IRON MAN - Michael Edwards Review!

It beats the hell out of all the SPIDER-MAN films, makes SUPERMAN look like a bland little goody goody, and has the FANTASTIC FOUR feeling all embarassed about how boring and stupid they look!

Jon Favreau Written by: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway Based on the classic Marvel characters created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Bill Smitrovich, Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee Distributed by Paramount Pictures Film is released worldwide this week (April 30 - May 2nd 2008)... check your local cinema for exact date & time of first showings. Review by Michael Edwards

rating: 4

I've long been thinking that Iron Man is an interesting comic book adaptation. Not quite up there with the fan bases of the illustrated megastars like those eclectic X-Men, kooky Fantastic Four or magnificent lone crusaders known as Superman, Spiderman and Batman but nonetheless an interestingly layered chap with conflicting personality traits and a few cool gadgets plus a wadge of cash to play with. In terms of the real names tied to the project we have Jon Favreau directing his first action film along with a host of big name celebs who are also, for the most part, action amateurs. Could it be a combination that leads to the kind of overly dialogue-driven origin film, but with a better selected cast to bear the burden? Well I say no! It's somehow formed an amazingly satisfying Hollywood soup that left me hungering for more. The backstory has been updated from the original by relocating the kidnap of weapons magnate and all-round business/technology genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) to Afghanistan rather than Vietnam, and there are a few obvious tweaks to fit the Hollywood format but otherwise the opening tale remains pretty faithful. After his kidnap, Stark manages to build a massive metal suit that not only provides him armour but has an impressive arsenal too, armed with this he escapes his captors and destroys their weapons cache which, much to Stark's concern, comes from his much beloved all-American arms company. On his return he renounces his lifestyle of boozing and womanising decides he doesn't want to be involved in the tawdry business anymore, and instead develops his suit and goes off to right his company's wrongs. But little does he know his father-figure and long term mentor is about to become a crazed villain bent on stealing his ideas and wreaking destruction who he must fight in order to prevent his new technology causing even more pain and devastation. And within all that there's even a few obligatory cameos and inserted retro memorabilia for the hardcore fans out there. The main thing you should've all realised by now is what a masterstroke the casting was. Robert Downey Jr as a wise guy playboy who is prone to drinking and womanising but gives it all up to live a decent life, Jeff Bridges as a deceptively warm-hearted, cuddly father figure who turns out to be a power hungry psycho. How can no-one have noticed how perfect this is before! Thank god somebody finally had the guts to move away from the pitiful selection of typecast action heroes and resist the urge of wheeling out half dead relics from the 80's to make their cash in the glitzy world of Hollywood. It really is refreshing. In terms of the action sequences, and let's face it that's what's make-or-break for a comic book franchise, (need I hold up the first yawn fest that was the first Fantastic Four movie as evidence?), those of you who think Transformers was the best movie ever may suggest that there could have been more but I personally think the balance was just right. The rapid pace and surplus of explosions and combat in the opening 15 minutes whets the appetite, and we are kept ticking over by the occasional skirmish or comedic explosion during the fine-tuning of Iron Man's suit as the unfolding of the backstory of the eponymous hero unfolds, and there are a few large scale fights in which the special effects and CGI more than holds its own against the big boys. Iron Man fights terrorists, fighter jets and bigger mechanical suits with equal gusto, allowing us to sit back and enjoy the visual orgy of crunching metal, screaming missiles and blistering explosions with glee. My biggest concern is that people have become too bogged down in looking at these first movies about a comic book character as 'origin movies' designed to set-up a franchise, but I think Iron Man holds up as a film in it's own right and still managed to leave you hoping that there will be more. It beats the hell out of all the Spider-Man films, makes Superman look like a bland little goody goody, and has the Fantastic Four feeling all embarrassed about how boring and stupid they look. In the last 10 years or so I'd say only the X-Men have had more to offer as a comic book adaptation. Buy hey, second best isn't bad!

Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.