LEAD CAST: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley DIRECTOR: Shane Black SCREENWRITER: Drew Pearce, Shane Black PRODUCER: Kevin Feige EDITOR: Jeffrey Ford, Peter S. Elliot MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Brian Tyler GENRE: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Toll RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Pictures LOCATION: US
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V 14
MTRCB rating: GP (for all ages)
The opening flashes back to the time that brash and brilliant billionaire Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) was a boozing playboy who chased skirts but shirked commitment. Until his assistant Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) captured his heart. Since then Stark and Potts have been an exclusive pair and Iron Man 3 shows them living together like man and wife without the blessing of either Church or State. Stark now must face a pair of villains: The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a menacing cross between Fu Manchu and Bin Laden who is after the US president’s neck, and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) a nerd-turned-dashing-debonair-chemist who has created Extremis, a serum that converts ordinary mortals into living humans bombs. The Mandarin attacks Stark’s plush Malibu lab-and-lair, turning it to flaming tatters, endangering Potts, and leaving Stark, alone and far away, to survive on his own devices.
Iron Man 3 is some sort of a record breaker—at least in the Philippines, when on opening day the long-awaited sequel was shown in all theaters across the land. CINEMA gives it an above-average technical score, and a huge part of that is due to its almost flawless CGI footages. The story, too, is different in that it projects a vulnerable Stark, even helpless in the face of such an unbelievably powerful and deathless villain in Killian. The cast includes newbie Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, a bio chemist who happens to have had a one-night stand with Stark in pre-Potts days, and Ty Simpkins as Harley, a bullied schoolboy living with his mother. Only one unsolicited comment for director Shane Black: in that final chase to put down the villain, we were gung-ho about Stark finishing him off. We knew he’d die, anyway, so finish him off sooner—you’ve made your point, spare our ears from the prolonged boom-bang-clang-clanging of iron suits and gadgetry.
Plenty of ethical issues here. Is Iron Man 3 a fight about good and evil? Whose good? Is all that destruction worth the fight? Is the life saved worth all the lives ended? Is Stark’s commitment to Potts for life? Oh, but it’s sci-fi fantasy, anything goes, anything to entertain. Yeah, but with very young children in the audience unable to distinguish fact from fantasy, isn’t some kind of explanation in order? Paging all parents! Life is not a video game, hello! The civilized world resorts to such thing as “dialogue”, and the future of the world is not determined by the fight between a superhero and a supervillain.
CINEMA would like to magnify, however, the soft-spoken message of Iron Man 3. The story is a love triangle: Stark, Potts, and the iron suits—or more precisely, Stark’s obsession with his iron suits. It is a transformed Stark we see here, coming to confront his weakness, denouncing it, and thus acquiring the strength to go on. He parts with the chest gadget that embodies his addiction to power, and tells himself that even without it, he is still Iron Man. A wise decision from CINEMA’s point of view—iron gets corrupted by rust, man does not. Iron Man 3, the movie, has soul.