Friday, May 2, 2008

Movie Review: Iron Man

How good is Iron Man? It is a question every critic and movie reviewer must now confront and, likewise, must answer. If you walk the twisted paths and dim tunnels of the internet, you will find many answers. Most of them will say that the movie was very, very good. Then, you will note, they will add that it was not quite as good as, for example, Spiderman 2. Or Batman Begins. Or another of the superhero movies out there. Everyone has their favorite, and that, they will say, is slightly better than Iron Man.

These observations are indeed accurate. Iron Man is not the best superhero movie you have ever seen. But... do you remember the experience of seeing that other movie? Well, Iron Man will bring you the same sort of joy, the same satisfaction.

The acting, as you've no doubt heard, is excellent: the cast, as a whole, is nearly as entertaining as the cast of X-Men 2. What's more, Robert Downey Jr. (iD&Di: .42) gives the single best lead performance we've seen in a superhero movie since Christopher Reeve donned tights and cape. As an origin story, it adapted the comics nearly as well as Spider-man. It provided a psychological glimpse of Tony Stark a hair's breath from what we were shown in Batman Begins. And the writing: smart, witty, and funny, was almost as good as The Incredibles.

We can delve deeper into this pattern: for the film is a fractal. For example: the desert battle halfway through the movie was the second best military/superhero desert battle we've seen, just coming up short of Ang Lee's (iD&Di: .25) Hulk.

This movie is not destined to be your favorite superhero movie. It will, however, not disappoint you.

In today's world, film making has evolved into something of a race, where each picture futilely tries to show you something you've never seen before. We are tired, dear reader, and more often than not such attempts come up lacking: at this point there is little we haven't seen. Iron Man does not compete in this contest: instead, it provides something you HAVE felt before, long ago: a real sense of wonder and entertainment. Jon Favreau (iD&Di: .57) has crafted an exceptional film which accomplishes something few movies do: it exceeds our expectations and succeeds as a movie.

Oh, yes: you will believe a tin-can can fly.

The movie is not perfect, and we'd have liked the end fight to be, well, bigger. But make no mistake, though Iron Man may not be better than the best superhero movies ever made, it can stand among them and hold it's helmeted head high. This is a fantastic film, and you should rush to the theatres to see it.

How to rate Iron Man? As longtime readers know, here in The Middle Room we rate things differently. If five stars is X-Men 2, Spiderman 2, or Batman Begins - take your pick - Iron Man is a solid four star picture. What's more, while we can't claim it's quite as good as those other movies, we didn't enjoy it any less. What more can you ask of summer entertainment?

Before we leave, there is one final thing we need to add. When you watch Iron Man and the movie ends, you may feel an urge to leave the theater. Ignore it. If you have to use the bathroom, hold it. Stay in your seat while the credits roll: sit and wait until the last has gone by. Because, at the end of it all, you will be rewarded with the single best additional ending we have ever seen. Anywhere.

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