Monday, August 25, 2008

Catching Up: Iron Man

No, not Lou Gehrig or Cal Ripken, the movie. Had every reason to think it would suck: I was thoroughly unimpressed by the trailer; the director, while a nice enough actor, was no one's idea of an A-lister; and the character is, in terms of public recognition, a second-string type. Tony Stark doesn't command the mindshare that SpiderMan, or the Hulk, or the X-Men do. Still, it was a nice surprise, near perfect for its intended purpose. The film is accessible, brisk and fun, and Robert Downey Jr. does a great job of both having a good time with the role, and leveraging his own history as a troubled but extremely talented person to bring to life the genius inventor who builds a suit of armor with which to fight evil. Like his summer superhero competition, Bruce Wayne, Stark is a multimillionaire (billionaire?) crimefighter. But unlike Wayne, he isn't pretending to drink too much and womanize as a cover for his crimefighting activities--he's actually drinking and womanizing, as well as inventing things, running a Fortune 500 company, and, um, fighting crime. Oscar winner Gwynneth Paltrow and multiple-Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges do fine work as Stark's assistant/love interest and mentor/enemy; Terrence Howard (another Academy Award nominee) is a bit wasted in a rote "responsible best friend" role.

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