Friday, 2 May 2008

Iron Man

Gold but red...

As a weapons manufacturer, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is also one of the most well recognized men in the world due to his billionaire status forged by his genius. After showcasing a new missile, known as the Jericho, in Afghanistan, his convoy is ambushed, and Tony is taken prisoner. Spending three months captive in the mountain range, Tony is forced to rebuild the Jericho missile for his captives. Tony instead designs a device that keeps his body from dying, due to the shrapnel he received from the ambush, and as well a robotic suit to help him escape. With these new inventions, and experiences in captivity, Tony Stark’s view on his life, takes a drastic change.

One thing Iron Man’s story is not, is hard-hitting, which is disappointing considering the films opening half. It is relatively simple to follow, and a tad frivolous, but the film is quite enjoyable nonetheless. The script is well-formed, following a logical structure with some genuinely good humour to boot, and it’s only imperfection comes in the form of a very clich├ęd villain. This element also forms some predictability in the film’s plot, but it is a minor issue at best. An element which did irritate me was the level of convenience within the story. Yes, most films have moments of convenience, but Iron Man makes them quite noticeable. Such an example being how Stark's laboratory of sorts, somehow is able to be used as a launching pad for getting the Iron Man armour attached to Stark, without there ever being any mention that Stark modifying the place for such an action. It is as of the laboratory was built for that purpose the entire time and it just feels a little off-putting. This makes the concept of believability strained somewhat, even within the context of the film’s universe, and it is not just limited to this single occurrence, but a few others, such as how the Iraqi guards had no idea or any suspicion on what Tony Stark was building, even when they had security cameras all over Stark’s cell.

Thankfully the acting is of a good level, with Robert Downey Jr. stealing the show, with his performance as Tony Stark being absolutely perfect. Be it when Tony is acting in a casual free-spirit manner, or when he is serious, and devoted to cause for a better world. Performances by Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow make for commendable efforts, but sadly the latter two have a few awkward moments where they seem honestly bored with the material or incapable to convey the right emotions, such as Paltrow in highly tense scenes. But perhaps the worst example of acting comes in a very unlikely form: Stan Lee's cameo. Simply put, it was horrible and clearly not well thought out.

The computer graphics are at times are amazing, but at others times, a bit of a letdown. The good times sport some impressive visuals, especially the sequence with Iron Man flying while attempting to survive an attack from two fighter pilots. Yet this doesn't stop the film having sequences where the Iron Man suit looks like a cartoon rendition, seemingly negating the realistic concept of the film in general. Action sequences are quite fun to watch with some excellent visual effects, but it is a pity that the final fight is far too short and somewhat of an anticlimax, and thus never fully satisfies the concept of the fight in its entirety.

I also felt the directing to be disappointing. Jon Favreau has some good moments, and I go back to the Iron Man and aircraft sequence, which really is outstanding, but Favreau has this annoying habit of having a left to right sweeping scene transition. It is as if he was trying to create this comic book effect with the transition and this ultimately comes to my main complaint of Iron Man: it is unsure whether it should attempt being a realistic portrayal or remain like its comic book form. It is a hybrid, but one that doesn't work all that effectively. It can be annoying to see a scene that resembles a good quality film, just to be followed by one that seems straight out of a comic book. How the sequences are structured in both mediums work differently, and are, in this case, not aptly suited to be used side-by-side. I feel that if they wanted a realistic approach, to go full out with that and not diverge into comic book proportions, and vice versa.

The film is virtually without any swearing or nudity, but there are some implied sexual imagery, such as the very brief encounter with Tony and a female journalist in his house. The extreme violence is left for off-screen purposes, and involves a lot of killing with armed weapons, and the cries of the victims are quite noticeable. The on-screen action is pretty much the standard comic book hero affair with lots of melee combat, and explosions.

Iron man is a wonderful example of a good comic book-to-film creation. While lacking the same maturity of Batman Begins, Iron Man proves to be the best Marvel film available, ousting out the likes of the original Spider-man and X-men 2. And this is because the film doesn't attempt to dumb itself down to appeal to a greater audience, or focus itself on too many elements: it keeps things relatively simple. Instead Iron Man tells the story of Tony stark, a man callous about the world in general, transforming into a man who respects not only himself, but those around him. With very good acting, a well structured story, Iron Man’s only problems are a few inconsistencies and its inability to support a dual personality approach. It's no Batman Begins, but then again, it doesn't need to be.


Screen Date: Thursday 01st May 2008
Release Date: Friday 02nd March 2008


Sam said...

Ok... What do I think? This reveiw was good but some of your others are better. You do make some good points though but it's hard to really say if you haven't watched the film yourself. I do still feel that you give some stuff away which you maybe shouldn't.
It's still a good review though but you know that I always like your stuff.
You wanted me to comment and well there it is.

Zulu Cal said...

I agree with you on this one Cruiz, this to me is a perfect summer (Or Winter for you Southern Hemisphere Dudes) blockbuster. Light and breezy and highly enjoyable to put and the laughs are balanced well with the 'deeper' moments of the movie. They found the perfect leading man here to do a millionaire playboy, living a life of excess and given Downey's past you cannot think of better man for the job. Also the ending and if you stayed till after the credits you will know what i mean sets up a great franchise (2 sequels are planned with the first one greenlit after opening weekend). Only complaint i have with your interview is you beat the boys at fightrunner to it !(kidding). Keep up the good work man and look forward to having you on the podcast in the fture.