Director: Shane Black
Writers: Drew Pearce (screenplay), Shane Black (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow
Writer and screenplay supremo Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero) helms the third installment after Jon Favreau could not agree terms and had a falling out with Marvel. This is actually only his second directorial feature after Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so not terribly experienced in that department but as a script writer he certainly has some great credentials and credits to his name.
We start in Nineteen ninety-nine in Switzerland, Tony Stark (Downey Jr. in a more subdued role this time around) gives us a brief monologue of his past where he meets Aldrich Killian (a good Guy Pearce) and how is actions subsequently created a monster without him ever realising or knowing. We also meet Maya Hanson (The Prestige) who is a genetic botanists who is close to a breakthrough with cellular regeneration.
For the rest of the film we follow Tony who has developed severe anxiety issues while churning out new Iron Man suits left, right and center. His latest suit, the Mark 42 provides the majority of the laughs in the third film and congratulations are in order to give a suit some semblance of ‘character’ and almost make it life-like in itself. Unfortunately this is where most of the humour is left as this is a very different film to the first two offerings we got.
We also get a lot more story in this one too, with really only two big action scenes to speak of. I do have to admit that at times this does drag out somewhat and meanders around, never really seeming to have a direction or true focus. This is also a much more personal film regarding Tony and those around him. There are some real poignant moments and it almost all seems more of a goodbye and farewell film than anything else.
As for characters, Happy (Favreau) is back and is ridiculous as ever. He has a more prominent role this time but it is limited to the start of the film. He may not have been directing the third installment but it is good to see his character as he is always likeable. The Mandarin himself is an interesting concept as a terrorist wanting to wreak devastation on America but takes far too long to really get to him and just starts to becomes annoying eventually. Kingsley though is brilliant as always in his role.
Don Cheadle as Rhodes takes a rather large comfy back seat until the final act and William Sadler as the President is very much wasted, his part really could have gone to anyone and it would not have made much difference. Pepper (Paltrow) also has much less to do though they somewhat redeem that in the final explosive scene by literally turning her into a semi-God capable of kicking even Tony’s ass.
I also personally didn’t feel that turning the film into a kid family movie half way through worked either. I can see why it was done but really, there could have been a hundred other ways of making the same point and message. It just threw me out for a while and I think Black missed a beat there in all honesty. That pretty much sums up this third Iron Man film though, while not a bad film it never really reaches the heights of the first two films.
The soundtrack from the first two films is also missing and altogether this just feels and looks like a different beast. The two big action scenes are very well done (especially the assault on Tony’s house) but they are perhaps too few and far between. The quick wit and one-liners are also largely missing and what there is, is certainly not to the quality of the previous films.
Overall this is an odd film in the Iron Man and Marvel franchise. After a couple of near misses with the Hulk and Captain America the films were getting more solid, culminating in The Avengers. With this, they appear to have taken a step backwards again. Not a bad film but rather perhaps a different film than we were maybe expecting from Marvel given the style and substance of the first Iron Man films.
The Sage’s Rating: