Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Iron Man

Still on my Avengers tear (as I was before that superhero ensemble was released), this time writing a few more reviews before the DVD and Blu-Ray is released, I delved, once again, into the one that started it all: Iron Man.

From start to finish, this movie is very entertaining, and even if it wasn’t a comic book movie, I’d still feel that way. I had my reservations way back when, when Robert Downey, Jr. was cast as the lead. I always saw him as the roles he played in the 80s, like one of the douche bag antagonists in Weird Science or the drugged out (both in the movie and in real life) friend in Less Than Zero. Basically, I’ve always thought of him as just a supporting character (Chaplin aside) and not the lead hero of an action movie.

Back in the 90s, when I first heard of Hollywood trying to get the comic book character of Iron Man onto the big screen, the name being mentioned quite a bit in the letters portion of many Marvel Comics books was Tom Cruise. I thought, at the time, that he would’ve done well in the role. I didn’t know much about the character—seeing as how I wasn’t into that particular comic book when I was younger—but I figured Tom Cruise would be a good box office draw. But, after a while, the books stopped citing the upcoming movie and I figured there really wasn’t too much interest in the character by the movie studios.

Well, 2008 came around and Paramount Studios—collaborating with the new Marvel Studios—released the much hyped Iron Man. I bought into it and being a big comic book nerd—regardless if I had read the source material—I paid for my ticket and watched it.

Right from the get-go, Robert Downey, Jr. commands the screen and entertains you. Tony Stark is portrayed as you would think a billionaire would be like. The opening scene is very entertaining and Downey sets up Tony Stark’s character from the start. Thinking back, and after watching the performance of Robert Downey, Jr. in this film, I think Tom Cruise would’ve been too dry and boring in the lead role. But Downey steals the show with his charm and humor, which adds to the character tremendously.

At the start, we see Stark with a few military personnel, riding in a Humvee in some far away country which looks to be in the Middle East. The convoy is ambushed and Stark is nearly killed by the attack. After a quick montage of Stark being operated on, we see a quick shot of something us Americans are all too familiar with, as Tony is held hostage and being filmed with terrorists surrounding him, spouting off something in their native tongue. The movie then goes back 36 hours to how all this came to be. But after arriving back to where we left off, basically we find out the terrorists want Stark to reproduce his deadliest weapon while being held captive in a cave. Stark outsmarts his captors by building, instead, his first armor to help him escape. This turns out to be an awesome scene.

There is, of course, much more to this part than I can put in words, but the buildup to how Stark creates his armor and how he escapes is amazing. When Stark returns back home, he is affected by his recent traumatic experience, not wanting his company to make weapons, but to venture into renewable energy and, more importantly (as well as secretly), to create a better and more advanced suit of armor than what he created in captivity. Of course, besides the trauma he had endured, there is much more to why he chooses his path than just being a hostage of terrorists.

Although the origin portion of this film is a little drawn out, watching Downey as Stark is so entertaining and you have fun following him in his quest to become a hero. The performances are pretty good by all the members of the cast, with the exception of Terrance Howard. He seemed a little stiff and wasn’t very believable (in my opinion) as a captain of the air force. He just seemed a little dry and not very animated when I thought he should’ve been. Overall, however, Robert Downey, Jr. is a one-man show with his performance, making up for any inadequacies—which aren’t many—from the other actors.

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is a breath of fresh air as Stark’s assistant-come-love-interest. Both she and Downey have good chemistry together on screen, although I heard Downey had to wear lifts in his shoes since Paltrow is a little taller than him. But she’s not the typical assistant portrayed on the screen, she has a little cynical side to her and you can tell she doesn’t take crap from many people, which shows in the scene where she “takes out the trash.”

Not being familiar with the comic book, I didn’t know who Obadiah Stane was so I couldn’t tell you if Jeff Bridges nailed the part or not. But I thought he did well, especially when he turned on the evil in this one.

The special effects, great when the film was released, is already looking a little dated in some scenes, but that’s to be expected; most special effects become dated within 4 or 5 years. Most of the flight scenes were believable and looked very impressive.

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, because I’m sure most of you have seen this movie. If not, you are woefully behind in the must-see movies that should be watched before viewing The Avengers. But my final “bit” on Iron Man? The movie keeps you rooted in your seat, cheering Tony Stark on as himself or as Iron Man, since this flick is definitely not one of those superhero movies where you’re bored watching the hero when he’s not in his superhero persona. The film is a great addition to your library, if you haven’t purchased it already. If you haven’t, you may want to wait until The Avengers is released on home media, because I’m sure that there is going to be some extravagant edition that features all the movies leading up to it.

Iron Man is awesome!

By the way, a little fun trivia for you: the engineer that Obadiah Stane speaks to about duplicating Tony Stark’s arc reactor is none other than Peter Billingsley—little Ralphie from A Christmas Story—who looks a little ridiculous with his hair shaved to look like he’s bald. Also, look for Captain America’s shield in the scene where Pepper Potts walks in on Stark while he’s being disassembled as Iron man. And, if you haven’t heard or seen it already, there is an extra scene after all the credits have rolled that gives the first wink at the upcoming (at the time) Avengers movie.

Thanks for reading!

You can reach me on Twitter: @JustCallMeManny