Friday, May 2, 2008

Iron Man (Movie Review)

I'm so glad I avoided trailers for this movie like the plague. I'll just start by saying that this flick is impossibly cool. Robert Downey Jr. was perfection in the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, bringing his sense of wit and charm to the screen that embody this character so well. Gwyneth Paltrow perfectly compliments Downey Jr., creating romantic interest and tension that plays well and fittingly never gets resolved. Jeff Bridges is another great choice for an antagonist in this flick. Watching his character's path is enjoyable throughout.

The main thrust of the movie is as follows: Playboy Tony Stark's multi-billion dollar company produces weapons of war that find themselves in the hands of terrorists. After a very close call that leaves Stark with potentially fatal "scars", Tony turns around and designs the "Iron Man" suit to find and destroy Stark weaponry in the hands of terrorists. You won't find arch-nemesis "The Mandarin" here, although he is likely the leader behind the terrorist organization known as "The Ten Rings".

Despite the subtle "anti-violence" beat in the film(which offers only a little potential for meaningful discussion afterward), this movie has no shortage of explosive action. In just the first few minutes, audience members are thrown into a military encounter gone bad, and we feel the fear right along with Stark. There are no "mindless explosions" for pure eye candy in this movie. The action is surprising and you're never quite sure what will happen next. This is also true of the film's sense of humor. There are several great comedic moments as Stark tests and develops his armor.

Director John Favreau has admitted a nod to "Robocop" during development, and a few moments play as subtle remakes of signature Robocop moments if you know where to look. The sound design makes you cringe as bullets bounce and shrapnel flies. The armor does pretty much all the things fans could hope for. (I won't spoil it here, though.) And the special effects look great. Not perfect. CGI still has an obvious "look" to it, but when it's used to create machines and not living things, it's much easier to forget about.

The score is a perfect blend of heavy metal and traditional scoring, with emphasis on the former. Favreau also allows the actors to play and improvise, resulting in some wonderfully "real" character beats. This attention to both character and action continues and even improves upon the balance we've come to expect in our modern superhero films.

Above all, despite the great humorous bits in the film, the movie takes the character concept seriously. It translates the source material into a cinematic framework that feels real, but without short-changing the spectacular fantasy of a comic book.

Although it's a very close call, I believe this film is the greatest modern ('98-'08) Comic Book Superhero movie ever made. A sequel seems like the most obvious thing in the world. The last line before the credits role left me with an open-mouth smile that stayed for close to 30 seconds. And whatever you do, stay for the bonus scene that comes after the credits are done. The rumored "cameo" is not just a rumor, and left me with another dropped jaw when the last line of the scene had been spoken.

If Marvel keeps their head on straight, they could create a cohesive movie universe like nothing seen since the classic Universal monster movie crossovers.

Every fan of superheroes simply MUST see this movie. It's WAY too fun to miss out on. It will be all you talk about on Monday, so go grab your ticket and repulsor boost your way into the theater!

Quality: 10/10

Relevance: 7.0/10


  1. Paeter, Thanks for the review. I knew where to go to get the straight scoop!

  2. Hey Joel,
    Glad you dug the review! You can hear the expanded version on my podcast at:

    (Episode with "Iron Man" in the title.)

    I'd love it if Downey Jr. got an Oscar for Iron Man! (Not holding my breath, though. The Academy is notoriously snobbish when it comes to recognizing acting in sci-fi movies.)

    I'm also REALLY anticipating Dark Knight. I'm a DC geek, so hopefully it will shine above all the rest this summer!

    See ya!