"Iron Man 3" Review

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It’s hard to build a successful film franchise. The truth is, the film industry is a business and sometimes art and heart don’t quite get in on the action. It did here. I said it before, Iron Man was great, Iron Man 2 took a dip, but Iron Man 3 would allow me to forgive 2. After seeing Iron Man 3 I forgave, forgot, and can’t wait to see another! Especially since “Tony Stark will return”. I’d say that Iron Man 3 is the best out of the Iron Man series (which it is), but I respect the fact that you can’t get to 3 with out having 1. 

The film starts with a shaken Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) traumatized from his near death sacrifice in New York (Avengers). Tony recounts events of what happened New Years Eve 1999, to get us to what we are about to see through voiceover. We learn about his one night encounter with botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and diss of scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). The combination would come back to haunt him 13 years later, even though Tony is a different person. 

In the present, Tony is a sleep deprived super hero who is focused on building more Iron Man suits in an effort to protect the people and person he loves most. He throws himself into his work in order to avoid dealing with “the wormhole”, which at the very mention of the word throws him into an anxiety attack. He’s put away his old ways and is settled down with Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow). An old co-worker, Aldrich, comes by Stark Industries to try and convince Pepper to buy into his new company AIM. Even though the presentation is incredible, Pepper stands by her man’s ideals of not being involved with weaponry and declines.

At the same time a new bin Laden style terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is attacking the U.S. at home and abroad, while leaving no trace of bombs. When one of these attacks put Tony’s head of security, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in a coma, Tony decides to call out The Mandarin. He even goes as far as giving him his home address. 

In a be careful what you wish for move, The Mandarin brings the war to Tony’s back door, literally. After leveling most of Tony’s home, the rest of the film puts Tony on a journey of finding out who The Mandarin is and forces him to deal with his inner demons. In fact, one line from Tony says “We all create our own demons.” It’s the vulnerability that Downey Jr. displays in his performance that is so riveting to watch. His redeeming quality makes his sarcasm and flamboyance forgivable.

If you’ve been watching since Iron Man you’ve seen Tony’s demons.  You’ve seen his character arch, and you know that although he has a self-centered playboy outer shell he’s a softy work in progress on the inside. In fact, in this film it’s his outer shell (the iron one) that he has to learn to live without at times and rely on his inner being. That’s what makes the film so good. Take away the incredible gadgetry and what you have is a wealthy genius who is afraid. The film spends almost a third of it’s time with Tony suit-less. He has to rely on others, and even himself.

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The casting and acting is top notch across the board in this film. Robert Downey Jr. was born to wear the shoes of Tony Stark. I’m sorry, but most of the time our hero’s main squeeze feels like a prop piece put in the film just to give him something to fight for and a face to look at (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Connelly, Hayley Atwell, etc.). Not in Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow, People Magazine’s 2013 Most Beautiful Woman, isn’t just a pretty face but gives real weight to the role of Pepper. Pepper is the girl next door, but we respect her brains and heart more than her beauty. Don Cheadle gives another great performance as Colonel James Rhodes and helps turn the film into a buddy comedy at the end. Ben Kingsley, wow, you just have to see it to believe it. I could go down the line all the way to the bit parts...everyone is solid. 

So when you have great actors and a great script written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon) and Drew Pearce, you’ve got the right ingredients for an awesome film. Shane Black does a masterful job in directing. The pacing of the film mixes  suspense, action, drama, and comedy in just the right way to make the 140 minute running time fly by. 

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I love film. It has the power to transport, make you think, laugh, get angry, tell someone you love them, etc. I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes they bring me to tears. There are only two superhero films that have hit me with “whoa, I thought I could hold the tears back...I was mistaken” moments. I sure experienced it on this film! Hit me up on twitter (@picturelockshow) and ask me when I cried tears of joy and I’ll tell you.  :)

A high bar has been set for summer blockbusters for sure! This film was great. The comedy is hilarious, the action is absolutely incredible and worth seeing on the big screen. I laughed, I cried, I’m going to see it again in theaters. Be aware that the film was not shot in 3D or for IMAX and the 3D conversion (which I saw in IMAX 3D) is not that great. Save a few bucks and see it in 2D, but GO SEE IRON MAN 3 in theaters as it should be seen! 

Rating: A

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.