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Iron Man Movie Review

Iron Man HelmetWell, I was lucky enough to score an invite to the Premiere of Iron Man in Sydney (thank you, Sydney Film Festival!!) and rubbed shoulders with Robert Downey Jr, John Favreau, and Naomi Watts…OK, so by rubbing shoulders I mean that I saw them from the other side of the room and saw the backs of their heads during the screening. What was the movie like? Read on, true believers!

First off, the actors, and Robert Downey Jr in particular. RDJ was born to play Tony Stark. He’s got that dangerous quality as an actor, in that you’re never quite sure what he’s going to do next, and all of his visual tics make for a perfect portrayal of the billionaire industrialist and weapons manufacturer. Stark is a perfect mix of both 616 and Ultimate characterisations, complete with trademark scotch glass in hand. RDJ injects the role with charm and cheekiness, and there’s a whole lot of humour packed in to how the character operates.
Gwyneth Paltrow does a serviceable job as Pepper Potts, in what is arguably an underwritten part. Her timing in scenes with Stark is impeccable, and there’s a twinkle in her eyes that’s been missing for a while. Terence Howard is good as Rhodey, in a relationship that’s sure to develop more strongly when (note the “when”, not “if”) the franchise continues. But the star of the undercard has to be Jeff Bridges. His Obadiah Stane is both charming and menacing and as far divorced from “The Dude” as you could hope for. He certainly cuts an imposing figure throughout the whole film and the screen just eats him up. A great performance there.
And finally, on actors, I will say right now that Nick Fury does not appear. Which is a good thing, I think, as a very short appearance would have really taken you out of the world of the film. Oh, and Stan Lee’s cameo is pure hilarity.
The CGI is absolutely top notch. When Stark first appears in the MK1 armour, the whole audience let out a roar of delight. It’s a tremendously powerful moment, and really sets the adrenalin pumping. As the armours develop, everything gets sleeker and sleeker, and looks very seamless as Stark tries out different elements of the armour, like the repulsor gloves or boot jets. The CGI and live action meshes together very well. There is one point where the CGI gets a little sloppy, but to look at that we have to enter:

If you don’t want to be spoiled about the plot, read no further. The first portion of the next paragraph won’t spoil too much, but after that, it’s anything goes.


Iron Man has one of the best plots of any of Marvel’s movies, particularly for the first instalment of the character’s story. Previous Marvel films featuring character’s origins have felt a little clunky to me, as if there are actually two stories going on in the film. Not with Iron Man however, as his origin is an integral part of the organic whole (did I say “organic” in a review of Iron Man? Yes, yes I did).
Once we get the initial characterisation of Stark as the playboy inventor out of the way, we head to Afghanistan, and a display of Stark’s new “repulsor” missile technology. On the return journey, his humvee is attacked by unknown terrorists, and he’s wounded by one of the very devices he’s created. Waking up he finds himself in the clutches of terrorist organization “The Ten Rings” (A nice touch I thought) and ordered to build them a version of his latest missile. While locked in the caves, he works with fellow captured scientist Yin Sen to develop a power source for his shrapnel injured heart. This is key, in that the device will later be the power source for his Iron Man armours, and gives his chest a healthy blue glow.
With the aid of Yin Sen, Stark designs and develops the MK1 armour, escaping the Ten Rings and destroying all of their Stark designed weaponry. His flight from the terrorist camp is not simple though, crashing in the desert, and he leaves hi first armour behind as he trudges around hoping to be rescued, which, of course, he is.
This sparks an altruism in Stark on his return to US soil. He calls a hasty press conference, and, much to the disdain of his business partner Stane, announces that Stark International will no longer be producing weaponry. Stane freezes Stark out of the company, while Tony holes himself up in his basement workshop to refine his Iron Man designs. This is where the bulk of the film is taken up, as we see Stark testing out his boot propulsion. This is where a lot of the comedy shines, as the arrogant Stark gets his comeuppance from the various machinery he surrounds himself with (Jarvis’ appearance is a nice touch, as his technical AI assistant). Don’t be expecting a lot of time spent on the MK2 armour though…it’s in one key sequence, but other than that it’s really just a middle stage.
Meanwhile, we discover that Stane is the one who has been supplying the Ten Rings with their Stark tech. He visits their camp, and purloins the scraps of the MK1 armour that the Ten Rings have scrounged from the desert sand.
Perfecting the design of his armour, with a snazzy coat of red and gold paint, Iron Man attacks the terrorist stronghold in a very cool display of his powers. A mix up with the military ensues, where Rhodey learns of Stark’s new invention.
The final sequence revolves around the discovery that Stane is building his own set of armour to sell around the world. The Iron Monger armour only makes an appearance here, in the last half hour or so of the film, but it’s very impressive, huge and imposing. Having stolen Stark’s revamped and more powerful heart power supply, Iron Monger appears virtually unstoppable. The battle between him and the MK3 armour is good, without being great. This is the point where the CGI lets the film down a little bit; like Transformers, high speed technological battles appear a little muddy at times, although thankfully the red and gold armour helps deflect some of that. Of course, Iron man wins the fight, but there’s a nebulous end to Stane, perhaps opening him up for a later sequel (I can see them tinkering with the Living Laser’s origin to bring Stane back).

Overall, there were only a couple of moments in the whole movie where I wanted things to move along. For the most part, it’s very fast paced and hugely enjoyable. When the female arthouse film buff I work with enjoyed it as much as she did, I think we can fairly safely say that Marvel has a massive hit on its hands here. I can’t wait for some sequels to be announced.

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