Monday, May 05, 2008

Iron Man

As many of you may or may not know I work for Paramount Vantage--the indy wing of Paramount Pictures. If you have read the blog in the past you probably have noticed that I don't do many, or really any reviews for Vantage or for our parent company Paramount. Mostly because I do take these reviews seriously, and I don't want there to be a suspicion of bias for films distributed through Paramount. I do this mostly because there may be a film that I don't like and--you know you have to be fair if you only review the ones from your company that you like -- well it's like Fox News, not really fair and balanced. But I really wanted to comment on this film so I'm just going to say right off the bat. I work at Paramount Pictures and I loved Iron Man. There, I said it. You can call me a plant if you want--but if you'll notice I waited a few days after it made over 100 million at the box office over the weekend so really at this point what does it matter?
Yes I loved Iron Man as a big summer blockbuster and I especially enjoyed the pacing and character development. As much as I love Spider-Man and the subsequent films, I have to say that Director John Favreau has surpassed Raimi in the ability to successfully transfer from comics to the screen. As I have viewed the Spidey flicks again on DVD I have noticed that they are not nearly as fun and exciting as they were when I first saw them--they have great moments, especially the second Spidey, but overall they just feel hokey and goofy. And therein lies the problem. Now that I have seen Iron Man I see what could have been with Spidey. Iron Man is not goofy or hokey. The relationships with his assistant Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) his best friend Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and even with his mentor/rival Obediah Stane (Jeff Bridges) are very strong and great to watch. And it brings the funny too, the film never takes itself too seriously. They also were able to show a bit more of the larger Marvel universe in this film with the appearance of opperatives of Shield and including a cameo from a certain one-eyed Shield commander after the credit sequence at the end of the film. They also had a great reference in the film to the possibility of Rhodes becoming War Machine--awesome!
Who is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)? I'm sure that when Favreau was making this film he knew he was going to have to give some deeper character background. Most of the world knows about Spidey, Batman and Superman, but Tony Stark/Iron Man had roughly the same problem that Daredevil had when it came out. Outside of the comic world the average Joe had never heard of Iron Man or Tony Stark. So they open with a fantastic scene with Tony hammering the booze and laughing it up with soldiers before he's almost blown up by terrorists. They flash back hours earlier and they get a great quick intro back story on Tony Stark as he receives a humanitarian award. He's shown to be a genius and the head of a Fortune 500 Weapons Manufacturing Company. Of course Stark isn't there he's playing the tables in Vegas as he plays up the billionaire playboy without a care in the world. He beds the hot reporter played by the very sexy Leslie Bibb and we get to see his cliffside bachelor pad. Howard Hughes would have been proud. Favreau adapts the capture of Tony Stark from the comics. The location has changed but the situation remains the same. In the Comics Tony is captured by the Vietcong in the film Tony is captured by Afghani Terrorists called the Ten Rings. As in the comics Tony has a life threatning injury and he is forced to build a device to protect his heart. Now we were told before the film was made that the Mandarin would be the main bad guy. I didn't hear them mention him in the film but the Ten Rings is most definitely a reference to the Mandarin and I would assume that the character of Raza could someday become the Mandarin? Maybe?

Anyway Tony is forced to build a missile for the terrorists and instead he builds the Mark I, the first Iron Man outfit. When he escapes and returns home he realizes that his weapons have not benefited mankind and he is now determined to use his wealth for good instead of destruction. Thusly he builds the second Iron Man suit the Mark II. Which was built entirely by Stan Winston and his ILM team and it is amazing to watch. I really enjoyed the workshop sequences where Tony tinkers with his Iron Man suit always trying to perfect it. When Iron Man beats the shit out of terrorists and then takes off for the skies to duel with a pair of fighter jets I swear I couldn't always tell when something was complete CGI or when it was a guy in the suit. I think Marvel needs to continue their relationship with ILM with every film they make because you can just see the leaps and bounds in technology from Spider-Man to Iron Man. It really is incredible. Oh, and I didn't even mention the bad ass fight sequence between Iron Man and Iron Monger. It was far too short but it was amazing to see, again it was as if it was ripped right from the comic book. The bar has been re-set and every Marvel film, every comic film, from now on has to try and measure up to Iron Man's success. It is a great cast, they all had excellent chemistry and I'm really excited to see what they can do with Iron Man 2 in 2010.

Grade 4 1/2 Buckets

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