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Iron Man 3

We’re just over a year removed from the earth-shattering geek-gasm that was Avengers Assemble, and the time has come for the rabid fan-boys to be fed once more. Our first course in the post-Avengers Marvel banquet is the third outing for old Shell Head himself, the Invincible Iron Man. It was of course Robert Downey Jr’s turn as Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie that kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic revolution, so it seems appropriate that the much anticipated ‘phase two’ run should start with the same character. And if Iron Man 3 is setting the tone for things to come we could well be in for a darker run up to Avengers 2.

Iron Man 3 has quite a different tone from the preceding movies, which is likely due to new director Shane Black trying to make his mark on the franchise.  The story revolves around an isolated and under equipped Tony Stark having to claw his way back from the edge of destruction without his normal super-tech trappings. His foes this time out are the mysterious Mandarin played by English thesp Sir Ben Kingsley and the evil tech company A.I.M. headed up by Guy Pearce (playing a Aldrich Killian rather than M.O.D.O.K., sadly). The overall plot  is heavily inspired by the highly-regarded Extremis arc from the comics, though I’d say it’s different enough to still provide a few surprises for even the dedicated Iron Man fans.

Overall, the film is undoubtedly good fun. I’d say it’s better than Iron Man 2 (which I still liked, though it was a touch unpopular) though maybe not up to the level of the original.  The action scenes are action packed, the effects are slick (as is to be expected these days) and Robert Downey Jr is a wise-cracking joy as always. But past all that, I can’t help but feel it was unsatisfying on a number of levels.  I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about the portrayal of the Mandarin but the way the character was depicted left me cold to be honest. I can’t say much more without dropping some major spoilers and I also feel compelled to say that Kingsley does an excellent job with the material he has to work with, but on the whole it just left me feeling a bit cheated.  I found the whole premise of Stark trying to struggle on without technology a bit baffling as well, when as far as I could tell it would have only taken one quick phone call and he’d have had a brand new  Iron Man suit delivered in hours, possibly with a side order of Dom Perigion and a couple of strippers. I’m all for  developing characters through adversity, but how about a bit of internal consistency? And after all the adversity Stark goes through, the tech-heavy spectacular finale seems a little too easy and a bit out of place..

There are rumblings that this could be Downey Jr’s last solo Iron Man outing (though I can only assume he’ll be in the Avengers movies still) and if that’s true then it would be a bit of a shame.  Iron Man 3 is a sufficiently entertaining summer blockbuster with snappy dialogue, slam bang action sequences and some fine performances (especially from Downey Jr and precious tyke Ty Simpkins) but if it’s to be Shell Head’s swansong then I’d want something more than that.  Maybe I’m expecting too much, but I’d say I’m only aspiring to the level set by the first Iron Man film or Avengers Assemble. Fingers crossed that the forthcoming Thor and Captain America films live up to my exacting standards.

The Ratings Kraken grudgingly raises seven of its ten hideous tentacles in salute to Iron Man 3.

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