Crash. Bang. ‘Iron Man 3.’
A review of “Iron Man 3,” a successful installment in the ongoing comic-book franchise starring Robert Downey Jr.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘Iron Man 3,’ ” with Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley. Directed by Shane Black, from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Black. 129 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content. Several theaters.
Does anyone else have a little bit of “Iron Man” fatigue? The lumbering, metal-suited superhero has turned up in four movies since 2008 (three in the title franchise, plus “The Avengers”), and while Robert Downey Jr.’s considerable charms haven’t quite worn thin, they’re getting awfully familiar. Nonetheless, “Iron Man 3” is definitely a big perk-up from the almost-but-not-quite-listless “Iron Man 2”; maybe hanging out with the Avengers was a tonic for him.
The plot’s not that different from the previous movies, or really any comic-book movie: Tony Stark, sardonic superhero and constant metal-suit tinkerer, struggles to balance life as a superhero versus life as a guy. A villain pops up: an international terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Bad things happen, from which Tony must save the world. Also on hand: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the Faithful Girlfriend/Damsel in Distress; Colonel Jim Rhodes, aka Rhodey (Don Cheadle), the Buddy Superhero Sidekick; mysterious Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), of the think tank A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics); sultry botanist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), who belongs to the well-known movie character category The Hot Scientist; a standard-issue Cute Kid with Tousled Hair (Ty Simpkins); and appearances by Joan Rivers, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him Stan Lee and the cast of “Downton Abbey.” (Yes, this movie has a wide reach.)
So, nothing particularly unexpected (except that “Downton Abbey” bit), but “Iron Man 3” zips along nicely, and it’s a kick to watch Tony in his lair, working his floating-in-the-air computer screens like the conductor of a virtual symphony. The 3D, as usual, doesn’t contribute much (and, as with many 3D movies, the image looks darker than it should), but the special effects are otherwise impressive, particularly an impromptu skydiving chain and a crash-bang sequence at the end involving construction cranes and a fiery pit. On the human front, Paltrow and Hall get short shrift (screenwriters Shane Black — who also directed — and Drew Pearce don’t seem interested in female characters), but Kingsley is a treat and Downey finds a funny, I-can’t-believe-I’m-bantering-with-a-kid chemistry with Simpkins.
All in all, it’s not quite as much fun as “The Avengers,” but “Iron Man 3” is as good as it needs to be, and maybe even a little better. Stick around through the (very long) final credits for a bonus scene that’s worth the wait.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org