It has been a while since a new post has popped up here, but I'm motivated enough at this moment to make one. Why? Because I just got back from seeing the first big blockbuster of the 2008 summer movie season, Iron Man. That alone should get you to know where I'm going with this.
The first thing to note is that Iron Man is based off a comic book by Marvel, so we're talking superhero action film here. But hold on, it blends all this with smart writing and well placed and timed comedy. If you still need a good reason to see this movie, then here it is: Robert Downey, Jr. Downey simply IS Tony Stark, the protagonist who will become Iron Man. Tony is a weapons manufacturer and a bloody rich one at that. He's got it all and flaunts it without a second thought; Downey's Stark showcases his ego, his ignorance of those around him that care about him, and the eventual turn around when he realizes the impact his weapons are having on the world.
This film is at its heart, an origin story for Iron Man, which from the comics has been updated to Tony having to deal with a terrorist organization that has been using his own weapons to fight their war. It of course goes even deeper than that, but the real enemy is higher up in the food chain. The supporting cast begins with a great performance by Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, Stark's co-controller of the company and the man who opposes Stark's change of heart about the business. He slides into this role with ease and never comes across as over the top, he has a means to an end one way or the other. Gwyneth Paltrow is also excellent as Pepper Potts, the Money Penny to Stark's Bond; she remains a likable character and a great playing off point for Stark. Lastly we have Terrance Howard as Jim Rhodes, who doesn't get to do too much but what he does is just fine.
So is this just an action film? No, but when there is action, it's fantastic. Special effects are unquestionably top notch and the armor just seems so darn cool and real. Fights are handled so well and you always love being reminded that a billionaire playboy is the one in the suit. When there isn't action, there's a good enough origin story going on and again, very nice comedy. Stark's robots/computer Jarvis alone provide more than enough fodder, let alone Stark's razor sharp wit.
This film just works on so many levels, as a very fun blockbuster, as a comic book origin story, as an action-comedy, and as a great character study. There's really very little more you can ask of this film, it is pulled off with deft aplomb and you will be hard pressed to leave the theater without feeling more than satisfied at the experience. Plus, for the comic book geeks out there, there are a few hints of things to come, and quite the geek out moment after the credits roll. Lastly, Stan Lee's cameo is his best yet, quick but hilarious.
I think it's quite clear by now that Iron Man takes home the Gold Medal of Shellheads. I highly recommend Jon Favreau's excellent directorial take on the character and Robert Downey, Jr.'s shining performance. A man you might hate in real life is truly a character you can love on the big screen. If the other summer movies can live up to this one, we're in for a hell of a ride this year. Simple as this: see Iron Man.