Posted by: Alan | December 20, 2008

Review: Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

Rating: 

Interestingly enough, this is probably the first movie I went to on opening night purely on impulse. Normally if I’m going to a film on opening night I’ve been anticipating it for years and bought my ticket long in advance of the actual night. This time however, I bought my ticket online after my brother told me he was going, and arrived at the theater less excited about the movie than I would have had I known what I was in for.

There was a few reasons I wasn’t super excited for this film. First the previews made the movie look laughably lame, and I honestly was not expecting much. The director, Jon Favreau, made the terrible Daredevil film some years back, and maybe if Ben Affleck was in the lead role again this would have been a train wreck. The other reason I was not particularly excited for this film was due to my own knowledge on the subject. Unlike other superhero movies, I never read any Iron Man comic books and never really delved deep into the character or the back story behind it, the extent of my knowledge was that Iron Man is Tony Stark, a drunk billionaire. He shoots people with his hands and flies around a lot. As it turns out, the story to this character is quite interesting and more complex than I realized. And while initial reviews on the film were surprisingly positive, I really was surprised and delighted that this movie was one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen.

Robert Downey Jr. MADE this movie. I have no doubt in my mind that without ‘The Downz’ in the lead role this movie would have fallen flat on it’s face. There is no one else who could have played Tony Stark so perfectly. I could go on and on about how great he was, but there’s no point. It’s not something up for debate. He is brilliant.

The supporting cast all worked as well. Gwyneth Paltrow actually played a competent and likable female in a superhero movie, which is rare for the genre of film and for the actor herself. Jeff Bridges was awesome and bald, and Terence Howard was competent as Rhodes (who will later become War Machine, one of the few facts I remembered about Iron Man lore).

I think this is the first film I’ve watched where I wasn’t thinking about CG, and to be honest I never even thought about it until a few days after I saw the movie. The CG was, in my eyes, perfectly done. The effects were exciting and intense, and at no time did I get pulled out of the action because I knew I was watching Computer Generated graphics. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why other movies aren’t able to make as convincing graphics as this movie does. This day and age we SHOULD be seeing these kinds of effects.

As I mentioned, I never knew the intricacies of the Iron Man story before seeing this film. I actually really liked some of the origin stuff and the way he went from a weapons dealer to a superhero, and the whole process for building his suit was really well done. The first half of the movie focused on the origins of Iron Man, as expected, and the last half had some of the greatest action scenes I’ve seen.

The weakest part of the film for me was the main villain, who wasn’t even clear until near the end (I guess the character that becomes the villain is in the comics as well and anyone who read the comics would have known long before I did). I thought his role was not as strong as I would have liked, and the fact that they altered his voice when he was inside the big suit to make him sound more ‘evil’ was the most glaring problem with the film for me.

Aside from that though, the film was very well paced and very entertaining, and there were some great comedic moments as well. There was a small post-credits scene as well, which was fun and a nice little hint at ‘things to come’ in the Marvel Movie universe.

The biggest fear of mine with this movie was that at some key action scene/big moment the unmistakable guitar riff from Black Sabbath’s song (you know the one) would start up and I would emit many groans of disgust. This wasn’t helped by the trailers for the movie which used said song multiple times and it seemed like a really cheesy, ‘linkin-park-at-the-end-of-transformers’ thing to do. Luckily for me, the song in question was NOT played in the movie, but was rather reserved for the end credits (a completely acceptable time to use it). I was also worried during the opening scene when AC/DC started playing with the army trucks driving by, but quickly turned out to be ‘on the stereo’ inside the trucks and became less of a cheap ‘rock music inserted to look hardcore’ moment and more of an establishing scene that actually worked quite well.

The rest of the film had no glaring ‘ways to sell a soundtrack’ scenes but rather an effective score underlying the movie that helped build suspense and establish the mood.

My biggest disappointment with the film was there wasn’t enough alcohol, but I later learned that the whole ‘Tony Stark is a drunk’ plot line would be included in the sequels, which makes more sense the more I think about it. This was an origin story, and like X-Men and Spider-Man before it, the first movie is slightly plagued by the fact that they have to explain where said superhero(s) came from. Because of this I’m looking forward to Iron Man 2, which will most likely be the best of the trilogy, with the third being really disappointing and ruin the franchise (if the previous franchises are to be trusted).

All in all, there were only a few things that really bugged me about the movie after watching it, namely the villain and the lack of more action scenes (because the ones they HAD were amazing). But in the end this was a solid action movie and a great character piece as well, and I am confident that it can be enjoyed by people who either don’t know anything about Iron Man, or don’t enjoy superhero movies in general.

Oh god I just remembered there is a movie spoofing Superhero Movies for the love of god don’t go see that movie it hurts my brain thinking about it

– Alan

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Responses

  1. Psst…
    Jon Favreau only acted in Daredevil.
    Mark Steven Johnson is the director…who we have to thank for ‘Ghost Rider.’

    GO ROBERT DOWNEY JR.!

  2. Okay that comment is giving me deja vu. Have you mentioned this to me before?

    If not, CREEPY AHHH


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