How Iron Man Let Me Down

May 5, 2008 at 8:21 pm 2 comments

Holy crap, I haven’t written a movie review in a long time.  I may have let some minor cat out of the bag somewhere along the line in the following paragraphs, so if you’re really hell-bent on not being let in on certain elements of the plot, then go see the film first then come ova back here.  Folks ’round here don’t mind.

I know, I know.  I was excited as the rest of you to see Iron Man.  I love Robert Downey Jr. and adding Jeff Bridges to the mix only sweetened the deal.  I read every article leading up to its release, every little bit of gossip and every RDJ interview I could find (not a great many).  I even researched Iron Man himself, and I think, after a lot of soul-searching, he may just be one of the greatest comic characters ever.  An industrialist hero originally created to battle Communists and save America through sheer ingenuity and the sweet, clear call of capitalism?  Fucking SIGN. ME. UP.

But although comic-based movies are almost uniformly released to more Faithful Adaptation Hysteria Syndrome than Frank Miller can shake a stick at, Iron Man, in the end, suffers from a far too incestuous relationship with the world of comic books, and it’s ultimately stillborn.  All of the characters arrive on-screen fully formed – Tony Stark (R.D.J.) undergoes his essential “power-and-responsibility” turnaround about halfway through the first reel, which lasts all of five minutes and only sees him lapse back into his smug, albeit charming and hilarious, playboy self.  I loved the character, don’t get me wrong.  R.D.Jr. was perfect, endlessly watchable and more than capable, but the script and the story gave him so, so little to do.  Ditto for Gwenythe “I Name My Children After Fruit” Paltrow and Jeff Bridges.

Bridges, as the semi-believable badguy, might be the best casting choice in the entire film.  What little he’s given to do or say, he owns.  He knows exactly when to be light and when to get menacing, and he does it with that chilly blue stare of his that strikes fear into my tiny heartspot.  Sadly his character, Stark’s business partner Obadiah Stane, is the collected, slightly bullish businessman that makes a completely unbelievable descent into a power-hungry thirst.  He eventually dons a similar Iron Mannish suit to do battle (though, of course, it’s bigger and not as nice to look at).

Thankfully, Gwenythe “What’s In The BOX?!” Paltrow is there to keep us up to speed:

Pepper Potts (to Stark via intercom): “Obadiah’s gone INSANE!”

Uh, thanks Gwen.  I kinda figured that out after he tried to use a minivan full of kids as a baseball bat, not two minutes after we saw him strutting around in a suit and tie.

The film suffers from a poorly fleshed-out story, a rushed script, and relatively weak characters.  Hence, a faithful page-to-projector adaptation of the early Iron Man comics.  I know a lot of interesting stuff has probably been done with Iron Man in the last decade or so (the Marvel Civil Wars are supposed to be excellent), but we don’t see that here.  The action has leapt from the comic frame to the celluloid, and it feels a little flat.

HOWEVER, and I should make this clear in the interest of fairness, it was a very entertaining movie.  Like I said, the actors are more or less capable throughout (Bridges and Downey have good chemistry and steal their scenes), there are some excellent one-liners (though most have been spoiled in the trailers) and the action scenes are pretty fucking unbelieveable.  Jon Favreau is nothing is if not enthusiastic about the material, and that can warm even the most bitter critic’s heart.

The best part, for my money, was the virtuoso hour or so that saw the Iron Man suit itself come together.  And once it does, oh mama.  It flexes and spins and Stark seems to have all of his superhero poise down pat (Arched-back crouch? Check.  Christ-like flying pose? Check.  Bad-ass hand blasters?  Double Check).  While I could have done without QUITE so many Gee Whiz electronics sequences – Stark’s laboratory has approximately a million folding/floating/morphing tables, floors, ceilings, doorways etc. – they keep the eye busy and provide enough nerdlinger porn to satisfy the basement dweller in all of us.

So my final recommendation to you is to go see it in theatres while you can, because like Transformers, it runs the risk of losing its punch when it becomes a rental.  Likely, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re the kind of person who becomes sexually aroused when big things blow up, cars are driven fast down busy city streets with little regard for the law, and terrorists are smoten.  Check Check and (You’d Better Believe DOUBLE) Check.


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Scream Blogging the Summer #2

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marc  |  May 5, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Heathen, the movie was awesome. You’re the only person who doesn’t like it, which means the movie doesn’t suck, you suck.


  • 2. Gamma Gamma HOY, Gamma HEY! « A Stiff Upper Lip  |  June 18, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    […] got pissed at me for daring to cast aspersion upon Iron Man, which I saw, and was subsequently underwhelmed by. I’m not sure if Marc has had the chance […]


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About Upper Lip

It's mostly a collection of sweet links and copious amounts of talk talk talk. I like it more and more every day. And yes, even the ugly blue/green color scheme is not without a certain charm.

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