OK, I saw this last night, but I'm finally getting to write a review:
Warning! Some minor spoilers throughout the review:
I have to say that one of the main reasons I found myself excited for this movie was the casting of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark. I love RDJ....If you haven't seen him in movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
and A Scanner Darkly...
Do yourself a favor and go rent, no, buy
these movies right away. RDJ's pure charisma practically lits up the screen. And those are relatively recent movies. The man has had an interesting career.
Having said that, I expected nothing less than an excellent performance from him in this movie. And, yes, I got just that. RDJ's Tony Stark is throughly charismatic, sarcastic, cocky, smart as hell, and a lot of fun to hang around with. RDJ handles the more playboy-ish side of Stark well, who is basically depicted as some kind of military friendly celebrity whose every antic is eaten up by the press. Tony Stark is on top of the world, and he is a bit of a full of himself irresponsible jerk you can't help but feel attracted to, in a way. A man whose company, Stark Industries, manufactures weapons and is basically riding on a wave of success thanks to the middle east conflict. A huge company for a huge man. The man who has it all. That is, of course, until he is kidnapped by the Ten Rings terrorist group after his Jericho missile demonstration to the military in Afghanistan. This leads to Stark getting his famous heart injury. The Ten Rings plan is simple: To have Stark assemble a Jericho missile for them, and then, most likely to have him killed. During his imprisonment, Stark befriends Dr. Yinsen, a fellow prisoner who helps him build his Mark I armor that will lead to his escape, and eventually starts to understand there is more to his life, and what he can do with the power (and responsibility, if you will, than a man like Tony Stark has to the world) than what he had ever considered in the past.
Stark escapes his captors, and returns to America with a big change of heart (no pun intended?) and intentions to completely re-organize Stark Industries to STOP making weapons, decides to explore the technology that helped him to escape, and re-evaluates his life and his role in a world where everything he knew and everything he has, had been acquired by selling Death to the same organizations he should be protecting people from.
Enter Iron Man: Tony Stark's newfound sense of noble duty and purpose come to life. With the help of his loyal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) his friend and Pentagon link Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and his own genius, Stark embarks on a quest for redemption that ultimately will end up making him go against everything he stood for, up to his own company, represented by the behind-the-scenes manipulator and once trusted associate Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).
The Good: Includes some spoilers....
Performance wise, the movie is perfect. All the main players deliver credible performances, wich is more than what can be said about most comic book movies. I already mentioned how RDJ shines as Stark, but my second favorite performance goes to Paltrow. She is very effective at playing Potts. She is charming, intelligent, has chemistry with RDJ, and never comes off as the damsel in distress. Actually, she has a big part in the final battle, and, one could say that Stane would not have been defeated had it not been for her help. Think Gordon helping Batman stop the monorail in BB and you'll get an idea of how that plays.
Both Howard and especially Bridges as very good in their roles. Howard has a nice moment with the Mark II that sets up Iron Man 2, definitely. He plays the role with ease, as he actually has less screen time than what I thought, but when he's in the movie, he's a good foil for Stark. Jeff Bridges makes a menacing enough Stane, who can be a warm media person or a cold, power hungry puppet master who will betray even the people closest to him. He has a great scene with Pepper in the 3rd act in Stark's office where you can feel the tension between the 2. (At this point, Pepper is trying to to get enough info to prove to the authorities that Stane is behind everything) He knows this, but will he do anything about it?
The pacing and tone. This being a Marvel movie, it's no secret it was going to have a more or less fast pace and a fairly lighthearted tone. It's not quite a kid's film though, but to say that the film is dark would be a horrible mistake. The movie is fun, incredibly entertaining, and leaves you wanting more from Stark and Pepper, at least.
Now on to the action! I don't know what the REAL budget for Iron Man was, but let me tell you, Jon Favreau got the most out of it. From the Mark I POW escape, to testing of the Mark II, to the Middle East showdown between the Ten Rings and Stark in the Mark III, up until the final climatic battle with Iron Monger....The action is just fantastic and very inmersive. The "Dog Fight" with the F-22's is breathtaking. Iron Man going toe to toe with Iron Monger at the end, Stark with his armor going on low capacity, being thrown into cars, into buses....I don't wanna spoil the whole thing. The battle is cool as hell, as is the CGI. I don't know what was practical and what was VFX, but it all works. The movie looks stunning.
Now on to the bad....Spoilers, be warned....
I didn't find much wrong with this film, but I do have a couple of minor gripes about it:
Stane. He was a good villain, but just that. Competent. Menacing in certain scenes (like the aforementioned scene with Paltrow) but the script never allows him to trascend the typical corporate bastard turned comic book villain role. It's a shame, really, because Bridges is a great actor and with better material he could have been a truly memorable villain. As it stands, he works, but the script could have made him so much more interesting. BTW, as expected, no suicide at the end. He dies through other means....
Also, another thing. How come Stane became so good at using the armor? The film suggests that Stark spent some valuable time getting used to the armor and how to control it, but Stane is a master at being Iron Monger in under 5 minutes?
The last thing: Rhodes. He was well played by Howard, but his character felt almost unnecessary. It was like he just had to fulfill the obligatory "friend" role. In the end, he was used mostly to advertise what's coming in the sequel.
Well, that's it. I didn't expect to write that much but I guess I just felt like typing
I definitely recommend this movie to everyone....It's the perfect summer movie, and should appeal to most people. I give this movie a 9 and declare it one of the best comic book movies I've ever seen, and a thriump for Marvel.