May 4, 2008

300 Words About: Iron Man

I wasn't one of the people in the theater shrieking and hugging my friends after the post-closing credits teaser following Iron Man, which is important to mention because I think it explains why was I fairly underwhelmed by the film. As a (disconcertingly early) start to the summer movie season, it was perfectly adequate. As a significant milestone in the comeback of future Oscar-winner Robert Downey, Jr. (next in The Incredible Hulk and Tropic Thunder), it was very necessary. But as a memorable movie that fully grabbed my senses and left me gasping for breath, it...well, it wasn't. Understand that I'm not calling it a bad movie. It received an 82% based on my calculations, which is nothing to scoff at. My issue with it, I think, was that it didn't set itself apart from the Marvel franchise, and I'd like to blame director Jon Favreau. The elements for a terrific movie are all there: better-than-average acting, cool gadgets, some chuckle-inducing dialogue, and a pretty decent, somewhat meaningful story to work with. But this is no Batman Begins. For one thing, Favreau underutilizes the comedy and overuses the gadgetry. For all the time we saw Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) hunched over a work desk or strapping things to himself, can anyone explain to me what the magic was behind the technology? And for what seems like a pretty simple story, were all the tedious exchanges necessary between Stark, Obadiah Stane (an almost unrecognizable Jeff Bridges), Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard on autopilot), and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)? My point is, Favreau didn't make me, a non comic-book reader, really care about what was happening, and he didn't provide enough action, character depth or even enough fluffy Downey-Paltrow exchanges to make up for it. Iron Man didn't disappoint me, but nor did it overwhelm me. The film is glossy, shiny, and light - more aluminum than iron.


  1. "More aluminum than Iron" Cute. You're right, I think, it's a light, shiny, summer popcorn movie. Good for an amusing couple of hours on a summer (or Spring) afternoon.

  2. It needed a home run action set-piece and a non-boring actor to play Pepper Potts.

    THEN it would have completely ruled instead of just being "very good."

  3. You know, Rick, I guess that came off a lot more negative than I meant it to be. Was I expecting an Oscar contender? Of course not. It was a totally fine start to the summer movie season, but it just didn't take me anywhere new. I think Indy will kick start the summer for me in better fashion.

    I completely agree about the action, DCMovieGirl. The plane/flying bit was pretty good, but the final showdown really did nothing for me. Pepper Potts? Eh. I was indifferent. I usually like Gwyneth but this wasn't one of her best parts or anything.

    So I heard confirmation this morning that Iron Man 2 will be opening APRIL 30, 2010. That's right, summer is now starting in April. Ridiculous.

  4. Daniel,

    I had a similar reaction, particularly to the interminable scenes of Downey playing Mr. Science. I think it's padding, because the story is pretty basic. I also thought that the acting, other than Downey, left a lot to be desired.

  5. I guess a movie like Iron Man is critic-proof in a way, which might explain the reviews I've read that start off exalting the flick, only to end up admitting that it was "decent" or "okay."

    Your piece was one of the more articulate I've read, Daniel. You ease off the hype and hoopla and give your readers information. If I decide to rent this, I'll probably end up being pleasantly surprised. Thanks!

  6. Agree with the review. Movie wasn't as entertaining as I expected, though Downey Jr. was predictably fantastic. One small quibble with your review is that the unrecognizable Jeff Daniels was in fact Jeff Bridges.

  7. I actually had a lot of fun with this one. Sure, it wasn't a great, egde-of-your-seat action movie, and the climax was somewhat underwhelming, but there were enough "whoa! Cool!" moments for me to make it a nice experience. It's not really one of those endlessly rewatchable movies, but as a kickstart to the popcorn season, I thought it was close to perfect - and Robert Downey Jr. deserves much of the credit for that. It's not particularly complex or innovative, but it put a shitfaced grin on my face for much of the running time, and that's all I ask for sometimes.

  8. Haha, KB, "Mr. Science." The physics were a little over my head - and the robots? Pretty impressive. I don't think the acting was otherwise bad, but they just paled in comparison to Downey.

    Thanks, Joe. I actually felt like this was pretty scattered! You're right in that there isn't much to say about - you can't totally rip it, but you can't justify calling it the best movie of the year, either. I'd love to see you give it one of your great treatments someday.

    Dang it, Matt. That's not a small quibble. It's a glaring mistake. I can't even play it off the "unrecognizable" bit. Why didn't anyone else call me out on that! I always mix up Emma Watson and Emma Thompson's names, too. Corrected.

    Yeah you can't ask for anything more than entertainment, Hedwig, and it fortunately doesn't promise anything else. I'm a little surprised that Downey is getting early Oscar buzz, but he was a great fit for this.


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