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Iron Man
Stars: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub, Sayed Badreya, Clark Gregg and Faran Tahir
Director: Jon Favreau
Scriptwriters: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (based on the Marvel Comic)
Composer: Ramin Djawadi
Running Length: one hour and 45 minutes
Rating: PG 13

I am not a comic book follower so when I saw the initial preview for Iron Man I didn't even know he was a comic book super hero. I thought he was going to be some space age mutant of a nuclear holocaust. My only prior knowledge of anyone named Iron Man came from my cousinís Black Sabbath albums in the '70ís. If I had known he was this modern age guy with a cool house in Malibu and tons of high tech gadgetry I would have paid more attention. Now after seeing the new film it is easy to say that Iron Man may be the best comic-to-big screen creation in all areas of superhero adventures. Maybe it has to do with the solid acting of Robert Downey Jr. or the directing magic of Jon Favreau, but for what ever reason, Iron Man rocks the theater like no super hero before him. 

For all of you like me who are in the dark about Iron Man, it is all about Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), a wealthy industrialist who is part genius and 100% playboy. Single, good looking, wiz kid his whole life who inherited his fatherís weapons building corporation along with the fame and fortune. He has the world at his fingers until a life threatening incident forces him to face his motives and the reality he has created. When he decides to use his new invention, an indestructible, super human suit, for good the power hungry money grubbers of course try to step in and stop him. Which is fine because without power hungry money grubbers there would be no need for super heroes. So it balances out. Unlike that whiney web slinger, Iron Man embraces his abilities instead of crying over this curse life has dealt him. Stark is a rockstar and brings a whole new personification it the typical alter ego.

The casting of this film is superb. Downey has the charm, sexiness and underlying humor to bring a character like this to life. Both in and out of the suit. He is confident on screen and in his character. I am not sure how comic fans perceive Stark to be but this has to be a dead on fit. Add Gwyneth Paltrow as his devoted assistant, Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges as a power driven industrialist and you have strong movie chemistry. Downey and Paltrow walk that fine line between work ethic and physical attraction perfectly. I was also excited to see Jon Favreauís name attached to the directorís chair. Jon could be one of the most under rated directors of our time. He has this way of making characters endearing and memorable. His films have a rhythm to them with the right balance of wit, action and movement. It is as if he cares about the plot and the depth of each person, not just about blowing stuff up. 

Iron Man is rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content. Other than a quick romantic scene that is cleaner than most perfume commercials this film is easily safe for most family members 10 and up. Iron Man is a fun, action filled film that is exactly what you would expect a comic book character to be. It is huge and loud and colorful and drives home the point of good over evil and doing the right thing at all cost. There are lots of family geared films this spring and Iron Man may just crush the competition. Speed Racer, Indiana Jones and Prince Caspian will have their hands full if they try to top this mammoth man of steel, or whatever it is he is made of. I give Iron Man a solid 4 out of 5 blinking chest piece things. Buckle up for one exciting ride!

Matt Mungle (4/30/08)

Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website

Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

Marvel Comics pulls another rabbit out of its hat and it is Iron Man. Personally, I'm still waiting for Plastic Man, but apparently computerization hasn't caught up with him yet. It has with the Iron guy and we see him flying, smashing, hitting and the usual things super heroes do when they fight bad men. The choice of actor to portray Tony Stack, alias Iron Man? Robert Downey, Jr., he of glib tongue and haunted look who really gives you the idea that he digs this character. Gwyneth Paltrow is Stark's right hand person, Pepper Potts (now, there is a name for you) an unrecognizable Jeff Bridges ("Arlington Road") is Stark's business partner, Obadiah Stane and Terrence Howard ("Hustle & Flow") is a military man who is also Tony's friend.
The basic story begins with a young Tony Stark traveling to Afghistan to demonstrate new weapons his munitions company has developed. Dad, you see, was a munitions expert, but Tony is really twice the expert. The bad guys appear (rebels, of course) and kidnap Tony, wanting him to build a mighty weapon for them. In the cave where he is to work, Tony finds a friend, a fellow scientist, Yinsen, played by Shaun Toub ("The Nativity Story.") Yinsen literally saves Tony's life, as shrapnel is embedded in Tony's body and headed for vital organs, so a magnet is implanted in Tony's chest to keep the metal in one place. Why nothing else is attracted to this is not explained. Instead of weapons, Tony builds a suit of armor that looks like something from a 1940's flying saucer film---but it works and he is free. The race is then on for Tony to build an almost invincible suit to protect him and allow him to fly, plus the rebels haven't forgotten him and still want their weapon. Oh, and let's not forget the U. S. military who can't figure out what is taking out their aircraft (an accident to be sure). All in a day's work and Pepper pads behind Tony on three-inch heels taking orders and covering up for him.
Iron Man goes deeper into the psyche of Tony Stark than you would think. Robert Downey, Jr., offers us a Tony Stark that lives so far on the edge a feather could push him over. "Batman" with Christian Bale is foreboding and ominous, while "Iron Man" has a bit of fun with it, and both men have no family and plenty of secrets. Oh, and a secret laboratory, too, which is played for humor here as robots (think R 2 D 2) are Tony's real friends and one, in particular, chases behind him with a fire extinguisher ready to put out the Iron Man flames. One quip has Tony reprimanding the robot by saying, "One more time and I'll donate you to the firefighters."
Gwyneth Paltrow does Pepper as a woman charmed by her boss, who usually doesn't know she is around. Paltrow and Downey play off each other well. As for villains, there are plenty here from the rebels (Sayed Badreya and Faran Tahir) to Obadiah, who does everything but twirl an imaginary moustache. Special effects are great from the flying sequences to Iron Man learning how to manage his equipment, each muscle twitch controls something. I couldn't help but be reminded of fight scenes in the "Robocop" series when Iron Man goes into action here. Director Jon Favreau must be a fan of Robo.
All in all, comic book fans will be satisfied with this film, though the action doesn't really begin until the film is almost half over. Be ready to deal with emotion before computers take over. As for a sequel, what do you think?  The summer is about to begin and we still have Speed Racer, The Dark Knight and The Hulk. One is original, one is a remake and one is a sequel. Sequels do good business.

Copyright 2008 Marie Asner
Submitted 5/4/08



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