Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Iron Man" - movie review with spoilers at the end (and minor notes on Indy IV trailer and in-theatre "Wall-E" display)

Iron Man is not one of the comics stories that I've familiar with, but the trailer looked interesting, and I really like Robert Downey, Jr., so with a busy schedule this weekend, we ended up going to a morning screening, unusual for us. Considering how crowded the theatre was for this 10:45 screening, predictions for big box office for this film seem to be coming true. It's being reported that Friday's take was $32.5 million (with Variety putting that number at $33.4 million), which puts the film on track for a stellar opening weekend.

OK, slight detour here - inside the theatre lobby was a display for "Wall-E". I thought it was so cute!

Here's a close-up of the bench next to Wall-E.

At the screening we attended, they showed quite a number of trailers in front of the film, making the 2 hour plus movie an even longer theatre experience. Among other trailers, they unsurprisingly showed trailers for comic book-inspired films "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Dark Knight". Since "Iron Man" is being released by Paramount Pictures, it also wasn't surprising that the last trailer to be shown was a longer trailer for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". It really does look like they've captured the spirit of the series. Karen Allen looks like she hasn't aged at all, and while I'm not necessarily fond of Kate Blanchett, she actually looked good in the clips they showed. Here's a link to the new trailer.

OK, onto the movie at hand.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty terrific movie, and if it wasn't for the multitude of films coming out in the next few weeks, I'd probably be interested in seeing the film again. As you'd expect, the action sequences were amazing, with lots of things spectacularly blowing up and lots of fire everywhere. But one thing I've noticed about comic book-inspired movies in recent years is that there's much more emphasis on acting than previously. The movie wasn't good just because of the good action - the acting was pretty stellar all around. Since Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan were cast in starring roles in "X-Men", it seems like many of the subsequent superhero movies have been cast with name actors in the lead with a history of turning in good performances in more "serious" roles. I think that has elevated the stature and quality of these kinds of movies, so they're not simply live-action versions of comic book stories but bona fide good and even great movies in their own right.

"Iron Man" is about Tony Stark, head of a successful weapons-building company who is shown first hand the destruction caused by the things that have made his fortune. An attack of conscience leads him to build a suit with amazing abilities that allow him to turn the tide of the destruction being done with his weapons, but not everyone is happy about his change of heart.

I thought Robert Downey, Jr. did an amazing job as Tony Stark. He captured both the carefree days early in the film as well as all the developments in his character as the film progressed. Unlike Superman and Spiderman and the Hulk and the X-Men, he does not have superhero powers himself, but rather more like Batman, he is able to build devices that give him the ability to do extraordinary things. Even though Iron Man is based more in reality than most other superheroes, Tony Stark does come up with some fairly incredible things, and Downey, Jr. sells it completely believably. He plays the harder beats not as you might expect in a run-of-the-mill action flick but more from what you'd expect from a "serious drama". I've always liked him as an actor, and I'm glad to see that his star seems to be rising again. This is the second film I've seen him in this year, with two more coming up in the next few months.

Gwyneth Paltrow was terrific as Stark's personal assistant Pepper Potts. Paltrow and Downey, Jr. had very good chemistry, and it was fun to watch them play opposite each other. Paltrow is obviously a very beautiful woman, but they did manage to "plain her down" for the most part with her hairstyle, costuming and mannerisms.

Terrence Howard was also terrific as Stark's long-time friend. Howard looks very familiar to me, but in looking over his credits, I can't pick out anything that I specifically remember him from. The only thing I can come up with is that while I didn't see "Hustle and Flow", I do remember there was quite a bit of press when he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in that film.

I haven't seen Jeff Bridges in quite some time, so I was a bit surprised at how different he looked compared to the last time I saw him. He was good as usual in this film.

Leslie Bibb plays a Vanity Fair reporter who has a sexy scene in the film. I found that fairly distracting because I knew her as a detective on "Crossing Jordan", so I was used to her being totally conservative and professional rather than a fairly typical blonde bombshell.

And yes, Stan Lee makes his standard cameo.

Oh, and a quick mention that the end titles are fabulous - you should definitely stay and WATCH ALL OF THE END TITLES UNTIL THEY'RE FINISHED.

One bad effect of the film is that because I've seen the trailer a number of times, and the song "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath is used in the trailer, I've had that one riff from the song running through my head continuously today.

OK, so now that I've made all my general comments, here's the part where there be spoilers galore. You've been forewarned.

OK, so, presumably, anyone still reading has already seen the film. Wasn't that an awesome film? Seriously!

I loved the back-and-forth between Tony and Pepper. It was sad but also sweet that each was all that the other had. I loved the scene where Pepper had to pull the copper wire from Tony's innards, and the scene at the charity function when Tony sees Pepper in that fab dress and then they dance and then go up to the roof and they come *thisclose* to kissing was just really funny. Of course, it's funnier later when we find out that Tony just left her up there. I liked that they never actually showed a romantic relationship between the two, and it was sweet that they used formalities when speaking to each other.

And for once, I actually was not surprised at a particular plot point. When Pepper asked Tony if he was going to keep the original heart mechanism and he said no, I knew she was going to end up keeping it and that it would play a pivotal part later in the film. Do I win a prize for not being blindsided by that development?

However, I did not catch on that Jeff Bridges would end up being the bad guy. He got a little cartoony in the end when he was in what looked to me like a Super Battle Droid outfit, but that's kind of to be expected at that point. He was great leading all up to that. I had figured out that he would be the one to step out of the car when there was the meeting with Raza, but I had not expected that he was the one who had ordered the hit on Tony in the first place. I did think it was funny in the end titles that there's a credit for a photo shot of Jeff Bridges for "Tucker". They must have used one of the photos done for that movie to create one of the magazine covers we saw about the history of Stark Industries.

And speaking of the end titles - how cool was it that they got Samuel Jackson to do 2 lines of dialogue as Nick Fury? (I have no idea who Nick Fury is, btw. I know the name of that character because I looked it up.) It was funny because when Tony walked into the apartment and Fury started talking, and I realized it was Jackson, my first thought was, oh, oh, you've been trying to hide from him, and he's found you now, and he's going to punish you for all the unauthorized jumping around you've been doing. Ummm, oops, wrong movie! ;) I take it this means they're planning a sequel?

Oh, and the guy who played the doctor who saved Tony's life? He was awesome. It was so sad when he died.

I loved all the humor that was in the film, especially when Tony was doing the first tests of levitating. "If you douse me one more time when I'm not actually on fire, I'm going to donate you to a school." OK, I don't know the exact line, but I was laughing so hard at that, made worse when he *was* doused again after accidentally crashing through his roof and onto one of his spiffy cars. It was also funny when he was arguing with it while he was doing welding or something. "No, just don't move. Oh, am I in your way?" Too funny.

I did have one question though - I get that they were in a cave, and the doctor could only do what he could to keep Tony alive by keeping the shrapnel from entering his heart. But once Tony got rescued and was back in the States, wasn't there a way for the doctors to get the shrapnel out so that he didn't have to keep wearing that device? Yeah, I know, that would have destroyed a plot point that was needed for later, but it didn't make sense to me that he just lived with it.

And after Tony was rescued and was back in the States and was in the car, refusing to go to the hospital, it was funny that he wanted a cheeseburger, but of all the great cheeseburgers he could have had, they just went to Burger King? Why did he pick that? (The husband's answer was, "Because Burger King paid them.") I was wondering if there was a promotion where Burger King was giving out Iron Man toys with kids' meals, but when we drove past one today, the husband said he didn't see any signs on the windows saying such.

Oh, and I wasn't thrilled with Tony actually announcing he was Iron Man at the end. Seemed like an odd ending to me. Well, ok, ending before the later ending.

So, yeah, a few minor quibbles, but overall, loved the movie!


scituate said...

There is a promotion with Burger King featuring Iron Man toys. RDJ was on morning TV holding one the other day. He was saying that it was funny because he was in a Burger King when he decided to turn his life around and get rid of all his drugs.

Sherry said...

I think that Tony actually threatened to send the robot to a community college.

I actually liked the fact that he told everyone who he was, because he likes the attention.

Nick Fury is a character that I knew from growing up with the Bro. He and one of his friends used to play the video game "Punisher" every day after school, and the hero was Nick Fury. I did know that Sam Jackson would be playing NF, but I had forgotten, and I didn't know about the link to Iron Man, so that was just AWESOME at the end.

Cindy said...

sciutate - Thanks for the info. They must just not had any advertising on the outside of the one we drove by.

I found the link to the toys here: None of them interest me, so I don't have to go to BK, but at least it's good to know they're actually doing something other than just mentioning them in the movie.