Monday, 10 May 2010

Film Review #3

Iron Man (2008)
Director: Jon Favreau Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 121 Minutes

Tagline: "This Summer: Heroes Aren't Born, They're Built"

They are continuing to gradually work their way down the popularity list of super-heroes, aren't they? Whilst hardly an unknown, I doubt as many people know who Tony Stark is as Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne! That may have helped this film when it was first released though - I don't think there was huge expectation, even from the fanboys. That combined with the fact that this is Marvel's first self-financed feature and the first part of their 'Marvel Cinematic Univerise' series of films, it seemed quite a gamble. But did it pay off? I suppose anyone reading this now will already know the answer to that but still! As with most films of this type, this is an 'origins' story. It has obviously been updated to make it easier to relate to, but the basics are the same as they were way back in the 60's.

Stark is helped by fellow captive, Yinsen...

It tells the story of how millionaire playboy and genius engineer, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), suffers a fatal heart wound on a business trip to Afghanistan, during an attack by kidnappers who want him to build super-weapons for them. In the case of this film, the antagonists in question are, predictably enough, Middle-Eastern terrorists. Instead of building the 'Jericho' missile as ordered, however, he constructs, not only a device to keep himself alive, but also a powerful suit of armour which he uses to blast his way to freedom. As you might imagine, after three months in captivity, in a cave, in fear of his life, Tony's ordeal changes him. When he finally gets back home, he immediately declares that the company he inherited from his father, Stark Industries, a major weapons manufacturer and military contractor, will no longer create death-dealing devices.

Tony testing out the new and improved suit...

Naturally, his father's old partner, Obadiah Stane (Bridges), who effectively runs the company, is strongly opposed to this. Instead, Stark devotes his time to building an improved version of his suit while Stane plots to wrest control of the company from him which inevitably results in a confrontation between the two. The story is pretty well-known, and somewhat predictable even to those who don't read comic-books, but that certainly doesn't detract from the entertainment factor. In the wrong hands, this could be a fairly mundane movie, but luckily, with masterful helm-control from actor-turned-director, Favreau (Swingers), and top-notch casting, it's anything but mundane. Whoever it was that decided to cast Robert Downey Jr as Stark was almost as much of a genuis as Stark himself!

Obadiah gives Pepper some friendly advice...
They were arguably even bigger gamblers than Marvel too, given his somewhat 'colourful' past, but it was, however, a masterstroke. He's a revelation, and elevates this film all by himself. It's almost as if the character was made specially for him. His (apparent) natural charisma and charm are perfect for the role, and suit the confident, outgoing, extroverted, Stark to a tee, as does the decor of his updated, futuristic Malibu mansion - his workshop is full of super-advanced technology and watching him interact with it all is really enjoyable, especially his banter with his computer and robotic helpers! The rest of the casting was never going to top this brilliance but it is also of a high standard.

This is the main reason I would want to be Iron Man...

Stark's loyal assistant for example, Miss Pepper Potts, is nicely played by Paltrow, Jeff Bridges is almost unrecognisable as the imposing Obadiah Stane, and Terrence Howard is stern, but likeable as his friend and military liaison, Rhodey. Overall, it's pretty much as good as it could've been. Does it best the first Spider-Man? Possibly not (it's close though), but Iron Man is a bit more of an unknown quantity. There's something for everyone here really - political and biblical references for those looking for a bit of depth, action and witty dialogue for those wanting to sit back with some popcorn and turn off their brain on a Friday night. This has to rank among the best comic-book adaptions to date and you'll almost certainly enjoy every minute. Oh, and don't turn it off when the credits start rolling! ;)

RKS Score: 9/10



  1. I loved the film, first time I watched (back in Brasil with Dani in a time I use to visit cinema at least 4 time a month =P) We went back to see it again in the same week...really good super hero least for me and my brother...hehe

  2. One of the better Marvel films imo. Really enjoyable adaption that updated the classic 1960's origin tale to the present day perfectly.

  3. Mr Downey has struck gold with this - literally. I hadn't even heard of him prior to IronMan series! He earned $500K from IronMan, a huge $10M from IronMan 2 - and wait for it - a ludicrous $50M from Avengers.

  4. You hadn't heard of him before Iron Man? That's surprising, he was pretty popular and well known (as much for his 'colourful' personal life as his acting). You're right though, he has made a crapload from this character. Then again, you should see how much Vin Diesel has made from the F&F series (>.<)