Oh wow, it's been a while, huh? I hope you enjoyed three-quarters of the trailer for Iron Man 2. I really need to fix this template if I'm going to do things like this, huh?
The first movie had a brief run here in Japan last year and I finally caught it on Star Channel Sunday night. Now I like Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. a lot but I had zero expectations going into this movie. Sure, the first image I saw a couple of years ago featured a fairly faithful version of Iron Man's earliest armor, which garnered a certain amount of good will from yours truly.
But I'm just not that big an Iron Man fan, even less so now that he has crazy cyber-nano virus whatever garbage as part of his powers. I mildly liked him when he was just a rich alcoholic war profiteer with a suit. The movie's Tony Stark?
Played to the hilt by Downey, Jr., he makes being an irresponsible cad with unlimited resources, fame and power look every bit as fun as I imagine it would be. Favreau's direction is surprisingly crisp and assured in the action sequences. After all, I knew he'd have no trouble eliciting good performances from the cast-- Gwyneth Paltrow is quite charming, Terence Howard provides conscience and kudos for Favreau for getting some evil-eyed intensity from Jeff Bridges. I still picture Bridges as the Dude and it's hard to get past that; now I'm looking forward to his turn as Rooster Cogburn in the Coen Brothers' adaptation of Charles Portis's novel True Grit.
But this is really Robert Downey, Jr.'s movie and he-- more than anyone-- really makes it hum.
Where do I place Iron Man on my list of Best Comic Book Adaptations? It's not quite as powerful as The Dark Knight, my reigning champ. But it's roughly as enjoyable as Spider-Man 2, my strong #2. By the way, #3 is Superman: The Movie. And to be totally honest here-- I usually hate comic book adaptations. Well, the mainstream superhero ones anyway. I enjoyed Ghost World and A History of Violence and both of those seemed well divorced from their source material. Although in Ghost World's case, it would've been better had they been a bit more true to the original story's melancholic, alienated tone rather than turn it into a joke-fest where a lot of the lines seemed forced. It takes a lot to impress me with a comic book movie and, as a film, it has to stand up against non-genre films. Few do.
Which is why I believe both Fantastic Four movies to be rotten lumps of celluloid shit, for example. So if I tell you I enjoyed Iron Man, that's saying quite a lot.