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Movie Review: IRON MAN (PG-13) ****

May 4, 2008

If I told you that I never really collected comic books as a kid, you might think that I had a deprived childhood. But that wouldn’t necessarily be so. Between Saturday morning cartoons, cartoons after school, and the occasional primetime series, I got my fill of superhero action. The only thing was, nearly all of these heroes came from the DC Universe. I knew almost nothing of the Marvel Universe. The past 10 years though, have seen me play catch-up thanks to a string of movie hits from the Marvel Studios, Stan Lee, and Avi Arad. My favorite franchise continues to be SPIDER-MAN, but I have also enjoyed the X-MEN movies, and FANTASTIC 4. Last night, I was introduced to the world of IRON MAN. I also discovered that Robert Downey Jr. can carry an action movie very well!

Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, president and CEO of STARK INDUSTRIES. STARK INDUSTRIES specializes in the manufacture and sale of advanced weapons systems. Tony is also somewhat of a man-child, who would rather tinker in his workshop or play at the tables in Vegas when he should be delivering an acceptance speech for an award he’s received. As the story opens, Tony is in Afghanistan to demonstrate his company’s new Jericho Missile, which has the capability to launch a smaller missile spread over a wide area. The demonstration is a success, but Tony doesn’t make it home right away. A splinter terrorist group known as the 10Rings wants their own Jericho, and kidnap Tony, by exploding a mine near his HUMV that sends shrapnel deep into his body. If the shrapnel reaches Tony’s vital organs, he’s a goner. So, Tony now wears a special electromagnet to keep him alive. As you’ll see for yourself, it’s more than just a magnet.

Tony plans his escape from captivity by constructing his first Iron Man suit. One of the best things about this movie is that the suit isn’t immediately perfect. After a fiery battle with the 10 Rings, Stark manages to fly away, only to crash in the desert. He also manages to get himself caught in the suit while still in the cave. Even after he gets home, and decides to make improvements, it still isn’t perfect right away. This leads to a very funny scene with a robot equipped with a fire extinguisher.

Stark’s captivity causes him to rethink his company’s priorities. He wants to move the company away from arms dealing. This news upsets many people, including Stark’s mentor-Obidiah Stane (an almost unrecognizable Jeff Bridges), who believes that things should stay as is at any cost, Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) Stark’s would-be love interest and personal assistant, and his friend Col. Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) who finds himself having to be the first person to protect Stark’s secret. If you know the IRON MAN comics, I don’t have to tell you which of these three people goes on to make life very difficult for Stark.

As with the other hit movies from the Marvel Universe, IRON MAN boasts some pretty amazing special effects. My personal favorites occur when Stark is flying in his Iron Man suit. These are some of the best flight sequences since TOP GUN. I also like the movie’s sense of humor-it’s a wise guy mentality, without being cynical or mean. As if this were not enough, there are two cameos you’ll want to watch out for. The first may not be a surprise to you, as this person made an appearance in one or two other MARVEL movies. To see the second one, you’ll have to stay until the very end of the credits. This cameo, however leads me to believe that we are going to see more of IRON MAN in the coming years.

That’s fine by me. IRON MAN continues the MARVEL tradition of giving us very human and flawed characters dealing with conditions and events that are superhuman, and that makes me sympathize and empathize with them. My one and only criticism is that I felt it was just a little sluggish and dark at first. Nevertheless, IRON MAN is a real adrenaline rush when it gets going. That is thanks to director Jon Favreau (ELF and ZATHURA). Favreau never lets you get bored or bogged down with obscurities or scenes that drag on. The 126 minutes fly like Stark in his suit. And I hope I’m right about that scene at the end, opening the way for a sequel.

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4 comments

  1. Best movie directed by an Ex- Friends regular ever


  2. You’re right. Jon Favreau was indeed on FRIENDS. I found that info when I was researching some of his credits for my review. Thanks for your replies!


  3. Robert Downey Jr. is a class A talent and a deeply loyal and deserving person. The smart money is in casting strong actors as Stan Lee’s characters. If you do that, and support them with a quality script, audiences will respond.

    Why is this treated as rocket science at most studio development meetings?

    Tony Stark makes you feel he’s a cool exec with a box office of steel. đŸ™‚


  4. Quite right. I’ve been a fan of Robert Downey Jr. since WEIRD SCIENCE. I think the reason the execs don’t get the message is because dollar signs are blinding them. They see green over quality talent any day.



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