Superhero movies seem to be becoming a staple of the Summer Blockbuster Season, and this summer has a few more choices for comic book geeks and the general populace alike. The first of those is Iron Man. It's loud. It has action and special effects. But the characters ultimate left it flat.
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Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a genius with technology. He inherited Stark Enterprises from his father, and has turned it into the leader in international weapons. He is wealthy beyond imagination, and lives the playboy life to a hilt, spending as much time as possible drinking, gambling, and with anything in a skirt.
On a trip to Afghanistan to demonstrate his newest weapon, things go wrong and he is kidnapped by a gang of terrorists. What he sees there changes his outlook on his business. After three months in captivity, Stark manages to escape. He returns home determined to change the direction on his company. This does sit well with the board or Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), his father's partner. Will the new suit he is building help him with his goals?
The biggest problem with this movie is it is an origin story. As a result, the first hour is rather slow. Even though I knew nothing about Iron Man going into it, I found parts of this boring. While the second half is rather predictable, the action picks up and it becomes a much more entertaining movie.
Frankly, it hardly needs to be mentioned these days, but the special effects are wonderful. The shots of Iron Man flying are great. I especially enjoyed the few shots from his point of view. The other gadgets and gizmos were fun. And I loved his designing source and robot assistants.
In fact, those robots provide some of the best laughs of the movie. But there are other funny moments scattered throughout the film that truly made me laugh out loud. They were a nice balance to some rather dark scenes, especially near the beginning when Tony is being held captive.
The action scenes are great as well. While the time spent building the suit didn't allow for as many as I would have liked, what we got had me on the edge of my seat. And if the climax didn't quite make sense, I'm willing to let that go.
The biggest problem the movie has is the characters. Even with all the time spent creating Iron Man, we aren't given time to get to know the characters. This is especially problematic for Tony who comes across as an egotistical jerk at first. While his character softens, I never fully warmed up to him. The other characters are only given one or two notes, and that isn't enough to make us truly care for any of them.
Now this isn't a reflection on the actors. While I thought I recognized a few of the faces, I couldn't place them. But beside the previously mentioned Downey and Bridges, the movie also has the likes of Terrence Howard as Tony's Air Force friend Jim Rhodes and Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony's assistant Pepper Potts. They all did the best job they could making the thin characters come to life.
Frankly, my only complaint with the cast was Robert Downey Jr. His past problems were too close to Tony's obnoxious behavior in the beginning of the film, at least for me. I think he was one reason I never fully warmed up to Tony. But everyone else is praising his work here, which just makes me the oddball yet again.
The more I've thought about it, the bigger the flaws seem to me. It's a fun but dumb superhero movie. If you go in looking for a good but shallow time, you'll really enjoy Iron Man.
This is an entry in Elvisdo's first annual Funny Pages Write-Off.
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