When a filmmaker or studio sets out to make a trilogy of films, there’s almost a guarantee the final film in the series will be a letdown in one form or another. “Spider-Man 3,” “Terminator 3,” definitely “Aliens 3” and, heck, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3” to name but a few. Unfortunately, “Iron Man 3” also sort of ascribes to that tradition. That isn’t to say it’s a bad action film by any means, it just feels a little out of place with its two predecessors.
Director Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), who replaced Jon Favreau at the helm, does a decent job and the film is chocked full of Tony Stark’s snarky wit, but the overall feel is somehow…different.
Perhaps the quasi-supernatural doors opened by “The Avengers” and “Thor” are to blame for that change in feel, or perhaps the simple change in directors is the key, but there were still other elements missing. For starters, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) spends far more screen time as the unarmored Tony Stark than as the decidedly bad-ass Iron Man.
And something of perturbation from the outset was the complete lack of what had been made synonymous with the hard rock/metal aspect of the Iron Man character in the earlier films: musical accompaniment—both diegetic and non-diegetic—from AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Both earlier films used songs from the British arena rock band AC/DC as opening anthems, which served to set the films’ respective moods.
Okay. The negatives aside, let’s move on the qualities of the latest and—from the various hints scattered about both within and without the movie—possibly last Iron Man film.
Casting is one of those qualities. Aside from Downey, Paltrow and Cheadle, Ben Kingsley performs with his usual and expected aplomb as the Mandarin—the “head” of the terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings.
The Mandarin surfaces in “Iron Man 3” by setting off a series of lethal explosions, none of which leave any evidence as to their origins. One such bombing demands a vengeful response from Tony Stark, which, in turn makes him the focus of the Mandarin’s wrath.
His home attacked, his advanced weaponry largely destroyed, Tony sets out from a weakened position to attempt to take down the Mandarin once and for all.
Although “Iron Man 3” may not engender the same feel as its brace of predecessors, it is, nevertheless, replete with action, humor and fine acting, establishing it as a solid action entrance to the summer and it will indeed be a disappointment should Tony Stark decide to hang up the iron suit for good.
Ammo Dump rating: 8 out of 10 Iron Soldiers
(Rated PG-13; 130 min.)
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