Sunday, January 26, 2014

Iron Man (2008) [PG-13] ****+

Transformers meets The Rocketeer meets Charlie Wilson's War in this action thriller starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a brilliant but eccentric weapons manufacturer who is kidnapped by Taliban/al-Qaida in Afghanistan after having demonstrated his newest tactical missile, the Jericho, to military brass. Imprisoned in a cave Stark is forced to build a replica of the Jericho, but instead he fashions a super strong, biomechanical armored suit with flamethrowers and a flying capability.

After escaping and being rescued, Stark decides to turn his energies away from manufacturing weapons, having seen how they end up in the wrong hands; he decides, instead, to perfect his flying biomechanical suit. Jeff Bridges plays Obadiah Stane, once Stark's father's right hand man, and now laboring in Stark's shadow. He's secretly an arms merchant to the Taliban/al-Qaida, and the one who engineered Stark's capture. Stane directs the Stark laboratories to create another armored suit, and the film's climax has Stark and Stane fighting it out as Iron Man and Iron Monger, just like Optimus Prime and Megatron in Transformers. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Pepper Potts, Stark's secretary, reprising her Polly Perkins role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Terrence Howard plays Stark's military liaison.

A graphic novel come to life, Iron Man is highly derivative, using ideas from TRON (another Jeff Bridges film) and I, Robot as well as the other movies mentioned. Downey Jr. is terrific as Tony Stark, the technology is fascinating and the computer graphics impressive, especially Stark's suit and its heads-up-display, but the plot holes are overwhelming; major weapons systems manufacturers typically don't demonstrate state-of-the-art weapons in Afghanistan, and for Stane to risk his career running guns to an amateur gang of bad guys in Afghanistan makes no sense. Nevertheless, if you want an adrenalin rush, this is the film. 

Labels: action, adventure, flying, sci-fi, thriller    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 79/100   
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=77, viewers=84)    

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