Review: “Iron Man 3”

Robert Downey Jr. suits up once again in “Iron Man 3”

A terrorist with a serious grudge against America and its ideals is at large and Tony Stark suits up once again to bring him down in “Iron Man 3.”

Academy Award nominee Robert Downey Jr. (“Chaplin,” “Tropic Thunder”), reprises his role as the technological genius/superhero in the third installment of the “Iron Man” franchise with Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”) taking the duties of director and screenwriter.

Months after the Avengers ended the alien invasion and assault on New York City, Tony Stark finds himself struggling to regain a sense of normalcy in his life. He can’t sleep, he spends his time in his lab constantly tinkering with his armor and he is experiencing panic attacks and it is affecting his relationship with his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, played by Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow (“Shakespeare in Love”).

While Stark is trying to find balance in his own world, the world itself has its eye on a dangerous man on the warpath named The Mandarin, played by Sir Ben Kingsley (“Ghandi,” “Shutter Island”).

Sir Ben Kingsley is the world’s most dangerous terrorist in “Iron Man 3”

Some people call me a terrorist? I consider myself a teacher.“-Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin.

The Mandarin has assembled a massive following and will stop at nothing to bring down the ideals and philosophies of America. In response to combat the threat that is the Mandarin, the U.S. government has assigned Tony Stark’s friend and ally Colonel James Rhodes, played by Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda,” “Crash”), to lead the manhunt for the Mandarin as the Iron Patriot.

Stark decides to involve himself in the pursuit of the madman when the Mandarin’s campaign against America hits a little close to home for Stark but as Iron Man prepares to fight back, the Mandarin’s forces deal a devastating blow against everything Iron Man stands for.

Complicating matters further is the re-emergence of two faces from Tony Stark’s past. Tony’s old flame Maya Hansen, played by Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”) has lost her data on a project code-named: “Extremis”; a project designed to alter and accelerate the human body’s potential to repair itself from the most severe injuries.

That research is now in the hands of Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce (“Memento,” “L.A. Confidential”). Killian is the head of an organization called Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), and he has taken the Extremis project out of its early phase theory and into practice, just to settle an old grudge with Stark from year’s ago.

Not only does Stark have to conquer his inner demons but he has to find an maniacal madman who wants to see America crumble and stop an army of superhuman soldiers who don’t die easily.  If America wants to see another tomorrow, Iron Man has to be stronger and more resourceful than ever to bring the Mandarin and his forces down.

“Iron Man 3” has solid acting, great visual effects, neat surprises throughout the screenplay and everything you could ask for in a superhero genre film, but it sadly doesn’t live up to the hype.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3”

The true saving grace of “Iron Man 3” is none other than Robert Downey Jr. This was Downey Jr.’s best outing as Iron Man in the entire franchise; he brings wit,  angst, humor and superhuman flavor to the role that only he can accomplish. The supporting cast of Paltrow, Cheadle, Pearce, Kingsley, Hall and even Jon Favreau, director of the last two Iron Man films, were all splendid.

It pains to say, but fault could be found in the direction and screenplay of Shane Black. He inherited a successful franchise but in trying to put his own stamp on this chapter of the “Avengers Initiative” he sacrificed whatever continuity the first two films had going for them, thus the overall story arc of Tony Stark is somewhat unfulfilled.

Though remarkable initiative was taken in this film, such as seeing Tony outside of his armor more than inside, this movie was completely unsatisfying and compromised whatever impact the entire trilogy could have had.

The materials to build this movie were all there, but it just didn’t assemble as well as it could have and in the end, it is disappointing.

“Iron Man 3” is just as impressive as Iron Man’s armor without Tony Stark. It is well-put together brimming with potential but at the same time, it is hollow and lifeless.

This movie is worth seeing, just to experience the beginning of Marvel’s Phase two of the “Avengers Initiative”  and see Robert Downey Jr. and the cast light up the screen but the movie will just leave a disappointing taste in your pallet.

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