It rolls along noisily for a little over two hours, a string of whiz-bang special effects, big explosions and violent confrontations. And when it's over you think, OK, not bad.
But not great, either. Watching it, I didn't feel much of anything about these characters, a far cry from the original “Iron Man” that was grounded in a sense of realism. A couple of hours after seeing this sequel, there were few visual images that stuck with me either.
Not that it matters what I think. "Iron Man 3" has already hauled in $200 million overseas, and it's sure to swamp the North American box office this weekend. My guess is that comic-book fans will find plenty here to make them smile.
I smiled myself at the cynical wisecracks and dry verbal sparring by Robert Downey Jr. as armaments inventor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. He's great. I especially liked his exchanges with a bullied little boy (Ty Simpkins) who helps him when he's down and out — and who is rewarded generously for his trouble.
Stark's problems this time are twofold. One: He's suffering through insomnia and panic attacks in the wake of the New York City throw down that ended "The Avengers" last summer. His cage has been rattled.
Two: Some terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley has fun as a bin Laden wannabe) is causing all kinds of problems. And he brings those problems to Iron Man's doorstep, literally.
Meanwhile the government has its own Iron Man-type suit, which it repaints in red, white and blue and calls Iron Patriot. Stark's old friend, Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, underutilized), fills that suit.