Iron Man (8/10)

Somewhere between Tony Stark testing out different versions of his suit and battling it out with a megalomaniacal super-duper-villain I realized something: this was the most pure fun I had had since Spider-Man 2 swung resoundingly into theatres back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong; Iron Man is no Spider-Man 2; hell, it isn’t even X2. But it is one of the best superhero movies ever made, and that’s no small praise.

Tony Stark is the head of Stark industries, and he’s in the Middle East closing a deal on his new licensed super-powerful weapon: the Jericho. On his way back to the Army base his convoy is attacked by terrorists and everyone except him is killed. He finds himself demanded by these al-Qaeda look-alikes to construct his new Jericho weapon, and they give him all the supplies he’ll need to do so. Instead he builds an Iron suit that enables him to escape and head back to the US, where he encounters opposition from his partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) when he tries to shut down the weapons division of Stark industries.

Iron Man does have a few chinks in his armor. The first third of the movie drags kind of slow, and there are some glaring plot holes while Stark is building his suit – the main one being why the terrorists would be so stupid as to entrust Stark with all this weaponry and then just magically expect him to follow orders. That, and it’s very unbelievable that such a savvy man as Stark would be completely baffled to find that his weapons are in the hands of terrorists – isn’t it known that if you’re an arms-dealer your weaponry is GOING to find itself in the wrong hands?

The action picks up once Stark is back in the US and perfecting his suit. When he finally takes it out for flight the feeling of exhilaration is reminiscent of when Peter Parker first took to the streets of New York in his PJ Spidey suit, unstoppable excitement tempered by terrifying fear and combined with a sense of tremendous discovery and escapism. Iron Man is the most purely fun movie so far this year, and part of that credit should go to the fantastic special effects.

You thought Transformers was staggering? Wait until you see Iron Man. Though it’s not as chaotic as the titanium titans clashing it’s still bombastically entertaining. The battles are wild and fun and take extensive liberties with the laws of physics and gravity; in other words, the perfect summer popcorn entertainment. There’s at least a half dozen moments where you’ll simply sit in your seat and think to yourself, “DAMN that was badass.” Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the cast shine like bright steel too.

Downey, Jr. is perfect in the role, he’s so charismatic to watch and it’s really difficult to ever take your eyes off him. Despite being an insufferable playboy for the first third of the film he still manages to be likeable, and when he finally does turn generous and unselfish he’s even more endearing. His kind-of love interest Gwyneth Paltrow is radiant, different from anything she’s really played before and bringing sexiness and charm to an otherwise underfed role. Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane is almost too calm and collected, and he lacks the life that the rest of the cast has.

Some people are calling Iron Man the best superhero movie ever made, but it can’t be that for several reasons, a couple of which are the obvious flaws mentioned above. The fact that Stark also needs a small generator to keep a few shards of metal from fatally piercing his heart, but at the same time can build weapons of incredible power, makes you wonder why he doesn’t just remove the metal pieces in the first place. These are all small complaints, though, as they’re the kind of things you either implicitly accept in a comic book world or whole-heartedly deny. And comic fans who stick around after the credits will be treated to an unprecedented event in superhero filmmaking. Regardless of which camp you fall into, the fact remains that Iron Man is the perfect movie to jump start this summer season, and it only remains to be seen whether The Dark Knight lives up to its expectations, because if it does, it’s quite possible that it may surpass both Spidey and X2.

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One Response to “Iron Man (8/10)”

  1. Iron Man was practically flawless as a super hero flick; its makers drop some pretty obvious sequel hints too… i’m thinking the next one should be equally great

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