Film Review: Iron Man 3

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Following the events in New York (as seen in The Avengers) Tony Stark is having trouble sleeping. However, when a new foe enters the fray in the form of global terrorist The Mandarin, he must put his anxieties to one side to protect those closest to him.

Some people loved The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble here in the UK) whilst others hated it. No matter how you felt about it, it can’t be denied that it was Marvel’s biggest movie to date, and so it was always going to be a pretty daunting task to follow it up. Fortunately, the task fell to Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr, probably the most enigmatic and popular of the Avengers crew.

Iron Man 3 also sees Shane Black brought in as writer/director in place of Jon Favreau (who still keeps his role has Tony Stark’s muscle Happy Hogan) and he’s done a decent job of building upon the previous two films. Iron Man 3 rattles along at a fair old pace as you’d expect from a Marvel superhero flick, although it does take more time to focus on the man inside the tin can. Here we see more of Stark the man and the film is richer for it; part of what makes the franchise so appealing is Stark’s witty dialogue and there’s plenty of that on show here.

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Now, the Mandarin. I’m no comic book fanboy but I understand that the Mandarin is kind of a big deal. A lot of people were very excited to have him in the film, and, without giving anything away, the direction in which the character has been taken is likely to prove hugely contentious. It’s a bold move and there’ll be some who like it, but there’ll be plenty who are downright outraged. In terms of the narrative, the character works reasonably well although your enjoyment of the film could well depend on your expectations of how the Mandarin will be handled.

Iron Man 3’s other villain is Aldrich Killian played by Guy Pearce. Killian has developed a drug/treatment thing called Extremis (also apparently a big deal in the comics) that can regenerate limbs and also cause the recipient to raise their body temperature to dangerous levels. Killian starts the film as a relatively minor character but gets more and more important as the film goes on. Unfortunately, the character isn’t nearly as interesting as the Mandarin, which when you see where the plot goes, makes the film all the weaker. It’s also not 100% clear as to Killian’s motives, which can make it a little confusing as to the actual point of the whole film.

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There are various other smaller story arcs going on throughout the film, some of which are significantly more successful than others. Stark’s beau Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets a much more developed role and the introduction of a kid sidekick for Stark is nowhere near as annoying as it could have been. There is also a rather malnourished side plot revolving around the Vice President and his daughter which could have been pretty interesting had it been fleshed out a little more.

Iron Man 3 may be a little shallow but it’s also a lot of fun. Tonally it sits somewhere between the lighthearted feel of The Avengers and the grittier world of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy but it’s difficult to say it can be held in as high regard as either. However, should this the last in the Iron Man franchise, which it could well be, it’s still a decent note to go out on.

3 and a half pigeons

3.5/5 pigeons

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43 thoughts on “Film Review: Iron Man 3

  1. Popcorn Nights says:

    Nice review Chris. I’m pretty much in agreement with all of it. I had forgotten about the Vice President sub-plot until you mentioned it. It’s totally pointless, a failed attempt to make the whole scenario seem a little more high-level and dangerous.

    • Thanks Stu. Yeah the VP plot annoyed me a bit. He was probably one of the few characters who actually had any proper motivation behind him. That story line could have been so much more interesting but instead it was given just a few seconds of screen time.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Chris. It was an energy-filled ride that kept me watching, but it also kept me wanting ore when it was over. Don’t know why. Just did.

  3. Hunter says:

    I had a lot of fun with this movie. I like how you described the the mandarin twist though; that’s exactly how it is. It works fine with the story and I feel like a lot of people forget that. Nice review!

  4. Nice review. I’m clearly the only person in the world not to have seen this yet… but am really looking forward to it. To be honest, I’d probably watch anything with RDJ in it and I think the first Iron Man is one of my favourite super hero films.

  5. keith7198 says:

    3.5 for me too. I hated the Mandarin turn and I thought it really dampened the overall movie. Still had fun with it but it’s still a bit disappointing.

    • I’m a little torn on the twist to be honest. I don’t have the strong feelings towards the comics or whatever as some people but I did think that he was just a much more interesting villain than Killian.

      • keith7198 says:

        I thought he was much more interesting too, that is right until the twist. That just seemed so deflating to me. But I admit my appreciation for mandarins comic book roots probably plays into my feelings on it.

      • I can imagine it must have felt like a bit of a slap in the face after probably anticipating what could have been. It made me laugh a bit at the time but afterwards I felt it was a bit of a cheap trick.

  6. Issy R. says:

    Good review. This one was a real let down for me. I agree it has its entertaining moments but most of the story is what crippled this film.

  7. ruth says:

    Great review Chris! I think 3.5 is fair, I might’ve given it a slightly higher rating as it exceeds my expectations. That said, it is rather shallow and I wouldn’t even compare it to Nolan’s Batman films in terms of the style and tone. But yeah, very entertaining indeed!

  8. myreelpov says:

    Good review! On reflection ‘The Mandarins’ mention of plastic surgery leaves room for fanboys to forgive the unexpected turn…

  9. r361n4 says:

    Great review, Chris. Especially agree with you about Killia’s motivations, that was honestly the main wing tht kept the movie from moving from amazing ness. Anyways, it definitely felt like an iron man movie directed by the Lethal Weapon guy, but I actually really enjoyed that combination.

    • Thanks Andy. Yeah Killian just seemed to be being evil for the sake of it. I think there was something in there about him being able to sell Extremis to terrorists but it wasn’t made clear and that’s such a boring motivation.

      I’ve heard a few people saying that you can tell it’s a Shane Black film but I’m not very good at noticing that kind of thing so can’t really tell! Ha!

  10. filmhipster says:

    Well done Chris! Now I’m really the only one that hasn’t seen this!

  11. Great review. Not flawless by any means, but such a fun, entertaining movie. Didn’t mind the twist involving The Mandarin. I actually loved that.

    • Thanks man. It was a lot of fun, I always think Marvel films are. I’m a little undecided on the Mandarin twist though. Part of me thought it was funny but part of me thought that he was a much more interesting villain than the other guy.

  12. Nice review. It seems as though you felt it was alright, while still acknowledging it was pretty flawed. Thats about where I am with it, although some of the issues really burn me (like the mandarin, which you note) 😦 It was ok, but definitely not anything great.

    • Thanks Fogs. Yeah it was alright, but didn’t blow me away. I did have fun with it and some parts were excellent but I think my interest dwindled a little after the Mandarin thing as I thought he was such a cool villain and Killian was just nowhere near as cool.

  13. sati says:

    I gave the movie the same rating, it was fun but I agree about Peace’s character being weak, the fire breathing thing was ridiculous. I liked Mandarin twist, but I’m not familiar with the comic books.

    • Oh god, the fire breathing! So the guy can BREATHE FIRE and yet he only uses it once. I’d be doing that stuff all the time! I didn’t mind the Mandarin twist but my interest in the film was definitely not as strong afterwards, although it did make me laugh a bit at the time.

  14. Mark Hobin says:

    I liked it too. I really enjoy Shane Black’s writing. Great review!

  15. a fair review. I gave it .5 higher rating simply due to the fact that I still was entertained. some fair points you bring up. How would you rate each of the 3 Iron Man movies in order of preference?

    • I was close to giving it that extra .5, it was a tough decision! Hmmm, that’s a tough question as to how I’d rank them. They’re all pretty even for me to be honest. I’d probably go 1, 3, 2 for best to worst but there’s things I like and dislike in all of them.

  16. claratsi says:

    Much like my review in that it depends on what you think on the mandarin. Until the movies I knew little of iron man other than my brothers posters. I am more DC. As a hilarious rug pull it worked!

  17. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I think I may wait for this one to hit Netflix.

  18. Zoë says:

    Nice review! I am so glad to see that I was not the only one that did not enjoy The Avengers (I have been highly unpopular due to that opinion). I am with your write up on this movie, that is very much how I felt when I watched it. Not bad, just not what I thought was coming.

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