“I had just created demons and I didn’t even know it.” — Tony Stark
Redemption is defined as “the act of saving someone from a declined or corrupted state, and restoring him to a better condition.” It has been a hell of a week dear reader…Can I get a witness? I must confess this review is late, due to life’s unintended surprises rearing their ugly heads in my direction. It’s some coincidence that the theme of Iron Man 3 is redemption; and I’m hoping to redeem my tardiness with a well written analysis for you to enjoy. I’m sure Robert Downey Jr. can relate to the definition, as he is someone who has battled demons and come out on the other side a restored man. His alter ego Tony Stark battles his own dark side in Iron Man 3, the story of a road to redemption, after the deeds of his past come home to roost.
This isn’t the Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr, Marvel’s The Avengers) we’ve grown accustomed to. Sure, he’s still got that sardonic wit and a cool suit, but the once cocky superhero is now struggling with insomnia and panic attacks, following his experiences in New York alongside The Avengers. As he lays low making improvements to the Iron Man technology, a bold terrorist calling himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley, Hugo) is using explosive methods to teach America a lesson. To make matters worse, this terrorist is in cahoots with an old nemesis of Tony’s, a man by the name of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, Memento), humiliated by Stark years earlier. After an attack on his home destroys everything, Stark is left without his Iron man armor. Having to depend solely on his wits, Tony must work quickly to prevent The Mandarin from landing his final blow.
Let me tell ya, I love Robert Downey Jr. Not in a weird pervy way, mind you. I’m talking about his body of work. He has gone from sometime brat-packer to full-fledged superstar, outshining the members of his old ’80s club by leaps and bounds. In Iron Man 3, Downey shows why he is at the top of his profession, giving us another side to the usually self-confident billionaire Tony Stark. This time around, Tony is a conflicted man battling real fear for the very first time; not the fear of fighting evil, but fear that his past wrongs can cause him to lose the one thing he values most: his true love Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, Se7en)…Aww.
Iron Man 3 is a more plot-driven film than its predecessors. Here we get much more face time with RDJ sans the suit, and he has no problem holding his own without it. In fact, Tony spends more time out of the armor than in it. Everything that represents the outward manifestations of what we imagine Stark to be gets stripped away, and what’s left is simply the man himself. Now don’t go gettin’ all squirrely about the minimal suit time. There’s a reason Iron Man 3 was one of the most successful summer blockbusters of all-time, and that’s because it’s not just a retread of the first two films.
Never before have we seen Stark so vulnerable, struggling with insomnia and crippling anxiety. Instead of turning to the people who know and love him, our hero hides behind his work, neglecting Pepper and avoiding his good friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle, Crash). Paltrow and RDJ have tremendous onscreen chemistry, a familiarity that makes this relationship palpable. The playful banter between them is so well written and they deliver it with such ease that we feel like we’re listening in on a personal conversation. It’s easy to see why Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard (Rhodey in the first Iron Man), as he and RDJ have a much better rapport, and Cheadle is a gifted funny man.
In the midst of the turmoil that has become Tony Stark’s life, Iron Man 3 dramatically switches gears and Tony winds up in the small town of Rose Hill, Tennessee, looking for clues to help him fight The Mandarin. The film takes on a whole different feel here; it’s more of a character study of Tony, who is all alone, without his technology and immense resources to fall back on. But a bright young boy named Harley (Ty Simpkins, Insidious) comes to Tony’s aid, who isn’t intimidated by the famous Stark name, and sees Tony for who he truly is. Harley is wise beyond his years, an important asset to Stark who is totally out of his element. There is one powerful scene where Harley and Tony are on the phone while Tony is driving down the road. Something causes Stark to go into one of his panic attacks, as he pulls over and unable to move. Staying clear headed and calm, Harley is able to talk Stark off the ledge and nudge him towards a solution to his problem. Simpkins is more than just a cute kid prop; this young dude is integral to Tony’s journey.
It’s not all touchy feely though. There’s still plenty of action, cool special effects, and of course that famous flying red and gold suit, but Iron Man 3 puts RDJ front and center, and he is the reason the film works so well. He’s less superhero and more man; one who realizes he has to decide what is truly important. This brings us back to that word — “Redemption.” Tony Stark went from rich playboy to Iron Man without any real transformation of the person he was inside. True redemption requires one to face the very thing you need to be redeemed from. Here, Tony finally faces the man he used to be and reconciles it with the man he wants to be.
Presented in beautiful 2.40:1/1080p HD widescreen, Iron Man 3 (Blu-ray) gives us vivid colors and crisp imagery that makes it easy to see the faster moving sequences without the blurring that often occurs in the format. The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track is booming when it needed to be, yet still highlights composer Brian Tyler’s wonderful score. Bonus features include include six featurettes, two of which are by far the best…
* “Deconstructing The Scene: Attack On Air Force One” — A behind-the-scenes look at one of the more exciting action set pieces. This was already an impressive scene, but when broken down into its bits and pieces, it makes what you see in the final cut all the more exciting. This isn’t just green screen magic, but the result of brave stunt men and women who literally jump out of a perfectly good airplane in order to give those moments a sense of realism that mere CG could never do.
* “Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter” — This original short film is an account of Captain America’s sweetie, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and her career after Steve Rogers’ departure. This slick little ditty makes me excited about the upcoming sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
In addition, we also receive “Jarvis: A Second Screen Experience,” an exclusive Behind-The-Scenes Look Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, “Marvel’s Iron Man 3 Unmasked,” a Gag Reel, and Deleted/Extended Scenes, as well as DVD and iTunes Digital copies of the film.
At its core, Iron Man 3 is a fun action picture that doesn’t take a political stance or lay down some heavy preachy message. This is a film franchise that sets out to entertain, and for three installments it did just that. I don’t know if this is the last of the Iron Man movies, but if it is, what a way to go out!
The man in the can is Not Guilty.
Iron Man 3 (Blu-ray)
2013, Paramount, 130 minutes, PG-13 (2013)
VIDEO: 2.40:1 (1080p) AUDIO: DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English), DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (French), Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish) SUBTITLES: English (SDH), French, Spanish
EXTRAS: Second Screen Experience, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Featurettes, Comme ntary, Short Film, Sneak Peek, Gag Reel, DVD Copy, Digital Copy ACCOMPLICES: IMDB