Robert Downey Jr. has certainly had an interesting career. Scandals, arrests, rehab - its not like its unusual in Hollywood. Stars fall to vices, or choose them every day. But the difference with Downey is it doesn't seem to do anything but make him more and more interesting. His first scene in CHAPLIN, removing the make-up of one of cinemas greatest comedians, only to reveal the pain within, is one of my favorite scene of all time. Bottom line, give this man a role, and he will live it.
And he does it again with IRONMAN.
I have to first admit, I never read the IRONMAN comics. I don't know if this version rings true to its original inspiration. That said, I also have no idea if its supposed to, either. What I CAN do is my usual nit-picking of how the subject was presented here, in this medium.
IRONMAN is the story of billionaire weapons manufacturer and designer Tony Stark. While on a visit to the Middle East to show case his newest weapon, a missle system with pinpoint accuracy, he's abducted by terrorists. Stark's body is filled with shrapnel, but his co-captive Yinsen (Shaun Toub) manages to rig some kind of electro magnet run by a car battery to keep the shrapnel from migrating toward Stark's heart and killing him. (yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either, but it's a comic book film).
The terrorist force Stark to build the new weapons system for them or die, but instead, he builds the prototype for the soon to come "Ironman" suit in order to escape. Yinsen sacrifices himself and Stark and his suit manage to overcome insurmountable odds to leave the imprisonment.
Upon his return to the US, Stark is a changed man. He unveils corruption in his own company, and see evidence that the Stark weapons are constantly being used for evil - it's a fact he can no longer live with. Enter IRONMAN.
Spoilers to come...
So... The film is entertaining. Jeff Bridges plays and uncharacteristic role as the villain with convincing certainty. Downey is Downey... always good - he can do no wrong. Is Terrance Howard in everything? Gwyneth Paltrow is cold and almost a distraction from what's really happening, but she looks good, so who can complain. And John Favreau competently tackles a big budget blockbuster (who saw that coming?).
The real problem with this film is that its just back story. It's set up. Its like a two hour trailer. Not much happens, but that said, it definitely makes the viewer want to really get into the action of the story - Stay tuned for IRONMAN II.
I guess if you want to get into the franchise, you have to see this one. Don't expect anything special, but it's a good summer "popcorn" film. It about as average and rides the fence as much as this review.
Take that for what its worth.
Josh Gloer, Movie Correspondent
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