Iron Man is my favorite superhero and Tony Star’s return definitely did not disappoint. The film is everything one hopes for out of a Shane Black, Robert Downey Jr. reunion. Another plus, this film is just called Iron Man 3. Not Iron Man 3 followed by a colon and some obnoxious line. Take note, sequel writers.
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/4
Robert Downey Jr. has impeccable timing, both in line delivery and physicality. That requires camerawork that hits those marks with him, and I could write an entire review about the greatest rack focus shot in the history of rack focus shots. This is when the focus switches from a record player to Tony Stark seductively dancing. Just like that, John Toll became one of my favorite directors of photography.
Toll has a diverse style. He can probably figure out the cinematography for any genre based on his variety of work so far. His films include Almost Famous, Braveheart, Tropic Thunder, The Thin Red Line, Gone Baby Gone, Adjustment Bureau, Cloud Atlas and even It’s Complicated. Fun fact, he is also the cinematographer for Breaking Bad’s pilot episode. What a guy, right?
The old: Legend has it that when Robert Downey Jr. was born, Stan Lee held him like Rafiki held Simba over a cliff in The Lion King. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Tony Stark is Robert Downey Jr. Everybody knows this. It’s a law of the universe. You know you love it when Tony summons his suit with his smart-guy Jedi powers now too.
Paul Bettany, who voices Jarvis, has so much comedic timing for his role. This is the most underrated performance in the trilogy. His robotic sass and nonchalance is perfect. You keep doing you, Jarvis.
Likewise, it’s great seeing Jon Favreau in a somewhat larger role. Pepper shows off her badass side that even throws Tony off guard and Rhodey can’t even keep a password a secret from Tony. Someone send these three on a vacation.
The New: Ty Simpkins plays Harley, Tony’s newfound partner in crime. This kid is a great actor who can hold his own with Downey Jr. Not a lot of adult actors even say they pull that off.
The re-generating characters became a little cliché, but this is a comic-book action movie so that’s what it needs. Honestly, I wanted one of them to regenerate and say, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”
Without giving anything away, Ben Kingsley’s performance did not sell me until halfway through the film. You hate Guy Pearce the entire time. Even when you should feel bad for him, you hate him. He’s that annoying nerd who gets too much power, like in The Social Network when Rooney Mara tells Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg “…you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”
Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. cannot get it wrong when working together. Black, new to directing a Marvel film, knows exactly which character needs screen time devoted to them and when. Because of this, the story never lags. This was the problem with Iron Man 2, where too many characters played by talented actors did not fit seamlessly into the story. Iron Man 3 corrects that mistake, creating a better flow.
Shane Black has the gift of screenplay dialogue and structure and the biggest shame is how underrated he is. I haven’t quoted an action movie right after leaving the theatre this much since Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. His character duos, such as in Lethal Weapon, always come with the right dynamic and this man gets voiceovers right when so, so many get it wrong. He knows how to make voiceovers important to a story rather than a cop-out for actually showing it. If you don’t believe me, see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang right now. Literally go watch it right now because if you haven’t seen it, then there’s a huge, cinematic hole in your life.
Fun fact: Black’s incorporation of Christmas in his screenplays inspired one of the greatest, well-structured action films ever, Die Hard. THANK YOU! Black is a motivated writer who sticks to the Christmas setting in his films for good reason. In this great article, Black explains why Christmas figures so prominently into his stories and how Harley represents a Christmas Carol-like ghost of Tony Stark’s past. If you don’t think these reasons are a cool way to tell a story then I don’t know you, bye.
I thought my perfect half-Iranian Ramin Djawadi, worked on Iron Man 3, but I guess I was wrong. He did work on Iron Man though. Anyways, Brian Tyler does an amazing job with the music and I feel like a bad person for not giving him enough credit. Recently working with a musician myself for the first time in scoring a film, I realize how important they are to completing the movie. Those actions sequences, as elaborate as they are, may not entertain in the slightest without the work that Brian Tyler adds to the film. He hits those cues perfectly too. Even if you know where they story ends up, Tyler does a great job building the tension and keeping an audience invested in the scene.
Looks like Robert found a friend to help him deal with all that anxiety. Even better news… Tony Stark will be back.
And those end credits were pretty damn cool and nostalgic for the last 5 years.