It’s time for the summer movies to start rolling in, the popcorn fare that entertains us during those dog days. Iron Man 3, the third installment in Marvel’s popular franchise, kicks off what should be a promising season for super hero movies. This time around we find Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) recuperating from the otherworldly showdown that capped off last year’s Avengers. He is physically fine, but his shaken mental state leaves him in a reflective mood.
The movie opens with Tony thinking back to a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve 1999. After attending a glamorous party with then girlfriend Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall, The Town), Tony runs into a scientist, a developer named Aldrich Killian, who wants to discuss some exciting new ideas for his technology company. Aldrich (Guy Pearce, Prometheus) appears nerdy and disheveled, not the kind of person who leaves an impression. Tony snubs the man, unwittingly setting him on a course of scornful retaliation.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Aldrich has reinvented himself. Gone is the meek intellectual who could barely a muster a sentence. With a new hairdo and some much-needed dental work, he is confident and bold. His intentions have grown more nefarious since Tony spurned him all those years ago. He has created Extremis, a chemical that could restore limbs to maimed soldiers returning home from war.
Unfortunately, Extremis can have terrible side effects, including spontaneous combustion, which would sort of defeat the purpose of regenerating a lost limb, wouldn’t it? These spontaneous explosions are related to a series of terror attacks that have been charged to a radical extremist known as “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley, Hugo). His relationship with Aldrich isn’t immediately clear, but the pair is up to something fishy. When Aldrich kidnaps the president in a misguided attempt to further their twisted terrorist agenda, Tony and his buddy Colonel James Rhodes (War Machine aka Iron Patriot) (Don Cheadle, Flight) come to the rescue.
Hope I didn’t give away too much; I tried to keep it simple. Iron Man 3 was exciting and entertaining, and I understand why it opened at number 1, given its format and the time of year. The special effects were cool; particularly the way the Iron Man suit strategically broke away from Tony and then quickly reattached itself, piece by piece. The movie was funny, and even though he’s a billionaire, Stark is one of the more accessible superheroes because he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. There were lots of one-liners, and Robert Downey Jr. will be missed if it’s true that this is his last outing. You know what though? I was rather underwhelmed. I actually dozed off for a quick second. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe I like a darker protagonist. This was a feel-good movie for all audiences, which is great. I’m sure I have the minority opinion, but I just didn’t love it. Good movie, but no big deal. Grade: B+