Just when you wanted to forget all about the ”Iron Man” franchise (yes, part 2 sucked), along comes this primal blast of a second sequel, a potent reminder of what jazzed us about the first “Iron Man” film and the Marvel comics that inspired it. Must have been really hard coming up with a second sequel to a movie everyone loved back in 2008. “Iron Man” wasn’t just a huge box office hit. It reinvented Robert Downey Jr. as an action hero and a genuine movie star. How can you not love this guy? But then came the disappointing sequel in 2010, followed by the near perfect “The Avengers” in 2012. “Iron Man 3″, total blast that it is, isn’t as good as the first film or last year’s “The Avengers”, but it does kick off summer on a blazing high note. It’s been a while since a superhero movie was this fierce and this funny. All praise to acting dynamo Robert Downey Jr., who is actually better than ever as Tony Stark, the playboy weapons-manufacturer-turned superhero. Hold on tight. Part 3 is one heck of a superhero flick, a roller coaster ride that threatens to go off the rails, and does at some point. But director Shane Black, in for John Favreau, makes it a ride to remember. I mean what kind of popcorn flick gets the great, dangerously charming Ben Kingsley to grow a beard to play The Mandarin, the chief villain? (Kingsley is sly, sarcastic and casually cruel. It’s a delicious performance to say the least). Or Guy Pierce as the wicked Aldrich Killian, whose main project, Extremis, involves “hacking” into the human DNA chain to cure the sick and do anything else you might desire? Don’t question. Just sit back and behold. But Black also knows that Stark is a man hurting inside. That pain gives us a rooting interest and the first rule of superhero flick is that we can only invest in it if we relate to the characters and believe that something is at stake. Black gives us all of that and more, in a film that clocks in at well over two hours but never seems long.
But perhaps best of all, is the fact that he has injected a welcome dose of humor to the proceedings. With a sure-footed sense of pacing, he has punctuated his screenplay with wonderfully funny dialogue. It’s the second superhero movie (“The Avengers” being the first) I can think of that has made me (and the audience around me) laugh out loud, repeatedly. Indeed, it’s the clever screenplay that sets this film apart from the crowd, in harmony with perfect casting, first-rate visual effects, and other key ingredients. “Iron Man 3″ is entertainment at its best.
N.B: I can’t say that 3-D made a big difference to my enjoyment of the film; I suspect the film and its spectacular special effects play just as well in 2-D.