Thursday, May 15, 2008

Iron Man Soars

Finally got to see Iron Man this evening. I'm not going to gush and declare it the best comic book movie ever... but it's damned good.

I'm not as critical of comic book film adaptations as many comics fans, and I've liked several films that have been generally dumped upon, including Daredevil and Ghost Rider (in both cases, the DVD Director's Cuts), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Phantom, The Rocketeer, etc. Iron Man is much better than most of those, and ranks up with the first two Spider-Man and X-Men films for me. It may even be marginally better, but until I'm as familiar with it as I am with those, I'll say it's about the same.

John Favreau, like Sam Raimi, just gets it. He understands the nature of the super-hero story, and knows how to realize it on-screen. There's no sense that he feels he's above the material (and thus, sneering at it), nor embarrassed by it (thus playing it as "camp."). Robert Downey Jr. owns the role of Tony Stark, and makes the character far more interesting than he ever was in the old comics. Gwyneth Paltrow is surprisingly warm and human as Stark's aide and confidante, Pepper Potts... and she's prettier now than she ever was. Maturity looks good on her. Jeff Bridges is nearly unrecognizable as the duplicitous Obidiah Stane, and plays against type brilliantly.

Favreau made the wise choice to handle a considerable amount of the effects work "practically," with real suits of armor and other gizmos on-set, saving the CGI mostly for the big action stuff. Worked great, and it was refreshing to see a little restraint in a Summer FX blockbuster.

With Iron Man, Marvel has taken personal control of their characters exploitation on film, and the attention to detail, character and even continuity shown in this first production, makes a big difference. Can't wait for The Incredible Hulk, the second flick from Marvel Studios. Bring it on, guys!

If you haven't seen it yet, and you like comic book movies at all... see it in the theater. It's worth the hassle.

Speaking of hassles – didn't really have any this time. My back pain made the experience uncomfortable, but the audience was small and well-behaved, for a change. Saw some trailers of interest, too – I grinned like an idiot through the previews for both Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Dark Knight, while the trailer for Frank Miller's adaptation (or is that, "abomination?") of The Spirit, just plain made me want to cry. God, it was just so wrong....

5 comments:

Jackanaples said...

Agreed regarding everything you said about IRON MAN. The biggest surprise for me was Gwyneth Paltrow. I'm not much of a fan of hers, but I really liked her in this.

Frank Miller's take on THE SPIRIT or at least what it seems to be from the teaser breaks my heart. There's nothing that screamed, spoke, whispered or even semaphored the name Will Eisner to me from that. My city screams? What the hell is that about? Is Denny Colt to become Mike Hammer with a mask now? I hope not.

What's worse is this: You know who else was dreaming of making a movie of Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT for like, years?

Brad Bird. Yes. I could just cry sometimes.

laughingwolf said...

will scope it, asap....

Bill Spangler said...

Re: Brad Bird and the Spirit--Mirage in THE INCREDIBLES is definitely an Eisner woman and I understand that the scene of Mr. Incredible having dinner with Mirage was intended to be a tribute to Eisner.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm definitely glad to hear Iron man rocked. I will probably try the new Hulk as well since Iron man was done right.

I liked the Rocketeer quite a bit myself. That woman in that movie was quite the eye catching costar.

bish8 said...

Great blog. Couldn't agree more on Iron Man. I also liked the Rocketeer, very underrated.

At first I was please to see the Spirit hitting the big screen, but after your heads-up a while back as to the true nature of Miller's adaptation, I'll give it a miss and stay home with my collection.