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Iron Man 3

Review by Paul Bowler

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Iron Man 3 begins Marvel’s second wave of movies in fine style, following on directly from the events of Joss Whedon’s phenomenally successful Avengers Assemble movie, bringing Tony Stark’s life full circle as he battles to protect those closest to him as the United States is attacked by the Mandarin and his terrorist organisation.

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Having risked his life help the Avengers defeat Loki and save New York from the Chitauri invasion, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) has been left traumatised by the experience, a recluse questioning his own mortality and suffering from terrible nightmares. He spends most of his time building new Iron Man suits, while Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) runs Stark industries, and his new suit – the Mark 42 – is so sophisticated he can operate it by remote control.

When the United States is attacked by an international terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who is behind a series of bombings that have baffled the intelligence services, Tony Stark’s life is torn apart when the Mandarin launches an all out assault on his Malibu home. Stark manages to escape as Iron Man only to find himself stranded in a small town in Texas, cut off from Pepper and with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in a coma, and with most of his suits destroyed in the attack, Stark is befriended by a kid sidekick, Harley (Ty Simpkins), as he attempts to rebuild his life. Having lost everything, Tony Stark must discover the truth behind the Extremis Virus if he is to fight back and bring the Mandarin’s reign of terror to an end.

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Director Shane Black takes over from Jon Favreau to helm this third instalment of the Iron Man saga. Shane Black directs Iron Man 3 with all the usual hallmarks of his previous works, the film is set at Christmas, and much like Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis in Black’s earlier films, we get to see Robert Downey Jr cast into the role of a down and out hero who stands to loose everything he holds dear as his life slowly crumbles around him. Robert Downey Jr is brilliant as Tony Stark / Iron Man and convincingly portrays how Stark has been left suffering from panic attacks after nearly being killed in Avengers Assemble when he flew a nuclear missile into the Chitauri wormhole. We get to see Stark as he struggles to face his inner demons, plagued by insomnia, he is a shadow of the man he once was.

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However  events in Iron Man 3 quickly leaves Tony Stark without his armoured suits to protect him, and he spends a good part of the film working in isolation as he attempts to discover the secrets of the Extremis Virus created by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), along with Tony’s ex, the botanist Dr Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall). This experimental project was used to create genetically modified soldiers that could survive extreme levels of battle damage, enabling them to quickly recover from injury. But the process is highly unstable, creating a perfect weapon, which the Mandarin has used to devastating effect.

The plot for Iron Man 3 draws its inspiration from the brilliant Extremis storyline from the Iron Man comics by Warren Ellis, but Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce place their own stamp on the concept, which forces Tony Stark to reassess his life as Iron Man as he battles against the Mandarin and the deadly Extremis enhanced soldiers.

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Gwyneth Paltrow is also excellent as Pepper Potts, and she plays a much bigger role in the storyline here than she did in the woeful Iron Man 2, keeping us on the edge of her seat as Pepper has to face the toughest battle of her life without Tony by her side. Tony Stark also teams up with his old friend Col James Rhodey Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who plays his long term ally War Machine, but whose suit has been given a patriotic makeover, and is now called the Iron Patriot. Its great to see Tony Stark and Rhodey working together again, the banter between Robert Downey Jr and Don Cheadle is brilliant, and there are some incredible action set pieces, particularly during the films climatic showdown.

Ben Kingsley is utterly convincing as the Mandarin. While the character may not be exactly like the comic book version, Kingsley’s performance is exceptionally good, and he makes a fantastic adversary for Tony Stark. The Mandarin’s fingers are adorned with rings, he makes some chilling broadcasts across the airwaves as he issues his demands, and there are also a few surprises hidden beneath the super villain’s dark hood.

The special effects in Iron Man 3 will take your breath away, it’s a spectacular film that really allows Robert Downey Jr the chance to portray a new side to the billionaire inventor, and there is also a surprise waiting for you in the end credits that you won’t want to miss either.

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