Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard
Written by: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Leading the way for the 2008 Summer Blockbusters is Iron Man, a beautifully crafted film based on the Marvel comic book by the same name. The film is well-paced, the actors make the most out of their characters and it’s nice to see a superhero fighting real-world villains and not just outlandish costumed freaks. Also, the PG-13 rating makes Iron Man family-friendly and proves that a film can show real-world death without real-world gore and still be enjoyable.
The story follows wunderkind weapons developer Tony Stark who is a remorseless and flippant war profiteer. When the film begins, he’s ambushed during a weapons demonstration in the Middle East and captured by terrorist insurgents. Stark is forced to create a super weapon out of a cache of armaments that his company designed that have fallen in the hands of America’s enemies. Stark has a change of heart and builds the Iron Man suit to wage a personal war.
Since this is an origin story, a good portion of the film is devoted to the creation of Iron Man, like designing, testing and explaining the logistics and weaknesses of the suit. This may disappoint some of the smaller children who just want to see things blow up. For those who appreciate a good story, the script is formulaic, but done exceedingly well so that the formula is veiled nicely. There were only a few contrived scenes: one where a character seemingly sacrifices himself for no other reason than to motivate the hero and another where the villain appears out of nowhere to enact the betrayal segment. What should really be appreciated is the writing craft. There’s a lot of information and background the audience needs to know about the characters, yet the writing never feels like it’s educating rather than entertaining you. Lastly, the script balances out story with a good measure of smart action sequences.
The acting was believable all around and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is always a joy to watch. Regrettably, I felt like there was more of Downey than Stark in his portrayal. Chalk it up to Downey’s acting style, but the many throw-away-lines and unscripted glib remarks will definitely remind of other Downey roles.
Kudos to Director Jon Favreau and his production team. The computer graphic work is flawless. The suit design is clever. And Iron Man is one of the few comic book adaptations that really capture the comic book feel through film. I can’t wait to see what they do with the sequel.