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Monday, May 13, 2013


About The Movie:

Tony Stark recalls a New Years Eve party in 1999 with scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis—an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but Stark rejects the offer, humiliating Killian.

Years later, Stark's experiences during the alien invasion of New York are giving him panic attacks. Restless, he has built several dozen Iron Man suits, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. A string of bombings by terrorist the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by a lack of forensic evidence. When Stark Industries security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack, Stark overcomes his stupor and issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark's home with helicopter gunships. Hansen, who came to warn Stark, survives the attack along with Potts. Stark escapes in an Iron Man suit, which his artificial intelligence JARVIS pilots to rural Tennessee, following a flight plan from Stark's investigation into the Mandarin. Stark's experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.

Teaming with Harley, a precocious 10-year-old boy, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the "bombings" were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis' flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt andEric Savin attack him.

With Harley's help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor Slattery, who claims he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his name. The Mandarin is actually a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen's Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the real Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis to gain Stark's aid in fixing Extremis' flaws and thereby saving Pepper. Killian kills Hansen when she has a change of heart about the plan.

Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin's location, luring James Rhodes—the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot—into a trap to steal the armor. Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace Killian to an impounded damaged oil tanker where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian's orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his daughter's disability.

On the platform, Stark goes to save Potts, and Rhodes saves the president. Stark summons all his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and takes him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.

After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to remotely destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Potts. The vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark's help, Potts' Extremis effects are stabilized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man.

In a present day post-credits scene, Stark wakes up Dr. Bruce Banner, who fell asleep listening at the beginning of Stark's story.

What Is Good/Bad About The Movie:

The Avengers is a tough act to follow, but rather than faltering under extreme expectations, Iron Man 3 does the exact opposite: it soars higher than its title character. Nonetheless, it is impressive to watch RDJ hop back into the character, who is very much a changed man in Iron Man 3, deeply affected by the alien invasion and destruction featured at the end of The Avengers. Everything we love about Tony Stark is back, from his tremendous ingenuity to his smartass attitude, but Black layers in Stark's changed perspective, altered values (particularly as they pertain to his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts), and surprising vulnerability. A mere mention of the events in New York is enough to send him into a hardcore panic attack that has him rushing for his armor, and you have genuine empathy for him, both because of how much we’ve seen him go through and Downey's fine performance, his best in a Marvel movie yet. 

Paltrow also shines as her character’s relationship with Tony reaches deeper levels than we’ve ever seen before, and she even gets her chance at some kick-ass action. Same for Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes, who finds a story beyond Tony Stark by serving the U.S. government as Iron Patriot. Without saying too much, as the layers to their characters are best discovered on the big screen, both Kingsley and Guy Pearce, as rival industrialist/genius Aldrich Killian, are excellent antagonists for Tony all levels – personally, professionally, and heroically. If there’s any actor that gets the short stick it’s Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, an old flame of Tony’s who invents a revolutionary medical serum called Extremis that winds up being an integral part of the plot. The truth is, however, that her character serves her purpose in the story and can’t really be called underwritten – it’s just a small part.

Franchise newcomers are a mixed bag, with Ben Kingsley presenting a captivating terrorist persona for the Mandarin. The Mandarin is unsettling, but considering the character’s importance in comic book lore (not to mention the totally unexplored ties to the original Iron Man film), I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by Iron Man 3‘s use of the fan-favorite villain. Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian isn’t an especially unique (or memorable) addition to the Iron Man series roster, but scene to scene, the character is a satisfying aspect of the primary Iron Man 3 conflict. Unfortunately, Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen is almost entirely wasted – with an underdeveloped arc that lacks any impactful payoff.

Iron Man 3 is the first movie that Black has done in eight years and only his second in 17 years, but is proof positive that true talent doesn’t go away. The writer/director’s greatest strengths, honed by decades in the action genre, flawlessly match the pre- established world and tone of the Iron Man franchise. His impressive ear for witty dialogue dials the sharp-tongued Tony Stark up to 11 and makes the film regularly laugh-out-loud hilarious. His long-evident appreciation for winding detective stories keeps the audience guessing at every turn and results in wowing twists. His lengthy history with buddy movies keeps all of Tony’s relationships fresh, meaningful, and fun, from time spent with Pepper and Rhodey to a random kid (Ty Simpkins) he meets while investigating a possible terrorist attack in Tennessee. The film succeeds simply by being a Shane Black film.

Black's a newcomer to the large-scale, CGI-heavy action sequences, but what he presents in the field is without question the best of all the Marvel Studios solo films. While Joss Whedon certainly raised the bar high with his 30-minute-long battle between superheroes and aliens at the end of The Avengers, Iron Man 3 is stunningly comparable. From a missile attack on Tony’s palatial Malibu home, to a strike on Air Force One, to a firefight at a dockyard, the movie is littered with massive setpieces, with smaller-scale action sequences in between just to keep movie-goers’ hearts racing at all times.

Iron Man 3 is the rare sequel that feels like it’s grown out of a perfect understanding of what worked and what didn’t in the previous films. It embraces the universe it lives in without exploiting it or letting it weigh down the story, and offers its hero a personal, dangerous challenge without ever losing its popcorn charm. Beyond the pressures of being the follow-up to The Avengers, the movie is the first film in Marvel’s Phase Two plans and has the responsibility of setting the pace for what’s to come. We can only hope that what they come up with going forward is even half as incredible. 

Overall Grade: B+

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