has become the target of a mysterious "super" terrorist who calls himself the Mandarin. Soon, the President re-brands War Machine as the Iron Patriot and sends Colonel Rhodes out to hunt down the infamous terrorist. Back home, Tony challenges the Mandarin, meets some old faces (sorry, I won't ruin this for you), and finds himself face-to-face with a wall (of mysteries and mysterious men with unique abilities).
Honestly, that is about as close as I can get to describing this film without ruining some of the major twists and discoveries. There are a remarkable number of things going on in this film. I am still astonished that they could work so much into a 130 minute time slot without producing a film that feels unnecessarily rushed; instead, Iron Man 3 is just a tad bit long, with parts of the latter half of the film moving a little too slowly for my taste. Part of that dragging feel stems from the fact that the movie is divided across three interests: Tony's war with himself (his apparent PTSD), Tony's attempts to find and uncover the Mandarin, and the U.S./Rhodes' attempts to do the same (subplots aside, of course). While Shane Black (writer/director) handles these elements well enough, I think the attempt to focus on so many elements (particularly via the framing device -- Tony's voice over that connects a past event to the events of the film), with twists and all, is a tad much for one film.
The other cast members are also on top form: Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts remains as charming as ever (she also gets a little action time, which is awesome to see) and Guy Pearce proves that he needs to play a Die Hard villain at some point in the near future, pulling out an excellent Jekyll & Hyde performance as Aldrich Killian. It's hard to believe that Guy Pearce once played this Queen:
Child actor Simpkins, however, gives the film its heart-filled center. As Keener, he has a profound impact upon Stark, and the two (Downey and Simpkins) play well off each other -- humor and all. I think paring the two gives Stark the gateway he needs to see beyond his own dilemmas, and Simpkins delivers a wide-eyed-but-looking-for-a-role-model performance worth noting. If there isn't a remarkable young actor in Simpkins, I will eat my own shoes (metaphorically speaking, of course; I imagine shoes these days are made out of material that will kill me if consumed).
The only other problem I have with the film has to do with the new Iron Man suit (the MK 42). While the films (and the character in general) has always required one to suspend disbelief, I found the newer suit implausible, if not outright ridiculous. This particular suit flies to Stark in pieces, guided by wireless nodes in his arms. While the MK 42 becomes important to the conclusion of the film, I found it hard to accept the premise, if only because it seemed a little ridiculous to me. Still, for those expecting a lot of Iron Men in Iron Man 3, you'll get the great gift of all: the Iron Legion. The CG, of course, is damned beautiful, especially in the concluding moments (explosions and all).
Adaptation: N/A (I haven't read enough of the comics)
Overall: 4.25/5 (85%)
Inflated Grade: A- (for solid action, continuity considerations, and addressing Stark's human side)
Value: $9.50 (based on a $10.50 max)