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iron man 3
Click for full sized poster

Iron Man 3

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall and Ben Kingsley
Screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black
Based on Marvel comics characters created by Stan Lee; Don Heck, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Directed by Shane Black

IN SHORT: "In this issue, everybody dies!". It's a good thing <vbg> [Rated PG-13. 130 minutes]

Any fanboy will recognize the X-Men shout-out -- the IN SHORT quote was from a cover in the classic Chris Claremont/ John Byrne run which has served as foundation for the second generation of Marvel characters. Iron Man 3 roots itself in first generation characters though what it has done with the Fu Manchu rip-off character called The Mandarin is so Second Gen that it will have aging fanboys writhing in a frenzy. We mean those fanboys who have no life, to speak of, that is. The aging fanboy within yours Cranky appreciates enough explosions and destruction found in Iron Man 3 that it mimics a Michael Bay film; though this film actually has a story. As for Ben Kingsley's take on The Mandarin . . . it's a clever retcon (but we have this thing about not giving away Third Act surprises so we aren't going to)We also have this rule about movies not requiring a ticket buyer to know anything about anything to understand the film they've paid good money to see. Then again, if you're walking in to a movie with the number "3" after the main title -- even if it is sorta kind #4 if you include The Avengers, which is referenced here and there throughout Iron Man 3 -- and you expect full explanations, well, we gave up on explaining things or expecting that the third film in a trilogy explain things close to a decade ago.

The important things are recapped early on in the film. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are still the happy loving couple they were at the end of IM2. Potts runs Stark Industries. Stark tinkers in a lab in the basement of his Malibu mansion. That tinkering, when first seen, introduces us to the 42nd iteration of the Iron Man armor. Tony Stark's former bodyguard, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has been promoted to Chief of Security for Stark Industries. He takes to the job enthusiastically, which makes most everyone at Stark miserable. People at Stark, as it turns out, are stupid.  Some nutcase calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) has been randomly bombing public places all across the U.S. of A, and then breaking into video streams to boast of his triumphs. One of those bombings will affect Tony Stark personally and, well, remember the Bruce Banner line from the Hulk movies about "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry"? Stark gets capital "A" Angry.

But first . . . we flash back to a tech conference of some kind in Berne, Switzerland. The year is 1999 and Tony Stark is a skirt chasing drunkard rich techie who blows off a pushy, poorer techie named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) in favor of bedding a much more enticing fellow conferee named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). Killian doesn't take kindly to being blown off and, back in the present day, he is meeting with Stark CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to present the result of years of labor. It's a kind of "diss me and I'll prove my ideas are valid and worthy" kind of meeting. Killian's idea is summed up in an algorithm -- A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) -- and at its heart it is a biological mechanism called "Extremis." Extremis, essentially, reprograms human D.N.A. to, essentially, regrow lost body parts. Potts sees an ulterior motive in bringing this technology to Stark Industries,  a company still reknowned as the developer of weapons for the military. She turns Killian down.

Too late. All Killian wanted was to get through the front door and, from here on out, lots of things go BOOM. Happy Hogan literally gets blown to pieces. Pepper Potts is kidnapped, the better to encourage her boss to fall off the wagon. More importantly, Tony Stark learns how to fight back without benefit of the armor that has kept him alive for (at least) the past two movies.

Re-read that last sentence. Even as the world goes to pieces all around him, the Tony Stark character undergoes remarkable growth. You may miss that as the last half of the film, essentially a non-stop team-up reuniting Stark and his military BFF Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), whose USA branded armor has been renamed "Iron Patriot" for reasons that lock on to  Third Act events that we won't spill.

We'll give you a hint:  Captain America can lead Army infantry forces. Iron Patriot can lead SHIELD warriors. Now contemplate why the (essentially) private army that is SHIELD would need a Captain America type leader and you might figure out the major subplot that runs the back end of the field. Unless you've already gleaned that info from other internet sites, in which case why are you even reading this? You know we're not giving anything away  . . . sheesh. But if you buy into that whole "child inside the adult" psychobabble, we will say that any boy inside an Iron Man fan should be delighted by the last battle sequence. On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Iron Man 3, he would have paid . . .


We will warn any parent bringing a six or seven year old child into this PG-13 Rated film that there is one sequence involving torture and Pepper Potts -- Tony gets similarly tortured later in the film. I'm just being a sexist pig -- that I wouldn't want any single digit kidlet seeing.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.