The summer blockbuster season has officially kicked off with the arrival of Iron Man 3. The latest from Walt Disney and Marvel Productions comes from director Shane Black. If you're not familiar with his style of filmmaking, the newest Iron Man movie may seem like a change of pace from the past two Marvel movies, the biggest difference being the sharp uptick in comedy.
The latest story surrounding the armored super hero brings the laughs at full force and much more than the trailers let on. From the first images, it looked like we could expect a much darker Tony Stark story, maybe something more similar to the recent work we've seen from Christopher Nolan in his three Batman films.
That's not to say there's no real danger in this latest Iron Man tale. This time around, we get a flashback introduction to a character named Aldrich Killian, played by the great Guy Pearce. In our first introduction, Killian is introduced as a socially awkward scientist with an idea for a project known as Extremis. But Stark shows little interest and quickly blows him off.
Years later, Stark has changed dramatically. He's now considered a super hero, a member of a group of super heroes, in fact, known around the world by now as the Avengers. And a significantly different version of Killian shows up in his life. His role is also tightly woven together with a character widely known to Iron Man comic book fans as the Mandarin, the title hero's main nemesis.
This is where purists of the comics may freak out a bit. The Mandarin is significantly different from the character shown in the comics. There's less emphasis on any powers he may have, and much more on his power as a terrorist leader. Still, there are even more shifts in the character's story that should not be spoiled. But the differences work out excellently in Shane Black's new comic book movie.
Being Black's second directorial effort, he deserves a pat on the back for putting together a great, hilarious and action-packed comic book tale. The action in Iron Man 3 seems relentless through most of the film, with Stark trying to figure out through much of the film how to get by without his armor. But by the time he gets it back, the screen explodes with some mind-blowing effects. We get to see Stark sporting countless Iron Man suits when he tries to defeat the main bad guy, and the tension doesn't let up until the very end.
As far as performances go, Robert Downey Jr. shows once again that he IS Iron Man. His personality has become one with Stark's, and it would be nearly impossible to try to come up with someone better for the role. Downey provides the best performance of the Marvel character in this film, showing the most depth we've seen from him thus far. We also get to see much more of the man without the armor. He spends much of the film acting more as a detective, trying to figure out the Mandarin's ultimate goal and his connection to Extremis.
While the movie for the most part is a true success, it still has its flaws. By the time we get into the second act, the action takes a pause for the detective work. This isn't a complete letdown, but the film does slow down significantly after the first act. Had the middle of the film been condensed a bit, it may have worked slightly better.
Still, overall Iron Man 3 comes off as a legitimate success. While not being as great as its predecessor, The Avengers, it's still a tie-to-close-second to the first Iron Man film. It's also better than a couple of the other Marvel chapters we've seen, and only adds to the level of power these movies are proving to have.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was written by KCTV5 It's Your Morning Show producer Jason Ridder and is separate from the video review by Eric Melin of Scene Stealers.
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