Iron Man (2008)

reviewed by
Homer Yen

bIronmanb - Fortified If Not Completely Filling

   by Homer Yen
   (c) 2008

Sometimes, itbs the movie that makes the man (or woman). Last summerbs bTransformersb catapulted Megan Fox into the Sexiest Woman Alive as surveyed by FHM magazine. But here, delightfully, itbs Robert Downey Jr. that makes the movie.

What a great casting decision! Even if your knowledge of pop culture is derived from glancing at magazines placed at the grocery checkout lane, youbve probably heard of how this once-Hollywood heartthrob became tabloid fodder. Up-and-coming in the 80s, he feasted on his growing popularity and then descended into a world marred by addiction, hard-partying, and poor judgment. Itbs the perfect lifetime training for him as he inhabits the role of Tony Stark, supercilious-billionaire-industrialist-cum-superhero.

This is the first time that audiences have been introduced to bIronmanb on the big screen. Ironman is not so much a superhero as he is a super-weapon that fits snuggly on a man with lofty purpose. However, Tony Stark was not always a man of high morals. But he has always been a person of astronomical intelligence, which he has leveraged into an insanely profitable, technologically advanced weapons company.

Stark is so wealthy that he pretty much has his way with anything and anyone. Of those closest to him, one is his unwavering assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). The characterbs name sounds like a Jamaican dinner dish, eh? Her job is pretty thankless, divided between keeping his image up while dismissing his one-night stands. On the one hand, there isnbt much for Potts to do although she becomes a possible-yet-impossible romantic interest. On the other hand, therebs something welcoming and wholesome about having Gwyneth Paltrow in the picture.

The other close friend is Pentagon honcho Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard). While he tries to remain resolute and responsible, he finds himself uncharacteristically relaxed when Stark flies with him on his corporate jet that apparently doubles as a Gentlemanbs Club.

The film chronicles the origin of Ironman. And as bSuperhero Originb films go, this one is better than most other bSuperhero Originb films. bIronmanb is leagues ahead of the likes of the inaugural Superman, X-Men, and Fantastic Four. Give credit to the writers for developing Stark as a three-dimensional character that goes from a man of perversity to a man of principle. And, there certainly isnbt any deficiency in the acting department here. Among all of the principal players, the cast probably shares among them at least several Oscar nominations from previous cinematic work. And as for the quality of the production, it has ample special effects and all the wild gadgets and gizmos that you would expect from a summer blockbuster about a superhero.

What it suffers from, however, is uneven pacing. The best scenes take place early on as Stark goes to the hot zones of Afghanistan to promote his newly designed weapons, getting to see first-hand at what his products can do. These scenes are more human and thus more compelling. As the film moves into its last act, it becomes a duel of testosterone and titanium. Overall, sometimes itbs a cool experience. Sometimes itbs dramatic. Sometimes itbs funny. Sometimes the film seems to drag. As Vince Lombardi said: bWinning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing.b

   Grade: B
   S:         1 out of 3
   L:         1 out of 3

V: 2 out of 3 _________________________________________________________________

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