Latest ‘Iron Man’ will divide the fans

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The summer movie season began last week with the release of the highly anticipated “Iron Man 3.”

After firing on all cylinders with last year’s brilliant “The Avengers,” Marvel had to make a clear statement that there is more in store with its characters.

For a large amount of the screen time “Iron Man 3” succeeds, but critical liberties taken with specific characters has divided opinions sharply amongst the film fans who never read a comic and hardcore fans who helped establish the character in the first place.

The movie takes place shortly after the bombastic battle of New York at the climax of “The Avengers” and Tony Stark, the man inside the armor, is not the same.

After fighting alien invaders alongside gods and gamma-fueled behemoths he feels inadequate and helpless.

Anxiety attacks and nightmares replace his normal diet of booze and bluster, so instead of dealing with it he buries himself in his work, quite literally armoring up to shield himself from the outside world.

All this introspection is halted when a new very human threat enters the picture.

A psychotic terrorist leader with a flair for theatrics calling himself the Mandarin begins his campaign of chaos, bombing at seemingly random places all across the world. A plot point that rings all the more frightening and real given recent events.

Taking a cue from “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Iron Man 3” is about destroying the foundations of its hero and the realization that the real hero is inside, not the costume and gadgets.

While that sounds topical and thematically interesting and much of it is, the plot severely undercuts itself in the second half.

This is a strange case where I know full well that this is a fun and well-made movie.

The script and direction by Shane Black  is full of well-paced action and dialogue so full of snark that star Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his funniest performances.

The co-stars especially, Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin are fantastic. When the action scenes happening, they are genuinely fantastic.

Why is it I can’t find myself loving the film?

At the halfway point the film does a sharp left turn that will leave many big time “Iron Man” fans livid, present company included.

Taking liberties is fine and expected in adaptations, but what is done here feels like we were lied to.

The movie promised and was marketed on a particular angle and what we get turns out to be a joke only to tell a more absurd, safer and all around less intriguing plot.

I fully realize this is nerd rage and before these movies, average film-goers knew little about “Iron Man.” Those film fans will have an absolute blast. The offending twist works great for the film’s story. It’s a fun popcorn movie. It’s just strange to see the people most happy are not hard core fans.

Either way see it and have a good time and as usual with the Marvel films stay past the credits for a good laugh.

Four repulsor blasts out of five for movie lovers. Three out of five for the hardcore comic nerds.