Film Reviews

IRON MAN

By • May 2nd, 2008 •

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For those of us without one single comic book in a protective clear shield, this is the comic book superhero movie to see.

For those of us not Marvel Comics’ fans, IRON MAN is the comic book superhero movie to see. He’s not a boy, he’s always got a drink in his hand, he’s egoistical, vain, and middle-aged. He’s a diva with a lot of different hairdos.

And, as Robert Downey Jr plays him, he’s in on the superhero joke. But there’s a terrific hook here – Tony Stark (Downey) is obsessed with pushing the bounds of technology. That is what is driving him – that, and the sudden realization that his weapons are killing people.

Stark always thought his company’s missiles – which he designed, built and gloriously promoted – were merely “deterrents”. A high-tech sword-rattling endeavor, if you will.

Sure, Tony is given a very good reason for deciding to save the world but he’s going to do it with his body, with his feet on the ground, and not from an estate in Britain (I’m still insulted that Madonna named her charity “Raising Malawi.” With her personal wealth alone, Madonna could buy the entire country and feed all the people for all of their lives. Why doesn’t she follow the example of Francis of Assisi and give all her wealth away? Adopting a trophy semi-orphan is nothing but self-glorification. As if she’s raising her son all by herself in a one-bedroom apartment.)

According to the image we are shown of babe-magnet – yet misogynist – Stark, his Iron Man suit is the ultimate expression of his penis – it’s even given a red, shiny finish!

What led Stark to become Iron Man, and the tech journey, are really what makes IRON MAN a terrific, crowd pleasing movie.

Stark has two devoted people around him – both in love with him. He also has a robot he talks to but doesn’t dress in clothes like people do to their beloved dogs. While Stark was held captive in Afghanistan for three months, he admitted to missing his robot-buddy.

How big is IRON MAN going to be? The crowd started to assemble outside the Rave Theater in Las Vegas for the promo screening at 2PM. The screening was for 7PM!

Directed by Jon Favreau (also playing Stark’s limo driver, and looking trimmed down from obesity), IRON MAN has a strong dramatic frame. There will not be (at least I hope not) Iron Man Halloween costumes for kids. This is a movie for adults.

Let’s face it – once the superhero suit goes on – it’s the stunt guy. It’s CGI. It’s all fake. Its miniatures. There is no further acting or character development necessary. So the writers, and there are a lot of them, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway, give Downey a lot of time to develop Stark’s pre-and-post conversion.

It’s not as dramatic as Saint Paul’s Road to Damascus conversion, but it is convincing.

After a bravado performance of Stark’s newest weapon-toy in Afghanistan for the U.S. military, he gets kidnapped and is forced to make another one for an evil gang of peace-hating thugs. (One man with an assistant in a business suit can make a nuclear weapon in a cave? We have to re-think that bloated U.S. military budget.) Instead, Stark builds a suit of armor. They are watching, but don’t have a clue, even when he’s trying on his iron suit legs.

Destroying Afghanistan during his escape, Stark is rescued by his devoted friend, Col. Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard). They go way back to boarding school days and lonely nights with no one to hug but each other. Stark has a saintly assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and his father’s best friend and now his partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).

Stark dumps the good life of wine, women, and fast cars, and sets about building an iron Frankenstein with a twist. He’s inside it! And he can fly as fast as a jet on steroids!

Finally with a working suit, Stark, who I am sure has a 3-picture deal, sets off on his grand scheme, leaving Stark Enterprises investors and Stane enraged. Stark stock plunges, but best buddy Col. Rhodes just wants a suit of his own.

Except for the inevitable iron fist-fight, where we collapse into mayhem and throw the smart story in the shredder, the ending is really a clever twist.

Whoever green lit Downey should get a big bonus. It’s trite to say, but he has the method down pat – his characters, no matter what they do, always have a good reason. Or at least, it’s a good enough reason for them.

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