This review is originally published at Pinoyexchange
When Iron Man came out 5 years ago it surprised the industry. The superhero, while popular with comic book fans, was not as known as Batman and Superman were to the general public. It was not expected to set box office records but it proved many people wrong. Iron Man was the start of what would become a billion-dollar superhero movie franchise that culminated with the very successful The Avengers last year. Iron Man 3 is said to be the beginning of Marvel Studio's Phase 2 and it definitely starts off with a bang.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) struggles with anxiety attacks and sleep deprivation months after the events in The Avengers. He chooses to stay out of the limelight and keeps himself busy updating his Iron Man gear while girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) manages his business. But it all changes when he impulsively challenges terrorist The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) on national TV. When The Mandarin attacks his home, Tony is caught off guard and the world he knows for so long is completely shattered. Presumed dead by the public and without the convenience of his advanced devices, Tony must fight his way back with the limited resources at his disposal.
In Iron Man 3, we get to know more of Tony Stark outside his cool demeanor (and suit) as we see him defenseless and very vulnerable. It's an effective way to see the character, who had been in 3 movies already, in a new light as it prevents the character from becoming stale (which was the common criticism with long running movie franchises). This plot point also raises the stakes higher and makes for a more compelling story. However, there's an important plot twist in the movie which might polarize viewers especially the longtime readers of the comic books. It involves the handling of character which was very different from the comic books. As a non-comic book reader, the change did not bother me at all and I think that the twist with that character worked out perfectly fine with the plot. However, the twist weakens the 'threat' which had a very powerful setup. It's quite hard to dig deeper with the subject without spoiling anything so all I can say that it is best to watch the movie without being exposed to spoilers.
There's nothing much to left to say about Robert Downey Jr's performance as Tony Stark as he really made the character his own. Of course he easily pulls off Tony's sarcastic remarks and endearing quirks but Iron Man 3 had a bigger emphasis on characterization and emotion but Downey rose to the occasion and effectively played Stark's vulnerability. Paltrow and Cheadle were good as well as their chemistry with Downey is still strong. However, the standouts in the film are Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce as they give their full commitment to their respective roles. Kingsley in particular shows his impressive range as this movie proves even more that he can pretty much play any role he is given to.
As for the visual effects, it is very polished and a pure spectacle. There are two noteworthy sequences which are mind blowing. The first one was The Mandarin's attack on Tony's house, a devastating set piece which will leave you breathless and the other one was the rescue of passengers after falling from an airplane. The way they pulled that scene off is just amazing as it was nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time.
The blockbuster season officially starts and what a way to begin with a movie as entertaining as Iron Man 3. Other than the twist which might be jarring to some, Iron Man 3 delivered with its spectacular action set pieces, witty dialogue and unwavering energy from start to finish.
Rating: 9 / 10
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