Iron Man - Suiting up with Robert Downey, Jr.
Written: Aug 8, 2008
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Downey, Paltrow, Bridges, F/X, Plot, Writing
The Bottom Line: Go! Go see it!
I really didnt have any intention of seeing Iron Man in the theater. I dont really do comic book movies pretty much everything I know about comics and superheroes Ive learned here on Epinions. I dont have anything against them; it just isnt usually my genre of choice. So why did I end up in front of the big screen for a movie about a comic book superhero I know next to nothing about? Well, there are two reasons: 1) I think Robert Downey, Jr. is dreamy and 2) Im frugal. When I saw that the film was playing at the cheap theater ($2.50, now thats a deal!) I couldnt resist the opportunity to ogle a big screen Downey for next to nothing. So Im shallow and cheap but the movie is awesome!
Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark (Downey). Stark is the name and the brains behind the leading weapons manufacturer in the world. Hes a computer/engineering/you-name-it-he-can-make-it genius with an adolescents sense of responsibility. Tony Stark does not take his life or his job particularly seriously he enjoys all the perks (women, money, freedom) and certainly his brain is stimulated by his work, but he mouths the rhetoric of his father (founder of Stark Industries) when questioned about the ethics of weapons manufacturing. A violent confrontation in Afghanistan causes Stark to rethink his priorities, leading to the Birth of Iron Man! Iron Man is, of course, really Stark in a super suit. Its the getting there thats all the fun.
Helping Stark handle his work and life is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, looking completely adorable) perfect assistant. He wouldnt last a day without her and she knows it. Of course theres romantic tension there, but the movie very wisely keeps it on simmer and makes Pepper (by the way, I also love her retro, comic book name) a real character rather than some silly damsel in distress that enters the story simply to look pretty and get rescued. Also along for the ride are Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges making a fine, fine villain) as co-founder of Stark Industries and James Rhodes (Terrence Howard), a military man and longtime friend of Stark who is torn between his devotion to the man and his exasperation with his antics.
Now, those much more knowledgeable than I about Marvel history and lore might have loads to say about how true Iron Man is to its source material. I have no idea, and honestly, I just dont care. Stark is a fantastic character, full of witty banter that perfectly suits Downey and just believable enough within the context of gross unbelievability that makes up this type of movie to make us like him. He even banters with the robots that help him in his lab and its really cute. Thats some good writing. Downey nails the performance; hes absolutely appealing, frustrating and lovable. And for the record, as dreamy as ever. In case you were wondering.
The special effects involving Stark creating, well, anything, are amazingly well done. Sure, its all ridiculous, but dang its fun to watch him use a 3-D hologram set-up that he has in his basement to configure an arm for the suit! Also spectacular are the battle sequences (of course there are battle sequences, are you kidding me?). So much stuff blows up so majestically it makes you want to run to George Lucas and beg for a job at Industrial Light and Magic (who provide the special effects for the film).
Now there is one major thing that could have brought Iron Man to its knees. It could have become a political soapbox. Oh, it would have been soooooooooo easy for a filmmaker to turn this story into a fable about either the evils of the weapons industry or the necessity of the weapons industry. In fact, its something of a miracle that it didnt go that way. Writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and director Jon Favreau walked the razor thin line between the two opposing philosophies by keeping the story personal. This is not about global policy, its about Tony Stark and his company. The villains are not amorphous and everywhere, they are clearly defined and again, strictly confined to the parameters of one company and this story.
It doesnt matter what you think of weapons manufacturers in the real world for this clearly is not the real world. In addition to keeping the story on a personal level, the filmmakers also make the extremely wise choice to give the whole thing a slightly retro feel. Its certainly taking place in the here and now, but scattered throughout are touches of the past. The character of Pepper Potts down to her wardrobe and hair and the cliched 1950s style military situation room where everyone watches the whole of the military operate are two examples, but there are many more subtle allusions to an earlier time that keep the story from becoming politicized.
There is so much fun to be had here, from the special effects, to the outstanding performance of Robert Downey, Jr. to the tremendously well conceived plot and clever writing its all just giddy, high energy movie magic. That the filmmakers manage to avoid politicizing (thus ruining) the film shows the respect they have for their craft, their audience and their subject. Old fashioned Good vs. Evil will never go out of style certainly not when its dished out with such panache. I may be cheap and shallow, but Iron Man is a better movie in every way than I expected. It is completely worth the price of a ticket even in the non-cheap theater and fabulous to see on the big screen. If you can still catch it playing near you, I highly recommend seeing it that way. If you have to wait for the DVD, so be it the movie will hold up to the smaller venue. So even if you dont do comic book movies, check out Iron Man, its a blast!
This review is part of elvisdo's Funny Pages write off. Yes, it is again late. I would apologize, but I'm busy building my super suit.
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