Saturday, May 3

Tony Stark Raving MAD Review


Let me say this going in. I never was an Iron Man fan. Never really got into the character or the comics. The recent Civil War mini-series from Marvel did little to make me like the hero as well. Earlier this year, I really wasn't looking forward to the movie version- didn't like the trailer, saw nothing but another movie laying all it's eggs in CG effects and little else.

Well, I've seen the film, the latest superhero adaptation from Marvel, and what do you know.

I have to say it's the freakin' best superhero movie I've seen yet.

Better than all the Spiderman flicks. Better than the X-men flicks (although what Iron Man is missing is a naked blue shapeshifter babe...). Better than Fantastic Four. Better than Batman Begins, by far. At the very least, it's the most FUN superhero flick so far that I've seen.

Bold words, I guess. But what can I say? This film works. It works on every level, impresses me from beginning to end with a story, character, cast, effects, pacing and script that had me in my seat to the end, aching bladder and all.

Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire industrialist/weapons-dealer Tony Stark OWNS this movie. He freakin' NAILS it. He IS Tony Stark (Though I kinda felt that from the trailers). Downey's Stark is funny and fun. He's Bruce Wayne with about a gazillion times more technical genius and none of the psycho baggage. But the big difference between Stark and Gotham's Favorite Son? Stark knows how to live it up and enjoy himself. He looks, feels, acts and swaggers like a billionaire, and you eat it up. He's funny, he's irreverent, he's a little kid in a grown man's body, and you just like him right away.

But of course, all is not fun and games, and shortly after we meet Stark who's on top of the world, he gets kidnapped, dragged near to death and back, and sees the fruits of his labors... all the warmongering evil of it. So what happens? Tony grows a conscience. He's always been a good guy, but this momentous event focuses him and turns him from just someone with great power to, well, to coin the cliche, someone who decides to take on a great responsibility. This transition from fun-loving, Devil May Care playboy to Devil May Care playboy superhero is handled perfectly and drives the movie forward on repulsor thrusters.

Giving strong support is Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Stark's Girl-Friday and kinda-sorta-love interest (her scenes with Stark are really nice and add heart to the tech) and she looks beautiful. Although her unflappable performance in this one brings to mind, in a kind of good way, her stint in the somewhat tragic Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
An almost unrecognizable Jeff Bridges has a delicious role as Obadiah Stane- a bit of a cross between Apple's Steve Ballmer and Saruman. Stane will immediately be recognized by Marvel fans as the movie's antagonist, the Iron Monger, and his slow unmasking is a good buildup for the very physical finale at the end.
Then there's Terrence Howard, as Tony Stark's best friend James Rhodes (whom we all know will someday wear The Suit), and his role, while understated, is damn fun. The straight man to Stark, he's like a cross between Cuba Gooding Jr. and Forrest Whittaker.

As much as the script, pacing and consistency of the production values of the movie were things I enjoyed thoroughly; everything feels right and has a glossy, big budget feel, as it should., it has to be said as well that the special effects are amazing. The action is pretty hard-hitting, though never graphic (the film has a high body count, actually, though blood is almost never seen), and Iron Man doesn't shirk from using lethal force. Some parts in the movie made me go YEAH! MAN, I want a damn Iron Man suit too, damn it!

Great action and special effects, solid pacing, a great script with tons of witty, snappy banter that's been updated to the times and loaded with cool payoffs (and lots of little details that will have Marvel fans giddy- I have to admit the thing with SHIELD caught me off-guard and had me smiling after) and a great cast, I of course have to applaud director John Favreau who batted this bad boy out of the stadium for a marvelous home run. I can't wait to see the next movie (this is supposedly just the first of a trilogy, with the cast all signed up to the end).

Iron Man really surprised me. Enough to make me a fan of the comic? Probably not, but I am a darn fan of this movie, and I'm gonna have to watch it again too since I freakin' missed the extra scene at the end after the credits.

Iron Man is now showing in theaters all over the Metro. WATCH IT. WATCH IT NOW!

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