Review: Iron Man

Published 6 years ago by

Short version: While not perfect, it comes pretty damn close – Iron Man is one of the best superhero movie adaptations to hit the big screen so far.


iron man reviews Review: Iron Man

Finally. It’s here.

And yes, you can rest easy – especially if you’re a long time Iron Man fan, this movie will rock your world. If you’re not, get ready to witness the launch of the next big superhero franchise.

Believe it or not, this is one of the more difficult reviews I’ve written. I’ve been a huge supporter of this film, the production and Jon Favreau since day one, and I’ve also been looking forward to it probably longer than most of you reading this have been alive. icon smile Review: Iron Man So it was difficult to balance the fanboy love for the character and the fact that I want it to do well, with an objective look at the film as a whole.

So, without any further delay, here’s my review, free of any major spoilers…

The movie opens with the very familiar scene of Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) riding in a Humvee with some soldiers in what is presumably Afghanistan. Although we’ve seen about a minute of this scene in trailers and clips, there’s much more to it that’s very funny and serves to start giving us a sense of who Stark is almost immediately. He’s a billionare, but he’s very engaging and as far from “stuffy” as you can imagine. Within a couple of minutes he puts the intimidated soldiers at ease.

Of course just as that happens all hell breaks loose when an explosion takes out the vehicle ahead of theirs and brings their convoy to a stop. They’re obviously outgunned and the vehicle (and soldiers are peppered with armor piercing bullets. Stark manages to get away from the vehicle and behind cover where he tries to call for help, but (as we’ve seen) he gets hit by shrapnel from another explosion.


The movie then cuts to a recent flashback, less than two days prior, giving us a look at Stark in his own element: Partying hard in Vegas and charming the pants off ladies (quite literally, actually). Here we’re introduced to his long time friend and military liason Rhodey (played by Terrence Howard), his father-figure Obadiah Stane (played by Jeff Bridges) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his ever-on-the-ball personal assistant.

It doesn’t take long for director Jon Favreau (who also plays Stark’s driver, ‘Happy’ Hogan) to establish the dynamic between Tony and those who surround him: Stane is the ‘responsible’ one who handles the details of running the company, putting up with Tony’s impetuous personality; Rhodey also suffers Stark’s personality, but at his core we almost see that he wishes he could be as carefree; finally Pepper is Tony’s rock: she keeps him on track and grounded and we see the playful sexual tension between them that is very close from boiling over into something serious, but has been held back to maintain their working relationship.

When we cut back to Stark in Afghanistan, we see his cocky attitude even in business as he demonstrates a state of the art missile system to the high ranking officers in the field. From here we move back to the explosion and then him as captive, where we meet Professor Yinsen (Shaun Toub), who has jury rigged a device to keep Tony alive. Stark is completely disoriented but Yinsen has been there for quite a while and instructs him on how to act in order to not be immediately killed by his captors.

The terrorists (known as “The Ten Rings”) want him to build them a version of that very same missile, which for reasons revealed in the film will not be as difficult as you might think in his cave environment. Instead Stark has an epiphany regarding his role in conflicts around the world and decides instead to construct something that will allow him and Yinsen to escape: The Mark I armor.

The scenes that follow are very well done and it’s no cakewalk for Stark and Yinsen to get away with building this right under the video-watching noses of their captors. Within the context of a superhero movie, I actually found this part of the film very effective and even believable. When we finally get to the escape itself, it is nothing less than absolutely thrilling as they run out of time and Stark finally gets to take his vengeance on his captors. Actually, in the notes I took down during the film I used the following as a reminder: AWESOME!

Stark makes it back to California where he makes an announcement that does not sit well at all with Stane or even his pal Rhodey, and he sets out to create a more streamlined version of his first prototype armor. He utilizes the help of his A.I. “butler,” Jarvis (no it’s not a robot) to construct and test the suit. Some of the funniest moments in the film take place here during his initial attempts at flight and when he takes the Mark II armor out for it’s first spin.

From here Stark feels the weight of the responsibility of what his company has contributed to conflicts in the Middle East and at least briefly takes matters into his own hands. Things get complicated and eventually as you must know, he has to confront Obadiah Stane in the Iron Monger armor which was based on the Mark I.

Yeah, yeah… but what’s the bottom line, you ask? Is it any good? The short answer is it’s not good – it’s great.

If you’re a long time Iron Man fan from the comics who’s been waiting for this movie forever, your fanboy geek meter is going to be pegged, no question. If you never heard of Iron Man until you started seeing commercials for this, you, too will think it’s awesome.

At the screening I attended, every time Downey Jr donned a new set of armor the crowd went nuts. The reaction was extremely positive with cheers coming from the audience three or four times during the course of the film, lots of laughter and applause at the closing credits.

One of the absolute best things about this film as far as comic book fans will be concerned is how faithful the movie is to the spirit of not only Tony Stark/Iron Man, but of the supporting characters as well. Favreau reached back to classic Tony Stark instead of depending on the more recent incarnations of the character: Impetuous, a bit older, risk taker and charming as hell throughout.

On the other hand he incorporated more modern-day elements into the technology of the armor, taken from the more recent comics. While purists may be annoyed at not having the skin-tight, Oscar-shiny armor in a briefcase, that just would not have worked nearly as well on the big screen.

The action sequences were awesome, and it was quite difficult to distinguish the practical suits from the CGI versions. Loved the way they made Iron Man fly, with slow, gentle takeoffs and super-fast landings (quite the opposite of Superman), and the in-air flight sequences were shot in a way that also made them very believable. The bells and whistles contained in the armor and used during various fights were very cool. In particular a scene where he faces off with terrorists using civilians as human shields.

I loved the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Paltrow. I’m not a big fan of hers as I usually find her kind of cold on-screen, but here she was business-like but also emanated a warm glow that made her vulnerable and appealing. I thought Jeff Bridges was a bit under-utilized, but for me the weak link and character chain was Terrence Howard as Rhodey. Maybe for those unfamiliar with the comics it won’t be an issue, but for me he didn’t work. As someone suggested earlier someone more like a way toned down Wesley Snipes would have fit the character better in my opinion.

So what kept it from getting a solid 5/5? After the first incredible, awesome first hour, it seemed like the film kind of lost its direction a bit. Like Tony didn’t really know what to do with the armor. A lot of time was spent in the building of it, but it didn’t seem like there was quite enough payoff from all that time spent. A lot of people were concerned that Iron Man wouldn’t have a long enough running time, but I really think that it could have used some trimming to tighten things up from it’s just over 2 hour length.

Also, yes, we all crave footage, trailers and images prior to a movie opening as we froth at the mouth from anticipation, but the fact that every action sequence in the movie was hinted at or partially shown in released footage took something away. It would have been fantastic if there had been at least ONE action sequence in the film that we had no clue about. Paramount, please take note of that for the next film. icon smile Review: Iron Man

On the other hand, even having seen so many clips, when the action hit, it was AWESOME to behold. And fans will love the reference to “The Ten Rings” and I’ll be damned if we haven’t seen the Mandarin in this movie. icon smile Review: Iron Man

All in all though it more than lived up to my expectations and I can’t wait for a sequel now that the origin story is out of the way!

P.S. Yes, you need to stay through to the end of the credits for a brief, but fanboy-cool scene. icon smile Review: Iron Man

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5
(Must-See)

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TAGS: 4 star movies, iron man

79 Comments

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  1. Really do not be how to explain what me pleased the movie, but a thing if I say to them … really they have to see this film!

  2. Iron Man was practically flawless as a super hero flick; it drops pretty obvious hints that would indicate a sequel as well… i’m thinking the next one should be equally great

  3. 790 – I thought the first two Blade movies had great (and appropriate) soundtracks without much of a score, but I’m with you that Iron Man needs one. It’s a shame Jerry Goldsmith’s dead. What about Howard Shore? Or Graeme Revell, who did Spawn and Daredevil, plus the likes of Sin City, Planet Terror, Dead Calm and Pitch Black. He used to be in a band called SPK who were all scrapmetal tribal percussion and sampled loops. Get him back to the junkyard, or maybe that’s not quite what you had in mind by industrial…

    • Sepultura and Fear Factory are what is needed here…check ‘em out. Agreed on the soundtrack for Marvel movies it is lacking and would complete these films in the way the Mortal Combat track did or Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Lewis. Iron Man II as a movie in general is awesome. I cannot wait to see Weta Digital and Fox Movies new version (due to the Avatar expense in super-computer infrastructure) on X-MEN.

  4. OOOOOh, Big Dentist, would love if Howard Shore do the score. Graeme Revell is a very good choice too, love his work in Sin City, Planet Terror and Spawn.

  5. I finally saw it tonight… I’d put it up there with the first Spidey, but not quite as good as the S2 or X2.

    I loved Bridges in the movie, but his character didn’t seem to me to be the type to don the Ironmonger suit.

    The movie (and RDJ) did a great job showing Stark’s transformation from cocky businessman to hero (or cocky hero)- much more believable than I expected.

  6. it was good, but i must to see it again.

    i was in a theatre with just too many kids yapping away and crying. it was a mess. too all the parents out there – yeah, that really bothers people.

    other than that from what i saw it seems like the best comic to movie adaptaion so far… with the exception of sin city. in my opinion NOTHING can sin city.

  7. ALSO, if you havent seen it yet stay until the VERY end of the credits! theres an awesome bonus!

  8. I’ve seen the new Iron Man movie twice now and it gets better each time I see it. Its rare thing these days when a movie combines a great plot, established actors, and awesome special effects. Basically this movie has everything your looking for. Although I was reading Iron Man comic books since I was a kid, even those who don’t know who Tony Stark is will enjoy this ride.

  9. Vic, I agree about the previews and how IM’s showed or hinted at all the action scenes. These days, if I know I’m seeing a movie, I crawl under the couch and dodge every preview and review out there until I see a movie so I can come away surprised as opposed to a movie filling in blanks between all the previews.

    This movie is good for IM and non-IM fans alike. Heck, I saw the thing with a raging migraine, and I still staggered away liking the experience, believe it or not. That’s how good it is folks!

  10. Yeah, I plan on seeing it one more time this weekend before it leaves theaters. That’ll be number 5 for me. :-)

    Vic

  11. I know this is kind of late, but I am new to the site and wanted to know what the writers here thought of this movie. Glad to see it was you Vic.

    Prior to this, I have not seen a single Iron Man comic. In fact, I’m not a comic book guy at all. The recent trend toward comic book movies that are not corny would make me seem like a comic book guy since I’m jumping on every comic book movie coming out. But in all reality, I’ve never read any comics growing up.

    But I would have to say that Iron Man was my favorite movie of the year, and I’ve already preordered the special edition DVD. And once I get a HD tv and blu-ray player, I’ll buy the blu ray too, along with a Blu-Ray version of Terminator 2, lol, top of my list.

    I think the most badass part of the entire film was when he first put on the Mark III, just seeing how it looks all put together was just amazing. I wish I had one of those… (I will come November when the Hot Toys 12″ figure is released, lol, you should check it out Vic, the detail is amazing, your site here advertises a place that sells it.)

    And how he went to Afghanistan and took out an entire group of bad guys in less than 30 seconds was just classic. No hesitation, no trying to avoid killing at all cost, none of that. It was fly in, OWN everyone, fly out. That’s what I’m talking about, that’s how you get things done. I just wish there was more of that in the film.

    But the second one will definitely have more action since they don’t need to get that whole origin stuff done. The Mark III will be up and running the second the movie starts. I would like to see Iron Man fly in and take out an entire armored column by himself and be back home in time for dinner. Although finding an unfriendly nation that actually has an organized armored division would be difficult…

  12. Thanks, Ken. Yeah, it’s my favorite movie of the year as well and I don’t see anything unseating it for me in 2008.

    Vic

  13. There is Bond and Punisher, lol. But I HIGHLY doubt Punisher will get anywhere close to Iron Man, The Dark Knight, or The Incredible Hulk. But I’m sure it’ll be a blast anyhow.

  14. Yah, after watching TDK, The Incredible Hulk, and now Quantum of Solace, Iron Man is still my personal favorite for the year. And I doubt there is anything left to beat it. Punisher should be fun at best.

  15. I loved Iron man. It was my favoret movie yet. I saw it 7 times alredy. IT IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER PLUS THE BEST SUPER HERO EVER!!!!!!

  16. Going to watch this again right now. This’ll be number 4. ;)

  17. I think the second half is where the movie really hit the spot. He didn't know what to do at first but I think Jon did that on purpose-to show the characterization. Then he knew he had to save the people of Gulmira(…?) and then Bridges came.