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Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak and Ty Simpkins.
Writers: Drew Pearce and Shane Black.
Director: Shane Black.

Rating: 2.5/5

Though the top brass at Marvel Studios and their new Disney cohorts are positioning the third Iron Man instalment as a four-quadrant ‘Avengers’-size blockbuster, writer/director Shane Black’s underwhelming take on Tony Stark’s heroic alter-ego is very much a fanboy’s-own adventure.

Despite a central character steeped in cutting-edge technology, Iron Man 3 creaks through an overly familiar structure and blah tropes that hurtle the series back into the world of 80s action flicks. Brought on board to punch up leading man Robert Downey Jr’s smart-mouth dialogue between scenes of generic mayhem, Black achieves a modicum of success with some well-played one-liners. If Iron Man 3 outdoes the first two instalments in any significant way, it is with a welcome and surprising shot of non-Downey inspired humour in the form of Ben Kingsley’s Bin Laden-esque bad guy, The Mandarin.

But there are too many moments that recall Black’s past works (most famously, Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero and The Last Boy Scout, as well as punching-up tough-guy talk on Predator, The Hunt for Red October and Battle Los Angeles, too name just a few). Those familiar with his over-played beats will recognise such clichéd tools as the smart-mouthed kid sidekick (here, played well by Ty Simpkins), the hero’s fractured mental state (in one of several nods to the events in The Avengers, Stark has PTSD-like anxiety attacks), a cartoonish villain prone to monologue-ing (an OTT Guy Pearce) and the necessity for our protagonist to hit rock bottom (here, represented by snowy, small-town America) before ascending once again to full hero status.  

Where Black falls noticeably short is in his depiction of the franchise’s key relationship between Stark and Pepper Potts (a game but under-served Gwyneth Paltrow). Keeping the pair separate for much of the film robs the mechanical vision of much needed humanity. Oddly, Black keeps the principal characters in different corners for long stretches – Favreau’s Happy Hogan is taken out of the action early-on; Don Cheadles’ own iron-suited soldier, War Machine, is off in Pakistan seeking out insurgents. Even Stark is separated from his suit for much of the films mid-section (not unlike the recent third instalment of The Dark Knight Rises, during which Bruce Wayne spent a long time sans suit and which resembles Iron Man 3 in its portrayal of a troubled tech-heavy hero).

Action set-pieces are top-tier, though exhibit no particular auteuristic vision (unlike, say, those of Black’s longtime collaborator, John McTiernan, in his heyday). A helicopter attack on Stark’s home (previewed heavily in the trailer) represents desktop effects work par excellence; a drama aboard Air Force One allows for some old-fashioned stunt work and green-screening; the hero-villain standoff finale has a been-there-done-that blandness. The scenes, like the rest of Shane Black’s perfunctory, fatigued film, will suffice for the fans who have to have their regular cinematic superhero fix, but will leave others generally unmoved.     

Reader Comments (21)

Yeah, who wants action and humor in a superhero movie? A villain versus a hero? Blech. Give me Tony and The Mandarin singing kumbaya as they explore their feelings. Who goes to superhero movies to watch the standard hero's journey template, anyways?


April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Yes, it's far from a perfect movie, its flaws are apparent.
But boy, does this reviewer sound like an unhappy person.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSigit

Get a girl and have some fun.
I guess you have seen another movie while thinking constantly at some porn site you were missing

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertech

The fun thing is that the installement reviews of this kind are all the same. 'Don't look at superhero movies at all. This one is the worst'.
It is a shame that you can't + comments, because all three previous are super! Spot on.
Watch the movie and enjoy the action and the unexpected 'whoa hahahahaha'....for guys, imagine a helmet hit you in the privates....
This movie is something that many 'action movie reviewers' might not expect: A layered cake...yes, there are several things you can note here and I guess it has to do with the fact that both Black and Whedon (! Yes, Josh Whedon was part, check the title roll), made some overly obvious moves (most Black) and some very subtle ones (Whedon).

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Unfair review.

Get a girl and get laid will ya?

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Boohoo, the reviewer didn't like the movie you haven't even seen yet. Get over yourselves kids.

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

It's funny how anytime anyone criticizes a Marvel comic book film they are instantly labeled as a single, under-sexed loser. All the sex in the world wouldn't save Iron Man 3 from being anything more than terrific entertainment... for the under 15's.

This review is right on the money - it's no more than 2.5 out of 5. Anyone who disagrees obviously needs to 'get laid'.

See what I did there?

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRohan

I actually saw the film tonight, and I think this review is a bit unfair. But we're all welcome to our own opinions, I guess.

For me, it was almost as great as the first Iron Man film. Shane Black plays with expectations and subverts them all too easily. This isn't a by-the-numbers comic book film. No by-the-numbers film would execute such a second act twist.
Downey as Stark is given more room to add more layers to the character, not all wit and bravado in the face of threat, but issued with a sense of real mortality. The character arc he goes through in this film has been boiling for a while, even called out in Avengers by Captain America: take away the suit, and what are you?

A perfect way to wrap up the trilogy. I'd give it a 8.5/10

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpencilhead

I'd love to see this critic do anything near as good. It's easy to criticize. Look at me. I can say 'this reviewer sucks' as easy as pie. Yay me! (That's sarcasm, Mr. 'I wish I was a film-maker but all I can create is useless crap".)

April 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGregCreates

Author sounds idiotic.

well. I just saw this movie and its awesome. First action sequence was simply great( don't want to spoil anything).

My eyes are still orgasming.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVasanth

By far the weakest of the Iron man series, the tone of the film is all over the place. Does director Black want it to be a wacky comedy( the twist with the Mandarin is like a scene from Austin Powers) , a drama( Tony suffering from PTSS), spy adventure( Tony scaling a wall and dealing with dumb hench men),
i was waiting for the Mission Impossible or James Bond theme to kick in. What about channeling
E T with a cutesy kid. After the intial set up, Starks mansion and lab destroyed in spectacular fashion it all seemed a bit rushed and muddled. The acting was good by the entire cast, but it had a sameness about it - Tony refining the suit for example. Even the music theme reminded me of Tim Burton's original "Batman" . As for the scene after the credits, what a waste of time, it did nothing to whet my appetite or link future Marvel films. Not all bad, but disappointing over all - 7/10.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIron balls

LOL did someone hit you before the movie .
the movie has a different take on iron man , it shows how he is without the suit and many more ,
the movie has seriously funny moments , some unexpected turns ,
top graphics , and good action sequences .
It kinda reminded me of batman (another billionaire :P )
but it is arguably the best iron man movie yet .......................

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranon

Not sure what you were expecting when you reviewed this movie? It's a story about a super hero. As far as entertainment goes, it clearly his the mark. The best Iron Man yet and one of the best super hero movie to date. I give a 9 out of 10.... Enjoy the Ride!

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Lame film! Complete let down

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenny

i was so much looking forward to this movie, loved the trailers, and i really wanted to like this movie. but it really sucked. it started well but after the mansion explosion it went downhill. there were some great funny moments, especially with the mandarin, but there were some major let downs.
tony breaking in the mansion as a semi macgyver/james bond was so cheesy. aldrich spewing out fire in a random scene, which in itself was lame, but if you have fire breath, why didn't he use it in the final scene where he had loads of chances to finish tony and pepper off. and the lamest thing of them all: pepper going all bionic woman-ish at the end was laaaame. and then they kiss and he blows all his iron men like fireworks...

i was a fan of the first two, but seriously the 2nd half of this movie was just awful.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdan

Can believe this movie was poor. Look at The Avengers:
The tesseract, a weak any-excuse-to-save-the-world plot device, is the same as the cube in Transformers.

That's it, really. The plot is not involving.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlausible

Unfortunately I cannot agree more with this review. I really love nearly all the marvel movies and have been waiting for so long to watch this. But dear lord, I was so disappointed with how the story turned out. It wasn't particularly a bad movie. It just doesn't feel like an Iron Man movie. Tony is off walking, talking, investigating and searching for something that just feels so out of place with his character.

I was especially let down by the final parts of the movie. He was hardly in any suit at all. The scene featuring the massive army of suits which the trailer ends on, is hardly anything more than your average cartoonish scene where you just see stuff flying around in the background, totally without the awesome impact it might've otherwise had.

Finally the ending of the movie feels so conclusive of the entire franchise featuring Robert downey Jr that you end up questioning why these changes didn't happen earlier in the movies.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeely

'The scenes, like the rest of Shane Black’s perfunctory, fatigued film, will suffice for the fans who have to have their regular cinematic superhero fix, but will leave others generally unmoved.'

I'm assuming 'others' here means the author talking about himself in plural?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommentervPuik

Downey's constant one lines seems strangely times perfectly like a script without heart... If u have emotional issues , relationship problems or anxiety attacks simple crack one lines and wallah!!! All is cured!!..when there is too many metal shells flying around nothing is special anymore ... Iron man has lost its unique significance and like the shell?.. soulless... Hopefully Man of Steel will have more heart and soul.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuresh

A very good and Honest Review.. seriously guys, whats up with getting laid and writing reviews??? :D

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRafiQ

I miss Roger Ebert. I might not have always agreed with him, but at least his opinions were based on something more than a desire to troll the Internet in search of page hits.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMavent

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