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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/24/2013

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/16/2013

Ask any movie fan about trilogies, and I'm sure that you'll get an interesting answer. While there are plenty of movie series which have more or less then three entries, there's something about the trilogies which intrigues people. You'll often hear theories about which entry is usually the best, which is the weakest and which is the darkest. Examples such as the Star Wars trilogy or The Lord of the Rings trilogy will be cited. And, of course, as with anything else in life, there to be exceptions to every rule about trilogies. While I feel certain that there will be more Iron Man movies down the road, the release of Iron Man 3 allows us to view the series as a trilogy and see how the third film measures up.

Iron Man 3 takes place after the events seen in The Avengers. Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) (Robert Downey Jr.) is busy in the workshop of his California mansion, attempting to perfect an Iron Man suit which, via remote control implants, will come to him and attach itself to his body. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark's girlfriend and business partner, is approached by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who attempts to sell her a new creation by his company Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), but she refuses. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), head of Stark security, follows Killian's henchman, and is caught in an explosion -- the latest in a series of explosions perpetrated by a terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Seeing his friend hospitalized, Stark calls out The Mandarin and suffers a vicious attack in his home. Following this, Stark begins an investigation into the other explosions to try and learn who The Mandarin is and where he will strike next.

When Iron Man was released in 2008, it was a fairly big-budgeted film, but expectations were somewhat low because, let's face it, Iron Man is a second-tier Marvel character and most members of the general audience (non-comic book readers) had never heard of him, outside of those who remembered the old oddly animated shorts from the '60s. ("Tony Stark makes you feel, he's a cool exec with a heart of steel...") However, the film became an instant smash and propelled Robert Downey Jr. back into the A-list and gave clout to Director Jon Favreau. And, on top of that, the movie was pretty good, deftly mixing action and humor. 2010 saw the release of Iron Man 2, which looked to repeat the success of its predecessor, as it reunited most of the cast and Favreau. However, it simply didn't click and it ended up costing more than the first one and making less. Perhaps it was the presence of Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke in the same film, or maybe it was Rourke's bird. Either way, the movie totally re-designed one of Iron Man's villains from the comics and it did nothing for moviegoers. The second film in a series often tries to be bigger and better than the first one and Iron Man 2 definitely followed that path, as it brought in War Machine (Don Cheadle) and a whole slew of armored bad guys, but the formula didn't work. The second film is usually darker, but Iron Man 2 simply came across as silly at times. It appears that the darkness was being saved for Iron Man 3.

While Iron Man 3 is an appropriate title for the film, in the end, it's not an accurate one, as Stark spends more time out of the suit than in it. Sure, Stark has faced adversity in the past, but this film sees him shaken to his core. His house is destroyed. He's lost access to most of his technology. In order to keep her safe, he's distanced himself from Pepper. This totally feels like a second movie! Stark finds himself in Rose Hill, Tennessee, where he teams with a young boy (Ty Simpkins of Insidious) in order to investigate the explosions and to help repair the one suit of armor which remains in his possession. Oh, did I mention that Stark also has to fight a group of individuals who can raise their body temperatures to the point that things incinerate?

This all sounds very dark, right? And indeed it is, as Stark spends a good portion of the movie with a bloody face. However, this is also the funniest movie in the series thus far. Iron Man 3 was Co-written and Directed by Shane Black, who most likely got the gig for his work with Downey on Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Not unlike that film, Iron Man 3 is very cynical, yet sassy, and Downey is in his element here, delivering caustic yet funny lines right and left. Few characters could keep their chins up in this situation, and no one can play smug like Downey and he's simply kills in this film. It takes a steady hand to mix violence and goofiness the way that this movie does.

While Iron Man 3 is a marked improvement over the last film, it's still not perfect. I can certainly see the movie losing people when the secret of The Mandarin is revealed. (Speaking of The Mandarin, what kind of accent is that?) The ending gets a little too hyperkinetic for its own good, and one of the plot points of the finale is a bit hard to swallow. However, these are minor issues compared to the impressive drama and laughter the film delivers. Again, we know that Iron Man 4 will arrive at some point, and I can't wait to see what direction it takes.

Iron Man 3 earns big points for its Ralphie reference on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The film is not only dark in tone, but in look, but the image is never overly dark and the action is always visible. The colors look great, most notably the red of Iron Man and Iron Patriot's colorful armor. The depth is excellent, as the characters are nicely separate from the backgrounds and the amount of detail is notable as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very muscular track which delivers nearly non-stop surround and subwoofer effects. Simply go to the attack on Stark's house scene, and you will experience and feel the detailed sounds coming from the rear and the deep bass. In addition, the stereo effects are well done, especially when sounds move across the screen.

The Iron Man 3 Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director/Co-Writer Shane Black and Co-writer Drew Pearce. "Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter" (15 minutes) shows us what happened to Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) a year after the events of Captain America. "Iron Man 3 Unmasked" (11 minutes) takes us on set for various bits such as the pre-production party, Downey rehearsing, set construction, location shooting in North Carolina, and lots of stuntwork and visual effects. "Deconstructing the Scene: Attack on Air Force One" (9 minutes) takes us step-by-step through this pivotal scene from pre-viz to rehearsal to stuntwork. The Disc contains ten DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 16 minutes. We get a variety of scenes here, some of which are outtakes. The best thing here is a series of alternate takes featuring Adam Pally. This does include a sub-plot which was cut from the movie. The final extra is a 5-minute GAG REEL.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.