Monday, July 13, 2009

Iron Man (live action movie)

I didn't see this when it was showing in the movie theaters, partly because, at least until I finally got a job and moved, I didn't go out to the movies very often, and partly because Iron Man was never one of my favorite comics. I found this movie to be surprisingly enjoyable.


Tony Stark is a rich playboy and a genius inventor who believes that the weapons his company manufactures are helping the good guys win the battle against terrorists. It's not until he's captured by a group of terrorists that he realizes his company's weapons are in the hands of those he thought he was helping to protect the world against. His captors want him to recreate his latest weapon for them, but instead he creates a metal suit for himself that allows him to fight against his captors and escape.

When Tony gets back to the US, he declares, to the shock of all those around him, that his company will no longer manufacture weapons. In private, Tony works on a newer, better version of the suit he created while captured. Hardly anyone knows about his side project, because he doesn't know who he can trust. Eventually, he tries out the suit, playing with its flight capabilities and taking down a terrorist group that had been using Stark Industries' weapons. He trusts Pepper Potts, his secretary/caretaker/doer of everything, with many of his secrets and thinks he can trust Obadiah, his long-time family friend and business partner, as well. Unfortunately, Obadiah turns out to be the one who had him captured - in fact, he'd intended for Tony to be killed. It was Obadiah who put Stark Industries' weapons in the hands of the terrorists. Obadiah also does his best to take Tony's idea for a suit and turn it into a weapon he can use himself, leading to the movie's final climactic battle between the two men in their respective suits.


As I said, Iron Man wasn't my favorite comic book series, but this movie made me want to dig out my Iron Man comics and reread them. The movie's humor is great, the action is fun, and Robert Downey Jr. has excellent style and charisma as Tony Stark. Stark is the kind of guy I would probably sneer at in real life, a rich guy who cheerfully throws his money around and collects Barbie doll women by the dozen (this impression is even stronger in the deleted scenes, which makes me even happier they were deleted, since I might've had a harder time liking him, otherwise). However, Robert Downey Jr. turns him into someone who's pretty likable, even when he's acting irresponsible.

The technology in the movie is awesome. I don't just mean the suit Tony builds (and, by the way, some of the funniest bits in the movie happen while Tony is developing his new and improved suit), but all of it. I want a computer system like Tony's. It reminds me of those computer commercials I saw a while back, where people would move things around like they could physically touch and manipulate the files on their computers. It seems like it'd be a lot of fun. Tony's robots were kind of cute (although also, I thought, a little sad - Tony seems to be better friends with these robots than he is with a lot of people), and it'd be nifty having something like Jarvis around.

One of the things that made all of this technology so awesome was the special effects, which were very nice and contributed to the believability of it all. The only thing that bothered me was the views of Tony's face when he was in the suit - the way those were done, the inside of his helmet looked amazingly roomy, which could not have been the case. I don't suppose there was any other way they could have shown the audience Tony's face at those times, but it still bugged me a bit.

The almost romance between Tony and Pepper was interesting. They have a bit of chemistry going, and Pepper's snarky response to Stark's latest bedmate, a reporter, hinted at potential deeper feelings. I'm glad they didn't end up together, though - at this point, Stark still needs to do a bit of emotional growing up, and Pepper could do better. I would've loved to see more of her private life. Does she even have a private life, or does she just live for Tony? What does she do on her days off?

I found the "villain switch" to be surprising, but entertaining. At first, when Tony is captured, I thought the movie was going to be about Tony versus the terrorists - terrorists make easy villains, but so many movies use them any more that it's really not all that interesting, especially when they're cardboard cutout villains like these terrorists were. When Obadiah is revealed to be the true villain, it's a surprise (although maybe not to everyone, since there were signs that he might turn out to be less than trustworthy). Obadiah is automatically a more interesting villain than the terrorists, because there's the extra awfulness of "but he's a long-time family friend!" The terrorists may have tortured Tony and used his company's weapons, but none of that was personal. Being betrayed by a trusted family friend is a different matter.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It was fun and had a good mix of humor and action. Robert Downey Jr. made a more enjoyable Tony Stark than I expected - however, I have no idea what fans of the original comics might have to say about his performance.


My copy of the movie, which is just the single-disc edition, doesn't have many extras. There's some previews and deleted and extended scenes. The deleted and extended scenes didn't really thrill me - those sorts of things usually don't, because they tend to be the kinds of things that were deleted or shortened for a good reason. In this case, the deleted and extended scenes would have made certain portions of the movie very boring and unnecessarily lengthy. I'm sure Terrence Howard, the guy who played Rhodey, wasn't too happy about some of the deletions, though, since it looks like he had a slightly larger role before everything was edited down.

  • The Incredible Hulk (live action movie) - Due to a gamma ray experiment gone wrong, Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into a giant green-skinned hulk whenever his pulse rate gets too high - he now lives on the run, avoiding people he used to know and people trying to capture him, and learning to control his anger and his pulse rate while he looks for a cure. It turns out that the gamma ray experiment was not intended to develop new ways of treating injuries, as Bruce thought, but rather to create an army of invincible super soldiers. Bruce has come close to finding a cure for his condition, but the military won't let him be, and a man transformed into The Abomination (similar to the Hulk, only nastier, I guess) has been sent after him. Those who'd like another movie based on a comic book series might want to try this - the final fight scenes are similar.
  • X-Men (live action movie) - In the near future, certain people are being born with a special X-factor in their genes. This mutation does different things to different people, but all of these mutants have some sort of special ability, which can sometimes be very destructive. Regular humans have come to fear these mutants, and Senator Robert Kelly has used this fear to try pass the "Mutant Registration Act," which would require all mutants to register themselves (the movie makes a very clear connection between this and Jews in Germany during the Holocaust). Professor Xavier, who runs what is secretly a school for mutant children, hopes to one day bring peace between humans and mutants. Magneto, on the other hand, believes that mutants are superior to humans. With the help of a special mutant's powers, Magneto hopes to forcibly make Senator Kelly's "Mutant Registration Act" a moot point. Those who'd like another movie based on a comic book series (in this case, more loosely based than Iron Man) might want to try this - like Iron Man, there's a nice mix of humor, action, and drama.
  • The Big O (anime TV series) - Forty years ago, something happened that wiped out the memories of everyone in Paradigm City. Prior to the memory wipe, the people of Paradigm City had been very busy building Megadueses (giant robots) and creating monsters. Roger Smith, a wealthy negotiator, fights these threats to the city with the help of Big O (a good giant robot that he is able to control). Those who'd like another "rich guy saving people with his robotic suit" story might want to try this. I haven't seen it all yet, but the mystery of Paradigm City's memory wipe is very interesting.
  • Transformers (live action movie) - Two extraterrestrial groups have arrived on Earth - the Autobots (the good guys) and the Decepticons (the bad guys). These beings are able to scan machinery and electronic devices on Earth and replicate their appearance, allowing them to hide in plain sight. Both groups seek out a teenager named Sam Witwicky, who unwittingly holds the key to both the Decepticons' and Autobots' continued existence. Those who'd like another action movie with nice special effects, a bit of humor, and some spectacular battles might want to try this.

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