I normally avoid these big budget spectaculars, but since every review of Iron Man I'd seen said it was worth checking out, I figured I should give it a go. And well, yeah, it's not bad. I have some reservations about it, but in the main it's an enjoyable couple of hours.
If you haven't seen it and you don't want things spoiling look away NOW. For anyone who has seen it (or for those who just plain doesn't care) here are the things that I didn't like about Iron Man...
- While I thought it was brave to have a pop at the American military/industrial complex in a mainstream action flick, I was less happy with the implication that US military might is ultimately offered as the answer to Afghanistan's problems. Sure, Tony Stark figures out that supplying Afghan warlords with weapons is morally wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that he ends up sorting things out with a star spangled volley of ballistic missiles. Even if it's not a piece of propaganda, there are times when Iron Man does feel like an advert for US aggression.
- Elements of the film are overly formulaic. I'm talking the whole Tony/Pepper Potts will they/won't they thing, and the "Gahh, curse you Iron Man" "I will crush you like a bug" sort of fight between Iron Man and Iron Monger at the end.
- That robot with the fire extinguisher really annoyed me. Its clearly been chucked in to provide the kids in the audience with some comic relief, but it felt unnecessary.
- Computer Jarvis. I want real Jarvis OK. Sorry, but I do.
- Robert Downey Junior. From the opening sequence where he's holding drunken court in a military convoy right through to the closing moments of the film, Downey Junior just nails Tony Stark. He's helped by writers and a director who obviously did their research, but the actor has to take the bulk of the credit for a performance which conveys the two sides of Stark's character equally well.
- Jeff Bridges. A performance every bit as good as Downey Jnr. Bridges does a lot of shouting at the end of the film, but its when he's giving it the creepy, caring, quiet menace in the first half of the story that he comes into his own. He's a huge presence and a believable bad guy. Oh and it's nice to see that Favreau remembered that Obadiah Stane likes a game of chess!
- The new take on Iron Man's origin was handled well. Yes I have my reservations about the politics of the whole thing (see above) but then I suppose I would also have been uncomfortable with a lot of Stan and Jack's commie bashing back in the day. That hasn't stopped me enjoying their comics. So, aside from the fact that the Mandarin is replaced with an Afghan Warlord and the old China man who helps Stark build his first suit is now a middle aged Afghan hostage, I was delighted to see that the film remained true to the original comic book origin.
- The special effects are great. From the proto suit which looks fantastic (especially when Stark is torching everything with those massive flamethrowers) to the computerised targeting system in the new suit, everything looks really slick. I've criticised the showdown between Iron Man and Iron Monger at the end for being formulaic, but that's not to say that the cgi in that fight scene isn't superb, it is.
- The teaser at the end of the credits with Samuel L Jackson as Ultimate Nick Fury had me slapping my armrest with joy. An Ultimates live action film?!!! Pass me the tissues