Saturday, May 3, 2008

Gold-Titanium Alloy Man

Does whatever a Gold-Titanium Alloy pig can ... d'oh!

I like Robert Downey Jr. I liked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I think I've liked him in other things, so why is it I can only call to mind his supporting roles in US Marshalls (bleh) and True Believer? I keep wanting to say he was great in The Grifters and Grosse Pointe Blanke -- and then I remember that was John Cusack. Anyways, he was a great Tony Stark here: charming, sharp, and just this side of dissolute. (Keep in mind, I've never read an Iron Man comic in my life, so whether he's Comic Book Guy's Tony Stark is beyond my ken.)

Iron Man delivers superhero/comic book fun that left me hoping the planned trilogy comes to pass -- with Favreau at the helm of all three. I liked Batman Begins, it was my last 'favorite comic book movie', but I'm really not looking forward to the sequel. I'm just not that goth, I guess. I like the bold primary colors comics more than the brooding I'm-so-dark-I'm-cool genre calculated to appeal to the NIN set. Those less dark superhero movies have been a mixed bag to this point: Superman Returns, Daredevil, Ang Lee's Hulk, Raimi's Spider-Man movies, the X-Men movies -- there's some wild inconsistency there. Hammy to stilted acting (Maguire the former, any X-(wo)man the latter, Affleck both), distractingly awful CGI, ludicrously overstuffed/semi-coherent stories, there's been something fundamentally wrong with all of them. While each of those movies had elements I liked, none of them have held up particularly well for me. The first two Spideys would be best of that lot. [Update: A day later, I find myself thinking, "How could those Afghan soldiers have been stupid enough to let Stark build the Iron Man 1.0 suit right under their noses when he was supposed to be building them missiles? Instead of watching on grainy video monitors wondering what he was up to ('Maybe he made some modifications?' one asks another) they could've asked him directly and made him show progress.) Of course, I wondered the same thing during the movie, but I stopped wondering as I got caught up in the tension of getting the suit built in time, etc. I think it would be hard to sit through that a second time.]

Downey wasn't the only actor doing fine work in this movie. Jeff "The Dude" Bridges was great as Downey's mentor and (obligatory spoiler alert, if needed) ultimate nemesis. I didn't even recognize him at first with that bald dome-full beard look. Are his meaty, arms dealing paws in this movie the same hands that balanced White Russians so delicately in The Big Lebowski? None of the performances here were so one-dimensionally bad that they distracted me from the flow of the movie. Can't say that about many (any?) other superhero movie.

I like too that Iron Man isn't as powerful as the Hulk and Superman. You don't find yourself wondering things like "Could he really pick up a whole continent like that? Wouldn't it break in half in the middle, or the weight of the whole continent focused where he's standing cause the part of the earth's crust he's standing on to sink?" And the suit has that Gundam/Mech appeal that satisfies the tech/gadget lover in me much more than Batman's token nod.

Summing up: Iron Man delivers the Saturday matinee summer action movie goods.
More reviews: KcM spot-on | HND nails Downey's turn | WAW has more RDJr gushing.
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