Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Iron Man

Review by Paul Edwards

“I…am…Iron Man!”

 Those famous words from the Black Sabbath song, along with the accompanying hard-rock riffs, really set the stage for this original superhero romp. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a venture capitalist that runs Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer. However, during a field test of his new state-of-the-art missile system in the Middle East, he has the misfortune to get ambushed and kidnapped by terrorists, and it’s only then that he realizes how far his life has fallen. Through his own ingenuity, however, he outwits the bad guys and goes on to bigger and better things.

Is it worth it? Should you see this movie?  Yes. Without a doubt, before The Dark Knight entered the national theaters and stormed our very existence, Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. were the talk of the town. It was his slightly smug, highly sarcastic, and downright charismatic performance as Tony Stark that won audiences over to the tune of $315 million in revenues. 

It follows the safe, tried-and-true standards, like all origin films that have passed through our collective memory banks; however, Downey Jr. and even Gwyneth Paltrow seem all the more accessible in their lighthearted roles. It’s not just Tony Stark out there doing all those cool flying maneuvers, it’s your best friend up there! The actors ease with their roles allow audience to lose itself so when there are leaps of logic or flights of fancy, it doesn’t seem so bad. 

The action scenes really aren’t the overly dramatic and horribly mapped-out disasters we have seen in past action films. There looks to be a real effort to humanize Iron Man in his battles, because he is not some mutant or some guy who got bitten, he is just a normal guy with some problems and weaknesses like everyone else, and has decided to take atone for the evil and suffering that he has caused. 

However, Tony Stark’s lightheartedness doesn’t scare off anyone who isn’t familiar with his story, which is.not one of those psychodramas or soap opera nonsense that has plagued the superhero genre and summer movies in general of late, but it is one of a man looking for redemption and to right his own wrongs he has caused in the world. That is an admirable trait in a superhero, one that probably propelled this film to unseen heights. In the end, I strongly recommend this film, even if previous films from this genre do not normally wet your taste buds. I would also recommend it just to enjoy the hype behind Downey Jr.’s performance. It’s been awhile since there was a popcorn movie with performances to write home about!

4.75/5 stars

Review by Matt Starr

I was watching Rome is Burning recently and Jim Rome was interviewing Kobe Bryant. Kobe was admitting that he personally views this season as his finest yet because of how he got to this point. He admitted that if he wins the championship it would be the most important of the four because of how he had to climb back up the mountain after already having been at the top. After having recently seen Iron Man I see the similarity between Kobe’s year and the year Robert Downey Jr. is primed for.

Both men came on the scene at an early age and were successful in their respective professions. They also both fell down as quickly as they had gotten to the top. The specifics of each of their personal problems need not be discussed here. Robert Downey Jr. has climbed back up the mountain and is deservedly on top again. Of course, it helps that both men are supremely talented.

Personally, I tend not to like comic book superhero movies. Batman Begins was on my most overrated movies list, for example. I was not impressed with any of the X-Men or Spider-Man installments and I will not bother watching the likes of The Hulk, Ghost Rider, Daredevil and the others. Iron Man, on the other hand, I was anticipating simply because of Downey’s presence, the supporting cast and the direction of Jon Favreau.

Favreau can write and direct an assortment of genres. He wrote the sleeper hit Swingers, and directed one of the better Will Ferrell movies in Elf as well as the surprisingly entertaining Zathura. Many directors bring the same style to every genre, but Favreau knows the movie he is making and the audience he is targeting and adapts accordingly.

Iron Man is superior to any comic book movie in the last ten years. It is the best superhero movie since the Tim Burton helmed Batman. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard are all sharp in supporting roles. The special effects are outstanding and are probably the best we will see in a film this year.

You do not need to be a fan of the comic book or even the superhero genre to enjoy this film, me being case in point. I will not bother going into any plot details for the first time in any review I have written because there really is no need to. In a time where quality films are dominated by the award worthy dramas and “smart comedies” it is refreshing to see a well-made pure summer entertainment film. There has been a drought of those in recent years. I hope that the trend can continue with Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight.

Although, as entertaining as Iron Man is it does not go as far as I would like to see a superhero movie go. I would have liked to seen the relationship between Downey and Paltrow a little more developed, for example. Eventually a superhero movie will put an emphasis on character development and earn an A grade.

Iron Man begins and ends with the talents of Robert Downey Jr.  He is one of the best  actors in the business when he is focused on his work, and he has shown it the last two years with his work in this film and Zodiac. He has two more movies due out this year: in Tropic Thunder he plays an Australian actor playing an African-American soldier in a fake war movie, and in The Soloist he portrays journalist Steve Lopez who wrote about the story of Nathaniel Ayers the schizophrenic musician now living on Skid Row in L.A.

Needless to say, I am eager to see both those films.

4 ½ 5 stars

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