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Film Review – IRON MAN

Venue:  Cine 2, Ster Kinekor Maerua Mall
Film: IRON MAN 3
Director: Shane Black
Screenplay: Shane Black and Drew Pearce
Players: Robert Downey Jnr; Gwyneth Paltrow; Guy Pearce; Ben Kingsley; Don Cheadle; William Sadler
Genre:  Action; Sci-Fi; adventure
Rating: ****

Since some recent films have appeared and disappeared within a week, take my advice and see this action film as soon as possible. The third film in the Marvel comic series of Iron Man has not lost any of its sparkle – and, in fact, as a sequel, the film possesses a stronger and smarter storyline than either of its predecessors. The lead actors reprise their roles to create familiar characters with depth and subtlety; and they are ably supported by a strong team of ‘old hands’ in supporting roles. The script is witty in parts and never banal; the action sequences are gargantuan, epic in conception and execution; the storyline contains several relevant themes and messages  – and provides humour, mainly through ironical reversals.
The storyline flirts with several topical issues: probably the most important is the notion that scientific research, however well-intentioned, can become a weapon of mass destruction in unscrupulous hands. Perhaps a related message is to warn viewers against scientists who rush to publish their research in order to make fame and glory the objective, rather than scientific truth.
This idea is certainly not innovative but the research in question, advanced human genetic engineering, is quickly identified as potentially dangerous and abusive by Pepper Potts (Paltrow) when, in her position of CEO of Stark Enterprises, she refuses the offer of collaboration with villain Aldridge Killian (Pearce) who euphemistically refers to his Project as ‘Extremis’ – the idea of taking something to an ultimate state.  The same idea is promoted through one of Tony Stark’s ‘Iron Men’ robots which has been claimed by the US Government and has been marketed as a super-killing-machine,  ‘The Iron Patriot’,  which is used exclusively for good by Colonel Rhodes (Cheadle): the name becomes ironic, however, when the robot is hi-jacked by Killian and his cronies. This idea leads to another strong message: things are not always what they seem to be. President Ellis (Sadler) welcomes The Iron Patriot, believing it to be operated by Colonel Rhodes; we are led to believe that in our first introduction to Iron Man we are watching Tony Stark but we later discover that Stark has now mastered the creation of drones which look and behave like Iron Man. Most significantly, The Mandarin, an international terrorist who hacks into television stations to interrupt broadcasts with his threatening messages is not at all what he pertains to be – but I cannot offer a spoiler on this one. Two scientists, Mia (an attractive one-night stand from Stark’s ‘wild days’ in 1999) and Aldridge Killlian, wild-haired and bespectacled in his youth in 1999, are both idealistic about scientific research but change their ‘moral psychology’, as Stark describes it. People die from explosions but no source of explosion can be found or identified.
Humour is a significant part of the action. Iron Man Mark 42 is a rogue drone, given to erratic and unexpected behaviour. Mark 42 both punctures Stark’s hubris and reminds him that the world is an imperfect place.
Tony Stark, an inimitable Downey-Junior creation, continues to amuse: in this film he is less arrogant and more inclined to confess to some vulnerability – his anxiety attacks and his confessions of love for Pepper Potts are sure indicators. He achieves more brave acts as a mere mortal, too, instead of spending most of the film encased in his invincible metal suit, doing ‘derrng-do’ acts of bravery.
The special effects are spectacular in 2D or 3D. The wholesale destruction of Tony Stark’s palatial cliff-edge mansion is totally engaging Iron Man’s efforts to save 14 passengers on Air Force One, the presidential jet, from certain death as they free-fall from 40,000 feet is spectacular; and the climax of the film with the full-scale attack on the Killian fortress cannot be bettered.
It is a rare occurrence to watch the end of the third film in a series with some regret  and to hope simultaneously that another sequel is in the pipeline.

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