Tony Stark is a billionaire weapons manufacturer. The charismatic womanising kind of weapons manufacturer you only get in the movies. He’s on a trip to Afghanistan when terrorist-type people kidnap him. They want him to build them a big rocket. But instead, he builds an Iron suit. As you do. And explosions, double-crosses and general blockbuster fun follow.
Robert Downey Junior’s excellent as Stark. He’s cocky, brash, and clever, but never enough that you’d want to give him a slap. Instead you’d want to be his bestest buddy, and that friendliness is what carries a lot of this film.
Downey Jr may seem like an odd choice for a Hollywood blockbuster, but that’s part of his, and the film’s appeal. It’s directed by Jon Favreau, a man most famous for playing Monica’s boyfriend Pete Becker in Friends. His previous directing credits are Elf, with Will Ferrell, and Zathura, the sequel to Jumanji. But he can fairly direct.
He keeps the action ticking along nicely, and doesn’t try and make a film for comic book nerds. He’s helped out by the lack of mythology involved. Unlike Spiderman, where it’s the ordinary boy becomes superhero by accident, Iron Man is a super-rich and super-cool man to start with, and he only becomes a super-hero because he built an iron suit with rockets on it.
There are some genuine laughs in Iron Man as well, which add to the fun. Stark’s run-ins with temperamental robots are properly funny, and the jokes keep you going on the way to the next big punch-up or dramatic reveal.
The CGI is brilliant, when Starks’s hopping in and out of the Iron Suit there are no obvious gaps, and it all looks surprisingly real. The effects are a step-up from Transformers, last years big robotic based hero movie, and Stark’s insanely high-tech office all looks eerily plausible.
But just because it all looks realistic doesn’t mean the film itself has to be realistic. There’s a fair whack of action, which falls into 2 distinct categories. Type one is the crazed gunfight in which a lot of stuff gets blown up. And Type two is the Iron Man vs Whoever aerial chase. The action itself is in the great comic book style in that quite a lot of people get shot at, but you don’t really see many of them get killed. It’s knockabout fun rather than gritty urban combat. But then there’s a man flying about wearing metallic pyjamas, what were you expecting?
Not to say that Iron Man is without its flaws. Jeff Bridges as the obviously evil man who wants control of Stark’s company seems to think that being evil involves LOTS OF SHOUTING. The rock-opera score does grate after a while, and there are times when you would rather just be told something than have to wait for the inevitable sequel to find out. But these are minor problems. Iron Man is a great blockbuster. It’s fun, entertaining, and in Robert Downey Jr, has a lead character that sets it apart from the superhero pack.