Iron Man 3: Review Round Up

By Luke Caulfield , Updated May 02, 2013 11:33 AM EDT
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"Iron Man 3" is set to open wide in theaters nationwide on Friday, and will no doubt be a hit, riding high on success from "The Avengers," and Robert Downey Jr.'s immense popularity for the actor's fourth portrayal (five if you count his cameo at the end of "The Incredible Hulk") of Marvel's man in the iron mask, the dry witted billionaire Tony Stark. With a built-in audience, the movie's success is a foregone conclusion, but is it deserved?

The movie's plot almost reflects Marvel's anxiety about the film's performance at the box office following the blockbuster "Avengers." Set after the events of the film, Tony is in a bit of a rut. After he and his fellow Avengers conquer a group of invading aliens, he realizes that while he's still a big fish, his pond just got a whole lot larger. His "Avengers" experience in New York has left him shaken, and this Stark is a far cry from the one we've seen who once brazenly revealed his secret identity to a room full of reporters. Writes Entertainment Weekly, "Downey turns Tony Stark's reflexive motormouthed mockery into something at once dread-fueled and humane: a barely camouflaged expression of his fevered anxiety."

It's not long before the villain comes into play to jar Tony back into his senses, in this case it's Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. The villain's comic reliance on ten alien rings as the source of his power are suspended to make the character a bit more believable. As the mastermind behind several terrorist plots who makes extensive use of broadcasts, the parallel to Osama Bin Laden is hard to ignore. He even has the camo pants.

The first time we heard Kingsley speak as the villain in the movie's first trailer, I was a bit confused by his manner of speech. "You'll neveerrrrrrr, seeeee meeeee....coming." Kingsley's known as one of the best dramatic actors alive today, but his choice of roles lately have been a bit...off. After "The Dictator," and "Prince of Persia," I was a bit dubious when Marvel announced his involvement.


His role as the Mandarin is both critically praised and panned. NY Daily News says, "Kingsley's sinister turn is straight from a 1940s serial (and a funny alter ego is very Monty Python). He mixes well with the wry Downey, whose sass brings to mind an overcaffeinated auctioneer." At the same time, the NY Post said that the Mandarin is "unbearable...Though his logo features Arabic writing and swords like the one on the Saudi flag, and he is wearing a big bushy Islamist beard, he speaks in a bizarre accent that seems to be Kingsley's idea of what rural Americans sound like. The effect is like Osama bin Laden meets Waylon Jennings. You don't know if you're supposed to think Taliban or 'Hee-Haw.'"

The movie features an extensive cast but some see the sheer amount of characters as a weakness, much like some of the criticisms of "Iron Man 2." As the love interest of Tony's when the Mandarin's attacks target Stark personally, Paltrow's role as Potts is bigger than ever.

Peppered throughout the movie are other longitme Iron Man characters: Favreau as Hogan, Cheadle in the star spangled Iron Man armor re-christened as "Iron Patriot," Guy Pearce as the malevolent scientist Aldrich Killian, and for good measure, Xueqi Wang as the Radioactive Man-kinda. As the Village Voice writes, "the big problems with Iron Man 3 are less specific to the movie itself than they are characteristic of the hypermalaise that’s infected so many current mega-blockbusters—too much plot, too much action, too many characters, too many pseudo-feelings. The mechanics of Iron Man 3 are complex and rambunctious, like Keystone Kops, bouncing off one another and ultimately canceling one another out."

As for the plot, at the risk of spoiling things, we'll not be delving into that. If you've watched the previews and trailers, then you have enough of an idea about it falready, save for a sub-plot and a bit of a twist.

The reviews run the gamut, but no one seems to really hate, or love "Iron Man 3," but most agree that it's worth watching at the very least. One of the worst reviews came from Variety, which read "Despite the inevitable franchise fatigue, this solid production still delivers more than enough of what fans expect."

You can check out the key points and scores from other reviewers below. "Iron Man 3" hits theaters tomorrow, May 3rd.

83, Film - "Whether it’s the utter annihilation of our hero’s Malibu beach house, a Tennessee bar brawl that sees a suitless Stark having to rely on his own wits for a change, an attack on Air Force One or a shipyard showdown, the action beats are often excitingly executed, with expectedly impeccable effects and scene geography that is only occasionally lost in an editorial frenzy."

80, Empire - "Black proves the perfect blacksmith, forging smart new tech and scenarios for the swaggering super-genius. If this does turn out to be Downey Jr.’s final solo outing, it’s a very strong exit."

75, The Playlist - "A solid, sometimes surprising start to Marvel's Phase Two movies."

63, Chicago Tribune - "A little too much and a little not enough, director and co-writer Shane Black's "Iron Man 3" nonetheless has everything Disney and Marvel need to keep the "Avengers" superhero constellation shining and regenerating well into the 23rd century."

58, The AV Club - "Here, it’s hard not to wish Downey were sparring with his costumed comrades again, instead of trading barbs with the far-less-colorful cast members—old and new—of this busy, sporadically diverting sequel."

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