Wednesday, 1 May 2013



Stark Trek.

130 Mins. Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany & Sir Ben Kinglsey. Director: Shane Black.

The Summer blockbuster season has officially begun folks. After Tom Cruise's delve into 'Oblivion' and in a year where science-fiction (cue more boldy gone places, some Smith father and son time alone on Earth, what looks like 'Transformers' versus 'Godzilla' and Brad Pitt versus zombies) looks to dominate cinema as much as comic-books, Marvel's 'Man Of Iron' suits up to go 12 rounds with Superman like he and his 'lighter option' superfriends have been doing with 'The Dark Knight' and the rest of D.C., for years. After his classic origin story-that even stood up to the year Heath Ledger's Joker took over theatres-and a sequel that saw him being whipped into shape by Mickey Rourke, Robert Downey Jnr is back as Tony Stark's Iron Man for the third part of the trilogy. Phase 2 begins with the man and the movie that birthed the assembling of the massive 'The Avengers', but can RDJ and the man in the can keep up without Captain America, Thor and The Incredible Hulk?

The answer is yes! Despite some troubles. Tony Stark is losing sleep and gaining an anxiety disorder after coming to terms with the fallout of New York. He's tinkering away in his basement like Howard Hughes and making more reboots of his model than 'Spider-Man'. Still, this web of intrigue makes for an interesting plot dynamic, even though some times the film feels a little all over the place. This still matches the tone of character and Downey Jnr's trademark charm and charisma keeps things going at a hilarious laugh a minute pace. It's clear to see in the magnify glass that 'Sherlock 3' should be safe too. In all it's querkiness. There's more stark reliastions for Tony to deal with then his own demons as this film explores the 'Extremis' extremes of Marvel and there's also the legendary villian the Mandarin added to the squeeze. From aerial assualts that could rival the vertigo-inducing fear of Denzel's 'Flight' plan and classic American oil-rig slick finales, the actions never been better for this suit and arc reactor series.

Jon Favreau is no longer Iron Man's bodyguard or director (he still appears for a hilarious part however) as Robert's pal Shane Black steps in to add more 'Kiss, Kiss' and 'Bang, Bang' to the franchise. Apart from that everyone is back and on form next to RDJ. Gwyneth Paltrow adds more spice to her role as Pepper Potts, but an old flame appears to ignite the plot in the form of Rebecca Hall who has been on a hot streak ever since she went to 'Town' with Ben Affleck. After replacing Terrence Howard in the sequel, Don Cheadle shows he is Iron Man's true sidekick (even if his rebranded 'Iron Patriot' look of 'War Machine' comes off like the illegitatmate love child of Iron Man and Captain America (and yes RDJ's Stark let's him have it)). Paul Bettany's voice of JARVIS yet again gives our superhero Bond his Q, while Guy Pearce (who is everywhere at the moment) makes Sam Rockwell's supereb slimy, slick turncoat from the last movie look tame. If you need anymore ham, when it comes to acting up, then how about British legend Sir Ben Kingsley as famous Asian villian The Mandarin? Crazy, huh?!

There are some moments that will leave you baffled here. This Christmas time set film that begins with a New Years flashback opens with everybodies most hated song 'Blue' by Eiffel 65. Where's the AC/DC I hear you cry? Still there are shoot to thrill love and hate moments in this one that will divide comic-book and cinema fans. One particular twist may turn the stomachs of said square-panel junkies, yet if not taken too seriously could be one of the funniest, if not silliest things done in the superhero genre for what seems like ever. In this 'Robot Chicken', 'HISHE', internet age too it's about time a film like this didn't take itself too seriously, even if it is comic sacrilege. As Guy Pearce say's "once the big guy with the hammer fell out of the sky, subetly kind of fell out the window" and after all this is a film where a billionaire, playboy, philantrophist flies around in a big suit like a big man. To say more would be to ruin the surprise...even if you don't like it. Judge for yourself in a film that sometimes looks like a joke too far and in others looks like one taking satirical punches at terroism. Lesson learned?

"There's no politics here", Tony Stark tells the press in a film for a comic-book franchsie that has always kept what's going on in world at the forefront of their comics (see Obama on the cover of an 'Amazing Spider-Man' comic or James McAvoy, describing Professor X and  Magneto of 'X-Men' being like a non-violence/pro-violence methaphor of Martin Luther King and Malcom X), but again see for yourself with your own interpratation. Phase 2 may have started a little clunky, and Iron Man and his new Patriot may have to have a "New Suits" shopping day with those 'Anchorman' boys before they can really take off again but this funny and action-packed part is still very enjoyable. Are the one-liners and set pieces enough? Is this Robert Downey Jnr's last assemble as Stark? Time and more films will tell. It's 'Iron Man' 3 out of 5 for this one. A film that always had the hardest job following 'The Avengers' (albeit maybe a little too soon), but still holds it own amongst all the blockbusters set for release this year (my moneys on 'Star Trek's' dark turn) and all the Marvel and Avenger films that will eventually make the cinema collection huge like the comic-book one. Iron Man may be missing a few parts and sporting some rust, but it still shows a lot of initiative. Now everybodies waiting for the rest of 'The Avengers'...and maybe some Shawarma. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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