[Editor's Note: Our own super-sleuth Loukas Tsouknidas checks in from overseas with an awesome early review of Iron Man. As you can see, the hype may all be worth it, after all. Also, be warned, while this review doesn't have Spoilers, it does give some stuff away that you might not want to know at this point. Read at your own risk.]
When iron gets cool it’s really cool, and when it gets hot it’s really hot. So naturally, we got the same thing happening with Iron Man the movie.
A warmonger’s dream becomes his nightmare.
A widely known rich dude, genius engineer and weapons manufacturer named Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), rides in an army vehicle in the middle of the desert. When the convoy is attacked and Stark is taken hostage, we get to watch how he’s gotten there in the first place through a flashback: to show off and promote his new ultra catastrophic missile, “The Jericho”. We get introduced to his military liaison, Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard), his corporate partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) and his right hand assistant Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Back at the hostage situation, Stark is rescued by an Arab doctor (Shaun Toub) who places an electromagnet on his chest to prevent the metallic fragments from moving slowly to his heart. When he recovers he is asked by the terrorist group, who (surprise, surprise) use his own brand of weapons, to assemble “The Jericho” for them or die. With the doctor’s help he assembles an iron suit instead, which serves as a flying apparatus and a powerful weapon, finally managing to escape.
The rebirth of a scientist.
Having seen the real mayhem, Tony Stark comes back and tries to transform his corp from warmongers to workers for the common good. Obadiah Stane and the invisible board of directors have a different opinion. The truth about the earlier assault gradually unravels while Stane finds out about Stark’s project back at the terrorist’s cave. When Tony finally achieves the perfect Iron Man suit, he eventually realizes that the most important battle he has is with his own partner, who’s now dressed up as the Iron Monger…
From doubtful choice to a perfect fit!
I have to admit that in the beginning, i grew a bit tired of Robert Downey’s sarcasm, which got from repetitive to predictable pretty fast. But as I realized later on, it was the only part where he should be obnoxious, as a rich cynical bastard would. When he found his lost soul and the desire to fight for something, his humor got subtler, less self-absorbed and more fun to follow. The reborn actor, in his first blockbuster of that size, gradually gets more and more comfortable with his role, like Tony Stark with his newfound self. Next to him, we have a great villain played by Jeff Bridges with his badass skull and beard and two very good sidekicks, played by Terrence Howard and, actually hot in high heel peeptoes, Gwyneth Paltrow. Jon Favreau makes a small, funny appearance as a bodyguard.
Combining the parts right is all it takes…
Besides his cameo, Favreau proves to be the right man for the director’s job, dishing out some well-staged action, a lot of heavy explosions and a real smooth air chase between two planes and the flying Iron Man. He makes good use of CGI and live action without going overboard just for the sake of it. He’s undoubtedly assisted by a very careful script, one that doesn’t burn all its assets at once. Instead, it makes us crave more until the final showdown between the powerful Iron suits. Plus it never gets too preachy, although the balance could easily get lost in the middle of all the current antiwar atmosphere, which is a big relief. Bringing guilt upon an audience that came to have fun is not good. Still, some writers simply can’t avoid it. As for the love story in the background between Tony and Pepper, it’s correctly underplayed, leaving room for the sequels to do the job. Finally, wit overcomes power, and Tony the scientist rises above his masterful creations.
…and maybe an explosion or two.
Iron Man is a well done action flick with a killer cast and serves as the right introduction to a franchise-worthy character. Robert Downey and Jon Favreau really got their job done and hopefully they’ll nail it again in the near future. Oh, at some point in the movie Tony Stark says: “… I think I have more to offer the world than new ways to blow things up…” Sounds good for peace but let’s hope Michael Bay never thinks that way.