Kevin's Review: Iron Man - Raising The Bar, Big Time
by Kevin Powers
May 2, 2008
Robert Downey Jr. is definitely a wily character who has managed to leverage his frenetic genius all over Hollywood throughout recent memory (albeit in fits and starts) - a guy well-known for getting high and arrested back when such behavior was truly self-destructive as opposed to self-aggrandizing. Over the past few years, Downey has slowly molded a stronger (and more sober) foundation for himself in Hollywood, through supporting roles in Zodiac and Charlie Bartlett for instance. With this solid footing in place, I doubt anyone would have expected the actor to rocket off into the mainstream consciousness again via, of all things, a comic book adaptation. But that's just what Downey has done with the help of director Jon Favreau, and the result is pure gold. Well, red and gold, actually. With Iron Man, Downey and Favreau have bested nearly every comic book-turned movie in the last decade and delivered a perfect introduction to the character, setting a bar so high that few, regardless of respective superpower, have or will ever reach.
Downey Jr. assumes the character of arms genius (and heir), playboy Tony Stark, your typical self-obsessed billionaire for whom being gratuitous and blithe are as complementary and essential as shoes and socks. Stark is blown back to reality when his humvee is attacked in Afghanistan following a demonstration of a new rocket. The attackers kidnap Stark and demand he manufacture a missile for them, pieced together from Stark's own company's munitions; they are, in fact, a customer of Stark Industries. That realization, along with his motivation to survive, finds Stark building an early-stage suit the likes of which the kid next door might piece together out of garbage cans. It's an ugly first attempt, but it gets the job done. Once back home in his Malibu mansion, Stark sets his mind on refining the suit that freed him and bettering his company and influence so that weapons no longer end up in the hands of bad guys. He's a changed billionaire all for the better. Naturally, various greedy and nefarious individuals take issue with the new Stark, resulting in much of the film's conflict. And what a great a conflict it is.
Cuddly fanboy and director, Jon Favreau, has seemingly come out of nowhere. With intimate action shots, sweeping flight sequences, and CGI like no other, Favreau has put together a career-worthy reel that will certainly set his schedule for years to come. Let's at least hope so. For a minute, even, his taste of score and heroic shot seemed reminiscent of Michael Bay. (The action-sequencer side of Bay, that is.) The guy has a great eye and has wonderfully balanced some amazing action and eye-candy with Downey's deadpan wit.
The richness and realism of Iron Man's Mach III suit and stunning flight sequences are rivaled only by Downey's full embodiment of the Tony Stark character. It seemed an likely exaggeration when comic book writer Matt Fraction told GQ that Downey's casting was "absolutely perfect." But he's right. And though Iron Man is not a dramatic or particularly deep tale, Downey still finds a way to imbue the comic hero with such a spectrum of emotions (e.g. cockiness, insecurity, addiction, caring, heroism, etc) that should surely make the character's originators smile.
Of course, films of this ilk all have their standard plot holes and Iron Man is no exception. For instance, how is Stark able to fly from Malibu to Afghanistan in what seems like 15 minutes? Or how is he able to develop a self-sufficient energy source in the setting of a cave? How exactly does he have such intuitive and kindly robots? The questions are numerous, sure. But in the light of such deafening coolness, the inner inquisitor is easily drowned out. And after all, this is the Marvel universe, so you really just have come to accept such leaps of faith.
The only other adaptation in recent memory that rivals Iron Man is the dark and brooding Batman Begins released in 2005. However, the two films' similarities pretty much end at being based in sequential-art paperbacks. Batman is far more moody and dramatic compared to Iron Man's flashy, fun and humorous disposition. And that is in large part what sets Iron Man so far apart from anything we've seen in the world of big-screen comics; and, really, anything we might see in the future.
The upcoming Wolverine and Incredible Hulk flicks both promise to explore the rage and wrangling of the title characters. So what a treat it is, then, that Downey and Favreau give us a story that is stuffed with garish gadgetry, deft comedy and some good ol' high-tech ass-kicking. To call this movie a fun ride would be like calling Tony Stark's ice-silver Audi R8 a grocery-getter. Iron Man, simply, is so much more than it promises to be and crushes nearly every other comic adaptation in recent years, putting many to shame and leaving future ones in question.
"Or how is he able to develop a self-sufficient energy source in the setting of a cave?" Some might say that Tony Stark is a regular human being with no super powers. Maybe his power is his intellect. He thinks on a level so far beyond what you or I can comprehend, that he is indeed superhuman. Excellent review Kevin. It is refreshing to see that not all comic book movies need to be dark and moody. this is the main reason I enjoyed Hellboy. I saw Iron Man last night and it is indeed a high bar for every other comic movie this summer, or next summer, or the summer after that.
Necrothug on May 2, 2008
as well as it's a @#$% comic book story, and nowhere set in reality
atgeeks on May 2, 2008
Nice review....I can't wait to see it!
Cameron on May 2, 2008
I feel the need to point out how every single review I'm seeing seems to be pointing to Michael Bay's work for comparison to this action film. In retrospect, Transformers (and the reast of Bay's craptastic oeuvre) seems even more empty, shallow and cheesy after you've seen what a talented team can do when they take the effort to create a great product. Even if the source material does have an annoyingly fanatical base of devoted fanbois crying over every minute alteration to the 'official' canon.
kevjohn on May 2, 2008
"Or how is he able to develop a self-sufficient energy source in the setting of a cave?" Possible he already designed one, and any self respecting terrorist always wants a nuclear weapon so they may have had some nuclear material on hand. Oh, that and hes Tony @#)@^ Stark 😀
interl0per on May 2, 2008
a 10 ? come on, this is a great great action movie, but it doesn't deserve a 10! not even in the comic book movie category. This my friend is an 8 or 9, but with a ten you are stating that this movies was the closest thing to flawless. I get it, you are excited. But again, an 8 seem more proper and that's saying a lot for a super hero movie, A LOT. Much better than any movie of this genre that I've seen in year.
bltzie on May 2, 2008
Michael Bay, need I remind everyone, also gave us the disasterous disaster drama: Armagiddeon. My question now is: Will the HULK have ANY laughs in it? If Tony Stark sits down for a beer w/ General Ross, perhaps the answer's already a 'Probably'. This is the formula: Action. Exposition (drama). Laughter. Action. Repeat. What's so hard about that, people??!! I am busting out and seeing this movie the SECOND I get out of work.
Djo. on May 2, 2008
I really enjoyed Iron Man, especially the scenes where Tony Stark works on his suits, but Batman Begins still remains my favorite comic book adaption to this date. Christian Bale's strong acting and Nolan's directing made the movie so intense and dramatic; I loved every second of it. I think Batman Begins is the winner for best comic book movie at this point; hopefully The Dark Knight can live up to it.
terces7 on May 2, 2008
Okay geek time. In response to the "how is Stark able to fly from Malibu to Afghanistan in what seems like 15 minutes?" In the movie he breaks the sound barrier which means he is traveling at the speed or even more so than sound. Sound travels in air 3x the amount of helium. So Sound travels at 2916 m/s (meters per second). The conversion of 1 meter= 0.000621371192 miles. So when you multiple the two, it comes to his traveling speed is at about 1.80mi/s (miles per second) After a minute he would have travelled 108 miles. Over a course of 15minutes he would have gone 1620miles. From about the middle of the United States its 7527miles to the middle east. So in all actuallity it would have taken him an hour. However in the film it does state that he goes supersonic and breaks the sound barrier so he is travelling much faster. So it could be logical that he would make it, but not in reality. Okay that part over. Now onto the "Or how is he able to develop a self-sufficient energy source in the setting of a cave?". Stark built the Arc reactor as you see later in the film from materials the company had. So if the terrorists had all of the stark weaponry it would not be hard for him to find all the materials necessary. Some chemicals used in nuclear weapons of a half life of a multitude of years. Thus creating a self sufficient source of power. To explain the robots however is a little more difficult. If you have not heard or seen, Honda has developed a robot with more senses than any to date. ASIMO, Advanced Step In MObility, is a robot designed to help people through movement. While this cannot explains how the robots can feel, or know that Stark is talking to them by simply referring them to "You...do this" It's still quite plausible that we could be on a technological breakthrough. Simply put, I'm a huge movie nerd, a huge nerd in general, and just all around thrilled about this site. Thanks for letting me posts ridiculous rants and everything. You shall see my handle many a time.
Movieraider321 on May 2, 2008
#10...Excellent run down. Very informative. ...you really need a girl dude
Short on May 2, 2008
wow #10 impressive geek-out, nice to see Iron Man has at the least a "plausible" reality
silver on May 2, 2008
# 10, Awesome!!! Seen Iron Man, Loved it!! Can't wait to see it again!
ATG2040 on May 2, 2008
Hahaha you all are too kind. If you have any other questions feel free to ask. I know a lot about film, science, math, and comic books. Super geek to the core.
Movieraider321 on May 2, 2008
oh and in response to #11 I have a girl. Lol, surprisingly she looks a lot like Pepper hahahaha.
Movieraider321 on May 3, 2008
Seen it. robert was awesome.... the movie.... well i dont know, still find batman, sin city way better, but it was ok, i assume its not that easy to make a comic - movie (at least it was better than spiderman, fantastic 4 ......)
Smith on May 8, 2008
Yeah- FINALLY saw this last night. Interestingly, I've developed a newfound love of roller-coasters. Some are better than others. Some give you headaches, others feel so smoothe you wanna get right back on. I'd say Iron Man is in the latter category. What a ride! And a good Half of it belongs to Robert Downey's improv scenes w/ his supporting cast. Him & Pepper: PALPABLY tense. I don't think I've ever been so attracted to her as an actress. Him & Rhodey: Slow at first, but once he got a drink in his hand... we'll leave that as a suprise (But I will say the result was my Single Favorite Scene in the whole movie!) Him & (Guy in Cave): Could've been slightly more developed. A little more awkward silence btw/ the two of them, before they start making nice would've been nice. Nonetheless, I found it touching & thought it revealed the whole other undeveloped side of Tony's "Awakening" in a way that (I'm pretty sure) the comics never even DREAMED of achieving! Him & Obadiah: Jeff Bridges is an odd choice for a villain. But he pulled it off, and the success of this film only guarantees that the next villain will be high calibre, top notch. *Great villains always make great 'hero' movies. This one I gave a B+, just b/c his voice sounded so awesome in that Iron Monger suit (even though they forgot to mention its name... guess that wouldn't have made sense, but still). Like the pestersome SHIELD dude. Like how Pepper wasn't just a female damsel in distress foil, but stepped up to the plate, as well. Liked Gwynyth Paltrow's legs. LOVE. LOVE. L)OVE. The ending to the film. (Both of them)
Djo. on May 8, 2008
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