Monday, March 09, 2009

Iron Man

2008, US, directed by Jon Favreau

I thought Iron Man the strongest entry in Hollywood's comic book summer of 2008. It's more tightly focused and less self-serious than The Dark Knight, and much less repetitive than The Incredible Hulk, which was just three increasingly loud rounds in the ring. And in contrast to the other films' conflicted leads, Iron Man allows its protagonist to have fun both in and out of character, even after he's dedicated himself to all things good.

While it's probably unwise to talk too much about realism in a film which involves a man zipping across in the sky in a suit of his own design, there is at least some concern to anchor the film in a recognizable version of the current world, whether it's the dust of Afghanistan or the glitz of California, which gives a dash of heft to the film's implication that American wars are driven these days as much by business needs as by military necessity (though I'm sure Hollywood won't turn down the opportunity to sell its products in Iraq).

The film is driven forward by Robert Downey Jr Mark II, making hay while the sun shines on his revived career as a leading man, and channeling his own playboy persona in the early going. In the end, the film can't help but revert to type, with ever-increasing effects leading to a final showdown, but it's smarter and sleeker than most of its peers and that, in the end, is about all you can hope for when you're in summer blockbuster territory.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States