Sideshow Dusty Reviews Iron Man MovieFriday, May 2, 2008
There were many questions racing through my mind last night as I entered the theater to watch a pre-release-day screening of the new IRON MAN film. Would it live up to the expectations launched by its bevy of awesome trailers, TV spots, and high-res photos? Would John Favreau prove that he was truly the man for the job? Could Robert Downey, Jr. really pull off a big-time, action-hero role? And what happens when you have to use the restroom while jetting around in the Iron Man suit?
So, you ask: Were all of my questions answered, and did I leave the theater fulfilled and at peace with the world of superhero movies? Let’s just put it this way… The bar for superhero movies has been raised and the rest of this year’s summer blockbusters have some very large shoes to (attempt to) fill. In fact, I’m having a very hard time focusing on getting this review written for you guys (and girls)… All I want to do is go see it again RIGHT NOW! But I will tough it out because I care – and I want to spread my love for this film as far as I possibly can! So, on with the show…
**CAUTION – AS HARD AS I TRIED TO KEEP THIS SPOILER-FREE, A FEW SMALL SPOILERS MAY HAVE SNUCK IN! So don’t read another word if you would like to remain a 100% pure IRON MAN virgin.**
The Good: There is literally too much good in this flick to list! Want awesome technology, fast cars, and loose women? Check, check, and check. Want romantic chemistry, human redemption, character development, and adorable pet robots? More checks across the board. How about clever humor and a few truly great nods to the comic book source material (including a geekgasm-inducing, post-credits scene, which you will kill yourself if you miss)? You betcha! But what makes it REALLY great is that all of the above are peppered (pun intended) with restraint and joy across a brilliant plot line and script, which transcends the average ‘superhero movie’ stigma. Toss in a hugely charismatic lead actor, a talented director with a passion for the source material, and $140 million, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a feature film. (Of course it doesn’t hurt to add in a few more Oscar-caliber performers, for good measure – Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes, and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.)
What’s the BEST thing about the film, in my opinion? You will absolutely love how director John Favreau made the various incarnations of the suits become characters in and of themselves. I really adore these suits, perfectly captured by a combo of flawless special effects and Stan Winston Studio mastery. (The audience literally “ahhhed” at one point during a Mark 3 suit sequence – IMPOSSIBLE to tell the CGI from the physical, it’s THAT good.) The suits are pure artistry combined with bad-ass functionality – they simply could not be better. The scenes showing Tony creating and testing the suits are some of the best in the movie, and you can really feel the love for Iron Man pouring out of John Favreau in these moments of unbridled enthusiasm. Not only is Stark a brilliant engineer, but he is also an artist, deeply appreciative of the beauty of his inventions, which is perfectly captured by Robert Downey, Jr’s performance. And when I say perfect, I mean PERFECT – spot on, note for note – PERFECT. (There’s a scene on an airplane before he becomes Iron Man that just SCREAMS ‘Tony Stark’ – well, you just have to see it to believe it.)
In contrast to the artistry and beauty of the Iron Man suits (even the Mark 1, to a certain extent), the enormous and brutal Iron Monger suit is truly a hideous thing to behold. It’s just pure EVIL, and you can tell simply by looking at it that it was created by a person who only cares about destruction. It’s big, and loud, and cumbersome – a complete opposite to the agility and stealth of the Iron Man Mark 3 suit. Watching that fight is like watching a ninja take on a sumo wrestler. That being said, the Iron Monger suit is not to be missed, especially for the weapons-lovers out there, and the machinery and engineering of it is magnificent.
I could go on (and on and on and on) about the good, but I don’t want to bore you with the details – plus I have to leave some things a mystery so that you, too, will “ahhh” in the theater. After all, audience energy and participation is the best thing about seeing a great action flick with 400 of your closest friends!
The Bad: Ummmmm, the only bad that comes to mind – and it’s not even ‘bad’ just slightly annoying to my analytical brain – are a couple of scenes / montages that require a bit more suspension of disbelief than I am comfortable giving, even during a superhero movie. They both involve an armor suit: 1) During the creation of the Mark 1 suit while his captors are watching his every move, and 2) when ‘the bad guy’ handles the brand-new, never-before-tested Iron Monger suit like a pro. Plus, there are the status-quo, “There is NO WAY he could have survived that!” physical stunts that boggle the mind. But most of them are hysterically funny and / or so cool that you just don’t care.
Also, the film never answers the BIG questions of suit functionality, like what happens when you have to ‘relieve yourself’ while wearing it? What if you ate a few too many beans – is there fresh air circulation and ventilation? And how about all that free-falling, twisting, diving, and breaking the sound barrier? Wouldn’t that bring on an overwhelming need to, well, vomit? (Maybe it’s just me that asks these questions, but I’d really like to know! Y’know, just in case I find myself in possession of an Iron Man suit someday, it’d be nice to know how it works.)
In short, go see IRON MAN in theaters at least once, if not five or six times – I promise you won’t regret it! — My score: 4 1/2 out of 5 Repulsors
Warning: Be careful when taking small children to see this film (10 and under). There are some pretty intense human-on-human violence sequences, most notably one featuring a very brutal terrorist group separating mothers and children from their husbands and fathers. Plus, it’s SUPER loud – which, of course, is only a problem for small children. For the rest of us, who lost the better part of our hearing long ago, it’s totally awesome!
Disclaimer: I have never been a huge comic book fan, although I am somewhat familiar with the story lines of all the ‘major players’. This does not include Iron Man. I was completely unfamiliar with the story of the billionaire playboy Tony Stark before I became part of the Sideshow culture. As far as I can tell, there isn’t much in this film for fans of the comic to nitpick, but of course, I don’t really know, do I? So if you must, nitpick away – but don’t deny the incredibly fun and entertaining energy of this movie!
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