03 May 2008

"Iron Man" def. no "Stane" on RDJ's CV

You know a movie was good when while walking out of the theater you can hear the 12 year olds behind you saying to each "man, that was awesome when he flew into that wall and was like doushhhh!" in excited voices, or 30 seconds into Obadiah Stane's first appearance on screen, having the whispers flow from the other end of my row of friends ..."that's the dude!"
The endless good reviews of the movie pending its release already had me hopeful, and let's face it, few people spend a lifetime researching a role as diligently as Robert Downey, Jr. seems to have done for Tony Stark. Swap out the LAPD for a terrorist squad (not a reflection on LA's finest, I felt quite protected and served during my brief visit), a fantastic electromagnet power source for a at times crippling drug addiction, and Billionaire Industrialist Playboy for Millionaire Hollywood, well, playboy, and blamm-o. Not so much born to play, but hewn to portray. Anyone who knows both Shell Head and RDJ always thought him perfect for the part, but it had to be said one more time. Mr. Downey does deserve laudes; I haven't read a thing about him in the news related to his prior troubles. Bang on, mate.
I did it again, what was I ... oh yeah, the movie.
There are likely delicious Spoilers henceforth, so if you haven't seen it, and are going to see it, and wanted to be surprised, then just dog-ear this post and come back to it later. I'm not responsible for any damage you do to your monitor in this process. Now then.
A short plot synopsis of this Origin story is basically Weapons Maker Tony Stark is in Afghanistan showing off new toys to the Army. His convoy is attacked, he is kidnapped. He is inured in the attack and an electromagnet is installed in his chest to keep shrapnel from piercing his heart. He is told to build a missile but builds himself the mark I iron man suit powered by his (already on mark II - you with me here? version control is visually easy, because they all look different or glow brighter) chest EM. He escapes. He gets picked up by the cavalry. He goes home, and much to Obi Stane's dismay, shuts down the weapons manufacturing business because he found out that Stark Industries has been double-dealing weapons to both the USA and to the insurgents. Woops (you'll never guess who was responsible for that!) TS proceeds to build the Iron man suits mark II and III while sharing moments with his assistance Pepper Potts, his Army liason buddy Col. Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes, and even Stane, who pays him a visit at Stately Stark Man ... that is, Stark's very mod and not Batmanesque at all (honest) concrete and glass curved lines cliffside mansion.
Stark sends himself on missions to blow up the weapons that got sold to the bad guys (hey, they paid money for those, what're you going to do with those funds, Mr. Stark?), and pisses off Obi even more. That's right, kids. The 2-D insurgents aren't your A-villains for this movie. They're just pawns who get themselves offed when they are no longer useful to one Mr. Obadiah Stane.
Obi has built his own suit based on the recovered plans and destroyed prototype (dug out of the sands) brought back from Afghanistan. Tony and Obi fight, Tony almost dies, Obi seems to bite it when he falls prey to a plot device we see earlier in the film, but doesn't finally bite it until Pepper does what Tony tells her and blows some shit up.
Tony goes to a press conference the next morning, is supposed to reaad from cards provided him by SHIELD so no one knows he's "Iron Man", as he's been christened by the ever so clever media, and the movie rolls credits (great credit sequence, BTW) immediately after TS announces that he is, in fact, Iron Man.
We didn't stay 'til the end to see any special stuff that Marvel may have tacked on because my Mrs. had work this morning (it was 1145 when we got out, started at 930), and the other Mrs. in attendance is wrapping up her first tri-mester and was likely exhausted. So if there was anything cool at the end, you won't read it here.
My review:
I'm easy to please, and am very forgiving of a lot of plot holes and the like if the story, action, and acting do a good job of keeping me in the story, so I'll not be as critical as some Internet Nerds are likely to be, I'm sure.
I liked the movie, a lot. I went in with high expectations, and all of them were met. I've read complaints that the Insurgents were 2-D and uninteresting villains. I think in this case the visuals and the camera work made up for the lack of hand-wringing existential crises that some people seem to need from their villains. These guys aren't adversaries anyway; they are catalysts for the awesome of Iron Man.
The camera work put me in the scene. The quick cuts and dim lighting and confusing blurs of the captivity scenes made me feel it, as much as I felt like I, too, was falling when power cut out of the Mark II at high altitude. It made the flying look very fun, and just a bit dangerous. Likewise, the CGI was 99% seamless for me; the only time I remember thinking "this is CGI" is the scene we've seen on all the TV spots, where he blows up the tank, and even that was realistic as me sitting here at my desk.
Once I was in the scene, the acting kept me there. I only knew those soldiers for maybe a minute on screen, but when they were ambushed, I worried for them; and they were but bit parts. The script was goo and never felt cheesed up; hell, they even got the brief scene with the computer mostly right, and to be perfectly honest, Stark probably wrote the OS that Stark Industries uses himself.
If I regularly reviewed movies and had some sort of rating system, this movie would be at the top of that rating.
In conclusion: I really want Stark's workshop computer setup, complete with holographic drafting table.

p.s. Yes, the song was there, but not until the end credits.
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