Monday, May 05, 2008

Movie review: Iron Man

Holy crap! A summer blockbuster that actually lives up to the hype.

First, a brief history of the Iron Man movie as seen by the public.

When they first said they were making an Iron Man movie I didn't expect much. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Hulk, these are the first string heroes. They're who movie makers start with. If you do well with them, and those movies were pretty hit and miss, then you start trying to make money from the second stringers and even third stringers. Ok, some would argue Iron Man is a first stringer, but this is his first movie so he's a second stringer. Most geeks heard about Iron Man and expected a disaster. But we thought the same thing about Lord of the Rings.

Then they announced that Robert Downey Jr would be playing Tony Stark (the man inside the suit). Suddenly there was hope. The studio was a bit scared of RDj but the geeks knew he was the right man for the job. They're both wealthy, arrogant, womanizing, alcoholics. It's a perfect match.

Then we got the screen shots of the outfit. We were blown away. They got the look right and some great actors.

But it could all still go wrong. The more hype there was the more we dreaded. But we lived in hope. This could still rock.

And it did. Oh, this movie rocked so hard. I'm not a big reader of Iron Man so I can't really compare to the comics. Mostly I know of Iron Man from his recent role in superhero registration and firing The Hulk off to a distant planet. He's a genius who works with Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four a lot. He has a history of alcohol abuse.

What really struck me about this movie is the lack of a villain. There's bad guys, sure, but no classic villain. Tony Stark is his own worst enemy.

The movie starts with Tony returning from a weapons demonstration in a Humvee convoy. Terrorists attack and capture him. They keep the PG13 rating by keeping out the blood, but the blasts and the holes getting ripped in the Humvee and the soldiers dropping left and right were realistic and shocking enough that I might have upped it to R. Tony gets captured and taken to a cave where the terrorists want him to assemble on of his missile launchers for them.

So the weapons he designed and his company built to protect American soldiers is in the hands of terrorists and is why he's been kidnapped.

Flashback a day and a half. We see how much of a playboy, smart ass, care for nothing, party animal he really is. Then back to the cave where Tony has built a mini-reactor to power the electro magnet that is keeping metal fragments from penetrating his heart. Then he builds a prototype power suit that has to be navigated more by counting steps than seeing where he's going. But it still kills a lot of terrorists, sets a lot of stuff on fire, and flies a short distance. But it crashes in the desert and he leaves it behind.

Back home he tries to shut down the weapons division until he can figure out how to make better use of his money and company. He retreats into his lab and starts work on his new suit. This covers a lot of movie but you find you don't really mind. It's just fun to watch Stark interact with his robots and play with his new suit.

Meanwhile, the terrorists have found his old suit. Once more, Tony's creation is falling into the hands of bad people. But when he goes to deal with them in person it's a cake walk. Bip bop boop, done. But still quite entertaining.

The movie comes together at the end with him facing a giant, amped up version of his first suit.

Iron Man is all about cleaning up Tony Starks messes.

The whole thing sets up for a couple of sequels, a spin-off or three, and a crossover.

Really, this takes the best of Batman and Superman with the light heartedness of Spiderman or Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

It may not have the wide appeal that Batman Begins had but it's right up there.

Go see it. Go sit through the credits. Go get it on DVD.

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