Iron Man Review - Favreau Delivers an Impeccable Superhero Flick
by Alex Billington
April 30, 2008
I haven't walked out of a movie this satisfied in a very long time! Jon Favreau has brought Iron Man to the big screen in an absolutely perfect way. As Christopher Nolan is to the most recent Batman movies, Favreau is to Iron Man. This Marvel universe comic book movie is nearly flawless: superb acting, awesome fight scenes, great direction, geek-approved comic references, and everything else that it needed to kick ass like no other. When it comes to giant robotic machines fighting each other, Iron Man is even better than last year's Transformers.
Billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is on a sales trip to Afghanistan when his convoy is ambushed. In a cruel twist of fate, terrorists use Stark Industries' weapons against the company's own founder in order to blackmail Stark into rebuilding the same missile he just tested. On top of that, Stark is barely alive: an electromagnet keeps shrapnel from piercing his heart. He can escape only thanks to his own engineering prowess. Stark builds a metal suit of armor fitted with machine guns, missiles, flame throwers, and rockets. His narrow escape gives him new meaning - fight against the people who have been abusing his weapons to harm others and rebuild that same powerful weapons suit, this time with more features and much more power.
Like all great superheroes, Tony Stark is flawed - he's got too much money and power and he doesn't care about anyone, at least in the beginning. Robert Downey Jr. succeeds at portraying Stark as a man who comes to terms with his own role in the world - he grows with the character and impeccably embodies the exact person that Stan Lee and Larry Lieber created in 1963. Then you throw in one of my other favorites, the impeccable Terrence Howard (The Brave One), as Tony's best friend Jim Rhodes. And on top of that, Gwyneth Paltrow delivers her best performance since... ever! Even Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane stepped up well beyond what I was expecting. While the cast all puts in excellent work, I loved Iron Man most of all because of what director Jon Favreau brought to the table.
Favreau is more than this film's savior. He's the one who built Iron Man from the ground up. He's a much more capable director than Transformers' Michael Bay, focusing on the finer details of the story yet succeeding at action much farther above and beyond Bay (remarkably). Every last detail of his direction was phenomenal - this is easily what made this movie for me. Favreau was born to bring Iron Man to the big screen and after six years of directing mediocre mush, he's finally found his calling - superheroes, or specifically, Iron Man.
I can't end this piece without gushing about Iron Man's visual effects and fight scenes. We all knew how incredible Stan Winston's armor was when we saw the first photos, but when you see this thing in action, it's mind-blowing. You'll lose yourself in the effects; there's no discernible difference between what is real and what is CGI. Beyond that, Favreau and his visual effects teams have crafted a distinctive, mesmerizing style that really comes out both in fight scenes and in flying scenes. I really couldn't get enough of this great, new style! My initial impression: this looked way better than even Transformers. Where the action leaves off, the story picks up and fills in.
I am truly thrilled to know that Iron Man has delivered. I'll admit I was worried, but this is a very strong start for Marvel's new production studio. Jon Favreau, Stan Winston, Robert Downey Jr., and even Jeff Bridges have all put together one of the best superhero movies to date that will easily replace my infatuation with Spider-Man for years to come. All I want right now is to see the announcement for Iron Man 2! Favreau has shown us he can kick ass and now I want more. As we wait, though, I'll be back out in theaters watching this over and over, enjoying every last minute.