Tuesday, January 15, 2013
(May 2008, U.S.)
One of the most unfortunate things, in my opinion, about the modern movie business of the 21st Century is that it's been diseased with just too damn many superhero franchise films. It started with X-MEN in 2000 and it's been ongoing ever since. Even when you think a franchise has finally come to an end (like SPIDERMAN 3), some jerkweed decides to re-boot, re-think, re-imagine or whatever the hell else they choose to call it in Hollywood the entire franchise all over again within just a few years. It's enough to make someone like me as angry as say...the Hulk?? (sorry!).
However, in all fairness, throughout this entire movie mess, I've given each FIRST installment of all these franchises the fair shake it probably deserves. I loved X-MEN (2000), SPIDER-MAN (2002) and HULK (2003). So it was only proper that I give the first IRON MAN film a fair look when it was first released, despite knowing virtually nothing about the superhero from comic books, cartoons, whatever. You know what? I hated it when I first saw it! Though, by the time the film came out on DVD, I realized it wasn't so much the film I hated, but rather the movie theater experience I'd had at the time while I was surrounded by a bunch of asshole teenagers who couldn't shut their mouths or put away their electronic devices (kill them all!). So I gave it a second look in the privace of my own living room and found that it was not only an extraordinary superhero adventure, but it was also the ongoing wit and charisma of Robert Downey Jr. as billionare Tony Stark that truly carries the film.
The other immediate positive point of IRON MAN for me is that our hero is not spending his time battling some over-inflated, campy comic book villain (you know, the kind that made Joel Schumacher's BATMAN films of the 1990s such stinkers!), but rather true-to-life terrorists in war-torn Afghanistan. This carries a tremendous amount of weight for me because they're genuine enemies of the United States (and the world) that I can truly enjoy watching be destroyed by out hero on film. Even in the latter part of the second half of the film when Iron Man must battle and defeat Obadiah Stane, it's still acceptable to me in that it's just a great actor like Jeff Bridges in a uniform. An evil uniform, yes, but what the hell - it's still Jeff Bridges! I can also appreciate the obvious message that Tony Stark implies in that massive wealth from world weaponry is morally and ethically wrong (not that the real powers-that-be of the world would ever listen to such a thing!).
Not to claim that IRON MAN is perfect by any means. For my film patience, I feel the ongoing repetition of Tony Stary designing, building and perfecting what will ultimately become the great costume of Iron Man becomes rather tedious to watch after some time. You reach a point where you think to yourself, "Oh man, just build the fucking thing already and get to work!" Geez, I AM a real nitpicker, aren't I!! Gweneth Paltrow (her first film since motherhood) is fine, more or less, as Tony's loyal personal assistant and budding love interest Pepper Potts. Really, though, she's serves no better or worse than Superman's Lois Lane, Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson or even Underdog's Sweet Polly Purebred.
And so, knowing my ongoing intollerance for franchise sequels, you can probably surmise by know that I didn't see IRON MAN 2 (2010), nor do I have any intentions of seeing IRON MAN 3 this summer. I watched THE AVENGERS dvd recently and, well...you can guess...hated it! But at the same time, knowing there are exceptions to nearly every film conviction I have, and if it'll make you feel any better, I DID love SUPERMAN II (1981), X2: X-MEN UNITED (2003) and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Tony Stark: "They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how Dad did it, that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far. I present to you the newest in Stark Industries' Freedom line. Find an excuse to let one of these off the chain, and I personally guarantee, the bad guys won't even wanna come out of their caves. Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration...the Jericho!"