Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Ironman": A Movie Review

Everyone enters the theater with some sort of prejudice towards the film they are about to see: they are absolutely smitten with the leading lady or leading man; they were amused or enthralled by the trailer; they hate one of the supporting actors. My admitted prejudice towards “Ironman” was that it was yet another superhero in a long line of “X-Mens,” “Spider-Mans,” and shiny new “Batman” franchise. I wasn’t sure what a man in a suit of armor could do that would wow even the overeager fanboys. But I was also thrilled for the formerly troubled Robert Downey, Jr. finally landed a lucrative franchise.

Usually one’s prejudices are either upheld by their biased towards the leading lady or man or whatnot, or they are dashed in a rather spectacularly fabulous ways or steadfastly upheld. After watching twenty minutes of previews (and yes, getting teary-eyed at the Heath Ledger-focused “Dark Knight” trailer) and all of “Ironman,” I will enthusiastically admit that my prejudices and expectations of “Ironman” were spectacularly and fabulously dashed.

“Ironman” is two hours of adrenaline-packed, surprisingly endearing thrills in a slick package. Downey plays Tony Stark, the second-generation genius-turned-weapons manufacturer, who lives in his own detached world where he has rationalized that safety lies with the country that has the biggest missile silos. He, like most gazillionaires, lives in a world where he gets whatever he wants and his petulance is tolerated because of the size of his bank account. However, when he is violently kidnapped and held captive in Afghanistan and forced to build a replica of Stark Industries newest missile system, Stark realizes what his genius has unleashed on the world. Of course, trapping a genius in a cave with an arsenal usually won’t end well for his captors. Stark builds a suit that turns him into a one-man warmonger and he literally flies to freedom. Irrevocably changed by seeing his own weapons kill the very people he built them to protect, Stark reinvents his suit and uses it to destroy his own weapons that were sold his enemies.

Downey, who has always seemed unique and unfairly talented, breaths so much life into Tony Stark, that it is so easy to fall in love with his narcissistic, womanizing, larger-than-life personality. He lives a lonely life, but we see how he talks to his robots and computers—things he literally gave life too—that they are his family.

Gwyneth Paltrow adds a delightful spark to the usual flat and antiquated role of the secretary/love interest. Although, I dramatically rolled my eyes when Pepper Potts was running around during the finale in five inch Christian Louboutins, she managed to update a generally flat and lifeless character. But seriously, can’t an empowered personal assistants run for her life in some Nike Shoxs?

With the movie making an astounding $101 million in its opening weekend and plans for a 2010 sequel already in the works, it’s obvious that “Ironman”—the first movie from Marvel Studios benefited from the knowledge procured by previous superhero franchises. Directors can clearly see what works and what doesn’t. Consequently, “Ironman” was tightly packed in consistent action, a simple, albeit predictable plot peppered with the eccentricity of Downey, playing on family-friendly versions of his own past demons. Also, “Ironman” was created because of Stark’s overwhelming “with great power comes great responsibility” philosophy made famous by “Spider-Man;” it has the uber-cool gadgetry of “Batman;” and possesses the jaw-dropping visual effects of “Transformers.”

Downey seems so happy about “Ironman’s” success that he’s practically levitating. And he should be. His eccentricity and sordid past probably helped him create the most loveable, fun, angst-ridden silverscreen superhero to date, and managed to check my prejudices at the door.

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