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Iron Man 3 (3D) (AF)


Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, William Sadler, James Badge Dale, Stephanie Szostak, Paul Bettany (voice)

Director: Shane Black

Robert Downey Jr’s career is clearly on a roll with roles in two ongoing franchises on his clapperboard. He’s opium addicted Sherlock Holmes for Guy Ritchie and, encased in iron and propelled by special effects, he’s Marvel superhero Iron Man, aka brilliant industrialist Tony Stark.

His latest foray has him saving civilization yet again, this time up against Ben Kingsley's splendidly hammy villain the Mandarin (“They say his Lear was a hit in Croydon”) and Bad Guy Guy Pearce who effortlessly steals the acting honours although, to be fair to the players, the plethora of superb special effects and vividly staged action sequences (all hail director Shane Black!) means that real acting isn’t what the film needs to find an audience. (And for British cinemagoers who are familiar with, and enjoy pantomimes, Kingsley’s “play it to the back stalls and beyond” panto turn should guarantee the movie is a hit in Britain).

At the start Downey Jr is having a bad time – “Honey, I can’t sleep” he tells Gwyneth Paltrow, back again as Pepper Potts: surely his habit of eating gluten-free waffles for breakfast can’t help? Fortunately, villainy calls with a series of explosive-free explosions, followed by a massive helicopter attack on Downey Jr’s lavish Malibu mansion, and he ends up in small-town Tennessee in time not to miss the ‘Miss Chattanooga Xmas Pageant’. There he teams up (and has his most credible scenes) with smart youngster Ty Simpkins and begins his fight back, which includes saving people in mid-air after they have been sucked out of Air Force One by an explosion. Impressive superhero stuff, this, although I couldn’t help wondering if anyone cared about all the other expelled-from-the-aircraft characters who were left to fall to Earth, unhindered by Iron Man intervention?

No matter. Credibility isn’t a key factor in Drew Pearce and Black’s screenplay, which sensibly concentrates on action, spiced with enjoyably cynical humour and then more magnificently staged special effects sequences, which effectively paper over some of the plot-holes in the story while 3D filming adds an extra dramatic punch.

Result? An immensely entertaining, audience friendly, franchise-renewing hit.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
130 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Apr 2013