Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Belated DVD Review: Iron Man

#1 lesson from Iron Man: When you have to live with a gaudy life preserving heart gizmo sticking out of your chest, priority numero uno is to cut out neat little circles in all of your shirts - even if you're currently being detained by Afghan insurgents. Obviously.

After letting the hype die down, I used my one free movie rental at that amazing machine found in supermarkets and convenience stores to rent Iron Man this weekend. It has been highly recommended by many friends and family and the time was right to take it in. I was ready for fun. Not surprisingly, I really didn't like it. But hear me out - I have some really really good reasons this time.

(Arhhgg, thar be spoilers ahead!)

Tony Stark, genius, inventor with a taste for luxury and ladies backed by a whole lot of family money is in the weapons game and doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks about it (until later, when he discovers that his company's arms are being used by the enemy). After a particularly impressive weapons demonstration in the Afghanistan battlefield and not at a military testing facilities stateside, Mr. Stark gets captured and does what most of use would do when captured by terrorists and asked to build a super destructive bomb (the one we just got finished showing off), we use the opportunity to build ourselves a giant Robocop suit to bust the heck out of the cave prison they're keeping us in. Am I right? In a world with infinite possibilities, where your hero is a super rich technology genius, there just isn't a problem he can't handle - not very suspenseful and the result is zero struggle. Sure he works on stuff with all the sweat and the hammering, but he has every resource imaginable as well as the totally stupid and non plausible at his disposal.

Armed with the knowledge that bad people to bad things with his weapons and having successfully busted free leaving his captors severely damaged and now really ticked off, he returns home and refuses to allow further manufacturing of said weapons. Then thrusts himself into his favorite side project - crazy super hero suit construction so he can save the villagers from the evil doers in Afghanistan. This involves much "testing in the lab" footage where cool effects, even cooler gadgets and gratuitous car porn are all featured. His assistant played by Gwyneth "Soon to Have Madonna Arms if She's Not Careful" Paltrow is spunky and quick at the beginning of the film but when the shit hits the fan she's all, "Oh, Tony, I don't know if I can do this. Help me. Whine, whine." Her secretary outfits were totally awesome though. Anyway, Jeff Bridges, featuring extra marbles in his mouth, is Tony's bald and bearded business partner (bald dudes in these kinds of movies are nearly always bad especially if they have beards) and makes for a strange nemesis. It's never clear what his true goal is - killing Tony, taking over the company or just destroying everything he's ever worked for. It's a bit mucky. Oh and Terrance Howard is thrown in there as Tony's weapons specialist Airforce high-up drinking buddy (who will most likely be replaced by Don Cheadle in IM 2 which is causing an uproar amongst fan boys). Robert Downey Jr.'s terse and irreverent delivery is not enough to make up for this super hero movie that is lacking danger, soul and ironically, heart. Not the arc reactor heart that supplies endless energy without consuming resources or producing any byproducts, just a regular one with blood and guts. That is not to say that this flick doesn't look good - 'cause it looks damn good. But considering Iron Man has been around since the 60's and has been a more sympathetic character in past incarnations, I admire Favreau for mixing it up a little. But this Tony Stark is too slick to fret over while witnessing his stunts and battles - He'll be fine. Just watch. Wait, he only made one heart, but it only took him like a day, make a backup, dude. Pass the popcorn. What time is it?

Where there's no risk, there's no fun. Even Superman gets really messed up every once in awhile.

But the biggest problem with Iron Man and I think the reason everyone liked it so much is that it moved quickly, looked really good and in the end nothing had changed. The smugness that touches the cocky bastard in us all remained. The character is still a jerk and lot of us like jerks and wish we had the balls to be one. It's the sitcom resolution that keeps us watching - you can miss an episode 'cause it's a blank slate next week (See IM 2 most likely). And in the final scene he breaks the cardinal super hero rule - he takes credit. I never thought you could build a movie on a single AC/DC song, slick effects, an uninteresting hero and a less than mainstream comic book character. I still look forward to Favreau's next project and am chalking this one up to my complete and utter lack of understanding as to the taste of the masses. Again.

P.S. In a fight, I would put my money on Batman, if only because afterwards Bruce would have to take off his shirt to tend to his many wounds.


Iron Man
126 min
Dir.: John Favreau
Written by: 4 dudes who haven't written a whole lot which is kind of cool
Produced by: 11 people including Favreau and Stan Lee