02 May 2008

Mooney at the Movies: Iron Man

"Bob, you're an Oscar nominee. You don't have to take your clothes off for this part." (Paramount)

Iron Man (A)

Starring Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow
Written by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
Directed by Jon Favreau

There's really only one word that comes to mind after seeing Iron Man. That word of course is "wow."

And who'dve thunk it would have come from Jon Favreau? Don't get me wrong, he's a fine actor and writer, but until this point hadn't directed anything that would've revealed such extraordinary talent. This comic book adaptation, which belongs in the top tier alongside Spider-Man 2, Sin City, and A History of Violence, is the redefinition of what means to be a great summer blockbuster.

But Iron Man does more than just blow stuff up good. It's really a prime example of when a genre picture goes far beyond its requirements. For starters, there's that cast full of Oscar nominees. All of them are pitch-perfect in their roles, and Bridges really gets to chew the scenery, something he hasn't been able to do in some time. But the real marvel here is Downey Jr. He gives a great performance as the filthy rich lothario (geez, wonder why they picked him) who grows a conscience after escaping a kidnapping plot.

But ideals and ethics aren't highly-valued principles in the corporate world, and Tony's newly-found morals don't sit well with his partner (Bridges) or the rest of the company. However, instead of making Bridges just a greedy caricature, Iron Man explores the complexities of idealism versus capitalism.

It's been quite awhile since I've gone to a movie with only a single expectation, and been blown away when it meets expectations from other films. This is hands down the best and most revelatory comic book movie since Spider-Man 2. We'll see if The Dark Knight ends up stealing Iron Man's thunder but for now, get yourself to a movie theater. Pronto.

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