Iron Man

"Very Good"

Iron Man Review


The summer movie season arrives with a clang as Iron Man, a second-tier superhero from the mighty Marvel Comics universe, receives a first-rate film adaptation courtesy of director Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) and his perfectly-cast leading man, Robert Downey Jr.

A standard origin story, Iron Man stays faithful to its comic-book roots while making necessary upgrades that enhance the characters rich history. Favreau and his screenwriters follow shortcuts instituted by the superior Batman Begins and the inferior Spider-Man. The first half establishes our hero outside of his costume. The second half ramps up the action as it confronts a central villain and lays groundwork for potential sequels.

Iron Man's true identity is Tony Stark (Downey), the genius son of a renowned weapons manufacturer whose family business, Stark Industries, provides cutting-edge technologies for our military's defense systems. In the comics, Stark was wounded while attending an armed-forces demonstration in Vietnam. Favreau comments on our current political landscape by shifting his action to Afghanistan, but he keeps the outcome the same. When Stark's convoy is attacked, he catches a near-fatal chunk of shrapnel with his chest. While detained by terrorists, the inventor builds an armor-plated suit that simultaneously keeps the metal away from his heart as it assists in his escape.

Casting makes or breaks a superhero movie -- Christopher Reeve embodied Superman's hopeful ideals, but Ben Affleck made for a dull Daredevil. Iron Man gets off on the right foot because Downey is Stark. The actor comes equipped with a billionaire's unchecked self-confidence. And while Downey hedges when conveying the role's heroics, that uncertainty actually reflects Stark's own hesitancy embracing his newfound calling.

Only true sadists hope for an actual performance in a superhero movie, and we celebrate whenever we're rewarded with a Downey, Hugh Jackman, or Christian Bale. Summer crowds crave spectacle, and Iron Man packs enough to satisfy. The highlight is Stark's sleek suit, a streamlined piece of geek pop art. Imagine the offspring of a Terminator-Transformer love affair and you're on the right track.

Oscar winners and nominees supplement the special effects. Chrome-domed Jeff Bridges is Obadiah Stane, Stark's business partner who maintains the company's focus on advancing weapon technologies. His resemblance to Dick Cheney, both in look and action, can't be coincidental.

Stark's pal Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard), a pilot in the United States Air Force, reaps the benefits of Stark's destructive inventions. Iron Man fans know this character one day dons his own suit of armor as War Machine, and Howard tosses off a clever line that hints at his role in future installments.

Finally, uber-secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) keeps Stark's extracurricular affairs in order. Paltrow brings the right mix of bravery and vulnerability, though the film's repeated attempts at forging a love connection with Downey fizzle.

Favreau's Iron Man doesn't redefine the genre the way Christopher Nolan's Batman did, but it's a solid, well-crafted launch for what should be a lucrative franchise.

OK, we got it. You're Iron Man.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $585.2M

Budget: $140M

Production compaines: Dark Blades Films, Paramount Pictures, Marvel Enterprises, Marvel Studios, Fairview Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man, as Jim Rhodes, as Obadiah Stane, as Virginia 'Pepper' Potts, as Christine Everhart, as Yinsin, as Raza, as Agent Coulson, Sayed Badreya as Abu Bakaar, as General Gabriel, as Jarvis (voice), as Hogan, as William Ginter Riva, as Major Allen, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, as Award Ceremony Narrator (voice), as Guard, as Guard, Daston Kalili as Guard, Ido Ezra as Guard, Kevin Foster as Jimmy, Garret Noël as Pratt, Eileen Weisinger as Ramirez, Ahmed Ahmed as Ahmed, Fahim Fazli as Omar, Gerard Sanders as Howard Stark, Tim Rigby as Viper 1, as Viper 2, as Amira Ahmed, Thomas Craig Plumer as Colonel Craig, Robert Berkman as Dealer at Craps Table, Stacy Stas as Woman at Craps Table, Lauren Scyphers as Woman at Craps Table, Frank Nyi as Engineer, Marvin Jordan as Air Force Officer, Jim Cramer as Jim Cramer, Donna Evans as Woman In SUV, Reid Harper as Kid in SUV, Summer Kylie Remington as Kid in SUV, Ava Rose Williams as Kid in SUV, Vladimir Kubr as Kid in SUV, Callie Croughwell as Kid in SUV, Javan Tahir as Gulmira Kid, Sahar Bibiyan as Gulmira Mom, Patrick O'Connell as Reporter, as Reporter, Meera Simhan as Reporter, Ben Newmark as Reporter, Ricki Noel Lander as Flight Attendant, Jeannine Kaspar as Flight Attendant, Sarah Cahill as Flight Attendant, as Stan Lee, Justin Rex as Air Force Lieutenant, Zorianna Kit as Zorianna Kit, Lana Kinnear as Stan's Girl, Nicole Lindeblad as Stan's Girl, Masha Lund as Stan's Girl, Gabrielle Tuite as Stan's Girl, Tim Griffin as CAOC Analyst, as CAOC Analyst, Micah A. Hauptman as CAOC Analyst, James Bethea as CAOC Analyst, Jeffrey Ashkin as Photographer (uncredited), Russell Bobbitt as Georgio (uncredited), Vianessa Castaños as Fireman's Wife (uncredited), Mike Cochrane as Gulmira Villager (uncredited), Crystal Marie Denha as Dubai Beauty (uncredited), Mellany Gandara as Dubai Girl (uncredited), Halla as House wife at Award Ceremony (uncredited), Rodrick Hersh as Insurgent (uncredited), Kristin J. Hooper as Reporter (uncredited), Chris Jalandoni as Dubai Waiter (uncredited), Steve Janousek as Party Guest (uncredited), Laura Liguori as Dancer in Ballroom (uncredited), Flavia Manes Rossi as Reporter (uncredited), Anthony Martins as Village Dad (uncredited), Robert McMurrer as Reporter (uncredited), James M. Myers as Airforce Officer (uncredited), as Dubai Beauty #1 (uncredited), Sylvette Ortiz as Staff Sergeant (uncredited), Brett Padelford as Journalist (uncredited), Ajani Perkins as Voice (uncredited), Chris Reid as Reporter (uncredited), Toi Rose as News Cameraman (uncredited), Arne Starr as Dubai Tychoon in hat / Bus Passenger (uncredited), George F. Watson as Rooftop Fireman (uncredited), David Zyler as Whiplash One (voice) (uncredited)

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