28 August, 2008

"Iron Man" Film Review

Iron Man is possibly the best comic-based superhero movie to date. (Emphasis on the “to date” part because The Dark Knight isn’t showing yet. Hah!)

Tony Stark is my new favorite movie superhero.

And here are some reasons why:

- He’s a cool nerd, not a broody, wimpy, totally girl-clueless nerd (yes, I’m referring to you Peter Parker.)

- Nor is his nerdy-ness plainly fake and pathetic, i.e. Clark Kent.

- He does not have a disturbing fascination for flying rodents, nor does his suit have nipples.

- And he doesn’t turn into a big green monster when he gets angry.

Other than that, his sarcastic puns own every-frickin-time. And yes, I am a huge fan of sarcasm, especially when it’s delivered with the smooth snark that Tony Stark does.

Now, on to the review.

Iron Man is a film based on the Marvel comics of the same name. The film is directed by Jon Favreau (who also plays Happy Hogan, Stark’s chauffer), produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, and Shaun Toub.

(Potential Spoilers)

Anthony “Tony” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a genius inventor and an engineering prodigy, who is also the heir of Stark Industries, an industrial mogul company that is famous for its state of the art weapon design. He goes on a business trip to Afghanistan to present a new cluster missile called “Jericho.” During his trip he is kidnapped by a terrorist group called Ten Rings, who wants him to make a Jericho Cluster Missile for them. Stark also finds out that the Ten Rings are being illegally supplied with weapons from his own company. Instead, during his captivity, with the help of fellow prisoner Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub), he designs and creates an armor suit powered by a smaller version of an “arc reactor”, a power source that he invented. Using the armor suit, Stark escapes the terrorists and goes back home to find out who is illegally supplying his companies’ weapons to terrorists.

(End of Potential Spoilers)

robert downey jr. as tony stark

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark

I admit, at first I was really doubtful of Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, I almost didn’t even want to see the film. Still, I’m really glad that I did because Iron Man is definitely a very entertaining movie. Downey’s performance is perfectly in tune with Tony Stark’s character. Jon Favreau has also stated that Downey gave a big contribution to much of Tony Starks’s humor. Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), is Tony Stark’s loyal, if not exasperated, personal secretary. Paltrow’s chemistry with Downey is undeniably cute and sweet. From what I know in the comics, Pepper and Happy Hogan (played in the film by director Jon Favreau) get married. Hm. Not really fond of that idea transitioning into the future films. Fortunately there seems to be no hint of that happening whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d like to see Tony Stark work for Pepper’s affection, and Favreau has even mentioned the possibility that Pepper may have a fleeting love something or other with someone other than Stark. This of course, I’m pretty sure (I hope), is only so that Stark would get up off his ass and tell Pepper about his crazy-for-you-undying-love-devotion. Or something along those lines I guess. Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard) is Stark’s pilot friend, and the liaison between the Military and Stark Industries. As usual, Howard delivered a great performance as Stark’s infinitely exasperated friend. Can’t wait to see him as War Machine in the sequel. Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) is Stark Industries’ second-in-command. I almost didn’t recognize Bridges with his bald head and Santa Claus beard, up until I heard his voice. Usually I really don’t like his voice because it sounds a little drunk and condescending, but since he plays a seemingly doting father figure, his voice just makes his performance that much more chilling. Which is a good thing.

The film has its flaws, as do all films. I was particularly disappointed by the last battle scene because it didn’t really explore Iron Man’s other abilities, he just rolled around the road with cars and a big robot. And I’ve had enough of that from Transformers. The desert scene however, when he fought the tanks, terrorists, and jets, that was amazing. And it is also the scene where we clearly see what makes Tony Stark darker than most clichéd superheroes. He didn’t kill the last terrorist, but left him to the people to do whatever they wanted with him (obviously not anything good), I definitely can’t imagine good boy Peter Parker ever doing that. Another thing that separates him from most is that he fight humans. Not mutated, possessed, brainwashed, or alien type humans, but ordinary people. Who happen to be on the bad side and are evil. This is one of the many things that Iron Man shares with Batman. They’re both rich, both womanizers, both have dead admirable parents, they both have their respective sidekicks (Pepper and Rhodes, Alfred and Robin), and they both don’t have real superpowers, but are smart enough, quick enough, and strong enough to fight on without them anyway. The main difference between them, is that Tony Stark doesn’t apologize for his vices. And also, he’s way funnier.

Another thing I loved about the Iron Man film is its music, it complements the scenes perfectly, especially when Iron Man is bringing his A-game, frickin wicked music. The main soundtrack is composed by Ramin Djawadi. This film should not be watched without an adequate surround-sound system. Seriously, if you do, you will be missing the potency of the incredible sound effects and music.

All in all, Iron Man gives you everything you’re looking for in a good superhero movie (and more). A tortured hero, a pretty love interest, an evil villain, a sidekick, and loads of awesome action. Still, Iron Man delivers something new to the superhero film genre, a hero that truly knows exactly what he’s capable of.

Can't wait for the sequels.