With relief, the hype of the Marvel Cinematic Universe™ now makes some sense to me, beyond serving as a blockbuster cash cow and providing a vehicle for grown adults to loudly announce their regressive tendencies. Let’s face it, no one over the age of 14 really cares about Thor‘s silly hammer. Somehow the Iron Man films have passed me by, with the exception of the standout role of RDJ (Robert Downey Jr. to his friends) in the Avengers Assemble ensemble (ha). Having now seen the third and caught up with the previous two, I’m struggling to think of any recent big budget science fiction films which are quite so entertaining. I use the term ‘science fiction’ purposefully as besides the performance of RDJ, it’s the interaction between man and technology which elevates this superhero into something really interesting.
Ben Kingsley shines as the villainous Mandarin, posting insidious Al-Qaeda-esque videos while spreading terror across the world. Meanwhile, the post-traumatic fallout of ‘New York’ plagues the mind of Tony Stark, leading the billionaire to obsessively develop his range of super suits, eventually coming out of his slumber when the Stark Industries security chief is caught up in one of the Mandarin’s bombings.
Despite all the rumours that this might be his final Iron Man outing, RDJ’s charisma is unrelenting. Stark’s new range of technology is awe-inspiring and everything about the film understands precisely how to have fun with its components, including the adrenaline pumped soundtrack which will put the biggest and most childish smile on anyone’s face. How often these days does a fantasy/sci-fi film receive a genuinely memorable main theme, matching the action perfectly? It’s humour and sense of adventure proves that the ‘darker and bolder’ route which has become so trendy for post-Batman Begins sagas is not the only method to keep a series engaging. Instead, Iron Man 3 stays true to itself and its young target audience and the film is better for it. It is details like the almighty industrial complex which forms the backdrop for the film’s final, perfectly choreographed battle which make Iron Man 3 not only successful, but memorable. CGI can look brilliant with the right artistic inspiration. Throughout the film, there’s a feeling that the stakes mean something because they are clearly defined in the first and second acts. The story and dialogue tick along with verve, slapping me in the face for ever doubting that the Marvel Universe could suck me into its clenches.
Review by David Rank
Iron Man 3 is out now in the UK and out on 3rd May in the US. Running time 130 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).
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