Iron Man 3 | Red is the new Black

ironman 3Oh man… this is so good in an unfamiliar way. It has rekindled the spark of a teenager trapped in the shell of a cynical adult movie goer.

In a race that began in 2008 to be crowned Hollywood’s Coolest and Most Awesome Superhero Movie, the score is now 3-1 with Iron Man on a two-point lead.

The screenplay, co-written between Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout) and Drew Pearce is cleverly penned and packs the right punch for an action movie. By drumming up the significance of Tony Stark’s development from previous films (The Avengers, Iron Man 1 & 2) without losing grip of dramatic unity as a whole; Shane Black — also the film’s director — conceptualized a heroically simple, winning formula.

Another satisfying aspect of Iron Man 3 [and this converts to audience payoff at the end of 130 minutes] is the sweet, simple fact that narrative does not detain viewers with unnecessary exposition and scenes. The big bad guys waste no time playing mind-games for the sake of delaying a final showdown, thus one-upping other blockbusters where it counts. Ergo, no shortchanging and an effortlessly fluid plot.

Things kick off with a flashback to 1999 during pre-Iron Man days, establishing Tony Stark’s first meeting with future adversary — a then crippled scientist named Aldrich Killian. Desperate for resources from Stark Industries to develop experimental virus “Extremis” [yet turned away so unceremoniously], sets off rising malevolence from Killian (the unforgettable and brilliant Guy Pearce, even more loathsome here than he was hateful as Charlie Rakes in Lawless). There’s also brazen, immediate threat from a grim terrorist leader (Ben Kingsley’s prowess and versatility in full glory here as both The Mandarin and Trevor Slattery) — bent on blowing up America at whatever cost necessary. And for what it’s worth, I like the spin on Pepper Potts’ (Gwyneth Paltrow) damsel-in-distress anticipated — compelling touch to an otherwise archetypal character.

To further inject urgency in the conflict, Tony Stark wrestles with the aftermath of New York [from The Avengers] and taunts The Mandarin on national TV, further exacerbating his wrath. A striking attack against Stark’s mansion hatches a loosely comedic, coming-of-age with 10 year old Harley — it is here that leading man Robert Downey Jr. ingratiates himself as one of the best personality actors in Hollywood — incensed with moral rage at the right moments, oozing unsentimental smooth in others.

I had fun spotting flashes of nostalgia in favorite superhero moments (Spiderman, Superman, Batman and even Transformers) throughout the show as well, and still can’t believe they destroyed a fine looking limited edition Dora the Explorer digital watch. Nor of the fact that a highly entertaining movie just ended. What a generous, high-octane hell of a ride.

★★★★

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4 responses to “Iron Man 3 | Red is the new Black

  1. Looking forward to going to see this. Does Stan Lee make a cameo appearance?

    • Yep, watch out for his cameo in a beauty pageant scene. 😀 More spoilers if you’re interested:
      The Good — stay for the credits
      The Bad — outcry from some comic fans over deviation of The Mandarin’s character

  2. Would have loved the movie except certain things bugged me about it. The suits got flimsier since the first movie, Stark’s PTSD felt superficial, was too confused about how the core that supplies power to the suit is almost obsolete with future suits (anyone can use the suit now), and Mandarin’s reasons for becoming evil carry no weight. Don’t get me wrong, I like the movie, just not as much as the original one.

    • I’ve read similar complaints about Tony Stark being “outside” of the suit rather than “in”, and getting beat up more than he was doing the crime fighting. From a story perspective, I guess it’s a calculated risk-reward move. Tearing him down and beating him up injects high dosage of urgency to rebound from the damage. I think this accelerates the pace and speaks to those seeking action and thrill.

      As for PTSD, how else to bridge the gap between Ironman and Avengers? The former’s appeal lies in its relevance to the “real” world. Trauma is probably the best device they could conceive to mend the difference in tone.

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