Iron Man Reviews
Favreau seems to have had an idea to get an origin story out while not boring us with long drawn out backstory. His ability to give us dual information at once is nicely orchestrated, showing Tony Stark in his basement creating while the TV in the background explains what is happening in the outside world of the Middle East and inside his own company. We as an audience are allowed to put the pieces together amidst the witty banter of Stark and the wonderful special effects. By the end of the film it is quite amazing how much information you will realize you now know, all culminating in a decent final battle, but more importantly a segue into the inevitable sequel. We are allowed entrance into the character evolution of Stark as he goes from war profiteer to man of action and cause, all while seeing the technology improve and advance before our eyes. Much like Batman, we have a hero here that needs help in fighting crime. He has no superhuman abilities besides his brain and being able to see his thoughts go from paper to reality is a feat of magic. Every stage is shown, every failure and success. It's quite the ride in and of itself, but when you add onto it the threat of global war and destruction, it can only get better.
The real success here is in the bold move of casting an actor over-40 to be a superhero. This takes guts, because no matter how appropriate it is, most studios would have said, "no, change the story and make him younger so we can churn out as many of these babies as we can." I don't know how he did it, but Favreau got Marvel to get Robert Downey Jr. to play Stark, a sarcastic lothario with the brain capacity of Einstein. I truly can't think of anyone better suited to the role and he proves it by nailing every single scene. I'm sure there was some ad-libbing, but even if not, his comic delivery and ability to switch on a dime to a sincere seriousness at will shows his masterful craft.
As for the rest of the cast, they all do well. Jeff Bridges plays the bombastic creature of villainy over-the-top, but appropriately so; Terrence Howard is nice as the friend and military liason, not given much to do, but definitely sowing seeds for the future; and Gwyneth Paltrow is good as the sweet assistant Pepper Potts who at times seems a little underwritten and more female prop than anything else, but comes through with some nice moments in a very comic sort of way. I also really liked Shaun Toub as Yinsen, Stark's savior, and Clark Gregg as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Good to see Favreau giving another actor turned director props, (Gregg's directorial debut comes out later this year in the form of Chuck Palahniuk's Choke). I just wish he would have shied away from putting himself in the film. It's one thing to be seen split-second, (like Stan Lee), but its another to give yourself a thankless role with multiple scenes, just adding fuel to the fire on people's opinions of egotism stemming from the drinking game created off of the TV show "Dinner for Five" and how many references to Swingers was made each episode. I'll forgive, though, because, once again, I'm a big fan.
One can't forget that this is an action film above all else, so we can't just praise the actors; every effect is also quite brilliant. Those scenes of Iron Man flying amongst fighter jets in the trailer seemed really lame, but when in context they deliver. The suit itself is amazing as well, through every mach stage right to the end. My main highlight, however, was with the computer systems that Stark utilizes. The multiple screens, instant holographic reproductions, and ability to actually interact with those 3D representations is stunning. We can create them in fantasy, but it's just too bad we can't yet in real life.
Now Iron Man is not a perfect film, nor even a perfect comic book adaptation. What it is, though, is a fun, comic actioner that should light up the box office. The final showdown is a bit of a whimper in comparison to the backstory and machine creation; a crucial element is saved from destruction in the one contrived bit of screen writing, (not quite utilized in the way I thought, although still for the same means); and some moments seem a tad campy rather than witty, but otherwise this is some topnotch cinema that should definitely be seen on the big screen. I can't wait to see how the story progresses in a couple years.With a little tinge of shame and regret, my rare dalliances with the Iron Man character stemmed from a few one off comic books, as well as occasions during the teenage years of spending time in the arcade with those Marvel games, where Iron Man was one of my preferred characters because it came together with his incredible arsenal of weapons from repulsor beams to this gigantic cannon which accompanied the execution of some complex combo moves. There's something sexy about the red and gold suit of armour, and having an array of weapons at the disposal of a player, makes perfect sense for variety in dispatching your enemies.
This may irk the fervent fans of Iron Man, but face it, the superhero belonged to Tier B where superheroes are concerned, languishing behind easily recognizable peers who already have movie after movie being made. But thanks to the advancement in digital technology, bringing Iron Man to life no longer consisted of the prospect and worrying thought of having a man running about in a rubber suit passing it off as metal, the way Ultraman would have been done, complete with mechanical clicks and whirrs as sound effects to try and fool the visual sensory. Here, we have a very detailed rendering of the entire design from scratch to final modification, and we're in at every step of the way, with many cheeky and sometimes a tad implausible scenes just for cheap laughs thrown in.
I thought Iron Man the story worked because of stark (pardon the pun) similarities with Batman Begins, also an origin story which took its time to dwell on the man behind the suit, nevermind at the sacrifice of having less action sequences, or by not giving the fans what they want through the showcase of more than the basic powers. Advanced capabilities can always find room in the sequel, and as the first movie used to establish its characters, I felt that it succeeded, given too that it had a cast of capables (just like Batman Begins had) to pull the movie through without resorting to over the top and campy performances, starting of course with the lead in Robert Downey Jr.
In a nutshell, Downey is Tony Stark through and through. His affinity for the character shines, and no doubt it bore some parallels between his own personal, and Stark's life in the narrative future when he hits the bottle. He was allowed to become a Two-Face of sorts, on one hand being and later acting out his flamboyance self whose mission in life was the continuation of his father's legacy of Stark Industries, a weapons conglomerate, versus his personal mission in ridding his own weapons from the hands of the bad guys, now updated to be freedom fighters in the Middle East. The dialogue contained within each scene of Stark's, except perhaps during captivity, is full of one-liners done in double quick time, you probably would think it boiled down to a whole host of natural ad-libbing.
But while Starks spends significant amount of time in his unsecured basement building his masterpiece, his human interaction come in the form of faithful secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who actually, for the first time I admit, looked really good on screen as Stark's most trusted aide, bringing about some serious spark of sexual tension and chemistry between the two characters of opposite sex, more so than any other comic book movie I have seen. And good friend from the air force Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) complete the circle of trust who knows of Stark's secret identity, and you'd be keeping your fingers crossed at the toss of a teaser of a certain War Machine appearance should the sequel be out.
Who's the main villain in the movie? It points the finger at Corporations, or at least here, the weapons manufacturers and the shady deals that go through in the name of profit, the sole objective for any corporation's existence. And Jeff Bridges, in a rare villainous role, got to personify that greed and wrestle for absolute power just like the trailer already suggested. While his performance is refreshing as he disappears behind the ball head and bushy beard, you could see his motivation and how the plot would have been developed to introduced the ultimate fodder for Iron Man to duke it out in a, sad to say, ordinary finale which any audience would probably be able to stay a step ahead.
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of similarities with the Dark Knight of Gotham in Christopher Nolan's reboot, but more so because of properties inherent with the likeness between Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark. Both are incredibly wealthy to devote time outside of the day job to pursue their "hobby", both have to suffer personal tragedies in order to wake up to the cruel world, and in the movie, both fall prey to the corporate raider type, spend time perfecting their suit of war, have assistants they would trust their lives with, and of course save them from impending doom, and a finales set at their facilities.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard didn't have major parts in the film except to play off Robert Downey.
Iron Man got it right when it comes to comic book movies. Tight plot, great but not an exorbitant amount of special effects, a sense of humor, and a bit of heart. A big thumbs up for Iron Man. I want to see it again on the big screen before buying it on DVD.
On a side note, Gwyneth's sexy secretary wardrode and stilettos were to die for. Those bondage, peep-toe Loubotins (sp?) she wore at the end had me panting.