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Iron Man 3

If Michael Bay were to remake one of the Roger Moore James Bond movies from the early 1980s, it would probably look like this opening salvo in Hollywood’s annual summertime war against film lovers. Notice is hereby served that for the next three months the multiplexes will contain pretty much nothing of interest for you as they cater to the jaded sensibilities of out-of-school kids whose ticket dollars can only be pried out of their grubby hands with product that is louder and faster than what they get from their game consoles.

Okay, maybe I’m feeling a little curmudgeonly. I certainly went into Iron Man 3 with an open mind. I’m not a comic book buff, and therefore always tend to miss the fine points of these movies. But in the realm of movies adapted from Marvel comics, the Iron Man films have been a step up from the likes of Thor or Captain America, thanks to star Robert Downey Jr. and scripts that seem to at least have been written by adults, if not for them.

No such luck this time. The writing and directing duties have been handed over to Shane Black, once Hollywood’s most notorious screenwriter, who made millions of dollars with the Lethal Weapon franchise before burning out with The Last Boy Scout and Last Action Hero. If he’s learned any lesson from years of inactivity (interrupted only by 2005’s tongue in cheek Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it’s that the way to success in the movies these days is to sit back and let the special effects boys run the show.

To the extent that Iron Man 3 has a plot, it’s standard issue stuff, giving billionaire superhero Tony Stark a disposable midlife crisis while pitting him against an army of genetically modified soldiers engineered by a villain lifted from the last Spiderman movie. The smartest thing the script does is to separate Stark from his super suit for a large chunk of the movie, simply because it gives us an actor to watch: Even if he’s worn out the snarkiness, Downey is still fun to watch. (Another actor gives a nice comic performance, but I can’t tell you who it is because it would spoil a plot twist.) But the bulk of the movie is spent in excessive action scenes that render comprehension impossible: Stuff gets blown up because that’s what audiences for movies like these want to see. Tiresome and pointless, and there’s likely to be a lot more of it this summer.

Watch the trailer for Iron Man 3

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