Monday, July 20, 2009

Iron Man (2008)

By Eric Jessen 7/19/09

When the lights go down, or when you press “play” on your remote for a movie like Iron Man, all logic must be temporarily ignored. Explosions come in bunches but they rarely result in someone's death. Everyone is a potential villain except for the face on the DVD box. All we need to know about a comic book action movie is, how witty is our hero and who is his female counterpart? The answers in this case are very witty, kudos to the actor Robert Downey Jr., and the girl is Gwyneth Paltrow, in a very strong performance especially given her superhero groupie role. The sense of timing in its explosions and thrills exceed any of the critics' whipping boy Micheal Bay's best efforts. But the strength of Downey Jr. and Paltrow's performances and their fantastic chemistry make Iron Man an exceptional action movie.
All of these elements considered, Iron Man is a can't miss movie for action fans, but it has something else that should make casual fans run to the theater. Can you guess what it is?...... It's the least common feature of the typical comic book action movie, aside from smart dialogue (sorry to say, still somewhat lost in Iron Man)......I'll give you a hint. You saw it in The Dark Knight (remember the scene when the ferry load of convicts and the ferry of regular passengers are given the choice to blow up the other before they're blown up themselves)......It's intelligent ambiguity: memorable, intriguing, clever scenes.
I'll give you only a taste, so as not to spoil the fun. Robert Downey Jr. plays a prodigy weapons manufacturer and playboy, Tony Stark. He preaches that the Manhattan project defeated the Nazis and his elite weapons save lives. But when he is attacked by terrorists using his guns, while on a trip to Afghanistan, Stark turns humane. He builds the “Iron Man” suit to retrieve his weapons. But he finds out that without his knowledge, his company was making under-the-counter deals, and the terrorists were only pawns in an in-house conspiracy (sound familiar?). Now he faces a larger opponent, his own company and more specifically his vindictive former right-hand-man, Obadiah (Jeff Bridges).
Stark thought he was creating weapons for safety (okay, maybe he just thought he was making lots of money) but he was wrong. So instead he tried with the “Iron Man” suit to create technology to fight weapons but eventually even that is used for destruction. Why does every advance in technology translate into bigger, badder weapons?
The comic book action movie has been improved. Explosions, wit, and thinking: fantastic.

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