Iron Man 3, rated PG-13

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau

Austin Family critical rating: 4 of 5 stars
Austin Family family-friendly rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Iron Man 3 is an outrageous amount of fun, chiefly because of the involvement of director Shane Black, whose hilarious comedy noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) gave Robert Downey Jr. one of his best roles in recent years. The two have re-teamed with the new Iron Man film, and the movie is injected with much of the irreverent humor that made their earlier picture such a good time.

Genius billionaire Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), having survived the events of last summer’s The Avengers, is now faced with his most formidable opponent yet – The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who is intent on teaching Stark a lesson.

Iron Man 3 keeps Stark out of the Iron Man suit for a large portion of the film, which is an excellent choice. We get to see Stark in a small Tennessee town, interacting with the locals and befriending a young boy. A little past the midway point, there’s a fairly audacious twist that results in a scene between Downey Jr. and Kingsley that’s every bit as hilarious as anything in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This isn’t to say that the action set-pieces aren’t excellent as well, but Iron Man 3 succeeds most admirably when it plays with genre conventions and defies what we expect from a superhero film.

When Stark and Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) band together in the third act, it feels like we’re watching a Lethal Weapon film (Black wrote the original Lethal Weapon). Black also correctly knows that many of the great action movies take place at Christmastime, and indeed, Iron Man 3 feels closer in spirit to an eighties action film than a superhero movie. It’s a fantastic way to begin the summer film season.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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