Posts Tagged ‘Jon Favreau’

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IRON MAN (2008)

June 7, 2008

Iron Man Review

Matt:
Adam:
Tracy:

Length: 126 min

Taglines:

Mark 1. Mark 2. Mark 3.
Suit up.
Launching May 2 2008.
Armor up. Fully charged.
Armor up.
Fully charged.

Précis: Superhero film rockets far above others in the genre with a smart, contemporary story about the origins of an eccentric self-made hero.

Review by Matt:

Iron Man is the latest piece of popular culture (a Marvel comic book from the 1960s) vacuumed up by Hollywood’s all-devouring machine, and reconfigured into a blockbuster film. ‘Here comes the crap’, you say, and you’d be right to be dubious – Hollywood’s action blockbusters are too often like a showbag: they promise so much, but ultimately they’re a bag of junk. But – holy superheroes Batman!Iron Man is actually a rare exception where Hollywood hits the mark. Sit back and enjoy a big-budget, comic-book-action extravaganza which also manages to be smart, exciting and relatively believable.

That’s not to say it’s a masterwork of depth. In a nutshell, Iron Man is a fairly simple ‘origins’ story (a la Batman Begins) augmented with some slick action and sly humour. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a high-tech weapons whiz and and amoral playboy who’s earned billions by arming the good old USA with the WMDs it needs to rule the world. Stark suffers a traumatic epiphany (so often the catalyst for a superhero transformation) that melts his patriotism and spurs him to put his techno-prowess to better use. So he constructs a flying armoured exo-skeleton suit and starts thinking about how he can do good in the world, starting by disentangling himself from his profit-hungry company.

It’s a story that is fun and interesting for most of it’s length. The best thing Iron Man does plot-wise is to lay a proper foundation. Most superhero movies would busy themselves by having their guy face off against some monstrous villain or other threat. In Iron Man, the meat of the story is the birth of the character and his transformation into a unique hero. It’s refreshing to see a story more focused on the realities that would nettle a superhero. How do you invent your super-technology? How do you deal with the messy company/military/media pressures? etc.

Spending most of your viewing time with the jocular and fast-talking Robert Downey Jr is also a joy. He brings a naughtiness to the superhero stereotype and an arch tone to the film. It contrasts to the heaviness of other superhero flicks like Hulk and Batman. The contemporary setting also provides a nice touch of realism that is sometimes missing in the genre. The technological advancements featured in Iron Man don’t require a huge leap of faith – it’s modern military technology boosted by a bit of sci-fi imagination (that’s right, his suit isn’t actually clunky old iron – technically he should probably be called High-Tensile-Polymer Man”, but that’s not as catchy). The film uses contentious contemporary issues (war, weapons, insurgents etc) as decor, but the commentary on them is fairly light-on. Also, in true Hollywood style it gently questions the profit-focus of companies, but then shoves Burger King and Audi products in our faces (please note, Hollywood: I’m not going to buy an Audi and drive it to Burger King no matter how much you show them).

Amazingly, Iron Man was one of those productions written then rewritten and assembled by a cast of scriptwriters. So how does it work so well? It’s saved by the shining centrepiece of Iron Man/Stark and the intelligent directing by John Favreau. Get away from this core and it gets a bit jumpy. Some of the more Hollywood-esque elements are disappointing. There are a few moments of questionable reality, a bit of a truncated action-ending, and some watery support characters. Poor Gwyneth Paltrow has the worst deal – and the worst name – as ‘Pepper Potts’, Stark’s prim assistant/romantic interest. The almost unrecognizable (big, bald, bearded) Jeff Bridges has the best of the secondary roles as Stark’s paternalistic business partner who starts to flip when Stark switches sides.

Jumpiness aside, the movie is done smartly, maturely, and with gusto. Which makes it easy to get into and lifts it well above your average superhero movie. Hey, who doesn’t want to see a profiteer-of-war snap out of it, acknowledge his complicity, and then start kicking butts with giant rocket feet?

Review by Adam

I went to see Iron Man on its opening night such was the grip that the hype had on me. I tried to convince my five flatmates to come with me but none would. So I went solo. When I got there the session I wanted to go to was full and I faced a 50 minute wait till the next one. I sat and waited. Boy was it worth it!

I never got into the Iron Man comics nor the little I saw of the cartoons. For some reason it just seemed lame compared to all the other mutants and super powered freaks out there. The movie however transcends that , and it’s the personal connection that viewers have with Iron Man (aka Robby Downey Jr) that makes this movie smooth to watch. RDJ carries the wit and arrogance (and later the passion) that only a weapons billionaire could, and he does it with ease. There’s something all fuzzy and warm about seeing a purveyor of death turn into a defender of freedom and all that’s good in the world. For a second it makes you think that if all the weapons manufactures in the world saw this, the world would be a better place. Then you realise that that won’t happen and you start to plan how your robot exoskeleton would hunt them down (mine would land on the bonnet of their car, freaking them right out!).

A personal highlight for me in this movie was Jeff bridges, with his bushy beard and bald head. Fifteen bucks worth it right there! Gwenyth Paltrow is kinda average in this but really her part wasn’t ever going to be much more than sexual tension and the role of precarious attractive human facing death by villains. She does face death well though.

Ultimately I wanted this movie to be everything it was. Simple plot, superhero moral complexities, explosions… Did I mention simple plot and explosions? It delivered on all these fronts in a wonderfully enjoyable way. Don’t expect more than that, and boy oh boy will you be rewarded. 4 out of 5 Robot Exoskeletons.

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