I think I may have a new favorite Christmas movie. As always, stay through the credits.

Cast and Crew Information

Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man / Tony Stark
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Guy Pearce as Alrich Killian
Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin
Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S.
William Sadler as President Ellis
Ty Simpkins as Harley Keener
Miguel Ferrer as Vice President Rodriguez

Written by Drew Pearce & Shane Black
Directed by Shane Black

Premise

Tony Stark is having a difficult time coping with his experiences in The Avengers. Meanwhile, the Mandarin is orchestrating an escalating series of attacks on American soil.

High Point

“Okay.”

Low Point

One member of Tony’s supporting cast should not have survived a certain point in the movie, but no explanation is offered.

The Review

This feels somewhat original. Yes, we’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, but this one deals with the psychology of previous chapters in a way that I haven’t seen in a movie before. When you also consider this take on the Mandarin, which doesn’t have a hint of the stereotyping so common in comic book incarnations of the character, as well as new incarnations of other comic elements I won’t spoil here, and we get the kind of movie comic movies should be: this is faithful to the spirit of the source material, but does not necessarily conform to the letter of the comics, allowing the filmmakers to tell their own story. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are very well done. This is one of the extremely rare cases where I cannot tell where physical effects end and digital effects begin. There’s a lot to showcase here in this regard, but it never overtakes the story or gets in the way. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is strong. This feels much more like the first film than the second, where the focus is on keeping the story on Tony more than branching out into other elements of the universe. The other Avengers aren’t ignored, but by and large they just don’t affect this story. There are also some entertaining twists and excellent one liners. The low point is really my only issue with it. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting is great. Tony’s supporting cast really starts to shine. Jon Favreau is still here as Happy Hogan despite stepping away from the Director’s chair he occupied for the first two films, in a nice show of support that is all to rare in Hollywood. Gwenyth Paltrow was strong as well, but the real standout for me was Don Cheadle stealing every scene he was in throughout the entire third act. Guy Pearce is strong, and Ben Kingsley owns this role and simply knocks it out of the park. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is strong. I saw it in 3D, but this is one of the movies that could have been viewed in 2D without really missing anything (i.e. it is in the majority of 3D films.) In fact, the auditorium I was in had it slightly misconfigured, causing some double images in closeups, in which case the 3D was detracting. The music is a nice accent, and doesn’t overtake the film. Shane Black preserves some of the spirit of the original, but is definitely providing his own flavour. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is effective. This is a much more personal story than The Avengers, so don’t come into it expecting the same type of movie. Instead, look for an examination of Tony Stark in modern day America, and you’ll walk away smiling. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong movie. It is clearly better than the second film, and I’d have to watch this and the original back to back before deciding which of them I prefer. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Iron Man 3 receives 38 out of 42.

Note to Parents

This is definitely the most violent movie in the series. The actual acts of violence are on the same scale as those in Thor, but these all involve humans in situations that echo events like the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon. For some viewers, this just won’t be the right time to watch the movie.