Iron Man 3 Is A Little Different. But It's All The Better For It.

Iron Man 3.
Director:
Shane Black.
Writer: Drew Pearce, Shane Black.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley.

So. Everyone's favorite genius, billionaire and playboy philanthropist is back again. But this ain't quite the same iron-inclined do-gooder we've come to know.

It's the same engine, sure. But this is definitely a new model.

Let's run a status report , J.A.R.V.I.S.: Last time we saw our heavy metal hero, he was a little worse for wear after whisking away a bomb through a wormhole and into another galaxy as he and his superfriends assembled to defeat an alien horde and save humanity. But battle can do certain things to a man — superpower post-traumatic stress disorder-related things, if you will.

Before that, though, our hero went through yet another stressful deal. Prior to the release of The Avengers, the director of Iron Man and Iron man 2 bailed. And actor-turned-director Jon Favreau's departure was an unsettling one at best; he'd created an almost perfect page-to-screen experience with 2008's franchise launch, which stands to this day as arguably the best big screen comic book origin story ever seen.

Now, with Favreau gone, and in the wake of Joss Whedon's impressive go with The Avengers, perhaps the most ambitious movie ever made, the direction of Iron Man's future seemed in limbo. Where would it go?

Enter Shane Black, the iconic screenwriter of the late '80s and early '90s, and widely considered the pioneer of the buddy cop genre thanks to his work on Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. But how did this relic of the action-comedy genre get a gig co-writing and directing one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013?

Well, if you're asking that question, you must not have seen Black's 2005 directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which coincidentally starred Robert Downey Jr. in a triumphant phoenix-like rise from the ashes.

Together, Black and RDJ complete each other — much in the same way that RDJ and Favreau did. And the same irreverence the pair brought to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is what they bring to this big-budget blockbuster comic book flick.

And, mama, it works so good.

Iron Man 3 might as well be called Kiss Kiss Boom Boom. It's a ballsy film — reckless, even, considering that a good portion of their style may fly right over general audience's heads. The self-referential humor, the Kansas City Shuffle it does with the genre's “rules,” the fact that Tony Stark isn't really Iron Man for the film's whole middle act — it's all great. And there's a whole buddy cop storyline too between Stark/Iron Man and James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot.

There's really no way to describe how it works other than to say that it just does. It's completely south of any expectations you have for this type of film, and yet it's so masterfully crafted that you can't really imagine the film playing out in any other way. And though it would probably fail in the hands of any other actor-director combo, it's absolutely the perfect fit here.

Good thing, too, because between Downey's pre-release coyness in press appearances and the rather shut-and-closed way with which this film ends, it's possible that this might be the last time we see Downey fly around as Iron Man — at least so far as standalone, non-Avengers takes go.

Score: 8 out of 10 arc reactors.

Also in theaters this week…

The Angel's Share.
Director:
Ken Loach.
Writer: Paul Laverty.
Cast: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Gary Maitland.
Where's it playing? The Angelika Dallas.

Renowned indie filmmaker Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes the Barely, Kes, Sweet Sixteen) brings us his particular brand of British socialist realism to his latest, a comedy about four would-be criminals who find a future at the bottom of the bottle with best malt whiskies in the world. Nominated for the Palme d'Or and winner of the Jury Prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Fest, this one's got critics going gaga.

Kon-Tiki.
Directors:
Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg.
Writer: Petter Skavlan.
Cast: Pal Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgard
Where's it playing? The Angelika Dallas.

In case you missed your chance to see it on opening night of DIFF, here's your second chance to catch Norway's Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. The film tells the epic tale of '40s explorer Thor Heyerdal's 4,000-plus-mile journey across the Pacific on a raft made of nothing more than balsa wood.

Reality.
Director:
Matteo Garrone.
Writers: Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso.
Cast: Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli, Nando Paone.
Where's it playing? The Angelika Dallas.

It's a film fest foreign flick new release weekend! Here's another film that just screened at DIFF (also nominated for the Palme d'Or and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Fest), this one about a con man whose life is turned upside down when he auditions for Italy's Big Brother reality show.

Renoir.
Director:
Gilles Bourdos.
Writers: Gilles Bourdos, Jacques Renoir.
Cast: Michel Bouquet, Christa Theret, Vincent Rottiers.
Where's it playing? The Angelika Dallas.

A romantic drama set in post-WWI French Rivera, Renoir centers around young Jean Renoir — newly returned wounded war hero and the son of famous Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste. In this tale, the lives of both men are rejuvenated, enchanted and inspired by a new muse in the form of a beautiful, young woman.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Director:
Mira Nair.
Writers: Ami Boghani, Mohsin Hamid.
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber.
Where's it playing? The Magnolia.

A terror-infused thriller from famed Indian director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake), The Reluctant Fundamentalist centers around a young Pakistani man who finds himself caught in a triangle of a hostage crisis, the call of his homeland and his own American dream.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Director:
Steven Spielberg.
Writers: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan.
Where's it playing? At midnight on Saturday at the Inwood Theatre.

Whip on over to the Inwood for what some considered the low point of the Indy franchise until Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came along. For the record, I personally have much time for love here, Dr. Jones.

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