After a malevolent enemy reduces his world to rubble, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) must rely on instinct and ingenuity to protect those he loves as he searches for a way to avenge his losses. ... read review »
|Robert Downey Jr.||Tony Stark/Iron Man|
|Gwyneth Paltrow||Pepper Potts|
|Don Cheadle||Col. James Rhodes|
|Guy Pearce||Aldrich Killian|
|Rebecca Hall||Maya Hansen|
|Jon Favreau||Happy Hogan|
|Ben Kingsley||The Mandarin|
|James Badge Dale||Eric Savin|
|Stephanie Szostak||Ellen Brandt|
|William Sadler||President Ellis|
|Dale Dickey||Mrs. Davis|
|Ty Simpkins||Harley Keener|
|Miguel Ferrer||Vice President Rodriguez|
|Wang Xueqi||Dr. Wu|
|Shaun Toub||Ho Yinsen|
|Jon Favreau||Executive Producer|
|Louis D'Esposito||Executive Producer|
|Charles Newirth||Executive Producer|
|Victoria Alonso||Executive Producer|
|Stephen Broussard||Executive Producer|
|Alan Fine||Executive Producer|
|Stan Lee||Executive Producer|
|Dan Mintz||Executive Producer|
|Bill Brzeski||Production Design|
|Jeffrey Ford||Film Editor|
|Peter Elliot||Film Editor|
|Louise Frogley||Costume Designer|
|Brian Tyler||Original Music|
|Desma Murphy||Supervising Art Direction|
|Jay Pelissier||Art Director|
|Alan Hook||Art Director|
|Brian Stultz||Art Director|
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rating: By Michael Phillips
Tribune Newspapers Critic
2 1/2 stars
A little too much and a little not enough, director and co-writer Shane Black's "Iron Man 3" nonetheless has everything Disney and Marvel need to keep the "Avengers" superhero constellation shining and regenerating well into the 23rd century. It's what you call a pre-hit: As of this writing (Tuesday, 8:57 a.m. CST) the movie already has zoomed past the $200 million mark in worldwide box office.
Eighty percent of the globe has already gotten a look at it. North America's essentially an afterthought, if hundreds and hundreds of millions of likely dollars can be called that.
Here's where we are with Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., who the film's background materials remind us is the biggest star on the planet by measurement of franchise association (the "Sherlock Holmes" movies and the "Iron Man"/"Avengers" universe). The climactic alien melee in last year's all-star reunion "The Avengers" has left Stark nerve-racked and an insomniac workaholic. A new global terrorist, very much in the bin Laden mold, has oozed onto the scene: The Mandarin, from the comic books. As portrayed by Ben Kingsley, with a strange, Laurence Olivier-in-"The-Betsy" dialect, you're not quite sure where he's coming from, either geographically or ideologically, which is the point.
Meantime, fire-breathing mutants are wreaking havoc, at one point taking down Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The Mandarin goes about his business, destroying Stark's home, slaughtering innocent civilians in the name of teaching America a lesson. Stark ends up in rural Tennessee, where in a gleefully cynical bid for a preteen audience (a few years too young for the violence in "Iron Man 3," I'd say), Stark befriends a bullied 8-year-old (Ty Simpkins) who becomes his tag-along and sometime savior.
A strange detail: In "Iron Man 3," Stark no longer needs to be in the Iron Man suit. He's able to operate the thing remotely when needed. The movie's like that, too. It's decent superhero blockbustering, but rather remote and vaguely second-hand. At this point, even with Black's flashes of black humor, the machinery is more or less taking care of itself, offering roughly half of the genial wit and enjoyment of the first "Iron Man."
Black's not especially lucid or creative in staging massive action sequences; even the major set-piece, in which Stark attempts the mid-air rescue of Air Force One passengers, is a medium wow at best. (Which qualifies it more for "yeah, big whoop" status.) On the other hand, when the truth behind The Mandarin arrives, it's a wild "reveal" and very much in tune with Black's sense of self-referential showbiz humor, which he twisted into a very interesting pretzel in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."
From the "Lethal Weapon" franchise to "The Last Boy Scout," Black loves jocular sadism, and there's a lot of it (too much) in "Iron Man 3." When Stark goes on a killing spree, it's as if we've been dropped back into Mel Gibson/Danny Glover-land. For all the trauma Stark's supposed to be shouldering, Downey rarely seems less than superhumanly cool. He's a huge talent, verbally adroit and quick on his feet, even when the feet are encased in digital metal. But one of the things I resisted about the second "Iron Man," the parts where Stark became a badly behaved, trashed-out party boy, has cooled into a kind of imperious remove in "Iron Man 3."
No less than "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which placed a detective story inside the world of Hollywood wannabes, "Iron Man 3" treats Stark and Downey as untouchable superstars, just gliding through. It's not without its payoffs; I enjoyed a lot of it. But overall, last year's "Avengers" delivered the bombastic goods more efficiently than this year's Marvel.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content).
Running time: 2:09.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man); Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts); Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine); Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian); Ben Kingsley (The Mandarin).
Credits: Directed by Shane Black; written by Black and Drew Pearce, based on the comic books by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber; produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release.
rating: 3-1/2 stars
Surviving his own private Afghanistan hostage drama, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark returns home, as he terms it, "conflicted." You could say the same about "Iron Man," in which a war profiteer develops a conscience, an off-and-on politicized streak and a titanium alloy flying suit, with jets of flame shooting out of his palms.
As big-budget comic book adaptations go, this one's a gratifying freak - the right kind of conflicted, as well as quick-witted. It's a lot of fun. The style may be in the performances more than in the film itself, directed by Jon Favreau ("Elf," "Zathura: A Space Adventure"). But Favreau's picture, rumored to have cost $180 million, doesn't look, feel or play like a heavy-spirited blockbuster.
Mainly it has Robert Downey Jr. The newly insurable actor, who has had his run-ins with various chemicals in the past, plays this louche playboy with a knowing glint in his eye. You swear you can see that glint even when Stark's head is stuck inside the red-and-gold helmet with the slits for peepholes. And when he bandies the badinage about with Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Stark's gal Friday, Virginia "Pepper" Potts, you're seeing two actors who understand each other completely, who can mine the pulp fictions at hand for both earnestness and laughs. Has there ever been a comic book movie with such high-comic fizz in the dialogue scenes?
The Iron Man created in 1963 by Stan Lee and company had some interesting wrinkles: He was an alcoholic as well as a hard-living hedonist who, as originally drawn, looked like a mustachioed Efrem Zimbalist Jr., or a variation on Clark Gable. Downey evokes a different sort of glamour, that of a famously self-destructive hipster fending off middle age as best he can. In the comic book original, Stark fell afoul of a Ho Chi Minh-styled dictator, returning to safety with shrapnel dangerously near his heart and a cylindrical metal canister planted in his chest. (It's electromagnetic, or non-returnable, or something.) The Vietnam-era Iron Man's mission was simple: destroy communism, one North Vietnamese at a time.
Times change, wars curdle and film producers must arrange for a new villain. Behold: the Taliban, finally good for something. In the film's prologue, Stark and his Air Force pal Rhodey (Terrence Howard in a functional role) meet in Afghanistan for a demonstration of Stark Industries' latest and most fearsome arms. Then comes an ambush, and Stark is captured by cave-dwelling insurgents and forced to create for them a horrible new weapon of mass destruction. Instead, with the help of a fellow prisoner (Shaun Toub), he creates a crude prototype of Iron Man and blasts his way to freedom.
Back in America with the magnetic chest canister keeping him alive, Stark has other battles, including a struggle for the future of Stark Industries waged with a steely colleague played by Jeff Bridges. It's a kick to see Bridges munching on an adversarial role such as this. Regarding the climactic metal-on-metal smackdown, well, no one (not even 14-year-old boys) will consider it the film's highlight. It doesn't impart a "Transformers" headache. But we've seen it before. Favreau is a solid director; what's missing is a sense of distinction and eccentricity in the big action sequences to augment his facility with actors. (He saves himself a bit role as Stark's chauffeur.)
The best scenes keep Stark front and center and riffing on the reluctant-superhero premise. In the sleek, well-appointed garage of his fab Pacific Coast mansion, Stark noodles with his new, improved Iron Man gear. Once he's airborne, Iron Man recalls the jet-pack days of "The Rocketeer" (a tasty film, though a big flop). What "The Rocketeer" lacked in star power, "Iron Man" has in spades. When Stark mutters lines of self-realization such as "I could ... actually do some good," Downey finds just the right spin. He's like Tobey Maguire in the first two "Spider-Man" pictures: an unlikely casting choice, but the only correct one in retrospect.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and brief suggestive content).
Running time: 2:06
Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark); Terrence Howard (Rhodey); Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane); Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts)
Directed by Jon Favreau; written by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby; photographed by Matthew Libatique; edited by Dan Lebental; music by Ramin Djawadi; production design by J. Michael Riva; produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. A Paramount Pictures release.