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Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark for Ironman 3. Shane Black takes over as the director in the latest movie.
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MOVIE REVIEW

Ironman 3
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow,
Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, and Ben Kingsley

New director gives Ironman 3 stylistic twist

MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 5/8/2013

The third installment of the Ironman franchise begins with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) recalling the events that have lead up to this moment, eliciting the decisions of his past and the effects on his current life. Taking over directing duties, Shane Black establishes an early tone that is different from the past films, mainly positioned with the separation of Ironman the machine and Tony Stark the man. The idea that Stark is affected, an emotion he suppresses most often, gives the film room to transition into interesting territory.

Stark is struggling with his place in the world, the foundations he’s believed altered by the revelations discovered in The Avengers film; those being the existence of powerful aliens and alternate galaxies. Stark is lost but also in love with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a relationship that could be the tie that is binding his mental wellness together. He is scared, induced into anxiety attacks whenever he examines the events of the battle in New York. A distraction comes in the form of a malevolent terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who has bio-engineered humans into fiery weapons of destruction. After an explosion in downtown Los Angeles, Tony Stark vows, publicly, vengeance on The Mandarin; however, as it usually goes, the villain has other plans for Stark.  

Black, who also co-wrote the script, provides some ingenious touches without completely changing the established essences that fans will be looking for. Though the serious natured tone is evident from the beginning, so are the lighter components that have made the series such a fan favorite.  The usual undercurrent of Tony Starks darkly satisfying comic humor is all the more tailored again by Downey’s performance. Black establishes early that the film is not a stand-alone feature but a piece of a greater puzzle, though it does hold up well without knowledge of the past-connected films. This aspect hindered the lackluster second film from progressing beyond the accumulated superhero hype and, unfortunately, the self-aware disposition that is pointed out in this film traps the narrative in this film for a few moments. As one young fan pointed out during a dire situation in the film, “why doesn’t Ironman just call Captain America for help?” This is an aspect hard to ignore without disregarding past events in the "Marvel Universe". Black handles this shift by offering enough ego from Stark, who wouldn’t ask for help in the first place. Also, providing enough support in the form of the freshly flag painted War Machine (Don Cheadle), now known by the friendlier moniker Iron Patriot, and the welcome utilization of Pepper Potts for assistance.

The cast is good again; Downey Jr. and Paltrow especially offer great chemistry, however their time together on screen is less than expected. Ben Kingsley is also very effective, giving The Mandarin a menacing presence that heightens the unpredictable disposition missing from past franchise villains.  Guy Pearce portrays a jaded scientist named Aldrich Killian who holds nothing but disdain for Stark; though his menace is promising, the character is very reminiscent of an Ironman 2 foe.

Robert Downey Jr. is one of the main reasons the Ironman franchise has succeeded. Showcasing more Tony Stark without the Ironman suit isn’t a bad thing because it allows the film to create a greater connection with the human characteristics that define Stark and the complicated relationship he has with the suit. Though the film lingers a bit in the second act and the accustomed, transparent superhero structure is very apparent; director Shane Black adds a much-needed human quality to the Ironman persona establishing a film that is both character driven and action packed.

Monte’s Rating
3.75 out of 5.00