Monday, May 5, 2008

The Fanatical Review - "Iron Man (2008)"

In case you just woken up from a year long slumber, Paramount Pictures' tentpole summer live-action superhero movie, otherwise known as Iron Man, was released late Thursday night. The barometer on the buzz for this movie was set pretty high when there was a small preview of the film shown during the Iron Man panel at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) and has steadily rose with every new glimpse of the completed film.

But Internet buzz does not always translate into huge box office dollars (Snakes on a Plane, anyone?) or well-reviewed films; especially with the fans. So, the real question is - Does Iron Man bring the goods?

In a resound two words - Hell Yeah! Not only does the script for the theatrical version of Iron Man remains true to its comic book heritage, the movie also brings the sense of humor, adventure and limitless possibilities that only could only be done in a four-color world where a multi-billionaire inventor/industrialist can change his personal ideology practically on a dime and dress up in his creation to save the world.

One nitpick that should be noted is that the end of the conflict between Iron Man and Iron Monger seemed rather rushed and didn't fit with the overall tone of the movie. But it is understood since the movie ran over two hours and the extended fight sequence will probably find life in the DVD release of the movie.

On the acting side, Robert Downey Jr thoroughly placed his stamp on Tony Stark by bringing both the hard-partying, trust-fund-baby lifestyle and the grief-stricken, responsible man-of-action sides of Tony Stark to life. His sardonic delivery gives a good bite to Stark's sarcastic quips. It is just hard to imagine this is the same actor that has walked through so many roles some as recent as The Shaggy Dog.

And while the movie is about one man's transformation from an iron hearted man into a true iron man, he does not go it alone. Jeff Bridges does a masterful job as Stark Industries partner and "concerned" father-ish figure Obadiah Stane. Gwyneth Paltrow infuses the character of Pepper Potts with a sense of feminine strength in between all of the testosterone. If there was one nebbish part, it was the role of Jim Rhodes played by Terrence Howard who's controlled performance didn't jibe with the character from the comic books. But Rhodey's more looser personality might be more on display on Iron Man 2.

And if Downey's performance is the #1 reason to see the movie, the CGI FX should be #1a. To see Iron Man in all of his suit development stages from his hand-made original armor to his final Mark III red and gold one was a sight for more than just the eye. The flight and fight sequences were excellent and certainly benefit from the advancements made in digital modeling technology that were lacking in films like Daredevil.

Overall, this movie may not be on the same level of fan frenzy as other Marvel icons such as Spider-Man or Wolverine. But this movie forces not only non-comic book readers but fanboys/fangirls alike to see Iron Man for what he is - the spirit of inventing and adventure that few comic book heroes can do. And this movie does it well.

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