If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself as it pertains to writing film reviews in the year and a half history of this site, it’s that I don’t like writing reviews for big blockbusters like Iron Man nearly as much as I enjoy writing about mid-range to small movies. It really has nothing to do with the films themselves or their potential to be critiqued, but rather due to a feeling I get as I mosey around to any number of other reviews for the film on blogs or newspapers or magazines.
When something like the first big summer movie is released, there’s a very good chance that a number of other bloggers are going to see the movie on its first day out. They are also going to review it, most likely within hours of seeing it (which I rarely can or do). I am also going to read it, though I don’t like reading reviews before I write my own. It’s entirely of my own doing, and is completely irrational, but there’s something about reading so many opinions about a film and my thinking to myself “what’s left to say?”
I understand that every site doesn’t have the same readership and that just because I read a review on X blog doesn’t mean that you are going to read it, too. But that connection in my brain is malfunctioning, I suppose. On the other hand, when I see a movie like The Visitor (which I did earlier this week; review coming soon), I can be assured that I won’t see another review hardly anywhere, and that my perspective will have to be fresh to anyone, since they aren’t finding one anywhere else. I suppose I can chalk it up to my own insecurities, as when placed in this situation (writing a review for a film that’s been reviewed to death), all I think about is ways to do my review differently, to make it stand out from everyone else’s. In other words, I think it’s just that I prefer acting to reacting. Which is probably why you’re reading this diatribe right now. That said, on to the review…
Things I Liked About Iron Man:
* The top notch cast.
Following the trend set by Batman Begins and the Spider-Man series, the cast of Iron Man is made up not by the hunks and/or starlets of the day, but rather with celebrated, award-winning actors. Robert Downey, Jr., perfectly matched as he may be to the character, and his “troubled” past notwithstanding, remains a forty-something actor with little-to-no box office success behind him, but rather a resume filled with praised performances. Gwyneth Paltrow hasn’t been in a big-budget feature since 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Terrence Howard is still known for Hustle & Flow and Crash more than anything else in his career (Jeff Bridges remains somewhat of an enigma to Hollywood. In the 80s, he was the hunky leading man through the 80s; he went through a down period in the 90s, only to see his career take off again after 1999’s The Big Lebowski. Since then, he’s settled into a nice groove, mixing it up between leading man roles and supporting turns.).
* The first 2/3.
It’s a mystery that we as moviegoers all love superhero origin tales so much, since they’re all essentially the same. Director Jon Favreau manages to keep the story fresh despite its predictability, by starting us off with a bang (literally), only to scale back and let us see into the character of Tony Stark a bit before unleashing Iron Man (and the mayhem he brings). Though some may clamor that there’s a lack of action to be had (considering the genre) it’s refreshing to see that cast put to good use, rather than spouting off inane lines and being little more than objects placed in front of a blue screen (I’m looking at you, Lucas).
* “Vegas, baby, Vegas”
Favreau throws a not-so-inside joke to the audience as he places himself in the film in a minor role as one of Stark’s entourage. The kicker comes when he’s subtly introduced – standing behind Stark as the future Iron Man plays craps at a Vegas casino. If only Vince Vaughan had shown up in the background as well. It was also nice to see that Favreau has dropped quite a few pounds, though that’s neither here nor there.
Things I Didn’t Like About Iron Man:
* The last 1/3
It’s not as if the movie falls apart or somehow gets dumb over the final 40 minutes, but the final showdown is somewhat lackluster, complete with a too-predictable fight (Nick from R2D2 makes a great point about the usage or weapons, or lack thereof).
* The usage of Terrence Howard
From what I hear, many of Howard’s scenes were cut from the film, and it’s pretty obvious when watching. His de-facto buddy role is all but useless, a “fighter pilot” that never fights. Also, why is an Air Force colonel acting as the presenter at a press conference being held at Stark’s company? Doesn’t he have better things to do?
* Bond. James Bond.
I’m more than willing to suspend disbelief for movies, even more so for superhero ones. And despite the fact that I am not in fact a billionaire, nor do I have any clue what arc reactor technology is, the speed and intelligence of Stark’s home computing workshop goes beyond the limits of belief. Though it’s never specifically mentioned how long it took him to concept/build the Iron Man suit, it seems as though Stark could build aircraft carriers in his basement in a week, what with his endless resources (money and scrap materials). All this from a suspended beachfront house in Malibu. A minor quibble, but still, I have my limits.
* The fact that I missed the scene that played after the credits
But that’s my own fault, I suppose. Anyway, it ought to be on YouTube soon enough.