Film Review: Iron Man

— by Caroline on Crack

When I first saw the trailers for Iron Man, my first reaction was “Meh, another over-the-top blockbuster.” I had no desire to see it. Not because I’m not a fan of the Iron Man story/comics, I’m not, but because the trailer with all its exciting flashes of special effects didn’t impress me. Plus there was a lot of military stuff in there; Afghanistan, missiles, jet fighters — boring! And although I have appreciated Robert Downey Jr. in other movies, I was not loving him as super hero.

But then hints of good reviews started trickling in. And my fate was sealed when dotsara said her friend liked the movie so much that he insisted that she quit her job just so that she could go see the movie in the middle of the work day. Apparently it was THAT good.

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Iron Man is an action sci-fi blockbuster extravaganza that provides cartoon thrills for thinking people.

So despite it being opening night for the movie, something I usually avoid like the plague, I found myself buying my ticket to the 6pm show at the horrible Mann Criterion in Santa Monica. Since it was early in the evening, the theater was populated with a ton of teenage boys. Fortunately, I was able to find a seat away from them and instead sat in front of a row of 8-year-old girls wearing pink.

We all settled in for quite an exciting ride of, yes, special effects, explosions and shiny machines (mmm, the Audi R8). But to my surprise, there was also awesome casting, impressive acting and a compelling story. Yeah! I know! In a summer blockbuster! And I found Robert Downey Jr. intriguing in this part. Not annoying at all.

I guess the character he played, Tony Stark, is supposed to be a big asshole in the comic books but here, RBJ, played him like a likable lothario. Knowing about the actor’s real-life debaucherous history sorta works to round out this character. You relished Stark’s enjoyment of his money and fame. In one scene he was sitting in his private jet enjoying a bourbon while his sexy flight attendants danced and a stripper pole started to rise up from the floor. And it just felt right. “Oh, he’s such a scoundrel. Heehee.” And hey, that RBJ has been working out! Didn’t care for his 98 Degrees-style facial hair but other than he looked pretty damn good.

I just love Stark, the imperfect superhero alter ego. True, he, like most superhero alter egos, has to keep love at a distance. But Stark was like that anyway. His work always came first. Women just filled in the quiet times, like his bourbon. And instead of that annoying love interest he has to save, he has the beautiful but smart assistant, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who can hold her own, including Stark’s respect. Hey, she can outrun super villains and pilot her Audi S5 in Christian Louboutin skyscraper stilettos, she’s definitely got my respect.

And if you’re a tech geek, you’ll drool over all the eye candy in this film. At the end of it, I wanted to buy lots o’ gadgets — an iPod Touch, maybe a MacBook Air, a new digicam. These weren’t in the movie, but I was now craving all things shiny and high-tech.

Anyway, loved Iron Man. Despite its blockbuster tendencies, it held my interest after the explosions and even though there was the occasional “Bah, I knew they were going to do that.” And seeing it with a bunch of Iron Man fans hopped up on years of comic books, energized the movie-going experience. They cheered when the suit was shown in its entirety for the first time — sheet metal flipping, gears moving, eye holes glowing. I even found myself clapping and hollering, as I was carried away in the excitement. This is definitely not the sort of movie you save for a DVD rental. To do so would be a shame.

You need to see this movie at one of those high-tech movie theaters (not a mall multiplex, like I did). Settle into your cushy stadium seat with your overpriced popcorn and soda and enjoy. Unlike most summer blockbusters, you won’t feel dirty afterward and you’ll probably still be thinking about it after you leave the theater.

BTW, stay through the closing credits.