Saturday, April 28, 2012

Iron Man


Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 5/4/08 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.


Based on the Marvels comic by Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby, Iron Man is the story of a wealthy weapons designer who decides to become a superhero after being captured by terrorists who use his weapons against the world. Directed by Jon Favreau and screenplay by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Arthur Marcum, and Matthew Hollaway, with additional contributions by John August, the film is an origins story of how Tony Stark became Iron Man as he is played by Robert Downey Jr. Also starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Jon Favreau, Leslie Bibb, and Jeff Bridges. Iron Man is an entertaining and ass-kicking blockbuster from Jon Favreau.

The son of a weapons manufacturer who would later take over for his late father at age 21, Tony Starks is a man that has it all as he is extremely wealthy but also a gifted inventor who is adored by the arms industry. With help from his father's partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Starks Industries is at the top of its game when Tony unveils his new Jericho missile project in Afghanistan to soldiers until they're attacked by terrorists where Stark barely survives with missile shrapnel near his heart. Taken by the Ten Rings terrorist group led by Raza (Faran Tahir), Stark is asked to create the Jericho missile for Raza with help from captured scientist Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub). Stark reluctantly does Raza's duty although he and Yinsen create an arc reactor around his art to keep the shrapnel away from his heart. After the completion of the arc, Stark has an idea of his own to break out by creating a power armor suit in secrecy. With Yensen's help, Stark is able to create his new creation as he is able to fight back and escape.

After being saved by his longtime friend Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Terrence Howard), Stark announced to end the production of weapons to the shock of Stane as Stark goes into seclusion. With the aid of his computerized butler Jarvis (the voice of Paul Bettany) and his longtime assistant/friend Virginia "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark decides to make a new version of his power suit as well as a new arc reactor to activate the suit for a series of tests. When Potts is approached by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) about Stark's escape from Afghanistan at a party. Stark's appearance at the party has him encountering journalist Christine Everhart (Leslie Bibb) about some weapons in Afghanistan as he and Potts become suspicious about Stane's dealings at the company. After perfecting his power suit, he decides to confront Raza's group to save refugees as he gets the attention of the U.S. Air Force prompting Rhodes to cover things up after learning about Stark's new project. When Potts is asked by Tony about Stane's deals, the two learn about what Stane has been doing. Instead, Stane decides to take matters into his own hands by taking the old power suit Tony created in Afghanistan into a more powerful weapon forcing Starks to fight back with help from Potts and Rhodes.

While the film's plot may seem familiar in comparison to recent superhero origin films, the difference between Iron Man and other Marvel comic films like Spider-Man and Fantastic Four is that its screenwriters and director Jon Favreau took more time into the development of Stark and his Iron Man alter-ego. Unlike other comics book heroes with the exception of Batman, Iron Man was created not through scientific errors, a phenomenon, or being from another planet. Here, the superhero was made from scratch as Stark used his knowledge of math and science to create his power suit and the arc reactor to keep his heart going. In the first 10-15 minutes of the film, the writers and Favreau let the audience know who Tony Stark is and then once he's captured, he becomes a different person as his development from a man creating weapons to becoming a man wanting to help people is well written though he is still a bit of a man with swagger.

While the script works in that formula of origin story though audiences do know where it's going, it's Favreau and his direction that at least keeps it interesting. While a lot of the filmmaking isn't exactly new in comparison to other comic book superhero films, Favreau at least uses that formula to at least make things entertaining while adding bits of humor. What is unique is that while the film does have action that will appetite mainstream audiences, he brings balance for the development of the Iron Man character as Stark experiments with thrusters and other gadgets. In many ways, those scenes that have some humor and drama are more interesting than the scenes with intense special effects and action sequences.

Favreau also keeps the audience interested right to the end where he opens the idea of not just a sequel that involves Iron Man's fellow crime fighter War Machine but also the involvement of another franchise. The result is Favreau creating a film that just doesn't entertain but also brings some intelligence to the superhero genre that's accessible to mainstream audiences, comic book purists, and audiences with serious taste.

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique does some good work that conveys the look and style of other comic book films with some colorful lighting and intense camera work to capture the action and such. Editor Dan Lebental does an excellent job with the film's editing that doesn't go too fast while maintaining a nice sense of rhythm for the film's action sequences and effects shots. Production designer J. Michael Riva and art director David F. Klassen does a good job in creating the house of Stark as well as the places in Los Angeles and Afghanistan all shot in the Californian desert. Costume designers Rebecca Bentjen and Laura Jean Shannon do great work in the look of the clothes including a blue dress that Gwyneth Paltrow wears at a party.

Sound designer Christopher Boyes and editor Frank E. Euhler do amazing work in the sound work from the way missiles are blasted, the sound of thrusters, and everything. Yet, the film's real technical highlight in its special and visual effects that are truly superb that include wonderful CGI for the shots of Iron Man flying, the computer 3-D blue prints and screens that Stark works with, and the objects in his lab that help him including the objects needed during his tests that add a wonderful sense of humor. The film's score by Ramin Djawadi is excellent in its mix of orchestral and rock music with guitar work from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine that adds a sense of intensity and power. The soundtrack includes a mix of music from the likes of AC/DC, Ghostface Killah, and the Black Sabbath classic Iron Man.

The casting by Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller is excellent with cameo appearances from Ghostface Killah and Tom Morello in scenes at the desert, Favreau cohort Peter Billingsley (yes, the kid from A Christmas Story), Favreau himself as Stark's bodyguard and driver Hogan, and a great cameo from Marvel comic writer Stan Lee with a bunch of girls. Another noted cameo that comes in, after the final credits, comes from Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Other performances from Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson is excellent as is Tim Guinee as Air Force commander Major Allen, Bill Smitrovich as General Gabriel in the missile presentation scene, and Sayed Badreya as Raza's second-in-command. Leslie Bibb is good and sexy as reporter Christine Everhart who tries to get something out of Stark only to become one his conquests as she appears in the film to reveal troubling secrets about his company. Faran Tahir is excellent as the terrorist leader who wants to have the kind of power that other warlords have as he also has some intelligence.

Shaun Toub is wonderful in his small role as Dr. Yinsen, the scientist who helps Stark build his power suit while guiding him to change his ways as Toub's understated performance is worth noting. The voice of Paul Bettany is very funny in the way the he communicates with Downey as his computerized assistant. Terrence Howard is excellent in his role as James "Rhodey" Rhodes who is often indifferent to Stark's actions and such though is supportive in cleaning up his mess. Jeff Bridges is great in his roe as Obadiah Stane in how he chews the scene with such delight while looking like he's having fun playing the villain. Bridges' performance is fun to watch as he adds a lot of slime to his character who just wants to have full control of Stark Industries.

Gwyneth Paltrow is brilliant in her role as Pepper Potts in being the one woman who can put up with Stark's ego. Paltrow brings depth to the character in a woman who doesn't want to be a damsel-in-distress but rather an assistant who is willing to help Stark as the banter Paltrow and Downey have is filled with wonderful humor and rhythm. Paltrow's performance is truly superb as she's the kind of woman who can put up with anything, and probably could even take out Mary Jane Watson in a fight. Finally, there's Robert Downey Jr. in a role that he is truly born to play as Tony Stark and Iron Man. Downey's performance filled with a lot of swagger, catchy one-liners, and attitude is truly fun to watch from start to finish. Even when he's in an intense situation, Downey maintains his cool while proving that he can play badass as well. It's the kind of performance that is truly huge and Downey is big enough and most certainly, talented enough to play a character as fun and as cool as Iron Man.

Fans of comic book films can rejoice as Iron Man delivers in all of its promises thanks to director Jon Favreau and it star Robert Downey Jr. With additional thanks to a special and visual effects team plus the talents of Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges, this is a film that delivers both in substance and style. Fans of the comic can enjoy in its faithfulness to the story while getting some excitement in what's to come in its sequel. In the end, Iron Man is a film that is entertaining and enjoyable while adding some substance to an overcrowded sea of mindless, uninspiring films that's coming in this summer blockbuster season. So until then, in the words of Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes aka War Machine, "next time baby".

Jon Favreau Films: (Made) - (Elf) - (Zathura) - Iron Man 2 - (Cowboys & Aliens)

Marvel Phase One Films: Hulk - (The Incredible Hulk) - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers (2012 film)

Marvel Phase 2 Films: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) - (Guardians of the Galaxy)

(C) thevoid99 2012

2 comments:

Chip Lary said...

A friend of mine saw this in the theater and he kept trying to get me to go see it. I finally did and afterwards I thanked him. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, right to the fantastic last line before the credits and the teaser scene after them. In my opinion it's the second best superhero movie ever made, after Spider-Man 2.

thevoid99 said...

For me, the best superhero film so far... is The Dark Knight with Spider-Man 2 in 2nd, Batman Begins in 3rd, Superman in 4th, and then, probably X2: X-Men United.

This film is in the top 10 and I had fun watching that film.