Now, you ordinarily wouldn't think of Robert Downey Jr. as an action movie star - particularly a comic book hero-type, right?
What about Gynneth Paltrow as a girl-next-door-type sweetie that is obviously overlooked by our hero or even the idea of Terrence Howard as the black-guy best friend? Hold on, how about Jeff Bridges (the Dude, man!) as the villain?
Sounds all pretty improbable as far as Summer blockbuster premises goes, huh? Well, IRON MAN throws all those folk and a bunch of seamless CGI craft into the mix and it all, and I mean every single bit of it, works.
And remember this is coming from a guy who is not a big fan of the big ass comic book action genre. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark - a billionaire industrialist famous for creating nuclear weaponry and every kind of arms used in the war on terror. He gets captured by terrorists after a demonstration in Afghanistan and is forced to build them a version of his powerful “Jericho missile.”
Instead, with the help of a fellow prisoner - Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub), he constructs an elaborate but crude suit of armour which he uses to escape from captivity. Back in the States he announces that his company will no longer manufacture weapons to the intense displeasure of Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). In a funny series of scenes Stark works on a new suit with better technology, more firepower, and a cooler looking shininess that, yeah, is a pretty sweet design.
Stark's best friend Colonel Rhodes (Terrence Howard) finds out about his suit in the middle of a killer sequence involving his return to Afghanistan to destroy the terrorist gang's weapon stockpile. Stark's assistant, and of course possible love interest, Pepper Pots (Gywneth Paltrow) suspects something is up and gets caught up in his major mechanical antics of which I will speak no further.
IRONMAN is a blast - the right amount of humor, the precise assembling of a neat narrative, and a great cast. As I'm sure every review will label Robert Downey Jr. an “unlikely hero” but he is perfect in the part - slickly engaged and slyly sarcastic, he plays all the right notes.
A bald bearded Bridges is dead on too in a role that's not just un-Dude it's incredibly non-TRON! Going in I was not at all familliar with the comic book it's based on but a friend who I attended with filled me in a bit concluding that the movie is fairly faithful to its source.
Obviously that didn't matter because it stands alone as a superior formula super hero movie. I usually use the word “formula” as a criticism but here its a good solid thing. Favreau has surprisingly done a excellent job with the tried and true framework and its his best film by far.
IRONMAN indeed transcends the summer blockbuster film form but more importantly - it's a lot of fun.
Some Random Babbling:
MovieZeal wrapped up their excellent April Coen Brothers Blog-A-Thon (though with their banner displaying a different cool Coen Bros. screen capture it seems like it's still going on. It's well worth your while with a stable panel of great film bloggers contributing reviews of all their movies, articles about the Brothers, and a very well compiled The Top 10 Most Memorable Coen Brothers Scenes.
I wrote Part II of my Musings on the Coens' Music which I hope you check out. I recently joined The Large Association of Movie Blogs - I'm LAMB #82!
Please visit and sample some of the other movie blogs. LAMB lists a lot of good ones so click away. I also took part in a survey for Buck On Film. It's a column in Academia - an online magazine and resource for academic librarians. It was about “what are the Oscars to you?” Please visit that too.
Okay, well more summer movies are coming and the birthday of a long gone legendary actor/director is to be celebrated when Film Babble Blog returns so please stay tuned.