"Iron Man 3" brings Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) back to movie theaters for the third time in four years, but according to critics there isn't a lot of rust on this blockbuster franchise.
"To use a recondite term in professional film criticism: whoo-hoo!" Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw wrote in his four-star-out-of-five review. "This is luxury superhero entertainment and the director and co-writer is Shane Black, who gave us the excellent 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' in 2005. I bow down to Mr. Black as the Aaron Sorkin of action comedy." Black replaced Jon Favreau as director of the "Iron Man" franchise for "Iron Man 3." (Favreau still appears in the film as Stark's bodyguard-confidant Happy Hogan.)
"It's really Black's scripting nous that makes 'Iron Man 3' soar -- not least in the way the former Lethal Weapon scribe channels the buddy formula he practically invented into Stark’s ongoing relationship with Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle)," wrote James Mottram for Total Film. "With Black reigniting the spark he cultivated with Downey Jr on 'Kiss Kiss,' the result is snappy, not snarky. Gone for the most part are the self-satisfied barbs that made 'Iron Man 2' a lead weight."
"Iron Man 3" focuses on Stark in the wake of the events of last summer's "Marvel's The Avengers." (You'll recall that Iron Man saved the world by shooting a nuclear weapon through wormhole and almost dying in the process.) Faced with post-traumatic stress disorder from that event and a new terror threat in the form of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), Stark must fight his demons on a path to, once again, saving the world.
"Trailers and promos so far have promised a darker take on the character than the previous two films, but happily, this is no dour Nolan-aping affair," noted Oliver Lyttelton for The Playlist. "If anything, it's more committed to the action-comedy feel than the previous installments, even as Black and co-writer Drew Pearce manage to find space for some strong character work."
"Iron Man 3" currently owns at 91-percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is out in the United Kingdom and other foreign territories on April 25. It hits U.S. theaters on May 3.