Stark Raving Mad

Why are you still reading this?  Go watch Iron Man.  Nownownow.  It’ll be one of the finest comic book cinematic experiences you’ll ever relish.

Seriously, though, it’s been a while since the debut of a comics hero on the silver screen was done so right; with just the right amount of fan service for the comics geeks like myself, and enough of more conventional fare to satisfy the mainstream audience.  If you’d never heard of Iron Man before the movie trailers started showing up in theaters, this movie would probably have you careening down the street looking for the nearest comic book shop in a frantic effort to dig up all the information you could about this now-prominent billionaire playboy turned S.H.I.E.L.D. director.  Or not.  Possibly.

If you want a proper review of this film, I point you in the direction of the Rotten Tomatoes site (www.rottentomatoes.com), where you can find links to the minced words of the professional critics, whom you’ll find mostly have the same thing to say about Iron Man:  the movie is not without its flaws, and kind of veers into superhero cliche territory in the third act, but overall, it rocks hard.  And I’m certain any person who’s caught the trailers and has an IQ above room temperature can figure out the basic direction of the story, which is mostly origin but not without its thrilling action sequences.

I’m not going to gush (or at least try my darnedest not to), but I will unabashedly admit I was thoroughly entertained and will try to watch this a few more times before it rotates out of theaters.  Here’s why:

Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. Take note of that qualification; I didn’t say Iron Man, because at the end of the day it doesn’t take too much acting chops to play a guy in a flying metal suit.  But the moment Robert appears onscreen, he embodies the reckless genius in all his swaggering glory, equal parts ego and fun-loving socialite, who has enough awkward moments and Dexter’s Lab mistakes to endear him to all but the most cold-blooded of mammals.  My girlfriend didn’t have a clue who Tony Stark was before the film began, but when it ended, unequivocally stated that she couldn’t think of anyone else who could have pulled it off.

Oh, the Fan Service. Scattered everywhere like it was Easter Sunday are references to everything you could have asked for in an Iron Man movie without threatening to alienate the non-enthusiasts.  There’s S.H.I.E.L.D., Happy Hogan, War Machine, and… something too cool to spoil.  I beseech you, WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN.  WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN.  WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN. If you’ve ever, ever made yours Marvel, you’ll be glad you stayed behind.

The Incredible Machines. The Iron Man suit undergoes a variety of iterations, all of which are believable enough given the state of today’s technology, and each of which is spectacular in its own way.  But the scene stealer of the film, of which a friend of mine wanted her own, is the fire extinguisher droid.  You’ll see what I mean, and you’ll want one too.

A Top Notch Supporting Cast. You’d think that all that star power, with Gwyneth Paltrow as the almost unflappable faithful assistant Pepper Potts, and Jeff Bridges as the sly, manipulative Obadiah Stane, would have ended up suffocating the film.  Instead, they enhance it thoroughly, as each member of the supporting cast delivers a solid performance that complements Robert’s Tony Stark brilliantly, playing off of various facets of the main character’s personality.

I’m not going to say Iron Man was perfect, of course – the typical superhero showdown that happens at the film’s climax came off somewhat cliche and too Deus Ex Machina for my tastes – but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the movie.

Well, there you have it.  Iron Man’s awesome.  Get thee to a theatre!

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One Response to “Stark Raving Mad”

  1. Exactly what I needed to hear. I’m going tonight!

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