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Box Office Blazer Iron Man Worthy of Its Success


Iron Man (Paramount/Dreamworks, 2008)
Directed by Jon Favreau
Written by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway from the comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

I don’t know how much this has to do with Marvel taking over their rights to a slew of characters to have total control over the feature film adaptations, but whatever is going on here worked out quite nicely. Iron Man is a brilliant comic book adaptation, but even more than that, it’s simply a great film.

There is so much passion and energy driving this project that I can’t see how anyone won’t just be taken along for the ride. Everyone involved seems to be having a ridiculous amount of fun making this and it shows in superb direction, writing, cinematography, and especially acting.

Robert Downey Jr. is being praised by everyone, I’m sure (I made it a point not to read a single review going into this viewing), and he deserves every bit of ink allotted to his name. And I have great hope that with the slew of money this film will make, people will be excited by Downey again, and go back and watch the great performances he’s given in the past few years in films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Zodiac, and A Scanner Darkly that were seen by very few in their initial runs.

The origin film is a storyline that has to be told in the first films of all of these franchises, and I don’t think anyone has pulled it off better than Jon Favreau, Downey, and company have with Iron Man. The initial sequences of Downey making his suit, and testing it out play out so much better than they did in Spiderman and X-Men, for example. The main storyline that is set-up in this film is also just more interesting and less convoluted than it was in those films.

I enjoyed Spiderman, X-Men, and even Fantastic Four to a point, but it really took the second film to give those franchises a true identity. Iron Man has all of the uniqueness and excitement that it needs in the first installment. It’s a hell of an accomplishment when I take the time to think about it.

Jon Favreau has really set the bar high for himself with this film. He might not be the first name you think of when it comes to someone heading up an action packed superhero franchise, but the man is smart enough to know where his strengths lie.

All of the sharp witty dialogue from Swingers is present here. There is a brilliant example of this at the beginning of the film with Downey in the Jeep with the soldiers. The dialogue strikes a brilliant ambience of tit for tat and leads up to a great series of events that will define the rest of the film. Favreau also proves adept with the action sequences; he stays away from the quick cuts and just lets everything play out in front of us, which is a welcome change of pace from the Michael Bay influence that has unjustly spread throughout the modern day action film.

And while Downey deserves most of the credit here, the supporting performances should not go unnoticed. Terrence Howard has yet to give a bad performance, and that streak does not end here; I look forward to seeing him used more in the future films. Gwyneth Paltrow makes a welcome return to film as Stark’s secretary, Pepper Potts; I had forgotten how good she can be. Kudos to making her a little more than the typical comic book movie female; she actually gets to be a part of the action and not just a heroine in distress. And Jeff Bridges is also great as the main baddie, Obediah Stone; it’s nice to see him in a commanding role and not just teaching girls how to walk on balance beams and shit.

The film has very few flaws. I think it reaches a bit of a stall in the final third with some sequences that seem to just be there to move the plot along more than anything else. There’s one bit of strangeness where Tony Stark sends Pepper Potts to retrieve info from the computer at his office, and of course Stain shows up to try and stop her. I would just assume with the technology Stark has available at his home that he would be able to tap into his own computer at work. We only see him work at home for the entire film.

The final battle sequence between Iron Man and Stone in his own Iron Man-esque suit battling it out in the streets and on the rooftops probably could have been a little better. However, with that being said, I still found this to be much more exciting giant robot action than any sequence from last summer’s Transformers.

The final comment I will make is that I am so happy Marvel has decided to tie these movies in together. We’ve already had confirmation that Stark will pop up in The Incredible Hulk later this summer, and in Iron Man we get the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you stay until the final credits, you even get Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. This continuity aspect will only make these films more fun for fans in the long run.

Overall, great stuff, and since we’re coming off the worst Spring as far as movies go that I can remember in a long time, I’m not sure how much this statement will be worth to some. But Iron Man is the best film I’ve seen so far this year, so just go see the damn thing already.


Sam Loomis

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