The most surprising thing about Iron Man 3–which is otherwise pretty much what you’d expect, in spades–is its unanticipated sense of finality.
The movie plays out like the concluding installment of a standard trilogy, with the story winding down into tidy resolution. The obligatory post-credits scene, in which another sequel is traditionally teased, here teases nothing so specific. Is a retrospective box set already in the works?
Maybe not. Although irreplaceable star Robert Downey Jr.’s franchise contract reportedly ended with this film, the forces of commerce may prove overwhelming. The first two Iron Man movies grossed more than $1.5-billion worldwide (with DVD sales factored in); then there’s The Avengers, which grossed even more on its own.
Avengers 2 is due to start shooting next year, and does anyone think that superhero reunion will take place without Downey’s metal-clad character onboard?
In any case, Iron Man 3 is great big whiz-bang digital entertainment, exactly as advertised. The 3D conversion is a little light on wow, the action is occasionally muddy, and the plot’s a bit wobbly in spots, if that matters. But new director Shane Black, taking over from Jon Favreau, has layered some nice pulp trappings into the story: an exotic master criminal, an infestation of fiery-eyed demons. And he knows how to use his one-of-a-kind star.
Read the full review at Reason.com