Saturday, May 3, 2008

Iron Man - B

In theaters. Rated PG-13, 126 minutes. Trailer.

Superhero movies are hard to make truly interesting. There's always a flawed individual that obtains or creates a 'superpower' and has to come to terms with their new power and its impact on themselves and those around them. There's always a bad guy that has to be (barely) beaten and a pretty girl to be squired. With Iron Man, director Jon Favreau has carved out an enjoyable and slightly funny addition to the genre.

The film belongs to Robert Downey, Jr., who uses his off-screen persona to color the viewers' feelings about his character, pre-redemption. His jaded wise-guy attitude is perfect for his role as Tony Stark, billionaire genius weapons maker with no responsibility. Click below for more on Iron Man.

After his visit to a war zone to debut a new weapon goes bad, he finds himself a captive of a Taliban-type rebel outfit that demands he build them a replica of the new weapon. Instead, he works to construct a tiny power generator and iron suit that will allow him to escape and fly away. After it does, he changes his ways, renounces his weapons maker company and begins to develop the iron man suit in private. Trouble is, his partner in the company (and old friend of Tony's father) Obadiah (Jeff Bridges), doesn't share in his epiphany and only wants to keep developing weapons. Tony, of course, is successful in developing a supercool Robocop/Rocketeer suit that allows him to fly into space and be a general badass. Obadiah steals the technology and a typical fight ensues, with Tony coming out on top.

The love interest is a still foxy Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Stark's high level assistant. Her role is barely more than 1 dimensional and seems like an odd choice for her. Jeff Bridges is good as the bearded Lex Luthor character, using his booming voice and intimidating presence to strong effect.

The first half of the film works very well, with Downey's character as the centerpiece and his smarminess in full swing. Once he is emboldened with a mission, the film gets predictable and even boring in some patches. Favreau does a good job with the action and flying sequences, as well as the suit. This is the kind of movie that can turn into a Mystery Science Theater candidate without strong and smart direction. Overall, a decent movie and a good 'superhero' movie.


priest said...

This gets a B for me as well. above average comic book movie, but robert downey junior is the only thing stellar here. it is nice to see paltrow back, though, and in basically a glamorized eye-candy role. the always dependable jeff bridges was solid the first two-thirds, but got a little hammy in the last third (in fairness, he probably had no choice). and the battle scenes were (sigh) indistinguishable from a half-dozen other recent movies. Oh, the closing credits were excellent as well.

Doctor said...

Interestingly, Favreau argued with Doug Liman about how to direct Vince on the set of Swingers. Who would have guessed a few years ago that Favreau would have the superior super hero movie? I have yet to see this but it has to be better than Jumper.

The casting of Robert Downey, Jr. is inspired. Both Downey and Paltrow were great on Letterman last week.