Saturday, May 17, 2008

Popcorn for One: IRON MAN (with some spoilers)

A friend gave me some ‘free passes’ for the Edwards chain of movie theatres. I figured it was a good time to start using them, so I caught an early Friday afternoon showing of IRON MAN at the local theatre.

I’m sure if you are interested you have already caught the movie or are doing so this weekend. I don’t want to do a complete review, since there are plenty of those around if you are interested. There’s probably nothing I could add to what the professionals critics and other fans have to say. These are just a few comments about my general feelings on the film.

The movie opens with Tony Stark (played wonderfully by Robert Downey, Jr.) being caught in the ambush of American troops with whom he is traveling. The film then winds back to show us what occurred the previous 36 hours leading up to the assault. We get a feel for how Stark goes about his daily routines, seemingly not caring that his corporation is building weapons that could fall into the wrong hands. He’s an electronics genius who has used his abilities to build his father’s company into one of the largest of its kind. Despite his wealth and his playboy lifestyle, it is apparent that he is lonely, with few people with whom he feels totally comfortable.

The Tony Stark of the comics, at least until the recent events of ‘Civil War’, was very close to how Downey portrays him. Brilliant, flawed and only allowing himself a few close confidents. In the current Marvel Universe, he doesn’t even have that, but the Stark of the movie is a better person, at least by the films end.

The cast is very good, with some wonderful actors playing roles in what is after all a ‘super-hero’/action film. Not what you would expect from Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges, but all take their parts seriously without the scene chewing you often see actors doing in these sorts of films. Too many actors feel they can ham it up or just walk through these movie roles, which they seem to feel are beneath them. Than why take the role? Bills piling up?

Stan Lee, who co-created the character, has a nice cameo that made me laugh. If you stick around through the credits you’ll find Samuel L. Jackson showing up as another Marvel character, who hints that we might be seeing several other Marvel characters appearing along with Iron Man at some point. If you have read the Avengers comics you may either enjoy or being angered by the fact that Jarvis isn’t the Alfred-style butler we have become used to in the series. Also, an off-hand remark by Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes (played by Terrence Howard), Stark’s military liaison hints at yet another hero making an appearance in a future sequel.

Given the film’s success and comments already made by Downey, it probably won’t come as a surprise to see an IRON MAN franchise being announced shortly.

If you haven’t guessed by now I highly recommend the movie. Just stay through the credits for the fanboy moment!
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