Monday, May 5, 2008

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Iron Man

As promised, I saw Iron Man Thursday night. And that was also the last time I saw the Internet. So, I'm going to try this out, and hope that nobody came by Friday or Saturday, only to be met with disappointment.

Speaking of disappointment, that is one condition that is virtually impossible when watching Iron Man!

Now, keep in mind I have never read the comics. I never watched the show. Indeed, like many people, my familiarity with Iron Man goes about as far as the Black Sabbath song, which I first heard in fourth grade while being driven to school. And I thought to myself, "Wow. What a cool song. I hope one day they make a movie out of this song starring Robert Downey, Jr., and directed by the guy who will direct Elf one day!"

Because I was a gifted seer back then, my hopes came true. Thank goodness, too, because I think Mr. Downey has given us one of the greatest superhero performances. Period. Tony Stark is prickish, egotistical, a man who likes to have a drink before and after sex--I suspect he sneaks a sip during, as well. His transformation from selfish schmuck to enlightened crusader is smooth. He doesn't give up all of his vices, but, as he says, he now knows what he has to do. He can no longer run a business that deals in death, opting instead to defend the defenseless.

Thankfully, we're spared the brooding of the X-Men, the dead-seriousness of Batman, and the life lessons of Spider-Man. At the very least, they're not shoved into our faces. Everyone just seems to be having a good time, from score composer Ramin Djawaldi (who sneaks some notes from the aforementioned song into his own original work) to the thesps: Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges....

This may be my favorite Jeff Bridges performance. Yeah, all respect to The Dude, but Obadiah Stane is just so cool. You know he's the villain. You can tell. But until you actually see him behaving nefariously, you can't help but love him. Maybe it's the ties, maybe it's that class ring, maybe it's that bald head. There's just something in the way he moves.

Now, some have spoken against Favreau's action sequences. Okay, maybe they are a little short, and the finale's not the most spectacular of fights. Still, it does its job. There's suspense, and thrills, and little moments that make you go ah-ha! and haha! And thank God, it's the first superhero movie in which the love interest is not the principal endangerment.

It's also nice to see a romance dealt with as maturely as the one here. Paltrow and Downey have great chemistry. Paltrow especially is splendid as the secretary finding herself in love with her boss, yet without any angst or anxiety. There's just that little bit of confusion, that hint of affection, that makes it so believable and true.

I highly recommend Iron Man. I'm sure I'll be seeing it again in theaters, then buying it on DVD, then hoping against hope that someone--Globes, maybe?--has to good sense to recognize the achievements within. Stay after the credits, too. It's so worth it.

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