Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stark raving mad about Iron Man

When I first learned that Robert Downey Jr. had been cast in the lead role of the Iron Man movie, I was a bit skeptical. Granted, I know little of the Iron Man character save for what I remember from watching reruns of the 60s cartoon, but I just never regarded Robert Downey Jr. as superhero material. However, I warmed to the idea of him as Iron Man when I saw the promotional photos for the movie, because the Tony Stark moustache looked pretty good on him.

Then I watched the movie and I was blown away.
Sure, I knew he had the acting chops to pull off the billionaire playboy swagger, but I had never seen him this HOT. And not just hot in an all-buffed-up, dressed-in-designer-suits, working-the-wifebeater kind of hot, but hot in an intense-man-on-a-mission kind of hot. RDJ took Tony Stark from reckless lothario to serious hero in a thoroughly believable way, and mercifully without too much melodrama (let's reserve the angst for Batman). Indeed, he was so credible that it was even easy to swallow his astounding rocket-scientist brilliance (he built his Iron Man armor from scratch in an Afghanistan cave!). Moreover, RDJ's Stark was disarmingly witty, yet he didn't come off as an annoying loud-mouthed wiseass (see: Chris Evans' Human Torch in the Fantastic 4 films).

It also came as a pleasant surprise that RDJ had such great on-screen chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow, who played the unfortunately named Pepper Potts, Stark's efficient secretary (although the politically correct term now is "assistant"). The sexual tension and playful banter between the 2 characters were terrific, certainly the best I've seen in superhero movies from recent memory, which have tended to feature agonizingly awkward pairings (see: Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman 3).

Aside from RDJ's awesome performance, the special effects made Iron Man more than worth the price of admission. Not since Transformers have I seen such polished, eye-popping CGI work (it really is criminal Transformers didn't win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects... but I digress). And like Transformers, Iron Man gave me the kind of giddy thrill that evokes the wide-eyed amazement of childhood, which helped bring on the willing suspension of disbelief that let me overlook some of the more absurd plot points. And I can even forgive the miscasting of a pipsqueak like Terrence Howard as Stark's buddy Lt. Col. Jim Rhodes (c'mon, what self-respecting military man can take orders from someone who sounds like he's inhaled helium?).

As far as superhero movies go, Iron Man rocks. Just as Chris Nolan's Batman Begins breathed new life into the stale DC franchise, Jon Favreau's Iron Man is going to be Marvel's saving grace and make audiences forget bombs like Hulk, Ghost Rider and The Punisher. Even the obligatory corny Stan Lee cameo wasn't so painful this time around.

Tip: Be sure to stay and wait until the end credits finish rolling, because there's a snippet afterwards which serves as a teaser for Iron Man 2. But even without the teaser (and as far as teasers go this one is, ahem, motherf***ing cool), after watching Iron Man, I'm psyched there's going to be a sequel.


Post a Comment

<< Home