"Iron Man 3" picks up some time after "The Avengers." Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has had difficulty wrapping his head around the idea of aliens, other dimensions and wormholes. He can't sleep, and he suffers a few anxiety attacks. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who was made CEO of Stark Industries in "Iron Man 2," is busy running the company while Stark tinkers and builds more Iron Man suits.
His nerves aren't helped by a spate of bombings by the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), and the case remains unsolved because there isn't any forensic evidence left at the scenes. The Mandarin promises to come after the U.S. President in the near future. After one of the bombings injures his friend Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Stark threatens the Mandarin on air — and the Mandarin responds by destroying Stark's cliffside mansion in Malibu. Amazingly, everyone survives, and Stark spends the rest of the movie tracking down the Mandarin to stop the bombings and save the world.
The references to "The Avengers" are nice and help maintain the continuity of the Marvel universe. "Ever since that guy with the big hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety has had its day." They're also great as wink-wink-nudge-nudge inside jokes to superhero devotees.
Perhaps it's due to his sleep deprivation and anxiety — or perhaps Potts has tamed him — but he seems to be a kinder, gentler Stark in this movie. He's also less flashy, appears slightly distracted by the world suddenly changing on him, and spends much of the movie incognito. Downey, Jr., really manages to sell this, and the audience is right there with him.
That's not to say that Stark has lost his humorous edge because the film is full of chuckles from Downey, Jr.'s amazing ad-libbing and one-liners. When a chubby, blond boy wearing horned-rim glasses approaches him for an autograph, he comments, "I loved you in 'A Christmas Story'." His scenes with his 10-year-old sidekick, Harley, are easily the most endearing of the film.
War Machine was the highlight of "Iron Man 2," but he's been kind of neutered in this film. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) spends more time out of the armor than in it, and War Machine has been "rebranded" as Iron Patriot. Damn marketing people.
Although "Iron Man 3" is very entertaining, it's the weakest of the trilogy thus far. There's a portion in the middle of the film that is reminiscent of the T-1000 in "Terminator 2." Let me know if you see it, too. The plot feels disjointed, and elements appear for no good reason than they would perhaps look cool. As a result, there are some rather large plot holes.
Maybe that was the price of creating such a gorgeous movie, though. Even when things are being blown to smithereens and structures are crumbling, the film looks simply majestic. The action sequences are breathtaking and will have you developing a fingernail-chewing habit.
Even though it's a beautiful movie, the 3-D effects were added in postproduction. There is one scene that looks good in 3-D, but it's practically unnoticeable for the rest of the movie. Don't shell out the extra bucks for 3-D here, folks.
For the most part, the movie sounds good. As things go boom and debris starts falling to the ground, the sound is so clear that you have a great sense of where things have fallen and can identify the material. The action scenes showcase the impressive audio work that went into the film. However, classic rock is completely missing from this film, and that's a major no-no for a character who wore a Black Sabbath t-shirt in "The Avengers" movie. "Iron Man" had Black Sabbath. "Iron Man 2" had AC/DC. "Iron Man 3" has ... The Wondergirls?!
Without a doubt, "Iron Man 3" is an entertaining movie. Downey, Jr., is positively overflowing with charm and the action sequences are awesome, so the audience will overlook the plot holes and slightly muddled story. Then again, even if you watch a not-great "Iron Man" movie, you'll have a better time than if you gambled on another film.
"Iron Man 3" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX 3-D.
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