Friday, May 02, 2008

It Lives! It Walks! Will it Conquer (the Box Office)?

While Sims is content to waste his time on mere computer games and Campbell has retired from the field to serve his new master, Mickey Eye...Mouse, I meant Mickey Mouse, it falls to me to provide what you hunger for: a review of the Iron Man film.

First things first: yes, stay until after the closing credits. You will be rewarded. I was pretty much the last guy in the theatre and the cinema staff wasn't looking pleased at me for staying as long as I did.

Now, it has been mentioned that these types of movies tend to follow a certain formula. I'm happy to report that in this movie, many (but not all) of them are broken or bent. This is one of many good things in this film. Now, the science, as we've discussed in the past, is somewhat dodgy, but this is a genre that coined "Genetically engineered Super-Spiders", so we'll have to play the hand we are dealt with here. However, once we get past the fact that the science itself isn't top grade, the actual approach to engineering taken by the movie is far better. There is the sense of innovation is coupled with a fairly pragmatic approach to things like testing your new and experimental devices, albiet in a manner that provides slapstick at the expense of safety (I cracked up at several points during this).

The best part of this movie: Robert Downey Jr. OWNS Tony Stark, in a way that the trailers only really hint at. This is by far the best version of Tony to appear in any medium, period. Downey goes thru a real dramatic change from self-absorbed playboy to well-meaning but still slightly self-absorbed philanthropist. His charisma is so great, however, that not one actor in the movie can keep up with him, with the sole exception of Gwenyth Paltrow, who does a lovely turn as Pepper Potts. Their scenes together underscore a great chemistry that has been sadly lacking in these on-screen couples (I'm looking at you, Superman Returns). The focus on Tony's arc from reckless to responsible.

Now, one imagines a movie with this much logistical support from the U.S. Air Force, and one that is grounded in the modern Middle Eastern issues, could easily become jingoistic. Instead, while it shows off the USAF toys, there is the clear message in Tony's arc that these weapons hurt far more innocent people than they should. However, this is complicated by the fact that A) Tony really doesn't have a developed and proactive plan to deal with the problem, and B) there's the implied message that the weapons are only "Bad" when they are used by "Bad Guys" which is not something I'm comfortable with. This mixed message is likely the result of the balancing act the movie makers had to play with to get USAF support while still maintaining the core of the character. The fact that the movie even TRIES to address this issue makes it both topical, and far and away probably the most mature movie Marvel has put out in years, possibly ever.

The FX? Beautiful. The producers could have easily cheated by using very dark scenes to cover their CG work, but in this case, they provide some excellent stuff. And all iterations of the armor looking great.

Overall, this is a great summer action movie, and I highly recommend.

Best wishes

1 comment:

Ezanee said...

Hi Michael! Thanks for sharing your review of Iron Man. It came out in Malaysia last week, but I haven't seen it yet. But your review really makes me want to watch it all the more. Hope I can find some time to catch it!

I am telling you man, this is really a good year in movies.