Dark man back

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Robert Downey Jr has always seemed an unlikely action movie star but he has made his Marvel alter ego, Tony Stark, one of the most popular superheroes.

Iron Man 3 (Cert PG) marks his fifth appearance in the iron mask and reveals a dark side to the hero, as seems to be the current trend.

Picking up the story from where The Avengers ended, things seem to have taken their toll on Tony Stark who finds himself prone to panic attacks.

We find him at a loose end in his Malibu mansion, attempting to perfect a remote control Iron Man suit.

But attacks on the US by mysterious international terrorist The Mandarin rouse Stark into action, only to find that he faces another adversary in geneticist Aldrich Killian who has developed a deadly virus which gives superhuman strength to his zombie-like cohorts.

As Killian, Guy Pearce is odiously smooth but Ben Kingsley as a frightening Midwest Bin Laden hybrid who is not all he seems hilariously steals the picture.

The fact that Stark is forced to take on their might and rescue girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) with a malfunctioning Iron Man suit results in Downey spending most of the film exposed as flesh and blood is a bonus in giving more scope for his laidback humour.

All the components of his suit are supposed to assemble at his beck and call so we see arms and legs flying on to his body thanks to remarkable CGI special effects.

After a slightly convoluted start with flashbacks to 1993 and the introduction of rather too many characters to keep a handle on, Iron Man 3 eventually hits its stride with some exciting action sequences and a good dose of comedy.

With Shane Black taking over direction, it’s a lively opener for the season of summer blockbusters.

Jack Black and director Richard Linklater team up for the first time since 2003’s School of Rock, on a much darker comedy, Bernie (Cert 15) based on true story. Black plays soft-spoken Bernie Tiede, popular mortician in the small town of Carthage, Texas, who to general disbelief befriends its most unpopular citizen - wealthy, cantankerous widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine).

Months go by without Marjorie being seen, but she was not missed by the townsfolk until they learn she has been dead for some time, and their beloved Bernie charged with her murder but that’s only the start of the story.

Set in photogenic Bristol Flying Blind (Cert 15) is a romance/thriller in which Helen McCrory plays Frankie, an aerospace engineer designing drones for the military who embarks on a passionate affair with Kahil (Najib Oudghiri), a French-Algerian student. As suspicions are aroused about his true motives, Frankie allows her heart to rule her head.

The film is good at exploring the insecurities between different cultures but there comes a point when you feel Frankie is a little too naive and Kahil far too evasive to make you believe in the relationship.

Flying Blind is the first feature film by young Polish director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz who will take part in a Q & A at a special screening at the Showroom on Friday.