Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Movie Review: Iron Man

For anyone who enjoys movies about comic book super heroes, you’re going to enjoy this one.

For anyone who enjoys movies about sassy lead characters, who turn from lovable jerks to lovable humanitarians before their eyes, you’re going to enjoy this movie.

And, for anyone who just simply enjoys meaningless movies that add nothing to their intellect (and perhaps even takes away some of that brain power), you’re going to enjoy this movie!

Bottom line, you better watch Iron Man.

Robert Downey, Jr. plays the part of Tony Stark, a very wealthy industrial genius whose company specializes in building weapons. Naturally, Stark only focuses on inventing new weapons and basically the R&D part of the company he owns. Unbeknownst to him, living in his own version of a Utopian world, his company also deals under the table with the bad guys. Stark realizes that after being kidnapped by said bad guys, so he ends up building an armor suit full of smart weapons and gizmos that make him fly and impervious to bullets and explosions. Then he starts using that alter persona, Iron Man, to fight the bad guys and general injustice around the world.

Throughout the movie, we can follow Stark’s transformation from a grade A womanizing schmuck who thinks that the world revolves around him, to a bad-guy-fighting-one-woman-loving lean mean machine, all in a span of a few short weeks, based on the movie’s chronology. But it’s a good transformation, as he starts to learn that people who he thought he could trust were only looking out for themselves, and people he took for granted are the ones he should let into his new found “big heart.”

Robert Downey, Jr. excels in portraying both aspects of Stark’s personality. His casting was a major coup, because he carries the whole movie. Even though the supporting cast are to be feared, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges, all of them were way overshadowed by Downey’s efforts.

They all seemed to have had the sense that this is yet another comic book super hero movie, and they didn’t take it too seriously, especially Jeff Bridges. One would expect much more from these actors. But Downey, well you can’t really tell if ever he’s taking anything seriously, which is the beauty of his acting. Look at his career, whether he’s playing the romantic lead, or the obsessive journalist, he’s always been the best at showcasing confident vulnerability (or sometimes vulnerable confidence), peppering his characters with a touch of irreverent lunacy. It has always worked, and it works best in this movie, where you need that added level of likability to get through some patches of the plot where things don’t make a lot of sense, and can be a tad boring.

Jon Favreau did an admirable job of directing Iron Man (even casting himself as a Stark bodyguard, which did not feel like it was needed at all, or added anything to the movie), and he made sure to put the focus entirely on Downey. Well, it worked. Favreau saw something new and fresh in Downey that he could bring to this genre, and he rode him to success! Of course, as always in big budget Hollywood movies, the door was left wide open at the end for a sequel.

I can’t wait!

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