Thursday, May 8, 2008

Iron Man (2008)


Since Batman Begins released three years ago, most new superhero movies have been particular about their casting – especially about the non-lead characters – and also great care is taken to please the geeks with trivia scattered all about the movie. Iron Man is the first such "production line" movie for Marvel since they have started producing their own movies. And with all our luck, they succeed. Iron Man balances a big budget/big explosions popcorn movie with a host of intelligent actors to make it a worthy opener for Hollywood’s Summer Season this year.

Iron Man is an origin story that focuses on how genius billionaire industrialist playboy inventor Tony Stark goes from creator of WMDs to an iron-clad superhero standing up against selfish war-mongering. Robert Downey Jr. plays Stark as a fast-talking faster-thinking man-boy, yet instills likeability to his shallowness. Get this: his secretary reminds him it’s her birthday; he asks her to get herself a present from him; she says she already has; he then actually asks her if she likes it! The secretary (& babysitter) is played by Gwyneth Paltrow in a very cute turn - she harbors a secret crush on her boss yet is conscious of their social difference. Terrence Howard plays Stark's best buddy and the Army's liaison to Stark Industries (fanboys: hint, hint!). The supporting character that does stand out though is Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane in a menacing bald & beard look accentuates his jaunty performance. It just shows how important it is to have a strong actor in villain roles (think Brian Cox from X2).

John Favreau does not really carry a legacy to set any valid expectations for his latest movie. Considering he did a passable turn with Zathura, most of the anticipation for Iron Man comes from recognition of the superhero himself and the wonderful cast. Each of the four actors brings a conviction to their characters that lend the required believability to the world they inhabit. And yet, the movie recognizes itself to be an entertainer and sticks to its purpose. It finds a niche spot between the successes of Batman Begins and The Transformers movie. Much like the Cheese Burger that Tony Stark craves – it is fun, fulfilling and easy. Nothing more, nothing less.

My rating --> 3 of 5

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