Ok, so it's taken me a while but I've been busy. Last week my family saw Iron Man as a reward for my son's kindergarten graduation. I've got no frame of reference for Iron Man, no cute back story about my dad and after school cartoons, so I went in not sure what to expect. In fact, I thought Iron Man was one of the X-Men, and was wondering why he got his own movie. I'd heard that it was TEH BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVAR OMG!!!11!! but that's what people had said about nearly every superhero movie in the past eight years, so I didn't pay it much heed.
Let me say first that the most striking thing about this movie is how realistic the special effects are. Things that we know are impossible are within the realm of suspension of disbelief because they LOOK so real. Which brings me to another point, the violence is also very realistic (barring the last robotic suit battle which came off as pretty corny). That issue disturbed me because people were getting mowed down by machine guns and my son was laughing like something funny happened. This says more about the nature of violence as entertainment in America than the quality of the movie.
I'm a big proponent of taking a movie as it is and so it won't come as a big surprise that this won't be getting any screenwriting awards. The dialogue is predictable and suitably lame (especially during the big final battle which as you may have guessed I found disappointing). At one point I could swear I heard the baddie say "Ice try." This could be a mistake on my part, though.
Robert Downey Jr. Does an amazing job playing Tony Stark. He revels in playing the philandering Stark and pulls of the lovable jerk flawlessly. Even his revelation and turn of heart seem genuine in a movie where so many other things are just plain silly. The change comes when he realizes that his weapons have been confiscated by nefarious characters and are being used to evil ends. He decides, after some prompting by a throwaway character, to redeem himself and rectify the situation post haste. This scenario would be a groaner if not for the near perfect blend of cockiness, naivete and genius Downey gives Stark.
It's hard to stand out next to that kind of performance, even in a summer action flick. The other actors did a fair job, but couldn't compare to the obvious glee Downey exhibited in his role. Jeff Bridges was distracting for me personally for two reasons: he just looks like a nice guy and I kept seeing The Dude. Gwenyth Paltrow's character was all right (except for her lame name, but that was established long before the movie) until she has an "ooo shiny!" moment and had to run in stilettos.
It may seem like I'm being hard on this movie, and I'm not trying to be. It was fun, exciting and much better than most of the other super hero movies of the recent past. I suppose the only thing I was left wanting were some surprises. We all know the good guy has to win in the end, but we don't have to follow the same predictable formulas every time to get there. It's worth seeing if you haven't seen it already.