First of all, I was delighted that Iron Man was a superhero movie and not another Lou Gehrig biography. I mean, Pride of the Yankees. was only 1942. Who needs a glut of these films? Oh wait, Gehrig was the Iron Horse. Never mind.
I must say I enjoyed Iron Man but for all the wrong reasons. I loved all the scenes where there was no action, no special effects, no dazzling stunts. For me the best part of this movie was -- are you ready? -- the acting. Robert Downey Jr. was terrific. Finally! A superhero who wasn't brooding, deeply conflicted, or had a Christ complex. (Downey even makes cheeky reference to that.) Insouciance is not a quality given most protectors of justice. Nor is depth and nuance.
But Downey was all that and a bag of (computer) chips. If he can just stay out of jail he still could become an A-list box office star. He's great in everything he does, from Chaplin to Ally McBeal.
Another pleasant surprise was Jeff Bridges. What a good bad guy. It took me out of the film just a tad cause he looked like my friend Larry but that shouldn't bother you.
And both were helped by a smart fun script by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway along with pitch perfect directing by Jon Favereau (who avoided all the Rocketeer pitfalls).
Gwyneth Paltrow was also in the movie basically to remind us that her kid is now in day care and she's accepting movie roles again. Welcome back, Gwynee. We missed you.
Once Downey put on the suit it became just your by-the-numbers superhero movie. Lots of flying, saving innocent pedestrians, kicking serious ass, and the inevitable battle of the titans with the bigger, badder supervillain in Manhattan at night, propelling each other into buses, billboards, and buildings. The world is at stake. The hero has to outsmart the baddie and "the girl" (this time Gwyneth) has to push some button at just the right time. Explosions galore and a lot of crunching.
Ah, but those scenes that didn't require computer animation or spinning helicopter blades, those were delightful. Iron Manis a fun rollercoaster ride, much more fun than Pride of the Yankees.
You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com