Sunday, May 11, 2008

Review : Iron Man

The summer movie season kicked off with a good start with the release of Iron Man , directed by actor/director Jon Favreau . Iron Man is based on the comic book of the same name , created by legendary cartoonist Stan Lee , the man behind Spider-man and The Hulk ( whose next installment will be released in June , starring Edward Norton , Tim Roth and Liv Tyler ) . The film tells the story of a brilliant yet arrogant and very irresponsible scientist/businessman Tony Stark who after being kidnapped by a mysterious terrorist group named The 10 Rings realizes that his life needs a dramatic change . While held captive , he befriends another prisioner who helps him build Stark´s first armor called Mark 1 . A series of misfortunes claim the life of Stark´s newest friend but our hero does manage to escape the clutches of his captors and returns to the U.S , where everyone , including his best friend Jim Rhodes , business partner Obadiah Stane and love interest Virginia Pepper Potts thought he was dead . Back in Los Angeles , Stark becomes the hero that will be known as Iron Man , whose main quest is to fight crime and injustice , amongst other atrocities that happened because of him and his extremely advanced weapons .

The best thing about Iron Man is that it doesn´t take itself too seriously . Films such as Spider-man and Batman Begins were huge box office successes because of their quality , but in the end one did get the feeling that some aspects of the stories were given too much importance . Whilst in Spider-man , Peter Parker kept thinking about the words that were told to him by his grandfather " with great power , comes great responsibility " , Batman preoccupied himself with making Gotham a safer place . In Iron Man , the idea of a guy who suddenly suffers a change of heart and decides to fight injustice is also what drives the film , but it is not given too much importance , or at least the actors involved in the project didn´t think that they were starring in a film that would be considered a masterpiece or a classical drama ( it´s a blockbuster , not Shakespeare ) . Unlike other films , the special effects in Iron Man really help telling the story and they´re not overused . The film looks more like an adventure film than an action motion picture . The production design is simple and it does not overshadow the thing that has been giving the film great reviews : the actors .

Robert Downey Jr. was a rather controversial if not questionable choice , but after we see him on screen we find ourselves believing that he really is Tony Stark . Downey , who in last years has been making headlines due to his drinking problems , gives Stark a certain charisma and a certain sense of self mockery that perhaps other actors would have put aside . His arch enemesis , Obadiah Stane , is played by Jeff Bridges who also manages to deliver the goods , especially in the final moments of the film , where he becomes the Iron Monger ( a sort of Iron Man on steroids ) . Bridge´s character is , of all the characters , the one that feels more real considering the world´s current political situation and America´s stance on terrorism and other topics that seem to require military intervention . Gwyneth Paltrow is clearly enjoying herself and there is a certain chemistry between her and Downey that must have caught critics by surprise , for they resemble those famous screen couples of the 1940s and 1950s . Their dialogues are certainly one of the best things that the film has to offer . The only actor who doesn´t manage to achieve such a great level acting , when compared to his counterparts , is Terence Howard but considering that Iron Man will most likely have a sequel , and for those of you acquainted with Iron Man´s universe , Howard´s character will become Stark´s super-hero ally : War Machine ( Jim actually gets to say a line that warns us of what is yet to come ) he must be given the benefit of the doubt .

But Iron Man isn´t perfect . We feel that some characters are only there to make Stark , or the actor who plays him , feel big . Bearing in mind that this is the first of what looks like a future saga , and the studio was obviously taking a great risk , the villain of the picture - who is quite evil - doesn´t end up being as charismatic as previous super - hero villains that have shown up on the big screen such as The Green Goblin , Dr. Octupus , Harvey "Two Face" Dent or even Catwoman . Some lines , especially those that are said in the last 15 minutes of the film , are amazingly corny and the action sequences could have been more inventive ( the air sequence reminded me of The Hulk ) .

But for now , Favreau and his companions are enjoying the success of this first Iron Man film that has already grossed 177 million dollars in just two weeks . The stakes are high and one can only hope that what was wrong with the first film , either disappears or is clearly dealt with ( no film is perfect ) , and what was right , ends up being given more screen time .

Iron Man : 0 a 10 : 6


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