“Iron Man” Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Terence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow. Directed by Jon Favreau. 126 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Here’s a viewer’s guide to “Iron Man,” the blockbuster movie: DO NOT pay attention to details but DO stop thinking about the film the moment it ends.
“Iron Man” is light, entertaining fare suitable for matinee viewing.
Below is the partial list of flaws. Remember, the devil is in the details. Details are important to me if I’m going to swallow the di-rector’s effort to make Iron Man a plausible do-gooder by setting him in the real world.
-- Why would the planet’s premier weapons maker and billionaire playboy Tony Stark — Iron Man-to-be — go to Afghanistan to personally demonstrate a surface-to-surface artillery missile, an Army weapon, to a bunch of guys in the Air Force. Stark’s 19-billion-square-foot concrete mansion and adjoining property consume much of the western seaboard, so they must border the White Sands Missile Range. Wouldn’t it have been easier to test fire the Jericho missile there?
-- If Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., is the world’s premiere weapons designer and all-around genius, why does he use flares to try to defeat a radar-guided air-to-air missile fired at him while he’s in Iron Man mode? Shouldn’t he have dispensed chaff?
-- Pepper Potts, Stark’s personal assistant, is played by breathtaking Gwyneth Paltrow. Why would it take womanizer Stark years to recognize her beauty and smarts and make a play for her. The romantic tension is the movie’s only awkward part.
-- Why is an active-duty airman, a lieutenant colonel played by Terence Howard, attached to Stark as he roams the globe? The half-colonel also is one of Stark’s spokesmen.
-- Why did Del automatically get a senior discount from the elementary-school looking youngster in the ticket booth though he’s far from being a senior. I paid $2.50 more than Del to see “Iron Man,” a fact still stuck in my craw.
No question, “Iron Man” is over-hyped. It lacks the zest of the last truly iconic blockbuster released, “Jaws.” But, as long as you don’t pay full price for the ticket, the Metal Homo sapiens will keep you pleasantly distracted for some two hours.
If it’s any consolation, Mladen, that senior citizen’s discount is stuck in my craw too. But $2.50 is half a gallon of gasoline and geezers like me need that gas to drive to all those cheap buffets around town.
And I wouldn’t say “Jaws” is the last iconic blockbuster. “E.T.,” “Aliens,” “Terminator 2” and “Titanic” all fit that category, to name a few.
But I agree “Iron Man” doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s a decent enough movie … NOT another “Cloverfield” or “Dawn of the Dead,” which is the best movie ever made.
“Iron Man” is about a weapons developer who travels to Afghanistan and sees firsthand the horrors his products have inflicted on the innocent. He’s captured by terrorists, who force him to build a diabolical weapon for their nefarious use.
Instead, he builds a crude Iron Man exo-suit and uses it to escape his captors. Once back in the States he fabricates a superior version of the suit and vows to put the terrorists out of business permanently.
It’s all silly fun as Iron Man dodges jet fighters and decimates evil mujahideen while defying the physical laws of the universe. The movie requires a Herculean suspension of belief – science is non-existent as Iron Man flies from California to Afghanistan on a single tank of gas, plummets into the ground at hundreds of miles per hour only to arise unhurt, and crashes through the roof of his mansion to crush a sports car … try doing that in a Kia and see how far you get on your senior citizen’s discount.
Forget Robert Downey Jr. The real star of “Iron Man” is Jeff Bridges, who perfectly embodies the suave, lizard-tongued CEO of Stark Industries out to make a buck at the expense of friend, family and nation.
I think “Iron Man” is a good rental movie, not one to see in theaters – unless you’re getting in for $2.50 less than Mladen.
Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a journalist and author.