Friday, 2 May 2008

Tane's Reviews: Iron Man

Yes, it’s true. I am a comic book geek. It’s usually the first section I head to in a library, they’re what I’d waste lots of money on if I had lots of money to waste.

As such, it’s pretty hard to find a superhero movie I don’t like. Hell, I enjoyed Spiderman 3 and Ghost Rider. On a very slow evening, I might even watch Daredevil again. But not Batman and Robin. Even I have my limits.

Fortunately, Iron Man is no Batman and Robin. It’s a movie that I suspect many non-geeks will enjoy.

Iron Man is the alter-ego of billionaire playboy Tony Stark (a perfectly cast Robert Downey Jr). Stark is a brilliant inventor and CEO of a company that makes a lot of money from making things that kills people. His life revolves around drink, girls, creating gadgets and selling arms. A friend described him as ‘constitutionally incapable of responsibility’ – an attitude that changes a bit when he is kidnapped by an Afghani warlord. Some waterboarding later and Stark has agreed to build the warlord a missile. In fact, what he builds is a high-tech suit of armor.

Because it is armour, and not a glorified wetsuit, Iron Man looks cooler than any other on-screen superhero. And the CGI is so good it’s impossible to tell where real metal ends and pixels begin.

But for all the mechanical marvels, it’s the human elements that are the film’s strongest. The delightfully charismatic Downey is its heart and soul, striking the perfect balance between silliness and seriousness. He’s ably supported by Gwyneth Paltrow as his PA and Jeff Bridges as his business partner. There’s some snappy repartee between them all – and also a small but memorable role by Shaun Toub as an Afghani scientist. A few sentimental moments revolving around an Afghani village aside, it’s a sharp script, with enough comic book references to keep we geeks happily trainspotting.

Iron Man is not brilliant, and the action is not on of the first tier, but it’s a smart, amusing and surprisingly realistic film that makes a good start to blockbuster season.


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