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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Iron Man 3 (3-D) | Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Don Cheadle, Review |

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Iron Man 3  (3-D) | Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Don Cheadle, Review |


The titular character, brought to the big screen and personified by the charismatic Robert Downey, Jr., once more, has his hands (and suits) full in this multi-villain escapade.

Beginning with a flashback from 1999, Stark and scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) meet disabled scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who offers them a ground floor opportunity in his fledgling company Advanced Idea Mechanics.  Hansen is the inventor of an experimental regenerative treatment called Extremis.  Stark takes a pass, leaving Killian in the lurch, never a good idea in stories like this.

The present day Stark, susceptible for the first time to uncharacteristic anxiety due to his Avengers experience, now presides over a fleet of Iron Man suits, to the dismay of long-time, live-in girlfriend and Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).  

Meanwhile, a televised terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) takes responsibility for a bombing spree that puzzles intelligence agencies.  Time for Stark to snap out of his funk when his security chief Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is injured in one such bombing.  Time for a Marvel Comics superhero.  

Stark’s subsequent televised taunt to The Mandarin ends in the destruction of his home, right after Maya Hansen reappears to warn him.  Stark is believed to be killed in the attack, but is flown unconscious in one of his Iron Man suits guided by A.I. entity J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just a Really Very Intelligent System) to rural Tennessee to begin a long and convoluted search for clues that will lead him to reasons for the bombings, the whereabouts of The Mandarin and culpability by association at the highest levels of world power.  Vague enough for you?

Along the way, Stark gets unlikely assistance from a young boy named Harley (Ty Simkins) eventually gathering enough clues to lead him to Miami, where plot twists lurk around every corner.  James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is back as Iron Patriot (formerly War Machine) and joins the frenzied fray which includes the separate abductions of the U.S. President (William Sadler) and Pepper. Aldrich Killian pops up with a few red-hot (literally) henchmen-and women in tow.  Oh, and the whole adventure takes place during the Christmas season, as if more shiny objects were needed.

Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark is the draw here, and none of the other cast members can touch him.  Kingsley and Cheadle come close, and Favreau can be appreciated for his earnest bumbling, but Paltrow, Hall, and Pearce are remarkably unremarkable.

Writer/Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) plants a plethora of perpetrators in Stark’s way, ensuring that the explosions and confrontations keep the metal men (the suits are remote-controlled by J.A.R.V.I.S.) pervading and pummeling the premises.  There are spectacular visuals; an Air Force One rescue sequence is one of the best in the film.

Black, however, offers up too much of a good thing, pinballing the action into an almost incoherent warp-speed flight into an array of battles with an assortment of villains that muddy up the plot and turn out to be inconsequential – just included to string together CGI possibilities and cram more of what the film industry thinks the audience craves*.  Well, most of the audience, anyway.  Okay, some of the audience, but there’s no harm in raising the bar just a few inches, especially with a brilliant character like Stark.

*Hint:  it’s not mindless, show-offy effects at the expense of a good story.  That goes for you, too, 3-D.

Yes, the iconic Stan Lee makes a tiny appearance in the film, and the patient viewer will be rewarded for sitting through the cast-of-thousands post-credits with a final scene.  

Stark, as you well know, must always have the last word.


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