Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Iron Man

Iron Man
Directed by Jon Favreau.
2008. Rated PG-13, 126 minutes.
Robert Downey Jr.
Gwyneth Paltrow
Terrence Howard
Jeff Bridges
Clark Gregg
Shaun Toub
Faran Tahir
Sayed Badreya
Leslie Bibb

Paul Bettany

Plot: When ultra-rich weapons expert/tycoon/playboy Tony Stark (Downey) gets abducted by a band of terrorists he escapes by building himself a fully-loaded suit of armor. Of course, this gives him the impetus to not only perfect his prototype but to become a superhero setting the rest of the story in motion.

The Good: Robert Downey Jr. really sets the tone. His portrayal of Stark as a guy who can’t help but be a pompous a$$ is so good it bleeds into the rest of the film giving the whole thing an arrogant sarcasm that serves it well. It actually teeters on the edge of being condescending to comic book fans but never goes quite that far. Like any summer blockbuster worth the butter on its popcorn, the action scenes are loud and fun. Lots of stuff goes boom. As a bonus to geeks everywhere, other facets of the Iron Man history and the Marvel universe are introduced well. For those in the know, we get nice hints about what could be coming in the sequel(s).

The Bad: It’s hypocritical to the point that it bites the hand that feeds it. Essentially, it paints large corporations as the villain while simultaneously doing a boat-load of product placement for those same corporations. For many viewers that may be a bit subtle. More obviously, it suffers from how’d-he-know-itis. A number of times characters show up precisely where they’re needed despite there being no logical explanation for how they knew to be at that precise spot at that time. Iron Man’s first actual flight in the new suit is a perfect example of this but to keep from spoiling anything I won’t go into it. I will say it’s a minor problem in this case and serves to get us to the action quicker. Visually, it occasionally suffers from the same problem that has plagued the Spider-Man franchise. At times, our hero appears to be a cartoon character in a real world. That works when done purposely in something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit but it’s a bit distracting when it isn’t. I know Iron Man isn’t real. However, he should look real in his world and from time to time he doesn’t. Finally, Jeff Bridges performance was just too hammy for me.

The Ugly: The first time Tony tries to land in his new suit.

Recommendation: Most people probably already know if they want to see this or not. It is one of the better comic book movies you’ll see. It has its problems but what it does well, it does extremely well. That way, even without much in the way of action early on, the two hour plus runtime zips by.

The Opposite View: Lori Hoffman, Atlantic City Weekly

What the Internet Says: 8.2/10 on (#166 all-time as of 8/13/08), 93% on, 79/100 on

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