Yeah–I said it–IM3 ROCKS!! Big time. Welcome Summer of 2013…and what a start! Marvel Studios did not disappoint and honestly, after the hugely successful and popular Avengers this could have been less than just because how could it compare to such awesomeness? But, that is not the case, at all. Under the direction (and co-written by) Shane Black, both Tony Stark and the series enter the realm of greatness. It has all that is best about the Superhero universe–a troubled hero–check, a fantastic villain–check, humor/fun quota–check and awesome badassery–double-check!
We must begin with Robert Downey, Jr. and his brilliant (continual) performance of Tony Stark. If ever an actor and character were meant to be–it is these two. Wonderful. I enjoyed every second. His perfect comedic timing and superb delivery is not wasted. Yet, RDJ is also allowed to really shine dramatically, too. Realistically disturbed and haunted by the events in New York while with the Avengers, Stark is more human this time around and forced to deal with his frailty and many of his other issues. I loved this approach and was pleased with the arch that shows real growth and potential for the character.
And as I’ve said before, a supporting cast can help elevate a film and the IM universe is a well oiled machine (sorry, couldn’t find another way to say it :D). Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect as Pepper Potts, again and her chemistry with RDJ is so easy and strong, that it is a pleasure to watch them. Don Cheadle is solid, as usual and had some great moments. Jon Favreau (director of 1 & 2–ex producer of 3) was generous to show up and proved he is a cool dude. And I can not leave out Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis and all the suits–I love him! This time around they really focus on the relationship between Stark and the suits–and how they are an extension of who he has become–and I thought exploring this aspect of the ego was a smart touch. (Side-note: I must confess–I love the robot guys (fire extinguisher one–heart) and they have a great moment.)
Now, on to the villains–who can make or break any film–but especially a superhero film. Well, this is the splitting point for many. I am not a comic book reader–so, I will not be able to feel disappointed– I came in without expectations and totally enjoyed the villains here. Sir Ben Kingsley is wonderful as Mandarin–his performance is strong and pleasantly unexpected. Guy Pierce’s Aldrich Killian is fantastic! This guy is good and he is having a blast. Chewing up scenery like crazy! I also like Rebecca Hall, yet her character was the least developed and seem like an afterthought. But we did have some henchmen with swagger and that is always fun–nice job, James Badge Dale and Stephanie Szostak.
The most pleasant surprise for me was Shane Black’s direction. Known more as a screenwriter, I was not sure he could handle the amount of action required for these big summer films–but smartly, Black scales down the over-the-top sequences and somehow is able to make it feel grittier and real. Bringing Stark to earth allows him the opportunity to present the action with a fresh angle. Well done.
What else can I say? I laughed. A lot. I was choked up, in parts. I was awed and impressed. I left bumped and ready to watch it again. So, yeah…it rocked! My favorite of the series–hands down.
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