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Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Iron Man

After discussing the subject with several readers of my blog, I've decided to start writing consecutive review posts, starting with my review of Iron Man.

Originally released in 2008, Iron Man is the movie that started the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is the movie that promised us The Avengers, and is one of the best superhero movies in the genre. Chronicling the origin story of Iron Man, this film shows how billionaire genius Tony Stark goes from narcissistic playboy arms dealer to empathetic playboy superhero.

Really, the best thing about this movie is Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He absolutely sells the rock star Steve Jobs image of Tony Stark, but he wouldn't be anywhere without the excellent supporting cast. Every single actor from Downey to Shaun Taub as Yinsen does wonderful in their parts, but I would like to give special mention to Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. He absolutely kills it as Stane, playing the nice old guy for the first half, and eventually taking a sinister turn. The first time I watched this, though I also didn't know anything about the Iron Man mythos, Stane's turn from supportive friend/mentor of Tony to full on villain was something I did not see coming. The only actor I really have an issue with is Terrence Howard as Rhodey, but that's not to say he wasn't good. I just thought that Don Cheadle, who took his place in Iron Man 2 and will take his place again in Iron Man 3, was better. Not that I'm a halfway decent judge of acting, but I'm just saying.

Iron Man per se doesn't actually show up until about an hour into the film, but that's okay, because the build up to that point is totally worth it. Indeed, the best part of this film is Tony in the cave with Yinsen building his armor. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the film is great too, but the cave scene was like the centerpiece of a beautiful painting. The action scenes are straightforward, beauteous in their simplicity. There are also really good character arcs for the three central characters- Tony Stark, Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Obadiah Stane. We actually get to see them develop from one thing to another. In Pepper's case, it's a transformation from skeptic bystander to courageous heroine.

The only real complaint about this film is that there wasn't enough of the main villain. I know that we have the Ten Rings terrorist group led by Raza, but the main villain, and I can't say this without invoking spoilers, Iron Monger, was great - for all ten minutes of him. I just wish that we could have seen more of Stane as as Iron Monger. He doesn't even get called "Iron Monger," except for a passing reference Stane makes to him and Tony being "Ironmongers." Yeah, that's one word.

But even so, this film is a fantastic piece of cinema, and I can not recommend it more wholeheartedly or enthusiastically that I do now. If you're just getting started on the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe thing, watch the movies, starting with this one. I only caution families in that there's a racy scene with Tony and a woman in bed, and, as par for the course, big action violence, which, though largely bloodless, does see a couple of veins pulsating inside of people's heads in a mildly disgusting fashion. So families, beware.

RATING: 9/10

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