Friday, May 2, 2008

Iron Thoughts, or How Robert D. is your (Iron) Man

Iron Man
Dir. Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges & Terrence Howard (and... why not? Leslie Bibb)

What to say about this singlet-wearing Robert Downey Jr. superhero-vehicle movie that hasn't been said in the reviews that are littering the web? Let's see:

- Gwyneth Paltrow back in action. I know her career post-Sliding Doors (excepting Shakespeare in Love, I guess) has been lagging, but I was glad to see her playing coy and proper Ms [insert ridiculous name here] (Pepper is it?)
- The fact that it reminded me that Leslie Bibb (post-Popular and ER) is still alive. And looking well. Best Gwyneth-Leslie dialogue:
Leslie: You still work for him after all of these years?
Gwyn: Yes, I do everything Mr Stark asks me, and sometimes I even take out the trash. [As she hands Ms Bibb her laundered clothes]
- Seeing a superhero movie tackling war-issues, even if from an ambiguous neo-Liberal (or would it be neo-conservative?) view: do we end up believing 'those people' are war-hungry? do we end up feeling the US is (in part) responsible for warmongering where they shouldn't be? where does Robert and his red-golden-hot "not-Iron" suit stand?
- Yay Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury! (What? You didn't stay til after the credits? Tsk... Tsk...)
- Any and all snarky lines coming from Mr Stark - everything from his womanizing ones, to his 'I'm a bitch and I know it' lines, to his 'I'm so self-absorbed cause I'm the shit' lines to... well pretty much anything with Robert D.'s delivery was kind of awesome.
- Paul Bettany doing voiceover. That's all.
- All the Tony Stark 'Iron Man' in training scenes (so cartoony, and yet so funny - especially the dialogue with his robot-arm)

Random final comment, which I can't take full credit for: Okay, so Gwyneth gave birth to Apple... so why are all the gadgets Dell? Discuss.

As a Superhero Movie, Iron Man delivers everything it needs to... and then some. I was glad to see it didn't go into Spiderman 3 territory where the love-story took center stage and the villains had no depth; and that it didn't go the Superman Returns turn where flashy scenes deliver horrible dialogue and a pale plot - instead Favreau's film seems closer to Nolan's Batman series where the superhero in question is grounded in a fallen world and given a three-dimensionality and contemporaneity it doesn't necessarily have in the 2D panels from which it has sprung. Tony Stark is a believable corporate warmongering American who seems genuinely confused by the way he fits into the world he has helped create (and destroy) and who finds in his technology a way refashion himself in the way we all wish we could: as a public(ized) hero. A

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