Friday, April 6, 2012

Iron Man - An Awesome Start

To help build up to Marvel Studios' upcoming movie The Avengers, we here at the blog will be re-watching each and every film made before it and reviewing them if they haven't been already or, if they have, they will be given a second opinion. We begin of course with the first Iron Man movie from the studio, which also happens to be their first ever independent production. Iron Man was released in 2008 to massive critical acclaim, acclaim which I myself agree with.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a playboy millionaire and prodigy that has inherited Stark Industries, a defense contractor, from his father. After showing off a new weapon called the Jericho missile to the military in Afghanistan, including his friend Colonel James Rhodes (Terrence Howard), he is captured by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings. After having his life saved by Dr. Yinsen (Shaun Toub) thanks to an electromagnet that will prevent deadly barbs from reaching his heart, he is forced to build a Jericho out of parts from the Stark Industries weapons that they have on hand. Instead, he builds a suit that will aid in his escape, using a miniature arc reactor, which replaces the car battery powering his electromagnet, as a power source. When he escapes, he sets forth on a goal to use his company to aid his country in a way that doesn't involve weapons manufacturing, perfecting his suit as a way to accomplish this.

Personally I haven't actually read any of the Iron Man comics, but I'm glad that it isn't required reading. The story is very well written, using a near-perfect blend of action, comedy and drama that not only keeps the movie fresh throughout, but manages to keep audience interest up as well while also telling a tale that stands out perfectly well from the comic book rack. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Tony Stark is the highlight of the cast, coming off as an easy-going man who manages to keep a sense of humor in his character even after feeling an epiphany that fulfills his fantastic character development. Terrence Howard is also a good match for Colonel Rhodes with great precision in serving as a personality to bounce off of Tony, much like Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in a role that shows her ability to play a love interest who isn't just a flat archetype. What gets special mention as well is Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, whose role in the movie is played out so well that certain plot twists, which I will not divulge, are actually rather unexpected the first time around. In a nutshell, I'm glad that the characters are very three-dimensional and have a presence that contributes in all the right ways to suit an equally three-dimensional story.

Spectacular performances also give way to spectacular action sequences which easily have the power to grant viewers an adrenaline rush of excitement and awe, aided in part by the amazing CG that is so seamlessly blended in with the events that every one of these sequences has a new level of wonder and depth that few others can match. I also loved how the technology was designed, especially Stark's iconic red and yellow suit, as well as the fact that they were placed in a context that helped the whole thing feel more realistic, though also somewhat in a way that feels like a comic book come to life (in a good way).

Music was also a great aspect of the movie as well. The use of music by bands like Black Sabbath and AC/DC coupled with a well-utilized original score did wonders with setting up the tone of each scene and following through in a way that it doesn't quit, even during the end credits. It's emotional in a way that doesn't feel forced and it is also mixed perfectly with all the other sounds and dialogue.

What really make the whole experience especially worth it is a very special scene after the credits. It plants the first seeds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a connected entity and even manages to be a great treat for those who wisely stuck around the first time.

For its first independent production, Marvel Studios managed to produce what is now one of my favorite films of all time thus far. It's great blend of story elements creates a movie that, when coupled with what is simply a visual feast, is highly memorable and enjoyable. I have no idea how many times I've seen this movie already, but each and every time I walk away satisfied and glad to have seen it. I highly recommend everyone to see it for an opportunity to see a comic book movie that is simply beyond the realm of "good".

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