Monday, May 26, 2008

Iron Man

First of all, I was delighted that IRON MAN was a superhero movie and not another Lou Gehrig biography. I mean, PRIDE OF THE YANKEES was only 1942. Who needs a glut of these films?

I must say I enjoyed IRON MAN but for all the wrong reasons. I loved all the scenes where there was no action, no special effects, no dazzling stunts. For me the best part of this movie was – are you ready? – the acting. Robert Downey Jr. was terrific. Finally! A superhero who wasn’t brooding, deeply conflicted, or had a Christ complex. (Downey even makes cheeky reference to that.) Insouciance is not a quality given most protectors of justice. Nor is depth and nuance.

But Downey was all that and a bag of (computer) chips. If he can just stay out of jail he still could become an A-list boxoffice star. He’s great in everything he does, from CHAPLIN to ALLY MCBEAL.

Another pleasant surprise was Jeff Bridges. What a good bad guy. It took me out of the film just a tad cause he looked like my friend Larry but that shouldn’t bother you.

And both were helped by a smart fun script by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway along with pitch perfect directing by Jon Favereau (who avoided all the ROCKETEER pitfalls).

Gwyneth Paltrow was also in the movie basically to remind us that her kid is now in day care and she’s accepting movie roles again. Welcome back, Gwynee. We missed you.

Once Downey put on the suit it became just your by-the-numbers superhero movie. Lots of flying, saving innocent pedestrians, kicking serious ass, and the inevitable battle of the titans with the bigger, badder supervillain in Manhattan at night, propelling each other into buses, billboards, and buildings. The world is at stake. The hero has to outsmart the baddie and “the girl” (this time Gwyneth) has to push some button at just the right time. Explosions galore and a lot of crunching.

Ah, but those scenes that didn’t require computer animation or spinning helicopter blades, those were delightful. IRON MAN is a fun rollercoaster ride, much more fun than PRIDE OF THE YANKEES.

Tomorrow: my review of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

32 comments:

Mike Bell said...

But imagine if in "Pride Of The Yankees" that Gary Cooper was able to don a special mechanical suit and continue to dominate the game for years to come.

That would've been sweet!

Ummm...too soon?

R.A. Porter said...

Typical Left Coast Dodger-centricism.

"A glut" of movies about Lou G? That's just crazy talk. Why Hollyweird doesn't put out a new movie about the Iron Horse every two years is beyond me. I mean, surely every right-thinking American would pay to see it multiple times.

In fact, cast Robert Downey Jr. as Gehrig and you've got box office gold!

rob! said...

ken, i am as big a comic book fan as anyone--one look at my list of blogs will tell you that.

but i agree, the best parts of IM were the performances. i, too, get bored at watching CGI stuff, because i've seen it all before, no matter ho good it is. and i've hated when comic book superhero movies feature characters as thin as the paper the books are printed on.

but Downey NAILS Tony Stark, the way I thought Christian Bale did Bruce Wayne. i hope this concentration on the characters underneath all the superhero suits is the beginning of a trend.

the only way IronMan could've been been better? Babe Ruth in a supporting role.

Annie said...

Yankee bashing. Well, I never!

In the sequel the 'girl' better get to push more than a dang button or I'm gonna cry.
-AE

Nat G said...

They've schedule an Iron Man sequel for 2010. I'm still waiting on Pride of the Yankees 2.

Bitter Animator said...

I really loved this film. I'm not a huge superhero fan and know very little about Iron Man but I thought the tone of this film was perfect - it wasn't trying to be all dark and miserable and yet it wasn't a piss take either.

And, yes, the acting was superb. Bridges blew me away - I thought he was fantastic. Downey Jr. too but, hey, I expected that. I'm a big fan.

Along with all that, the film was just plain cool. I totally want a suit like that. My very own Iron Man suit.

But if you're ever looking for the dark, brooding superhero that will appeal to the kids of today, well, I made a post on my blog this morning on that very subject.

I would say Iron Man is probably one of the best superhero movies I've seen. I saw it two days after seeing the new Indy film and, well, I wish Indy had been more like Iron Man.

Anonymous said...

What were the pitfalls of the ROCKETEER film? I quite enjoyed it and was a little baffle that it didn't do better at the box office.

cheers
B Smith

dmustian said...

My 5 year old son was very excited about Iron Man. I was skeptical about taking him to see it due to the PG13 rating. But I did and he loved it. None of the action and violence bothered him--It was a great picture.

Mike McCann said...

Hey, PRIDE OF THE YANKEES was chock full of special effects. Think of all the trouble the production team went through to enable the very right-handed Gary Cooper to appear to be hitting lefty, just like the real Iron Horse. Running the bases clock-wise and even wearing uniform numbers stitched on inside out. For 1942, this is daunting!

Michelle Montianto said...

iron man movie is the best!!!

Emily RugBurn said...

I couldn't agree more. Act III (where a CG character battles with another CG character) was the worst part of the movie. I just can't get into those kinds of scenes because there are no stakes when you know nothing is "real". And it doesn't matter how well it's done -- you always know it's CG. Takes me right out of it.

Sebastian said...

Great review. Couldn't agree more, though I hate the haters who say that the end-fight wasn't good.

Honestly folks, compare that to BS like the end-fights of "Hulk" (the first one with Bana) which was overly too long or the one in the first "Fantastic Four" movies. The usual fight goes like this: bad guy has the upper hand. Makes a mistake. Good guy wins. Everyone thinks it's over. Bad guy has his comeback. Grave situation. Will good guy die? No. Incredible comeback by good guy. The end.

In Iron Man that wasn't the end. Instead of going the way that he was supposed to go, Downey Jr. again had a SUPERB moment when he said he's IRON MAN. That moment was just awesome, but it pales in comparison to "The Incredibles" I bought on DVD on thursday. That Pixar movie is the best superhero movie I have EVER seen. That thing is so god damn incredible. It's 110 minutes long (compare that to the other Pixars) it has A LOT of grown up topics and is basically the best Bond movie made in the last 25 years (the Fireball remake with Connery namely). Go buy it. That's an order!

But back to Iron Man: I liked the whole thing all the way through. The script was great but I couldn't believe how amazing Downey Jr.'s acting was. He now IS iron man and to quote Kevin Smith from his SModcast it's now impossible to do any new TV shows (like SpiderMan has so many) because it would be only a real Iron Man if Downey Jr. would be involved.

Anyway, I think it's great you posted a disclaimer at the end Ken because to be honest your review is so last tuesday ;-) I guess you just couldn't see Indy IV yet because of the lines of people wrapping around the multiplexes to get admission :-)

Stoic said...

So what were Rocketeer's pitfalls? I rather liked it.

Emily Blake said...

Just be glad you saw Iron Man and not Indiana Jones.

Amber said...

Downey is just so great; even on the dismal American Idol finale I couldn't take my eyes off him in the Gladys Knight "Pips" bit. There is just something about him; he was the only good part about that entire show.

But Starman as a BAD GUY? GET *OUT*!

Really? Awesome.

I've heard nothing but good things about Iron Man. Same for the new Indy flick. Too bad I never go to the movies these days. I'll have to wait for DVD. Every time I go, some wanker ruins the experience for me. Sometimes several wankers. You just never know.

I'm crotchety these days, I miss the old days when I was a little kid and the ushers would stand there through the whole movie and shine flashlights on people's faces when they talked or made any kind of noise.

Damn kids today; GET OFFA MAH LAWN! ;-P

Paul said...

Holy crap. I didn't even realize that was Jeff Bridges. The voice was familiar, but I've never seen him without hair.

Annie said...

Oh yeah? Well, the Sex and the City movie has 300 costume changes.

So there.
-AE

michael.tassone said...

Of course Bridges was awesome.


He is the Dude you know.

alan said...

Ken, I am surprised. The initial premise of this movie makes no sense. The terrorists take all of their weapons, weapons that could blow up the world 10 times over, and say, "These are nice, but we really want the new stuff." They give all the weapons to Tony so he'll build them the latest and greatest and think, "I'm sure he won't use any of these weapons to blow us up or try to escape."

If we had written a premise this flimsy in the SITCON ROOM, you would've bounced it back.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Downey has always been "A" list at my box office. IMHO his signature performance, which nobody should miss, was Two Girls and a Guy.

R.A. Porter said...

@dr. marvin: that's a great Downey performance. It really captures so much of his character. Oddly enough, the first time I realized he was truly special was in The Pick-up Artist. Not a great film by any stretch, but it gave RDJ more freedom to operate than he'd had previously.

Jack J. said...

Not everyone is welcoming Paltrow back. I loved the movie, in spite of her presence. The rest of the cast was strong, though.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to your cheap shot at the great Pride of the Yankees than meets the eye. For one thing, Pride of the Yankees featured the real Babe Ruth, while the grossly inferior Babe Ruth Story starred William Bendix, who just happened to bear an unnerving resemblance to Jon Favreau.

Which brings up Favreau's own ignoble oeuvre of sports film performances. Marciano? Please. And I'll venture it's a safe bet that Christopher Moltisanti never saw Rudi, or he'd have popped a cap in Favreau on general principles.

I'm not sure how that all ties together. That's for smarter people than me to work out. I just let the facts speak for themselves.

Stella Louise said...

I also loved Iron Man exactly for the reasons you enumerated. Or was that "reason" singular? Robert Downey Jr. was a joy to watch--and I agree, Jeff Bridges was a great bad guy. I didn't think he looked like your Frank (mainly because I don't know your friend Frank...), but I did sense a bit of channeling Gene Hackman...

I saw this with my brother who was in town on business from Pittsburgh and he got a real kick at the first flying scene where he swoops by the Santa Monica Pier--because on his last visit I had taken him there and we even rode on the Ferris Wheel. So that scene elicited a "Hey, I've been there!" response from both of us.

Stacey said...

I also loved Iron Man. I wasn't bouncing out of the cinema when it was over like I was at the end of Batman Begins, but I loved the acting in Iron Man, I loved the directing (huge improvement over everything Favereau has ever directing to date) and the script was smart and allowed for many moments of quietness so we could get used to the costumes and the CGI. Not a lot of movies give the viewers time to get used to what they're seeing and experiencing before we are assaulted on all fronts with crappy CGI, loud noise designed to distract us from the peanut under the shell (in those cases, the peanut being the fatal flaw in each critical scene), and the momentum is so over the top I just want to get up and never come back to the big box office draw movies. I stayed all through Iron Man. And unlike the time I had a full bladder and should have left in the second of three hours of The English Patient because of the pain, I barely registered my bladder's pleas. I didn't mind Gwenyth. I think for the limited time she was on, she was effective and brought more to the table than Katie Holmes in Batman Begins. My husband actually let a shreik of joy when Tony Stark announced, "Yes, I am Iron Man."

Anonymous said...

Oh, and my favourite scenes were the ones in his workshop between Tony and any of his robotic "helpers." Hee. I loved that they had their own little personalities like pets and that he talked to them like they were fully human.

Stacey

Daddy Background said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daddy Background said...

I went to see the movie, then a couple of weeks later went to see the movie again with my wife and son. My son (an 8-year old cinema-averse outlier) had to be dragged kicking and screaming. My wife went for the Downey touch.

So we all loved it, of course. My wife and I talked about how great the ACTING was (as a preview to this blog post as it turns out). How Downey just throws lines away and makes them brilliant.

Then we saw the trailer to "Tropic Thunder", laughed our asses off and talked again about how good Robert Downey Jr. is in ANYTHING. He underplayed Iron Man and he'll underplay play Russell Crowe as a black guy.

I'd watch Robert Downey Jr. iron SHIRTS.

DW said...

> The terrorists take all of their weapons, weapons that could blow up the world 10 times over, and say, "These are nice, but we really want the new stuff." They give all the weapons to Tony so he'll build them the latest and greatest and think, "I'm sure he won't use any of these weapons to blow us up or try to escape."

Also, since they were already in business with the Jeff Bridges character, why did they want/need Tony Stark to make them weapons in the first place?

My favourite part of the movie was when Gwyenth Paltrow discovers the video of the terrorists, and they're basically saying, "You, Obadiah Stane, did not pay us enough to kill Tony Stark. Once again, just to be clear here, Obadiah Stane hired us to kill Tony Stark."

R.A. Porter said...

@dw, The terrorists were double-dipping. They were paid to kill Stark, but figured they'd get a little extra in the bargain for the same price.

Stacey said...

@dw, Tony Stark was the visionary, the do-er, the man of the company. Obie was the suit. He couldn't get Tony out of the way himself, so he hired someone to do it, and that someone doubled dipped. They rolled the dice and lost the game.

Also, I hate movies that has technology in it that doesn't exist because my husband, who owns a computer store, will turn to me and take me right out of the moment and storyline right there and then to bitch and complain and snark till I put up my hand and remind him of his promise not to do this very thing before we headed to the cinema. The part that had him doing that is when Piper was viewing the hostage video and brought up a translate program seemingly from nowhere without any command prompting on her part. It was silly and stupid, but whatever, right?

LAprGuy said...

Totally agree with you, Ken. I went into this film completely blind - didn't even see the trailers. Terrific acting ... and it took me almost the whole movie to realize that was Jeff Bridges - I kept thinking, wow, this is one great character actor!

The scenes with Downey alone with the robots - I completely believed that he invented and was "friends" with those machines.