‘Iron Man 3’ a solid sequel
Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.
Well, not literally. But thanks to his charismatic performance in Marvel Studios’ popular “Iron Man” series, audiences — and the studio — would be hard-pressed to find a better fit for the ironclad hero.
And it doesn’t stop with Downey Jr. His enthusiasm is contagious, and everyone involved seems to be having a fun time — a notion evident in the series’ first two entries, and now the third.
Director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) has handed the reins to director Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), who’s best known for penning the 1987 action classic, “Lethal Weapon.” As such, Black presents “Iron Man 3” with an effective blend of tastefully over-the-top action and colorfully character-driven banter.
Although “Iron Man 3” aims to be the “darker” entry in the series, the pathos manages to walk hand-in-hand with the series’ playful spirit — one that never forgets it’s a comic-book movie. It’s a curious balance, one that simultaneously underscores and undermines the angsty elements, resulting in an all-around fun time at the movies, especially for the fans.
Downey Jr. (“Wonder Boys”) is back as billionaire-industrialist-playboy-superhero-tech whiz Tony Stark, who, with his specialized suit of power armor, has helped, for the most part, to bring about world peace.
Despite having saved the world on numerous occasions and scoring the girl of his dreams in former personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, “The Royal Tenenbaums”), Tony cannot sleep at night. What transpired in 2012’s “The Avengers” (since the bulk of Marvel’s movies are connected now) has left its mark, plaguing Tony’s dreams and driving him to panic attacks.
And it couldn’t come at a worse moment. A ruthless terrorist known only as The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley, “Hugo”) has declared war on the President of the United States (William Sadler, “The Green Mile”) and has taken to attacking certain stateside locations with an ultra-powerful — and seemingly untraceable — explosive.
When Tony publicly challenges The Mandarin to a one-on-one fight, he ends up with much more than he bargained for — the destruction of his Malibu manor house, laboratory and armor. Forced to rely on his wits alone, Tony must repair his armor, find a way to ensure Pepper’s safety, uncover The Mandarin’s sinister agenda and, of course, save the day.
This involves more than technological know-how and superhero savvy, however. In keeping with the “dark” motif, Tony has lost sight of his true, noble self, the hero he discovered in the first film. Now, he must search inside for the selfless bravery that defined him as Iron Man.
Of course, he’ll have a little help from his friends. Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”) returns as Air Force Col. Rhodes, who also mans a suit of power armor, formerly under the name of “War Machine.” To make him more media-friendly, the government comically renames him “Iron Patriot” and even has the suit painted red, white and blue. Because, you know, freedom and all that.
As such, Cheadle’s offered the chance to have more fun with his character, much to the film’s benefit, as is Paltrow as Pepper. It’s obvious every one’s having a good time, but particular kudos go to Kingsley, who craftily makes his character much more than he seems.
While “Iron Man 3” stretches its run time further than its predecessors, director Black keeps things interesting, delivering some amazing action set pieces — like a midair rescue, using actual skydiving stunts — and the series’ tongue-in-cheek attitude.
Like Tony’s nifty suit, “Iron Man 3” fits the series like a glove, leaving audiences hoping for the next — and inevitable — sequel. That might take a while, but in the meantime, fans should stick around through the credits.
“Iron Man 3,” rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout and brief suggestive content, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.