Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Well-oiled Marvel machine

Robert Downey, Jr. pleasingly reprises his inventor-adventurer role Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3,” a year after his appearance in the mega-blockbuster “The Avengers.” There’s more of the wisecracking, irrepressible playboy in this third part, as well as more formidable adversaries to confront and trounce. It’s a solid superhero movie, still characteristically playful, which is in sync with the inimitable, fun-loving character.

Restless after his first Avengers mission, Stark tinkers with new toys, developing new armor designs while reassessing his purpose. The reappearance of an old acquaintance, fellow genius Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), heralds the emergence of indestructible superhumans, threatening both the armored Avenger and devoted girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). A terrorist, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), also makes his despicable presence felt.

“Iron Man 3’s” Tony Stark is weary but still flippant, although not as quippy as in “The Avengers.” It acknowledges his heroic near-sacrifice in the previous movie, while dealing with the necessary fallout from performing feats with other heroes. It’s mostly him reconnecting and regrouping, an interesting angle to focus on thanks to the tight continuity between Marvel's movies. This third “Iron Man” knows how the character has grown considerably and is anxiously asking himself, “what now?”

“Iron Man 3” is also fun, and manages to avoid the pacing and structure mistakes made by its forgettable second part. Don Cheadle gets to do more; Paltrow gets to do something different. Downey is definitely still enjoyable as Stark. If there’s anything that will rile some viewers, it’s a fakeout involving one of the characters. Still, the complicated sham is forgivable and amusing, thanks to the splendid performance of the actor. 

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