A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 68 – Iron Man

Iron Man – May 7th, 2010

So, to celebrate the opening of Iron Man 2, we’re doing Iron Man tonight. It’s timed pretty well, just right to get the sour Star Wars prequel tang out of our mouths so we’re nice and refreshed and ready for the original trilogy starting tomorrow. Because this movie is pure fun. We’re going to see the new one on Sunday. Not technically part of this project, being a movie in a theater, but I’ll probably mention it.

And so on to Iron Man. This movie, much like its main character, knows how to make an entrance. Back in Black, Tony Stark being smooth and egotistical, sudden explosions and Stark’s subsequent kidnapping and then – Oh, hey, 36 hours earlier. How did he get there? It could be awkward and clunky but it’s not. It plays very nicely, as a matter of fact.

I love this movie. I love it largely because Robert Downey Jr. delivers every jackass/egomaniac/genius line with just the right tone, whether it needs him serious or not. He embodies the part perfectly. I want to smack him for being such a cad, but I also want to be in awe of what he can do. So, well done there. But the story was well done too, even with the ad-libbed lines. It’s all about hubris, and I do hope the second movie touches on that. It delivers Tony Stark to the audience, all wrapped up in himself, and strips him down and makes him re-wrap himself in his shiny red and gold suit. Nicely done, movie. Nicely done indeed.

And then, it’s just plain fun to watch. I mean, he’s got a rocket suit! He’s got a virtual butler! With Paul Bettany’s voice! It’s not a deeply intellectual movie and it doesn’t really try to be one. It’s pretty obvious in the messages it sends: Mindfulness of the things you do, awareness of the monsters you could create, take responsibility for your actions or your inaction. They’re blunt messages and they work for the movie. It’s not a movie that works in subtleties. Though, to be honest, it puts me in mind of Real Genius. If we weren’t in the middle of Star Wars Week+ I’d be tempted to watch that next. It’s got the same “Yeah, sure you’re a genius and all. Good for you. Now open your eyes, dipshit,” message going on. Only with 80s hair and more popcorn. I’d like to see Tony Stark and Chris Knight collaborate. Or just go out for a drink.

But enough about my crossover dreams. Back to the movie. It’s got some truly satisfying action in addition to the fun script and acting, and being a nerd, I love the scenes of Tony designing and building his suit just as much as the flying and blowing stuff up. I’ve got to give some respect to the rest of the cast too, because the three major secondary roles, Rhodes, Pepper and Obie, are all wonderfully done. In fact, the one thing that I can pinpoint as a source of concern for me about the second movie is Rhodes. I really like Terrence Howard’s performance, and much as I love Don Cheadle, I don’t know if I’ll like him in the role as much. Time will tell, I suppose. Gwyneth Paltrow does a lovely job as Pepper, who needs to jab Tony a little bit to keep him from getting too comfortable. And then there’s Obie. Jeff Bridges is absolutely fan-fucking-tastic as Obie. One of our favorite bits in the whole movie is when Obie screams at an underling about how “TONY STARK BUILT IT IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!” I’m paraphrasing, but still. Great bit. And fun fact? The dude he screams at is Peter Billingsly, who was not only the executive producer, but was also the star of A Christmas Story. Off-topic, but also hilarious.

Now, I’m not a big reader of the Iron Man and Avengers comic books. I’ve read a decent amount of X-Men and through association with a lot of Marvel fans I’ve gotten to know a fair deal about the entire universe (can I use the word ‘multiverse’ here without being a total geek? do I care if I’m a total geek? nah.) but I certainly don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of it all. Maybe if I did, some things (like virtual-Jarvis) would bug me. After all, I’ve got some complaints about the X-Men movies – which I assure you I will get to. So maybe a lack of familiarity with the canon is in my favor here. Or not. I know fans of the comics who enjoyed the movie too, so who knows. What I do know is that it’s a great movie and I love it every time I watch it. Also, even knowing what comes after the credits, whenever I watch the movie I will wait until the end just to see that one scene. Because it makes me squee.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iron Man

May 7, 2010

Iron Man

Iron Man 2 opens in theaters this weekend so we’re taking a short break between Star Wars films to watch the first Iron Man movie. Which is a real treat. This movie is probably one of my favorite films of the last few years. I’m a sucker for a good comic book movie adaptation, and this is a great one. Up there with Batman Begins amongst the best comic book adaptations of all time. And an awful lot of the credit goes to Robert Downey Jr. and his stellar performance. Sure he’s surrounded by an a-list cast, and he would have to be because they need to be on their toes to keep up with him.

The character arc in this movie for Tony Stark is fantastic. He starts out as such a complete cad, but not an unlikable one. They do a great job establishing his womanizing and uncaring ways without going over the top and making him irredeemable. And through the course of the movie he becomes vulnerable, human and at the same he is completely believable as a super hero.

There’s a pivotal scene near the beginning of the movie where Tony holds a press conference after escaping from the hands of terrorists who wanted him to build a weapon for them. I don’t quite know what it is about that scene, but it moves me to tears every time. Part of it is Tony’s “I never got to say goodbye to my father.” Part of it is Gwyneth Paltrow’s reaction as Pepper Potts to his decision to close down Stark Industries’ weapons arm. It’s just a split second of screen-time but she has this look of wonder and relief that just instantly conveys so much about her and her relationship with Tony.

The whole movie is full of little moments like that. It has great action, moments of humor that still make me chuckle after multiple viewings, and moments of great heart. I’d say that it is a movie full of cleaver subtleties and brilliant performances – which is what sets it aside from the average summer action movie fare. It’s also a movie that has moments of pure joy. Tony’s first flight as Iron Man really makes you want to BE Tony Stark. (Which is part of the reason that the Iron Man game was so horribly disappointing. You wanted to experience the excitement of being Iron Man, but you spent the whole time doing battle with the horrible controls. Not fun or joyful.)

I’d be curious to know just how much of the dialog in the movie is add-libbed. Clearly an awful lot of it is, which is part of what keeps the movie so light on its feet. People talk over each other, they step on each other’s lines. Everybody seems slightly unsettled, which makes it all the more acceptable and human, which is important. You never lose the sense that Tony is a very human, flawed, real person. It must have been a NIGHTMARE for the editors. How do you marry one shot to another when every take the lines change? But it was worth it – it makes for a brilliant movie that never loses its edge.

Of course a lot of praise has to go to the artists who designed the Iron Man suits and realized them for the screen. Both the digital artists and the physical fabricators, since they have a real practical suit as well as a ton of great 3-D animation. You really can’t tell most of the time whether you’re looking at something shot practically in camera or something created in the computers of ILM. There’s also a lot of great foley work with all the whirrings and hummings of the suit. Everything comes together so well. It’s all so believable – you WILL believe that a metal suit can fly.

I’m disappointed that Terrence Howard chose not to appear in the second film, but I’m hopeful that it will still be good. Here’s hoping so. You know we’ll be buying it and reviewing it for you… someday.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment