Stark-raving mad for ‘Iron Man 3’

No, kids, “Iron Man 3” is not as good as the original “Iron Man” —but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The original of anything is usually better than any sequel.

At the same time, “IM3” has it all over “IM2” (although I did enjoy “2’s” Monte Carlo car race and Mickey Rourke’s electric whip slicing cars into pieces).

Now that we’ve rated the third “Iron Man” in terms of the “IM” canon, we can move onto breaking down the current flick. Is it an enjoyable kick-off to the summer movie season? I say: yes.

-- Some people diss Robert Downey Jr.’s performance in “IM3” for being lazy. They argue it’s more of the same. And it is classic (some might say by-rote) Downey. But I love his motor-mouth persona, as if his brain is firing at a faster speed than mere mortals. He’s smart and sarcastic, betraying hints of sadness and darkness underneath. He’s the perfect Tony Stark.

-- I suppose the “IM3” action sequences are fine. I’m not a connoisseur, though; I consider the quick cuts and loud noises and flying objects just something to get through. For me, the meat of the movie are the scenes of Downey talking. Even the old convention of a haggard hero meeting up with a cute kid gets turned on its ear here; Downey’s Stark plays it acerbic, not heartwarming.

-- Some of the “IM3” effects were underwhelming. The way the genetically modified people glowed was downright cheesy. It looked as though they had been subjected to a bad spray tan. Or that someone’s teenage nephew had been hired to handle the special effects. Scratch that. Someone’s teenage nephew would have done better.

-- Who knew Ben Kingsley could be so scary ... and (SPOILER ALERT) then so funny? His version of Osama is chilling — his cold-eyed stare, his flat affect, his broad Americanized accent, his menacing threats. And then, when he's revealed to be a drug-taking, starlet-trolling, Cockney-accented actor, he's a comic revelation. His wide-eyed, deeply felt stupidity makes him eligible to become a member of Spinal Tap.

-- And who knew Guy Pearce could inspire such indifference in me? I loved him in “Memento.” I loved him in “The King’s Speech.” I loved him “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” I loved him in “L.A. Confidential.” Here, he is given the bad-guy role to savor, and he plays it straight. Dude, did you NOT see Javier Bardem in “Skyfall”? That’s the way to play an uber-villain in an action flick.

What did you think of “Iron Man 3”?

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