Iron Man (2008) Dir. John Favreau


IRON MAN – (2008) Dir: John Favreau

It’s official – Dark Knight has a helluva lot to live up to. Because here is the next superhero I want to take out for drinks and party with. Oh yes, the awesome trailers didn’t lie – Iron Man is, very shockingly, actually good. Great, in fact.

This is an origin story focussing on how naive billionaire, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) learns that his company’s weapons are being used by non-Americans to kill US soldiers. On top of this, a bunch of Afghan terrorists capture him and force him to build them some kickass weaponry. Despite the terrorists watching him on a webcam (minor plot query there), he manages to make himself into a weapon of sheer destruction and gets the hell out of there. He returns to civilisation a changed man – and begins work on a new kickass suit so he can right the wrongs his weapons have caused. Oh, and a new threat looms much closer to home. And they pull it off – barely with a step wrong in the whole movie. I loved it. I’ve seen it twice at the cinema so far!

The last film to get that honour was Batman Begins; after enjoying it hugely the very first time, I couldn’t wait to be in that world again. Iron Man hits similar highs, but in even more vivid ways. Iron Man has many more punch-the-freakin-air levels of fantastic. It delivers – on every level – and doesn’t ask for a tip (hey, IM’s a billionaire already)!

So what do we get? Why am I squealing this film’s praises to high heaven? Is this film so good I suspect the devil had a hand in it somewhere? Let’s pull this back a notch and look at the evidence.

For starters, this is a superhero movie where there’s almost no whinging. I know it’s difficult to believe, but it’s been accomplished at last. Tony Stark is a driven, interesting hero; and sure, he’s got his set of moral quandaries and emotional battles to overcome (not to mention borderline alcoholism and a death wish). Despite this, Favreau lets Downy Jnr show this by his ACTING – not by yapping on – which Spidey and Bats have been very guilty of in the past (and even especially Superman – shame on you….). Tony Stark is perhaps the first really grown up superhero properly presented on the big screen – and I reckon it’s at least PARTLY cos he’s discovered girls…and gotten over it.

Let’s say that I fancy Bruce Wayne, but I’d want Tony Stark at my birthday party…

Well, I’d invite them both…Bruce probably wouldn’t be able to make it…

Anyway…

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) get his photo taken with a big fan in the scene that sets the pace for the whole movie.

Now, the challenge is to find ways to describe Iron Man that don’t just contain the words Kick and Ass – I’ll try, I really will. Um…seriously, it’s impossible to sing this film’s praises enough. It gives Dark Knight a lot to live up to (aww, it will). IM has a heart and a sense of humour (both underrated in ANY genre), and a wonderful, peerless showpiece for my brand new actor-obsession, Robert Downey Jnr. Go rent Kiss Kiss bang Bang to see what I mean – the guy is incredible. He’s come a helluva long way since Weird Science!

Oh, and the other actors are very well-placed, too. Gwyneth Paltrow has mellowed into a very likeable character, perhaps she should be a red-head more often? She was charming as Pepper Potts (all right, stupid name, it’s a comic…lalala) displaying actual warmth and a real sense that she cared. I mean, RDJ could have great chemistry with a Hollyoaks actor (if you don’t know what that is, substitute ‘a lump of toothpaste’ here), but she really sparks with him. Same for The Dude as the brilliantly named Obidiah Stayne (Jeff Bridges), the shouty industrialist father-figure to Tony Stark. Even Paul Bettany’s turn as the sarky computer that controls Stark’s Malibu pad is enormous fun. However, several scenes are completely stolen by a couple of mischievous robotic hands – and yes, Downey Jnr has awesome chemistry with them, too! (They actually reminded me of the skutters from Red Dawrf’s early seasons…)

Iron Man has also provided a reason to bother going to see the remake/reimagnining/ sequel??? To Hulk! Now named ‘the Incredible Hulk’, due in cinemas around now, it’s managed to corral at least three of my least favourite actors (Tim Roth, Ed Norton, Liv Tyler) into one CGI block-blaster. Tony Stark has a cameo in it. Might hang on for the youtube video on this one. Just my personal opinion, like the rest of the blog. But, I may give Hulk a chance. If I’m in the neighbourhood. It’s big, dumb, blockbuster fun. It just won’t be up to Iron Man…!

It’s very easy to pick holes in the big blockbuster movies – and most of them deserve it. What this pulls off so charmingly is persuading you along for the ride. And you WILL want a go in that suit once it’s up and running. This is a hugely enjoyable flick – and you MUST stay to the end and wait for a special moment, which promises more goodies to come. Go on, stay to the end; it’ll totally be worth it – not lame like the bits at the ends of the Pirates movies…plus it makes everyone think you’re a Serious Cinema Buff who reads all the credits. It will…

Ultimately, I think the Superheroes should have the last word on their blockbusters. They have a busy summer lined up. Dark Knight is out in July (so far away!) and it’s the battle of the comic-book billionaires – stay and watch the others too. Hilarious, I promise! Just click and go.

Oh, and Iron Man Kicks Ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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2 thoughts on “Iron Man (2008) Dir. John Favreau

  1. Couldn’t agree more with this…well, except for the part about Batman Begins, which I didn’t like nearly as much as you did because of all his wallowing and whining in the first half. And don’t get me started on Liam Neeson and Katie Holmes preaching… 🙂Loved Iron Man, though. It restored my faith that a comic book series really CAN be adapted for the live action screen without the obligatory whining angst, heroic speeches, melodramatic dialog, even more melodramatic characters and completely implausible plots. Iron Man — as well as Robert Downey Jr’s awesomely grounded portrayal of Tony Stark himself — is so true to the real life it purports to be set in, that you go along with the more implausible parts (i.e., SPOILER WARNING — the heart “surgery” scene in Tony’s workshop) without blinking an eye. I’ll be waiting impatiently for the sequel. 🙂

  2. Ironman was officially one of the most awesome superhero flicks ever. Since I’m all about the womanising alcoholics, I totally digged Tony Stark and the fact that he painted his flying suit in ‘hot rod red’ shows he shares my scorn for what’s publically considered ‘stylish.’I agree with your brilliant review – an almost flawless film.

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