Iron Man 3 is excellent. Usually, sequels are stale. The original premise works. Movie two is so-so to decent, and the third often should not have been made. Iron Man 3 breaks the mold and is flat-out fun from the opening sequences to the hilarious cameo and outtake at the end.
Two villains dot the landscape. An unstoppable terrorist called the Mandarin is setting off bombs in the U.S. With each explosion he grows bolder and brags about his accomplishments via high tech, brilliantly produced video pieces. He has the technology to interrupt national network broadcasts to get his message out.
When Tony Stark's best bud Happy Hogan is nearly killed in one of the explosions, he challenges the Mandarin to come and get him. And the Mandarin does. He blows up Stark's posh mansion and sends our Iron Man hero on the run.
Jon Favreau — who has a small part in this one — did the first two films. Writer/director Shane Black — who wrote the original Lethal Weapon and the excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — takes over the writing and directing duties and has produced a three-dimensional comic book character masterpiece.
Black is a brilliant writer, and Iron Man 3 is more nonstop monologue than ordinary action movie script. Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man is in almost every scene, and most of time, he's solo or interacting with characters that listen rather than talk. The script is hilarious and packed with amusing ammo that Downey shoots out with machine gun precision.
Some of it is ad-libbed, and some of the best bits are between Downey and Paul Bettany, who does the voice of Jarvis, Stark's computer.
No one is more fun to watch than Downey. He has this off-handed way of delivering lines. It's like lines are a distraction, and he has better things to do than deliver them. Even when the dialogue gets serious, you get the sense that his restless character would rather be doing something else. Often a laugh — or most certainly a smile — is hiding just beneath the surface of every line.
The supporting cast is pitch perfect. Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Favreau reprise their roles from the first two flicks. Ben Kingsley — who could do a lamppost and be brilliant — is the Mandarin, and the always exceptional Guy Pearce (Prometheus, The King's Speech) is villain No. 2, Aldrich Killian.
Black's film is exceptionally done from the script to the acting to the wonderfully-crafted special effects. Iron Man 3 is nice kick off for the spring and summer season blockbusters. It's a long movie, but the time whizzes by. There are very few slow spots. Iron Man 3 is packed with humor, and super hero movies, like horror films, always work best when they don't take themselves seriously.
This one definitely doesn't.
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.