Wednesday, May 7, 2008


IRON MAN (Jon Favreau, 2008)

"Will that be all, Mr Stark?"
"Yes, that'll be all, Miss Potts."

The first superhero movie released in a year chock-full of superhero movies. Aside from The Dark Knight(which undoubtedly will be awesome!), I wasn't looking forward to any of the other releases. And considering the Iron Man's trailer looked a bit too much like 'Fantastic 4', I was indeed skeptical. But after seeing the movie, The Dark Knight certainly needs to be no less than amazing if it wants to be the crown jewel of this year's comic book movie, or any other year, for that matter.

Iron Man feels light and simple compared to other Marvel movie juggernauts such as Spiderman or X-Men. However, the lack of emotionally dramatic elements apparent in those films certainly does not degrade Favreau's own take on the superhero genre. It has its own spirit, lending more emphasis on pure classic blockbuster fun instead of indulging on teenage angst and pithy love conflicts that plagued the Spiderman series(worked for the first 2, but not for number 3). Clearly the filmmakers paid attention in reaching a larger demographic than comic book nerds. It's considerably more mature, taking on a more global issues into its storyline. We don't see Iron Man attending to bank robberies and petty criminals, instead he flew half across the globe (though geographically questionnable) to rescue Afghan villagers from warlords, blow up a tank, and play chase with fighter jets(in one of the film's highlight).

The action sequences are quite few and far between, and short to boot. But when it's there it's entirely exhilirating. The aerial chase alone is more engrossing than Transformer's 20 minutes final battle. And I particularly liked the dominant application of practical effects, animatronics and pyrokinetics over CGI. Truth be told I've already grown sick and indifferent towards CGI, no matter how good it looks (Yes I know I've said it before, and I'll say it again). Fake is still fake. Favreau, like Spielberg, apparently knows where and when to use CGI.

Robert Downey Jr is the heart and soul of Iron Man. He embodies Tony Stark, and just a pure delight to watch on screen. In my opinion Tony Stark is probably more entertaining to watch than his alter-ego. The rest of the cast is also great in their shoes and every character is put to good use, including the non-humans.

The only major gripe I have in an otherwise excellent movie is the rather anti-climactic and rushed final act. It does not feel up to par with the high standards the first half has established. Some viewers may be left wanting more, as the final battle with Iron Monger is pretty uninspired in comparison with the earlier action sequences.

Flaws aside, the movie is fun through and through. Iron Man is the blockbuster movie to beat and it has managed to give a great kickstart to the summer movie season. Witty script, perfect cast, and great action all add up to a wholesome, smart and just plain kick-ass movie that non-superhero lovers may also enjoy. At this rate, if this is any indication to a bigger, better sequel, it may surpass Spiderman as the best Marvel movie franchise;it's already better than the first Spiderman movie.