Thursday, June 5, 2008

IRON MAN (Jon Favreau, 2008, USA) Robert Downey, Jr., is wonderfully surprising in his personification of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark that helps solidify IRON MAN as one of the best super-hero films to date! Downey sharpens his rapier wit and comic timing and breaths life into a tired genre: one that is too focused on the digital fight sequences and bombastic effects. This film succeeds when the script allows us access to the characters and we experience their fears, desires, and faults. When we meet Tony Stark, he is a spoiled but likable prodigy who conquers every task (and woman) set before him. But the change is palpable when he is captured and he realizes how empty his life really is and what his legacy shall become. Downey is able to make the emotional adjustment believable and the empathetic link to the audience is achieved. Though we stretch the limits of our disbelief the film works because of the strength of the characterizations. The use of a contemporary setting works well for the story and the really bad guy turns out not to be from Afghanistan (or anywhere in the Middle East!) but from the good old USA. True that! The relationship between Stark and Pepper (beautifully portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) is fun with a viable sexual tension that is left unresolved. Where the film fails is the in the obligatory action scenes and final confrontation. I wish the film had focused on Stark secretly creating the battle-suite and the conflict with Obadiah Stane and the board of directors. But this doesn’t sell tickets to the summer blockbuster crowd. The break with super-hero convention (secret identity) with Stark’s final words was hilarious! Overall, a fun and well acted movie that rises above the rather mundane script. Stay for the entire end credits for an unexpected cameo. (B)

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