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Iron Man 3 is more fun than a barrel of monkeys
(You'll get the reference later)

 

Avengers-mojo has rubbed off on the Iron Man saga, and the third episode could be the best in the series. Writer/Director Shane Black has improved on the main characters, giving Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) deeper layers and Pepper Potts the chance to evolve from the damsel-in-distress staleness that her character had suffered from in the first sequel.

Taking place after the Avengers film, Tony Stark has been deeply affected by the New York battle, suffering from PTSD. Instead of focusing on his romance with Pepper, he tinkers with his gadgets, pushing her away.  Tony’s cocky past persona as a playboy have come back to haunt him, when a former geek (Guy Pearce) has become a super villain and joined forces with a ruthless terrorist, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).Though he’s not emotionally ready, Tony must snap out of his own drama and once again save the world.

Shane Black’s previous film was the clever comedy-thriller Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which also starred Downey Jr.  The two work great together. Black understands the actor’s cadence and his personality, giving Stark more layers than Justin Theroux, the writer of the second film, achieved.  The action scenes are thrilling, including a demolition in Malibu, an airplane rescue, and a final showdown on an oil rig. Black, with co-author Drew Pearce, have created compelling villains who tap into our nation’s fears, but also twists the audience’s assumptions so that the plot doesn’t sink into clichés.

Downey Jr feels at home in the role.  He handles the humor adeptly and Stark’s emotional turmoil.  Stark goes through a roller-coaster of fears and anguishes throughout the film and Downey Jr takes the audience into his cluttered mind. Paltrow is given more to do in this film than in the other two combined. As opposed to being relegated to a Girl Friday, she becomes a full-fledged partner, even saving the day. As the evil Terrorist, Kingsley embodies the cool-as-a-cucumber, calculated villain of the modern era, who murders for cause in a Machiavellian and ruthless way. As his cohort, Pearce is suave and sociopathic.

Black has upped the gadgets, including armor that from remote locations speed through the air onto Stark’s body with such force it almost assaults him. But what makes this film more intriguing than Iron Man 2 is that the gadgets are seen as a crutch, and the script allows Stark to find a life outside of the machines and to regain his humanity. Strong writing and acting achieve these rich layers making Iron Man 3 a jewel in the franchise crown. Grade: A- 

 

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