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Worth A Look: 32.39%
Just Average: 9.09%
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Sucks: 3.41%

7 reviews, 134 user ratings

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Iron Man
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Hand Of Doom"
4 stars

There have been rumors of a big-screen version of the popular Marvel comic book “Iron Man” for nearly two decades now--Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage were among those mentioned to play the title role and filmmakers ranging from Stuart Gordon to Quentin Tarantino to Joss Whedon were considered to pull the whole thing together--and while I don’t know the details about why these various incarnations failed to take hold, I suspect that most of them fell by the wayside because of their inability to overcome the central flaw that has plagued so many similar adaptations in the past--the necessity of somehow combining years, even decades, of canon into a workable screenplay that somehow manages to entertain and satisfy both the hard-core geek contingent who can cite the most arcane trivia at the drop of a hat as well as those who have never once cracked open a comic, let alone a graphic novel, in their entire lives. It is a tricky job and, sad to say, many of those who have attempted it in the past have failed miserably--too many of these big-screen origin stories spend so much time introducing their heroes, their enemies, their psychological traumas and their superpowers that by the time they are done setting things up and are ready to finally get to the good stuff, they have eaten up nearly two-thirds of their running times and have to rush through everything else so quickly that whatever excitement there might have been gets lost in the shuffle. (In the case of the “X-Men” movies, the roll call of characters and abilities was so long that they seemed to still be introducing themselves even as the end credits were running.) Although “Iron Man” threatens to succumb to this tendency many times during its running time, it contains one valuable asset--a great central performance from Robert Downey Jr.--that transforms the entire enterprise from inconsequential junk to the kind of knockout summer entertainment that turns out to be better than it had to be.

Downey stars as Tony Stark, a mechanical genius whose facility for designing and building high-tech weaponry has made him the world’s hippest and hottest war profiteer--the kind who screws “Vanity Fair“ (or at least “Vanity Fair“ reporters) instead of the other way around. While visiting Afghanistan to demonstrate his latest device, a devastating missile system known as “Jericho,” the military contingent that he is traveling with is attacked and he is knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he discovers that is a captive of a terrorist group known as The Ten Rings and that he now has an electromagnet implanted in his chest and hooked up to a car battery that was put there by fellow captive Yinsen (Shaun Toub) in order to keep the shrapnel inside him from reaching his heart and killing him. He also discovers that the Ten Rings, who already possess a large stockpile of Stark Industries weaponry, want him to put together a Jericho system in order to complete their collection. Realizing that this probably wouldn’t be such a smoking hot idea, Stark decides that he, with the help of Yinsen, will instead use the materials provided to him in order to build an impenetrable mechanical suit of armor, complete with flamethrower, that will help him to escape captivity. Amazingly, he manages to free himself and destroy most of the stockpiled weapons before escaping into the desert, where he is eventually rescued by military buddy Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and returned to America, where he is reunited with business partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) and loyal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Having had his eyes opened to the horrors caused by his wares, Stark has a change of heart and announces at a press conference that, effective immediately, he will no longer be producing weapons of any sort--a most unwelcome surprise to Obadiah and the stockholders. Looking for some new purpose in his life, Stark begins constructing and testing a new version of the suit that now comes complete with flying capabilities, rockets and the latest in so-called “repulsor” technology (something along the lines of a mini-sonic boom). Around this time, he also learns that his former captors are working on recreating the original suit from the pieces he left behind and are using a new shipment of Stark Industries to wreak further havoc on the locals. Duly inspired, he flies off to Afghanistan to destroy the weapons and defeat the baddies, a move that make him a hero among the locals but catches the unwanted attention of the U.S. military, who try to shoot him out of the sky for his troubles. When he returns home, Stark begins to investigate where the new weapons came from and when he does, it leads to the inevitable third-act battle involving a shocking betrayal (okay, maybe not that shocking) and the sight of two people duking it out while encased in giant robot suits.

“Iron Man” is a typically uneven comic book extravaganza in which extended sequences of FX-heavy mayhem coexist uneasily with long chunks of time in which not much of anything interesting seems to happen. Of the action-heavy scenes, the best involve Stark’s escape from Afghanistan, Stark’s trial runs of the new and improved suit back in the States that finding him careening in the skies over Santa Monica and his return to Afghanistan to settle his score. These sequences work not because of the overwhelming special effects and fight choreography (though both are admittedly impressive) but because they have been staged by director Jon Favreau and shot be Matthew Libatique with a surprisingly effective amount of humor. (There is one gag during the escape sequence that will remind viewers of the Arab swordsman bit from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the moment in which Stark takes out a tank is so perfectly timed and executed that it still works even though it has been played to death in the commercials and trailers). It is a good thing that these sequences work because others are far more routine in their staging and execution.. In particular, the big finale between the two Iron Men is a disappointment in that it fails to really supply any of the giddy thrills that one might expect to see from the sight of two seemingly indestructible robot-suited people pounding the stuffing out of each other--it just goes on and on without ever finding the kind of unique twist that made the earlier scenes work.

As for the non-effects-oriented material, most of it is a washout as well. Too many of these scenes do nothing more than mark time between the set-pieces in order to give both the technicians and the audience members a breather from the chaos., the plot barely makes any sort of sense and leaves too many questions unanswered (during Stark’s original plan to escape via his suit, what exactly was Yinsen’s non-suited participation in the proceedings?) and when it is revealed who the real villain of the piece is, it makes you wonder why the screenplay bothered to truck in the Afghan terrorists in the first place if they were going to have no real role in the finale. A bigger problem, however, is the fact that, outside of Stark, most of the key players are two-dimensional ciphers who are barely developed at all--Rhodes is the best pal/Lando-like repository of black wisdom, Obadiah is the broadly genial type who seems so upfront and friendly that even the dimmest audience members will quickly twig to the fact that there is more go on with him and Pepper is the steadfast and true aide who finds herself worrying after a brief near-flirtation with her boss that people will no longer take her seriously, a concern that you rarely see these days in a person named Pepper Potts. I suppose this isn’t that surprising of a development--after all, the movie is called “Iron Man” and not “The Adventures of Pepper Potts” (though I know I would line up in an instant for that one)--but it just strikes me as the ultimate cinematic perversity to hire actors as talented as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard and then given them the kind of roles that would require weeks of fleshing out in order to ascend to the level of ciphers.

As it turns out, all of those flaws turn out to not really matter too much in the long run because they pretty much fade from mind whenever Robert Downey Jr. is on the screen. An immensely talented and charismatic performer, Downey has spent the last several years rehabilitating himself in the eyes of Hollywood after years of well-documented indiscretions and has now apparently regained their trust enough to achieve that pinnacle that all actors yearn for--the ability to be cast in the lead role of a hoped-for film franchise that, if all goes well, will go on to reap billions of dollars in ticket sales, sequels and merchandizing rights for years to come. Putting him in the role of Iron Man was an enormous risk as quirky performers of his type do not always slip easily into the comparatively straight-laced roles that are usually found at the center of potential film franchises (you may bring up Michael Keaton in “Batman” and I would immediately counter with Nicolas Cage in that “Ghost Rider” nonsense) but it is a risk that pays off beautifully here. His off-screen persona as an overindulgent smartass who is still held in high regard by all who encounter him because of his enormous personal gifts dovetails perfectly with the character of Stark and as a result, the role fits him as snugly and comfortably as his Iron Man suit--both the early goofy stuff and the later moments when he finally decides to get his act together and make good use of his talents instead of letting them go to waste. More importantly, he lends a much-needed acerbic sense of humor to the proceedings that is much appreciated. At times, it almost feels as if he is simply making his lines up as he goes along, not the easiest trick when you consider that many of the scenes involve intricate special effects that presumably weren’t there with him on the set, and it actually lends a strange sense of realism to the proceedings that is often lacking in this kind of film. Essentially, Downey does for this film what Johnny Depp did in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean”--he takes what could have been a fairly flat and unmemorable role and invests it with the kind of freaky fun that is so unexpectedly and strangely endearing that I can’t imagine how the film might have worked with anyone else in the part.

There have been a few great origin films amongst the glut of superhero movies to come along in the last few decades and in nearly every case, they have succeeded because the filmmakers have brought something fresh and exciting to the table to shake things up. “Superman” worked because it treated those early scenes with a striking seriousness (right down to Marlon Brando invoking his otherwise risible dialogue with the kind of solemnity ordinarily reserved for the works of Shakespeare) that meshed nicely with the goofier goings-on once the action finally kicked in. Ang Lee’s “Hulk” and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” decided to make their films all about the origins and lent the material the kind of psychological depth and resonance that would ordinarily be the first thing to go in the rush to get through the material as quickly as possible. Tim Burton’s “Batman” took perhaps the most radical approach at all by essentially jettisoning all the origin material (save for a flashback or two) in order to get to the good stuff. By comparison, “Iron Man” doesn’t offer viewers anything quite as radical from a narrative perspective--the film pretty much follows the standard superhero movie template to the letter--but it does offer up one inspired wild card in the casting of Robert Downey Jr. in the title role and the result is a slightly-better-than-average popcorn epic featuring a performance that is so funny and inventive and entertaining that he pretty much winds up carrying the entire movie on his shoulders in order to save the day for audiences and Marvel stockholders alike.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15549&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/01/08 18:36:20
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell great fun skip 2&3 though 5 stars
5/11/15 Christian Paulson The rebirth of comic-book movies!!! 5 stars
10/01/14 Horror Lover Still the best solo superhero movie from the Avengers Universe. 4 stars
8/27/12 roscoe disappointing because relies heavily on stark and not enough of iron man 3 stars
10/18/11 Magic The most fun superhero movie at that time. RDJ's best performance in years. 4 stars
1/22/11 Jeff Wilder Easily among the best recent superhero movies. 5 stars
12/02/10 Dr.Lao Definitely one of the better live action marvel superhero movies 4 stars
9/10/10 Barbara Leaf Downey, Jr. looked vulnerable with his puppydog eye -until he donned that iron suit -WOW. 5 stars
2/23/09 man love it 5 stars
2/08/09 Monday Morning Great super hero. He should kick some Wall St. banker and politician ass in the sequel.. 4 stars
1/01/09 zenny not bad, not bad at all 4 stars
10/31/08 Annie G A little disappointing based on reviews, but still an enjoyable action flick. 3 stars
10/20/08 Nichole This is the best movie! 5 stars
10/09/08 man fantastic 5 stars
10/09/08 dude so good 5 stars
10/06/08 Luisa Robert Downey Jr is awesome! Great action flick! 5 stars
10/01/08 Charles Tatum Nothing but fun, great cast and action sequences 5 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner One of the greatest movies ever made! 5 stars
8/21/08 The Talking Elbow Way better than the Dark Knight fo sho 5 stars
8/05/08 E K Zimmerman Extraordinary! Bring on the sequels! 5 stars
7/27/08 David Good, but a little overrated. 4 stars
7/18/08 Susan Lee Love RDJ but was skeptical about his role .. he did awesome job. Gweneth was wasted tho 5 stars
7/14/08 Karen Awesome movie! 5 stars
6/26/08 DK Downey is immense and good script but the ending was like Transformers done worse. 4 stars
6/25/08 Mario A bit overrated, but still a good action film. 4 stars
6/25/08 JD Smith A bit uneven, but overall V entertaining 4 stars
6/25/08 FJ Am ever a fan of RDJ. Thee movie is entertaining, but i would say slightly overhyped. 4 stars
6/22/08 J Black Excellent movie RD, jr was perfect for the role 5 stars
6/21/08 David V Great acting and action, but this is a little over-rated. 4 stars
6/11/08 Heather Incredibly fun movie. Robert Downey Jr. was ubelievably brilliant. 5 stars
6/07/08 John Patricio Great ac tion and acting. How could you not love it. 5 stars
6/05/08 Ming K BEST Comic film of the year...great actions and story 5 stars
6/04/08 Jayson Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect!! 4 stars
6/04/08 katmagick Robert Downey Jr is excellent in this flick! 5 stars
6/03/08 Dana awesome movie i highly recommend it 5 stars
6/01/08 George Barksdale Good action movie and worth going to 4 stars
5/28/08 Raymond What a load of rubbish...how can such crap get good press reviews??!!?? 1 stars
5/28/08 jordan keith i loved this movie but what happens after the credits? 5 stars
5/28/08 Arcane The moive is good, but wayyyyyyyy overhyped. 4 stars
5/25/08 R.W. Welch Hi-caliber perfs for a comic book flick, especially Bridges' smarmy villain. 4 stars
5/19/08 bullit16 Not just a great superhero movie ... a great movie 5 stars
5/18/08 Bert Overrated, formula movie,unlikable people 3 stars
5/18/08 mr.mike Close to awesome , climactic battle could have been a bit better. 4 stars
5/18/08 jm Overrated if you ask me. Good story, crap action. Tony stark is hard to like. 3 stars
5/16/08 Anthony Feor This is the superhero movie I've been waiting for. It is the best one ever made. 5 stars
5/13/08 dude great 5 stars
5/12/08 matt end fight could have been longer, but highly enjoyable 4 stars
5/11/08 pin Finally. Great Casting. a little cheap on the music. 5 stars
5/11/08 austin wertman best superhero movie since spider-man 2 5 stars
5/11/08 kris Overrated. Only the first 30 mins were very good, the rest was formulaic and for kids. 3 stars
5/10/08 Koitus A couple of unlikely plot points (original suit=no eye protection), but still a good movie. 4 stars
5/10/08 Ole Man Bourbon Meh. 3 stars
5/09/08 ironman this film is fkin awsome 5 stars
5/08/08 Quigley Surprisingly excellent comic book film. Great CG effects and spetacular Robert Downey, Jr. 5 stars
5/07/08 dee Great movie, great cast, Downey is terrific 5 stars
5/06/08 Greg It's a movie about evil weapons-makers and it's still non bleeding-heart enough for you? 5 stars
5/06/08 Sarbu Rada Yes, an amazing movie. No wonder it made so much money and they already plan the sequel 5 stars
5/06/08 my precious What a whiney reviewer... forgot to take his meds so that he could properly review a movie. 5 stars
5/06/08 AJ Muller Oh, and I can't take it anymore - Gonsalves is fucking retarded. Erase this if you will - 5 stars
5/05/08 michaelb1478 Downey was spot on, great comic book movie 5 stars
5/05/08 Loserboy2049 When life hands you lemons just dance a disco beat 3 stars
5/05/08 AJ Muller Downey is perfect; Favreau does a kickass job. One of the best comic flicks ever. 5 stars
5/05/08 carlos Not perfect, but > than SM3, X3 & others trying 2 do 2 much. Oh, & easter egg aft credits! 5 stars
5/05/08 Wolfrider Didnt exactly live up to my expectations - but the GF liked it 3 stars
5/05/08 CallistaZM I would agree with others that this is the best superhero movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
5/05/08 diggz it was ok. but the fighting scene at the end has the corniest dialouge ive ever heard. 3 stars
5/05/08 Cherie Partain Great movie -- Robert Downey, Jr. was great! 5 stars
5/05/08 Loserboy2049 Take it from me, rust doesn't taste like ketchup! 1 stars
5/05/08 sue bobier Best movie in a long time, robert downey, jr is awesome! 5 stars
5/05/08 STH Rob, Iron Man kicked ass. nuff said 5 stars
5/05/08 Loserboy2049 One time I got lost in an abdondoned van 5 stars
5/05/08 Excruciator Why is this bonehead allowed to review movies with any measure of authority? 5 stars
5/05/08 mlvassallo You know Rotten Tomatoes labled your review as "Fresh"... so you are helping with the ratio 5 stars
5/05/08 Blue Knuckle Your review is replete with spelling errors!!!!! 5 stars
5/05/08 NB Your first sentence has a flaw. He is repentant 5 stars
5/05/08 Loserboy2049 My feet smell like cat piss after I stepped in cat piss... 1 stars
5/05/08 Brett Your review is inane. Great superhero rollercoaster ride! 5 stars
5/05/08 FredGarvin I'm very sorry for what seems to have happened to you as a child. It wasn't your fault. 5 stars
5/05/08 Amy You just seem to hate that it's popular and that it isn't a bleeding heart anti-war film 5 stars
5/05/08 Mark In the hands of a lesser actor, this movie would have fallen on its face. Props RDJR. 4 stars
5/05/08 igor deviates in a good way from many recent superhero movies 5 stars
5/05/08 MightyMad For God's sake, Rob: it's a summer blockbuster, dummy! Enjoy it for what it is - I did! 5 stars
5/05/08 Ryan Best superhero I have seen 5 stars
5/04/08 Kevin This reviewer is insane 5 stars
5/04/08 JC Awful, predictable movie... this thing didn't surprise me once and relied on cheap humor... 1 stars
5/04/08 Dennis Awesome movie had alot of fun watching it might even go back and see it again your review s 5 stars
5/04/08 BB It's pretty good movie. I supose it's just that you don't like superhero movies that much 4 stars
5/04/08 Andre The movie is true to the source material, and fun, it isnt pro war, or right wing 5 stars
5/04/08 Ya Daddy Anybody that didn't like this plays with Care Bears 5 stars
5/04/08 Bob best movie I've seen lately. 4 stars
5/04/08 Kay Best superhero flick ever! Downey was fantastic! 5 stars
5/04/08 Darkstar Be sure to wait until after the credits roll for the best scene of the movie. 5 stars
5/04/08 Doc Austin I wanna see it again! Sorry if I'm politically incorrect here, but i liked it a lot. 5 stars
5/04/08 bill s stick to art-house. i hate when movies try to drag reviewers down to theri level 5 stars
5/04/08 Michael Quite simply the movie was boring- it wasn't about anything after he escaped from kidnapin. 1 stars
5/04/08 zetronet This critic can not be taken seriously and should not be paid more than minimum wage 5 stars
5/04/08 Jimmy probably great if you're a comic book fan, otherwise it's just kind of meh 3 stars
5/04/08 Destarius This movie rated 94%. You're not intellectual, you're just flatulent and out of touch. 5 stars
5/04/08 Terry You're rating simply shows your liberal upbringing - get a grip! The movie is excellent! 5 stars
5/04/08 Derek C "Iron Man is as thoughtless as it is weightless." Much like your review, Iron Man rocks!! 5 stars
5/04/08 Drei Hw didn't bring up the fact that he killed people himself because he didn't people knowing. 5 stars
5/04/08 joey Your review stinked... awesome movie! .. setting up for a nice sequal 5 stars
5/04/08 Diesel Downey captures the snarkiness of Stark and achieves superhero-movie apotheosis! 5 stars
5/04/08 Kzach What a dumb review. Talk about having an agenda. Get off your political high horse, moron. 5 stars
5/04/08 johnnybgoode Great casting. One of the best superhero movies to date. 5 stars
5/04/08 Dutch Your right , great entry into superhero flicks but the end was a letdown. 4 stars
5/04/08 m price GREAT comic book movie. Plus far-lefty Tom Morello gets it in the cave. Nice touch. 5 stars
5/04/08 Steve Excellent movie, ignore this pretentious wannabe and his subpar review and go see it! 5 stars
5/04/08 MCMC Another bitter, failed critic pooping and screaming for attention and praise. 5 stars
5/04/08 philip Simply incredible, best superhero movie to date. 5 stars
5/04/08 SonofAnon Very good movie I don't know why people give it bad reviews could of been like fantastic 4 5 stars
5/04/08 AJ Gudmundsen "I saw Americans Die" I dont know you didnt understand that. 5 stars
5/04/08 Kyle What the hell is this reviewer talking about? Pretentious douche ahoy! 4 stars
5/04/08 Kanoose One of the best movies I've ever seen. Was enjoyable from start to finish. Good job. 5 stars
5/04/08 ska-boss I was thinking the same thing when he said "I saw Americans die" 4 stars
5/04/08 Jerry N. Wow. Once again Gonsalves has proved himself to be mentally hadicapped. 5 stars
5/04/08 lawl Pretentious douchebag critic drowned in fanboy spam, and rightfully so. I lol. 5 stars
5/04/08 Stephen Glad someone says it. This movie is awful. 1 stars
5/03/08 stavos williams Talk about pretentious critics - Rob "SnobMan" Gonsalves wants a moralistic pacifist Ghandi 5 stars
5/03/08 Rock Star This reviewer does social commentary better than film criticism 5 stars
5/03/08 John Christopher The movie was fantastic, and you review was poor. Maybe you should find a new career. 5 stars
5/03/08 Phil The best super-hero film? It just might be....... 5 stars
5/03/08 Tony G The bar has been set for super-hero movies and Iron Man is IT!!! 5 stars
5/03/08 Jmac64 Saw Movie twice in 12 hours...RDJr...is the only choice for Stark...A Millenium Classic 5 stars
5/03/08 Jacqueline Carpenter Keeps me interered all through 5 stars
5/03/08 gcc Equal to the 1st spidey and x-men, Downey perfect as Stark, well done. 5 stars
5/03/08 sebas1972 Excellent movie!!! Stay during the end credits... surprise at the end!!! 5 stars
5/02/08 Obi Wan Very well done movie. RDJ, JB and GP were on the money! 5 stars
5/02/08 Dan Excellent. Downey Jr. was perfectly cast and did a superb job. Only weakness was PepperPots 5 stars
5/02/08 john nicely done...2008 is finally getting some great movies like '...Sarah Marshall 5 stars
5/02/08 action movie fan very good adaption of marvel super hero-downey is good as stark-good story 4 stars
5/02/08 damalc big fight should have been longer, but very good. downey cast was perfect! 4 stars
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  02-May-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Sep-2008


  DVD: 30-Sep-2008

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