Normally I'm not too keen on sequels. They just don't have that great of a track record in Hollywood. Especially when you start talking about the third installment. By that time there's a very good chance that the franchise has started to grow stale or very well on its way. Don't get me wrong though...there have been exceptions like "Lord of the Rings". When I saw that some critic had called this one "the best Iron Man yet" I tried to be optimistic that there would be hope for this one too.
In "Iron Man 3" Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) faces a new foe known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark brazenly invites Mandarin to bring the fight to him, he finds his personal world destroyed. Tony has to get back to the basics as he tries to hunt down the Mandarin for revenge as well as anyone else that is responsible.
There was something that I noticed right away in the superhero franchises where the heroes wear a mask. The longer the series go on, the less time you see the hero in the mask. My theory is that as the franchise goes on and gets more and more popular, the actor wants more face time. So they start coming up with more excuses as to why they need to have the mask off. It happened in the Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire. "Iron Man 3" is another prime example. But they took it to another level here.
Stark spent WAY too much time outside the suit. They purposely wrote the script so that there was a need for it. With most of his homebase and the only suit he had being inoperable, we got to see nothing but Tony for a great portion of the film. Sorry, but I have a problem with that. I want to see an Iron Man movie. Not a Tony Stark movie. Then the moment when he single-handedly infiltrates the Mandarin's hideout took the cake. I just found it hard to believe that a place that was supposedly so heavily guarded would have very little electronic surveillance and security guards that were so inept.
That disappointment was nothing compared to how they handled the Mandarin. **SPOILER ALERT** I was stoked the moment I saw the clips of Kingsley in that role. He certainly didn't have the mass to be somene physically imposing, but he is such a gifted actor that he can easily convey the persona of a psychopath. However, the problem is they drastically altered the Mandarin character. He wasn't an actual villain at all. He was just a puppet. Mandarin was an actor?! They had a chance to make one of the most epic movie villains ever and instead they belittled him making him borderline corny. Was not diggin' that at all.
Naturally, Iron Man was going to need some type of physical villain to match up against since they hollowed out Mandarin. Enter Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). I will admit that the power that they gave him was pretty interesting. And at least they didn't have him a tacky costume. It also helped that Pearce made him somewhat charismatic which is a key ingredient for a villain to have. So I guess he wasn't all that bad as the latest Iron Man adversary. It's just too bad it had to be done at the expense of ruining what good have been an even more epic bad guy.
Once they FINALLY gave us some actual Iron Man action, it finally picked up. The highlight of any Iron Man movie is always seeing the suit in action. It doesn't even matter who's in it. Which is why even Don Cheadle's scenes as Iron Patriot were fun to watch. And they took it up several notches here with a climatic battle that featured all of the Iron Man suits. Now granted, it is rather incredulous to accept that all of these suits are able to operate in full battle mode on their own. Do you know how much tech would be involved with that?? But it's an action movie so remember you're not supposed to be think reasonably.
So was "Iron Man 3" the best Iron Man yet? Not by a longshot. "Iron Man" is in no jeopardy of losing that distinction. As much as I did like the underlying storyline here that Tony was still struggling with the demons from the "Avengers" battle, there other problems the flick has that distracted from that. Unless they intend to make the Mandarin the right way, they would be wise to stop the Iron Man franchise now.
My rating: B -