Thursday, May 08, 2008



Absolutely great flick, one of the best superhero movies of all times. This is the kind of movie Superman Returns might have been, had Bryan Singer not been so obsessive/compulsive about remaking Superman: The Movie. Beginning with the inspired casting (some might say typecasting) of Robert Downey, Jr. as a rich, shallow, self-absorbed, substance-abusing womanizer, to Gwyneth Paltrow's wonderfully understated performance as Pepper Potts, to the smooth-without-being-overwhelming CGI, it's really hard to find fault with anything in the production. Iron Man's Cold War roots are skillfully updated, transferring his origin from Vietnam to Afghanistan and remaking his arch-nemesis the Mandarin (who was, let's face it, a pretty crude Fu Manchu stereotype in the comics) into a warlord with a Genghis Khan fetish. Obadiah Stane, a villain from the Denny O'Neil run in the 1980's, is played by Jeff Bridges, who resists the urge to chew scenery and delivers such an excellent performance, I really didn't even mind the cliched "villain who has it all together throughout the film only to lose it spectacularly at the last minute" ending. Director Jon Favreau (who also appears in a couple of scenes as Happy Hogan) takes his time with the pacing, making sure the audience gets to know Tony Stark long before he ever gets strapped into his metal union suit. The dialogue is snappy, the set-piece fight scenes are great, and Downey makes us believe that a man can become a reluctant hero after a personal epiphany. Highly recommended.

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