Director: Shane Black
Writers: Drew Pearce (screenplay), Shane Black (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Sir Ben Kingsley
Synopsis: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.
Shane Black is one of those guys that fly’s under the radar, but he is an extremely talented writer and director. That being said, I’m very disappointed with his direction for Iron Man 3 and most of the blame goes to the marketing for this film. I came in with high expectations; looking for a serious-toned, dramatic, revenge story that would have lots of action and an epic ending. And the marketing made it out to be just that. However, Iron Man 3 is comedic on every level and while it tries to take itself serious, it doesn’t pull it off very well. Of course you’d expect comedy out of it given the series, but it has that Transformers-type, unnecessary comedy that detracts from the film. The serious layers become forced and heartless with almost zero direction. Without giving away spoilers, the direction they take with The Mandarin is extremely disappointing and probably the part that is most upsetting. This is where the marketing fails the film the most and it’s hard to go much further without giving too much away. The action sequences are good though and the final battle in the last 20 minutes was executed flawlessly. The visuals are stunning and probably the best in the series leaving you in amazing suspense in several cases. This is Black at his very best and I love what he did with the film on those levels. There’s an established relationship between Tony Stark and a kid that I thought was heart-felt and hilarious, which gave the film and the character of Tony Stark a different vibe than what we’ve seen before. It feels very random and out of nowhere, but it was executed well. The film is also set as a flashback from Stark’s perspective as he is narrating the story which I thought was a nice touch. I love how they played Stark and the ending is set up incredibly for what and who he will be going forward. Overall, while it was funny and the visuals were great, I walked out with a feeling that can be described simply in one word: disappointed.
Black is a talented writer and has written many films such as the Lethal Weapon series and his last movie he directed, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I’ve loved most of the films he’s put his hand too, but Iron Man 3 is not one of his better achievements (depending on how you look at it). If you’re looking for humor and fun, Black and Pearce’s script is good. The humor, while it doesn’t live up to the first two Iron Man‘s or The Avengers, is pretty good and even more colorful than the previous times we’ve seen Tony Stark. However the film doesn’t know if it’s a serious action-hero movie or a comedy that features superhero’s. Both the serious tone and the comedy feel lacking because they fight each other as to which one the film wants to be. The dialogue is strong and is a new revelation for Stark as he finds himself in some unfamiliar territory while being himself at the same time. The film for the most part floats on the surface except for the narrative of The Mandarin. Again, can’t go much further without giving spoilers, but it’s not what I was hoping for and is very different than the comics. Pepper Potts while mostly in the background, gets a bigger role in some ways that will set up her character more in future films. Her relationship with Stark was just set in fast forward. Again, because of the film’s ambiguity and randomness, it mostly is just all over the place leaving you with an emptiness we didn’t expect coming off The Avengers.
Robert Downey Jr. is on his A game again in Iron Man 3. While I think the script doesn’t know if Stark should be serious or comedic, Downey Jr. delivers the lines well and brings that character to life once again. Downey Jr. is Tony Stark and it’ll be hard to see anyone else in that role. He’s incredible and he elevates the other actors and actresses around him. Gwenyth Paltrow is great as Pepper Pots again and while her role is more background, she delivers a punch at the end. Guy Pearce is an amazing bad guy and plays his character well without being too over the top. Sir Ben Kingsley is amazing in his role and while his character’s narrative is VERY lacking, he does an amazing job. The other supporting roles are good and what they need to be to make this film work. Some of the supporting characters bring unnecessary humor or are forced to deliver lines they don’t need to, but on a performance level they make it work.
I was very distracted by my disappointment of the story that I didn’t pay enough attention to Brian Tyler’s score. That being said, it wasn’t something that was outstanding enough to get my attention either. It was good and I liked it in the action sequences. I don’t think it lives up to the first two Iron Man score’s, but I’ll have to give it another listen to be fair about it. It’s good enough that I will want to listen to it outside the film and Brian Tyler is a pretty good composer so it’s worth giving it a little attention.
Overall Grade: B-