Iron Man 3 Review: When a film rakes in over 300 million dollars overseas prior to the U.S. opening you know it is setting up some great buzz. Yes, Iron Man 3 holds up well and is not only the best of the Iron Man films, it is one of the most solid of all the Marvel and D.C. comic book heroes translating to film. It is as if the producers and the director looked at the legacy of the comic book hero on film – Christopher Reeve as Superman, Christian Bale as Batman, the Spiderman movies and decided to perfect the formula by taking it all up a notch.
Iron Man 3 brings in lots of robots, of course, and as stated in my review of the second epic, the robot vs. robot was an incredibly artful moment in Iron Man Two, so putting a spin on that angle works very nicely here.
Think about it, the strongest X-Men foe in the early days of Professor X was the sinister Sentinels (an idea lifted in miniature fashion for the Matrix series). That we only got a taste of those fearsome (robot) machines in a “holo-deck” of one X-Men film is a good reason why the more popular Marvel franchise – X-Men – is outdone by a lesser character – Iron Man. With a strong actor in Robert Downey Jr. and very tight scripts all that is needed is a better villain that what The Avengers faced, the one big flaw in an otherwise great movie.
The Mandarin is a superb – and quite eerie – foe from the world of Marvel’s Dr. Strange, a hero yet to show up on the silver screen. But having the Mandarin as a clone of Osama Bin Laden, though effective, is not the best use of great material. Which is probably why the focus here is less on the villain and more about Tony Stark, hero, in the same fashion as Timothy Dalton in his two James Bond films.
Where Dalton’s Bond was more of your ear-to-the-ground spy – especially in the superb License to Kill, Tony Stark is allowed to use his brains more than his armor, and this very conscious approach builds storyline for future episodes. Heck, at the very end of the film – which had almost the entire audience sitting through the credits for a glimpse of more (and they were rewarded), the screen says “TONY STARK WILL RETURN”, just as the James Bond franchise has generated anticipation in the final shot of each “chapter.”
The iron in the man here is fortitude, iron will, using ingenuity to outsmart the odds that are against the creative inventor. It’s fun, with good use of Downey Jr’s comic skills and timing, the movie stakes out its own territory while still delivering more explosions than even Bradley Cooper’s A-Team could ever muster.
Lots of explosions, with the true villain coming off more like Pierce Brosnan’s opponent in Goldeneye than Ben Kingsley’s ruthless megalomaniac, what we moviegoers were sold in the trailers and early promotion.
Iron Man 3 Review – TV Spot
It is not perfect, though, as the sinister Mandarin could have been more about Dr Strange’s opponent, James Mandarin out of Greenwich Village – than the obvious terrorist to fit these modern times The Master” having his finger on the throat of Iron Man throughout the drama would have made for more fun for this critic, but there’s not much other than that to complain about. Robert Downey Jr. has taken a lesser-known fictional character and made him larger than life. It also cements Downey as one of the best actors of the 21st century, giving his series of real-life problems, a validation that some probably thought impossible way back when.
Another key moment for me during the screening was turning around to look at the audience. With their 3-D glasses in place the audience itself looks like a science fiction movie, a sort of real-life moment from John Carpenter’s “They Live” or a parody of the 1950s 3-D experiment. Over sixty years later filmmakers have found a way to turn the 3-D technology into pure gold.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.