Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Case for Ironing

This one could be very short: Robert Downey Junior is Iron Man.

But I am not one for brevity or conciseness (or avoiding tautology). So let me elaborate.

Iron Man is a superhero action flick, where a man dons armour and fights baddies. It is like Batman but less dark and with more rockets and high tech wizardry.

It’s also similar to Batman in that it has a lead character who is an egocentric, quick-witted playboy multimillionaire. However, Robert Downey Junior plays Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) as a jittery, amusing, fast talking, flamboyant everyman – so basically, from what I read about him in the papers, he basically plays himself.

The other characters definitely pale in comparison, feeling like the two dimensional images they once were, and occasionally grating in their perfunctoriality. Only Gwenyth Paltrow brings a human, believable touch to her ridiculously named Pepper Potts, though she isn’t really given a huge amount to do except shuffle around in tight skirts.

The story is straight forward super hero fare. There were some things that made my eyebrow arch: I was surprised with some of the speed of technological innovation and the ability to build complex machinery and operating software, but then Stark Enterprises is a military-industrial complex, not local government; the global American military machine is portrayed as coordinated from a small computer lab in a polytech somewhere in Los Angeles (I am not saying this is untrue); and Stan Lee makes a cameo more amusing than some of his others in Marvel comic movie tie-ins, though I think I was the only one in the audience that night to spot him.

But, overall, I really quite enjoyed Iron Man. Robert Downey Junior though deserves all the credit for that – he makes the film, lives the character, and adds soul and charm to what otherwise could have been… Ghost Rider.

Verdict: Iron Man + Robert Downey Junior = 7.5 suits of power armour out of 10. Iron Man – Robert Downey Junior =… well, thankfully, I don’t need to speculate.

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