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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Film Review: Iron Man

I learned a harsh lesson upon seeing Iron Man on the Friday after it opened – I am no longer in Masterton. This was evident by the sheer overwhelming number of comic book fanatics gathered en masse to attend Iron Man, and judging by the sexual squeals of appreciation coming from all directions (my companions and I were assigned to centre seats, meaning we could delight in being surrounded in all directions by these fantastic folk), I can only assume that the film Iron Man is a pretty damn faithful adaptation of its source. Either that, or we have here a serious contender for the Transformers Kick-Ass FX Of The Year title.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, billionaire Tony Stark heads Stark industries, one of America’s premier weapons manufacturers. After being kidnapped he has a crisis of conscience and chooses to withdraw his company from the arms race, choosing instead to work on a new project that will eventually become the Iron Man suit that gives the wearer superhuman abilities. Stark is eventually forced to use the suit in order to counteract an evil plot brewing under his nose at his own weapons factory.

If nothing else, go see Iron Man for one of the most charismatic superhero performances in cinema history. Whereas X-Men, Superman and Batman Begins were all about gravitas, and Ghost Rider is just plain ridiculous, Downey Jr. gives a hilariously cynical yet warm-hearted performance in the central role, basically playing himself (this is not a bad thing). Compliments to Gwyneth Paltrow, who does a terrific job of walking around looking damn good in a low-cut black dress.

The film carries an anti-weapons message at its core, although it’s dubious as to how effectively this comes across, with the apparent moral being, “Nukes are bad! Just build a big iron suit out of PARTS of nukes and smash the shit out of your enemies with that instead!” Which sorta undermines the whole anti-violence argument.

My one other minor grievance (well actually a fucking major grievance) is the film’s falling into the superhero movie’s trap of blatantly setting itself up for a sequel. Maybe, just for a change, we could have just one comic book adaptation that isn’t run into the ground by needless sequels and remakes? Just look at what happened to Spiderman and Batman (Batman Begins is an exception to this rule).

However, judged on its own merits, the film adaptation of Iron Man stands up pretty well, especially for a project that has spent close to 10 years in development. And if for no other reason, see it for the sheer sarcastic force that is Robert Downey Jr.


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