Reel Shorts | Iron Man

2 05 2008

After much buildup and anticipation, the summer movie season kicks off with a loud and rousing bang in the successful adaptation of the comic-book adventure, “Iron Man.”

Instead of delaying the inevitable, the film jumps right into the heat of the action with a quick background on our billionaire weapons manufacturer and player Tony Stark (Downey). Possessing a brilliant mind and untold billions, Stark finds solace in a host of temporary relationships with no permanent attachments. His closest companions are his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his friend, Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard). Stark is the perpetual party animal, who lives fast and plays hard.

While on a public relations mission to Afghanistan, his military motorcade is attacked and Stark is taken hostage. Kept alive with a metallic device implanted in his chest to prevent artillery shrapnel from piercing his heart, Stark is ordered to build a high-tech missile for his captors but he has other ideas.

Holed up in a remote cave in the mountains, the brilliant billionaire decides to create a suit that will help him defeat his captors and boy does he! Soon he has completed his “home-cave” assignment and propels to safety. Once home, Stark undergoes a transformation no longer interested in selling weapons to the enemy who uses them for their own evil methods. Of course this announcement doesn’t go over well with his partner, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) who tells Stark to “lay low” while he smooths it over with the company’s board.

While Stark is out of sight, unbeknown to everyone he is working on an updated version of his “special suit.” Using technology developed earlier by his company, Stark designs the ultimate fighting weapon becoming in the process the Iron Man. With a new mission, Stark uses his technology to battle those who use his weapons to hurt the harmless, but soon he must battle the enemy within if he is to truly be successful.

Under the direction of Jon Favreau, “Iron Man” is like a pot of water boiling on a stovetop that the longer it is on the fire, the more it bubbles until it is works itself into a boil. With an entertaining screenplay by a committee of writer and channeling Downey’s crackling energy, the film much like its title character soars. Much like the successful re-introduction of “Batman Begins,” “Iron Man” works best when the film explores Stark’s fallibility and his slow but successful transformation from soulless player to dedicated superhero.

It also should be noted that the film’s many scenes with Stark developing his suit through several variations ultimately pays off in giving the film much-needed credibility as the audience witnesses Stark’s angst and celebrates his ultimate redemption. It also helps immensely that the film’s four leads bring serious acting chops to the table which gives the film the proper balance between some very good dramatic scenes and the story’s high-flying action sequences.

The perfect summer popcorn film, “Iron Man” ascends to the lofty levels of several other uber-successful comic book adaptations including “Spider Man,” “X-Men” and “Batman Begins.” Make no mistake about it, this film belongs to Downey and his charismatic star performance propels “Iron Man” to the comic superhero stratosphere. With the cast signed up for at least two more films, the “Iron Man” franchise is off to a great start – and so is the summer of 2008!

Grade: A

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