Third film in ‘Iron Man’ franchise flies high despite occasional stutters

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Welcome to the “summer of the nerds.” With new Thor, Superman, Star Trek and Wolverine movies coming out over the next few months, it seems that now is a better time than ever to be a fan of comics, sci-fi and monsters (I’m looking at you, “Pacific Rim”).

Leading the charge for these upcoming films is “Iron Man 3,” the first Marvel superhero movie to be released since “The Avengers.” Although some parts of the movie didn’t quite work, in the end the package makes for a worthy addition to the “Iron Man” series. While nowhere near as epic as Joss Whedon’s 2012 summer blockbuster, “Iron Man 3,” directed by Shane Black, proves to be entertaining both in its action and the acting talent of the cast.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, millionaire industrialist and compulsive tinkerer. The events of “The Avengers” have begun to weigh heavily on Stark, resulting in anxiety attacks and insomnia. Amid his stress, attacks across the globe begin to emerge thanks to an enigmatic terrorist named The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. The action heats up fast, and soon Stark is on the run to track down this new threat before he strikes again. It sounds like the standard “stop the bad guy” comic book plot, but the characters and action sequences still feel inspired enough to make it worth watching.

While Stark spends a lot of time outside of his badass armor in this film, “Iron Man 3” still manages to deliver good action in clever scenes that show his ingenuity over brute force. The action scenes are still very intense and the special effects on the intricate suits are getting better every year. Finally, the trilogy ends with a satisfying conclusion that gives closure. I mean, we all know this isn’t going to be the last we see of Iron Man, but still, it’s nice.

As far as the acting goes, Downey Jr. nailed the leading role back in 2008 with the first “Iron Man,” and doesn’t cease to bring the character’s wit, charm and overinflated ego this time around. That said, the subplot about him having PTSD kind of fizzles out after the first half. It would have been nice to see a little extra humanity from the Armored Avenger.

Speaking of which, the film takes a unique spin on The Mandarin that will throw comic fans for a loop. Viewers will either love it or hate it. I thought that the direction that the story took with the villain was bold and a little more in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s more “modern” look, but the payoff may not be worth it.

Oddly enough, “Iron Man 3” is simultaneously the darkest and funniest movie in the trilogy, and every potentially poignant moment feels cheapened by the genuinely funny jokes that follow. This is my chief complaint. I think audiences are ready for more challenging comic book movies. I guess that after seeing the gritty trailers, I was a bit disappointed to see “Iron Man 3” fall short of the dramatic film it first appeared to be.

In conclusion, while I don’t think “Iron Man 3” is the best superhero film out there, it is still one worth seeing. The action is not as grandiose as it was in the “The Avengers,” and I thought “Captain America: The First Avenger” was a far more “human” Marvel film.

That said, “Iron Man 3” still equates to a good time at the movies. There are cracks in the armor, but that armor is still as fun to watch (and wear, I imagine) as ever. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Parker Wilhelm is a junior in mass communications. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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