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5/17/08

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I can’t believe that the whiny lead character from Swingers, ended up directing the biggest film of the summer. It’s amazing; and goes to show you never know what people’s hidden talents are. Jon Favreau, A guy who had limited range as an actor, is now one of the top directors in Hollywood, and after Iron Man, can have his pick of projects. But it’s well deserved, he showed great comedic timing with his Christmas film Elf, made a better version of Jamanji with Zathura, and shows he has an adept talent with action in Iron Man. I was really surprised by how well rounded the film is, and I think that’s why it connected with audiences so well. We’ve become so sick of the mindless action scenes and huge explosions, that when there’s a character to connect to behind it, it becomes much more enjoyable.

A lot of the success of Iron Man also goes to Robert Downey Jr.. Always a talented actor, but with his drug problem over the years, was never given a chance to really shine in a lead role in a huge film. With Tony Stark, the weapons designer billionaire, who becomes Iron Man, he gets a character with a bit of an arc, something sort of rare in the superhero realm. He starts off as the ultimate playboy, bedding any beautiful women he wants, driving his elite sports car, to his futuristic mansion in the hills of L.A., but when he’s caught as a prisoner of war, and gets to see what happens when his weapons are used for evil, his mission in life changes, and he becomes Iron Man.

It’s great to watch him actually pound out the metal, in the catacombs of a terrorist hive, and then his genius to build the ultimate weapon, which he uses to escape. Once back home, with the best technology in the world at his fingertips, he builds an even better version, one which can fly at supersonic speeds. They take enough time and caring in building up to the end version of Iron Man that you can believe in him flying around, taking on military jets, and possibly even surviving the brain crushing G-forces of some of his maneuvers. Once the real bad-guy reveals himself, and it’s about as surprising as Jeff Bridges' head is shiny, it’s great fun to watch Iron Man battle it out with an even bigger version of his weapon.

The film has some really great casting, Downey, especially; he’s charming, funny, handsome, but most of all he brings a humanity to this superhero. I think it’s the best casting ever for a superhero, and without him, Iron Man wouldn’t have been the same film. I also really dug Gwyneth Paltrow, as Pepper Potts, his long time assistant and forbidden love interest. They have great chemistry together, and Gwyneth gets to use some of that movie star shine, that she’s been hiding for the last few years. Terrance Howard is good as Col. Rhodes, the guy who always does everything by the book. And it was particularly fun to watch Bridges as the industrialist bad guy; you could tell he relished in playing something besides the sensitive man-child roles he's had since The Big Lebowski.

Ultimately Iron Man proves how great of a director Farveau is. He adeptly mixes, humor, romance, drama and huge action scenes together, actually making it feel like one organic film. So often these scenes clash together in these huge action films, either the humor or the drama doesn’t work, and we’re stuck watching carelessly as things blow-up around the heroes we don’t care about. Here we’re laughing at Tony Stark one minute, falling in love with Pepper Potts the next, then flying off to the middle east to blow away terrorists and actually caring about the people that Iron Man is saving. The film has a mixed message, condemning weapons, then wowing us with the huge battles, but that’s about the only true problem with the film. It’s not a perfect film, some of the scenes are unnecessary or drag on for too long, but for a huge summer blockbuster about a superhero, it’s a refreshing change of pace. The film is well thought out and superbly put together, with some actual care for the characters and the audience that is watching. Grade: B+


1 Response to Iron Man:

  1. "some of the scenes are unnecessary or drag on for too long"

    I agree, especially towards the end of the film. The battle between him and Jeff Bridges didn't do much for me. But overall, I'd give it a B+ too.

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