Friday, May 02, 2008

Iron Man

Title: Iron Man (2008)
Dir: Jon Favreau
Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

I'll admit it - I was skeptical. But damn if I didn't love this movie! It is definitely up there with X2, Batman Begins, and Spider-Man 2 as the best comic book-to-film adaptations. Iron Man has everything you could want in a fun summer blockbuster - big action, flawless special effects, great actors, and a sense of humor. Furthermore, Favreau is clearly big on fan service - this movie is LOADED with inside references sure to give any comic book fan a nerdgasm.

Tony Stark is a billionaire playboy, an engineering genius, and CEO of Stark Industries, the world's leading manufacturer of advanced weaponry. After demonstrating his latest missile to the US Air Force, Stark is kidnapped by Afghan warlords and told he must build them his missile or be killed. With the help of another captive scientist, Tony instead makes an armored suit with built-in weapons and escapes his captors. Upon returning home, he decides to quit making weapons and upgrades his suit so he can undo the harm his weapons have done. Meanwhile, his business associate Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) plots to get rid of Stark and steal the suit's technology.

Robert Downey Jr. was born to play bad boy Tony Stark. I suspect much of the character is just like Robert in real life, but regardless, he absolutely nails the role. He provides the perfect combination of wit, charisma, and arrogance. As Obadiah (aka Iron Monger), Bridges seamlessly goes from a trustworthy papa-bear type to an ominous nemesis. Rounding out the fantastic cast are Gwenyth Paltrow as Stark's assistant Pepper Potts (gotta love those Marvel names) and Terrence Howard as Stark's military friend, James Rhodes. I have never been a fan of either actor, but they are both great here. Any doubts I once had about the cast have been shattered. Even the voice of Tony's home security system is a cool actor (but I'll let you look that up for yourself).

Jon Favreau also grabbed my attention for the first time as a director. I did not like Elf, and had no interest in his other efforts. With Iron Man, he really impressed me. Not only is the look of the film great, but he captures the comic book so well, and was not afraid to include many inside references. Fans will find references to Mandarin, S.H.I.E.L.D., and War Machine. And be sure to wait until after the end credits for a nerdy tease!

Visually, the movie is stunning. Every stage of the Iron Man suit looks amazing, as does Iron Monger's. The big metal suits looked so badass, and the final cherry-red suit is just gorgeous. The visual fx are so good that I could hardly tell which versions were real vs. computer-generated. This movie also satisfied my love for big machines battling one another in a way that Michael Bay's Tranformers barely even touched. And I could actually see what was going on during this film's fight scenes.

Finally, I need to mention one of my favorite aspects of this film - the humor. It was much funnier than I expected. Whether it be Stark's outlandish lifestyle, his witty one-liners, or his anthropomorphic laboratory robots (especially one that sounds exactly like H.E.L.P.eR. from Venture Bros), the movie is full of really hilarious moments.

This is definitely a film you will want to see in theatres. The sound effects are incredible and call for an impressive sound system. My only complaint about this movie is a petty one - they did not use the titular Black Sabbath song in the movie! I was literally holding my breath hoping I'd see that first suit burst through a cave as that song kicks in. But it didn't happen. Oh well. It is an awesome film, and I really hope the cast and crew return for sequels. I want to see Stark's missions expand and pit him against a wider variety of bad guys. This first movie only touches on Iron Man's origin and does not go into him as a full-fledged superhero. Bring on Iron Man 2, please!


hitmandj said...

that was a very good review, it would make me want to see it, but I did with you....ah screw it, it makes me want to see it again!