Brief: Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3
Like no one else in the super hero business these days, Robert Downey Jr. has defined the character of Tony Stark and rendered it virtually impossible to imagine and Iron Man movie without him. This third installment is the darkest (strange, in that it often seems to be attempting to end the "trilogy," but it makes sense if you imagine this is just a midpoint in a larger story), but even still it is filled with witty barbs and sight gags--even at his darkest, Iron Man is still the most fun super hero on the big screen. While Iron Man 3 is far better than its direct predecessor, both films lived in the shadow of the stellar initial installment, which seems to lead to some over-stuffing. Super fans of the comics will find some storytelling choices slightly odd, but most of them work within the context of the film itself. Downey Jr. is as good as ever, and both Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley make for colorful adversaries. Most of the action set-pieces are a blast to watch, and some of the ways the film seems to have taken a page from The Dark Knight Rises (though I think this is impossible, based on production schedules) work very well. This is also a Shane Black film, through and through, with self-referential narration and plenty of time for Downey and Don Cheadle to banter like buddy cops. The film never blew me out of the water, but it was a consistently satisfying start to the summer blockbuster season.

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