Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany (voice), William Sadler, Dale Dickey, Ty Simpkins, Miguel Ferrer, Xueqi Wang
Written by: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Directed by: Shane Black
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content
Language: English
Running Time: 130
Date: 05/03/2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Man in a Can

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Thanks to the brilliant casting of Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark -- a.k.a. Iron Man -- is the most fun of all movie superheroes.

Unlike any of an army of muscular pretty boys, Downey brings an incredible amount of talent, charisma and personality to his roles. He has gifted Stark with an infectious devil-may-care attitude and an array of ready wisecracks.

In Iron Man 3, however, Stark is a little skittish from his experiences in last summer's The Avengers. He can't sleep, and he doesn't want to talk about it. Also, he's begun to experience panic attacks.

Weirdly, he has developed a kind of on-again-off-again, relationship with his own armor. It goes on and comes off a surprising number of times in this movie.

In one section, following a brutal attack, Stark ends up in the middle of nowhere, stuck with a non-operational suit. He must infiltrate the bad guy's headquarters with little more protection than a black hoodie.

Whereas one of the downsides of the previous Iron Man films was too much emphasis on visual effects and not enough on people, Iron Man 3 has cracked this problem with new remote-control armor that allows Downey to appear on camera while Iron Men fly all around him (he can jump into any suit at any time).

The plot pits our hero against Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who has developed a hideous new kind of bomb.

Killian appears to be working with a terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Stark must stop them, and protect his beloved Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) at the same time.

The movie also adds a young boy, Harley (Ty Simpkins), into the mix. Harley helps the armor-less Stark like a stray dog, and they have a funny, playful rapport.

This stuff springs from the mind of the intriguing Shane Black, the successful writer of funny, subversive action films like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout.

Black's terrific directorial debut, the detective story Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also starred Downey (they're a good match).

Black brings snappy dialogue and brisk pacing to the Iron Man franchise. Better still, he has a clever way of deconstructing and commenting upon standard genre elements, without giving up the fun.

For example, most of Black's films -- Iron Man 3 included -- take place at Christmastime, replacing explosions for lights and tinsel.

A bit like Tony Stark himself, Iron Man 3 crackles with personality and humanity, not caring what anyone might think.

Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

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