another.

At the start of the film, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), in voice-over, says that he created two of his own demons. He recalls the events of New Year’s Eve 1999. His callous treatment of two idealistic young scientists, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), at a party in Switzerland set into motion a thirteen-year quest for revenge that would lead to countless deaths and destruction.

When Tony must face those demons, the timing couldn’t be worse. He’s been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder since his all-too-close brush with death in New York (in The Avengers). He’s unable to sleep. He’s plagued by self-doubt. He builds one Iron Man armor after another, for a grand total of forty-eight. He worries that he can’t protect the one thing–the one person–he can’t live without: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. Yet in his manic state, he seems to be neglecting her, and that worries his friend and former bodyguard, now head of Stark security, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau)–especially when Aldrich Killian shows up at Stark Industries one day, presumably in search of funding for his Extremis project (which reminds me a lot of the supersoldier project in Captain America: The First Avenger).

Extremis is one of those discoveries that, in the right hands, could have been a gift to humanity–but it’s in the hands of a madman, and it’s dangerously flawed. But is the madman the Asian terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), or is it Killian himself? Not everything in Iron Man 3 is what it appears to be.

The movie could be subtitled Tony Stark Finally Grows Up, because until now, he’s been, for the most part, a big kid with a lot of really cool toys. He’s the boy who never thought his father loved him. I’ve often wondered what his relationship with his mother was like, and what role it played in his inability to commit to Pepper through two movies and countless comic books. A shrink could make a career of this guy.

Iron Man 3 is more about Tony Stark than it is about Iron Man. As he searches for the identity of his enemy, he also searches for his own identity in his post-Avengers world, and what he discovers in the midst of all the explosions, battles and confrontations is, I think, as surprising to him as it will be to his audience. I loved it–as always, RDJ delivers the rapid-fire wit in abundance, and though there’s less banter between him and Paltrow this time around, there’s some funny dialogue between him and best buddy Rhodey (Don Cheadle), who hates having to trade in War Machine for Killian’s flashier Iron Patriot armor–Rhodey’s password, WARMACHINEROCKS, pretty much says it all. There’s also some great scenes between Tony and a young Tennessee boy (Ty Simpkins) that makes me wonder–could there be a baby in Tony and Pepper’s future?

Also posted at WordPress.

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