Monday, May 19, 2008


Friday Movie Review

Went with young Charlie to see the new Robert Downey Jr. movie Iron Man at the Continental. Let's review the basic movie rules. 1) I will not go see a cartoon (unless it's Japanese); 2) I will not go see a movie based on a television show (unless it's Get Smart); 3) I will not go see a movie based on a comic book I've read (or even heard of) (unless it's Iron Man); and, 4) I will not go to see a remake or usually a sequel (unless the first one had flaws and the new or next one's director is good). I also feel that I am somewhat out of the loop here because I remember Robert Downey, Sr. and enjoyed some movies he was in. I am also a fan of Jon Favreau and like most of the projects he's been involved in. He's the director here and he did a good job, making a clanking, absolutely standard comic book plot seem almost fresh and new. I think however that Downey is the key. He makes the film fun and it was a lot of fun. Go see it, the over two hours speed by.

My favorite parts were the tests of the flying boots and hand repulsors (which seem not to follow Newton's Third Law). My least favorite parts had Gwyneth Paltrow in them. Other parts hard to take were with Jeff Bridges. The scenes with Terrence Howard were good. I think the thing that I like about Iron Man is that he kills people he thinks (usually correctly) are bad. Why go to all this trouble to make the suit only to fight crime and deliver the wrong doers alive to the authorities. This version realizes we are at war with Muslim extremists and during war you kill your enemy.

The politics of the movie are otherwise hard to pigeonhole. Downey is OK with making weapons and with his father's involvement with the Manhatten project until he's on the receiving end of his weapons; but then he makes a suit which is clearly a weapon, and which he uses as a weapon. Kind of a confusion there. Of course the bad guy is merely for profit and will sell weapons to his (our) nation's enemies as well as kill his friend and mentee. Not really a political counterpoise to Downey's tortured position there. And the bad guy (all the bad guys have shaved skulls) in Afghanistan is not a socialist looney who sees American hegemony and hidden conspiracy everywhere but is an admirer of Genghis Khan who wants to outdo the Mongols and rule all of Asia (and Europe). He's not really religious, or political either, just evil. We don't see him die either.

But of course I'm expecting valid political content from a comic book.

The visuals are cool, but the special effects don't assault you. All seems about right. Good summer movie.


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