Look, I don’t know what the point of this review is. It’s Iron Man 3. The fourth Iron Man movie, if you count The Avengers, which you probably should. There’s been no grand changes. Shane Black, taking over from Jon Favreau, hasn’t suddenly thrown up his hands and said ‘Fuck it, it’s a deep introspection piece and we’ll shoot it for five grand.’ I can’t picture anyone out there who’s thinking ‘Oh, hmm, maybe I shouldn’t, I guess I’m just not sure.’ You already know whether or not you’re going to this movie, regardless of what I tell you.
So what am I doing here? What is the purpose of reviewing Iron Man 3? Who is this for? That one guy who perpetually perches on a fence despite all evidence, waiting for some reviewer to go ‘YEAH!’ before plunking down his 14 dollars and enjoying a movie that is, by all rights, already a known commodity? Here you go then, guy: YEAH!
Despite my existential quandary, I’m still tempted to bite the bullet and do the reviewer thing. You know what I mean: plot summarizing, call out some character moments and acting choices and cinematographic standouts. However, if you’re still here I don’t want to waste your time. Instead, let’s do a lightning round ‘Is this still an Iron Man movie?’ check-list:
1) Robert Downey Junior? Check. In spades. A lot of him, actually. He spends the majority of his time outside of the suit, untouched by the CGI that’s the real source of Iron Man’s superpowers, and we get to see that patented Tony Stark Snark rolled out heavier than ever before. Shane Black knows how to use Robert Downey Junior better than most as seen in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and he does his best to ratchet up Downey’s performance here.
2) Other strong characterisations? Check. Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle are still in good form and they both get some fantastic moments in the film. Cheadle particularly gets to throw out a few of his own jokes, although they’re barely within spitting distance of Downey’s constant torrent of humour. I won’t go too deeply into Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley‘s roles in the film for fear of inflicting the horrors of The Spoilers on you, but they’re both great. Also, Rebecca Hall stands in front of the camera and reads lines, so, I guess that’s good?
3) Plot? Uh. Sure. Check. Check minus, I guess. I mean, it’s there; stuff happens and there are twists and turns (actually, a really great twist!), but this isn’t exactly a Swiss watch of a movie. It’s a big, pretty clock that’ll tell you when it’s lunch, but you bought it because of how great it makes your house look. Speaking of which…
4) Setpieces? Oooooooooooooo, baby. Check. There are piles and piles of Cool Iron Man Shit in this movie, and that $200 million budget is right up on the screen. I won’t really get into them because, frankly, they’re too cool to really give away, but I will tell you about a measuring stick I have for these sorts of things and where Iron Man 3 falls on it. In big event movies like this, there’s a certain line. At one end, the line says ‘Boy, look at all these SFX! This must have cost a lot of money. Good for them.’ At the opposite end, the line says ‘HOW’S TONY STARK GONNA GET OUT OF THIS ONE?! OH, NO WAY, WHAT A BADASS!’ Big event movies can fall anywhere between these points, but the closer you are to the second point, the better the set pieces. Iron Man 3 pretty consistently buries the needle at the second point.
5) Tie-ins to the big Marvel universe? Check, barely. Although I will give props for Black and co. recognising that the events of The Avengers were a big deal for Stark and the world at large.
Once again, I’m not quite sure what else you want from this review. Those points up there are what made Iron Man special in the first place, they’re the ingredients that make the special sauce. If you read all of that, have a history with the Iron Man movies and are still waiting for a direct recommendation, a one word answer that will tell you whether to buy your ticket, then…Well, I’d wonder a little about your predilections as a movie-goer and would urge you to be in better touch with your tastes. But, in lieu of that: