Iron Man

Lisa and I went to see this yesterday. We both really enjoyed it, although owing to her crush on Robert Downey, Jr., I think Lisa enjoyed it a bit more. Robocop is still my favorite film in this particular subgenre, but Iron Man comes in a very close second.

Things I loved:

Robert Downey, Jr. — He really does make the picture, even if you’re more sexually attracted to the power armor. Watching him play the bad boy with the heart of gold, I totally get why women and directors keep giving him extra chances.

Gwyneth Paltrow — Her performance is arguably even more impressive than Downey’s, because she had a lot less character to work with. Like ironymaiden, I appreciated that the filmmakers avoided the usual damsel-in-distress cliches. And yeah, I liked the dress.

Jeff Bridges — Another great acting job. As a bald, bearded man named “Stane,” it was obvious he’d turn out to be a bad guy, but I didn’t mind not being surprised.

Robert Downey’s mechanical lab assistants — The one with the fire extinguisher is the Best Robo-Pet Ever.

Things I wasn’t as crazy about:

Shaun Toub’s noble native sacrificing himself to save Our Hero — My single biggest disappointment with the story. He was an interesting character, and I wanted to see him make it back to Malibu and become the world’s first Afghani superhero sidekick. I know his death was meant to help R.D., Jr. see the error of his ways, but I think he’d have been even more effective as a constant, living reminder of all the innocents killed by Stark’s weaponry.

Terrence Howard as the black sidekick with absolutely nothing to do — …instead of which, we get this guy, staring wistfully at the spare Iron Man suit and saying “Next time… ” Come on, folks, you had a $200 million budget and four screenwriters; either come up with something for this time, or drop the character entirely and give me more of Gwyneth in the dress. It doesn’t count as affirmative action if he’s boring.

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6 Responses to Iron Man

  1. camies says:

    “Terrence Howard as the black sidekick with absolutely nothing to do”

    So not even an Amusing Black Man?

    I hafta admit that the trailer for that movie did not make me want to see it at all – played to the technoweenies and nothing else, I felt.

    • Matt Ruff says:

      So not even an Amusing Black Man?

      No, he reminded more of Wallace on Veronica Mars: definitely not a stereotype, but still a missed opportunity.

      I hafta admit that the trailer for that movie did not make me want to see it at all

      I really would recommend it, even to non-technoweenies.

  2. zarathud says:

    rozk discovered an interesting film detail regarding Obadiah Stane:

    There is always a suspicion in our minds that Obadiah is not the father-figure he seems, that he is jealous and murderous. At one point, well before the reveal, he is sitting at the concert grand playing classical music – as villains so often do. But, says Roz to herself, that is definitely C18 and it is not Mozart or early Beethoven, and I don’t think it’s Haydn – because I don’t actually know Haydn’s piano music all that well. I won’t say a wild surmise came to my mind, but it hovered somewhere inchoate and I made a point of looking at the music credits.

    And frak me! it was Salieri. There is a long and almost certainly spurious tradition that the good but second-rank composer Salieri poisoned Mozart out of jealousy – one of the first celebrity urban legends we know about, popularized by e.g. Pushkin almost a century and a half before Amadeus by Peter Schaeffer. Obadiah thinks of Tony as a better artist – at one point he refers to the suit as ‘your Ninth Symphony’ in the sense of best and last. (True of Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner and (sort of) Mahler – though Beethoven and Mahler both started tenths and Bruckner wrote several unnumbered ones and Schubert kept starting things and not finishing them which messes up his numbering – but we know what Obadiah means when he says that.

  3. Ted Chiang says:

    Come on, folks, you had a $200 million budget and four screenwriters; either come up with something for this time, or drop the character entirely

    I have to disagree. I think the problem with most superhero movies is that they try to cram too much into two hours. Superhero comics are at their best with long-arc serial storytelling, but the average movie can tell maybe a novelette’s worth of story. I can understand if Terrence Howard found the role unsatisfying as an actor, but I think it was better for the movie that Rhodes was a minor character. And, if they manage to give Rhodes more to do in a subsequent movie, it’s better that we’ve been introduced to the character already.

    • Matt Ruff says:

      Hey Ted. I’m completely unfamiliar with the source comic, so I didn’t realize Rhodes was canon (Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Avengers I’ve at least heard of, and I guessed they wouldn’t name a woman “Pepper Potts” unless that was also already in the book somewhere). I can certainly see why they felt like they had to include him if that’s so, but I think what I’d have done in that case would be to get rid of Toub’s character and have Rhodes be the second captive in the cave — let him save Stark’s life and help him build the Mark I suit. That would really establish their friendship from the start and give Rhodes a lot more to do. Later on, when Stark’s in the Mark II suit being chased by jets, I think their phone conversation would be a lot funnier. And it’d make Rhodes’ lust for a suit of his own seem less like a throwaway line.

      All of which is to say, I should probably get back to writing my own damn book.

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