The presumably final installment in the "Iron Man" series (we'll see about that) and the first of Marvel's "Phase 2" precursors leading into 2015's sequel to "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3" is a disappointingly middling start to this year's summer movie season that, nevertheless, also serves as a fitting personal conclusion to self-deprecating scientist/entrepreneur/makeshift superhero Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Bookended with promise and vitality, the film is cursed by a full middle hour that all but completely perishes from its own meandering dormancy. When audiences come to see a motion picture of this ilk, they naturally expect to be thrilled and treated to spectacle; what they don't want is a long, meandering slog interspersed with only a couple action set-pieces that live up to expectations. What's the point of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on that when other films at a fraction of the price tag far, far surpass this one in excitement, momentum and grandeur? On the positive, at least it's a baby step up from 2010's messier, more ramshackle misfire "Iron Man 2."
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