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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Iron Man

I know that this is opening weekend for Prince Caspian, and so I probably should have gone to see it. But I’ve been hankering to go see Iron Man, and since I was off work yesterday, that’s what I did.

Comic book movies have been the rage the past few years, and reasonably so. I’m less likely to go see a movie featuring some new action story that I have no familiarity with. Movie production companies are somewhat unpredictable in the quality they put out, and unless I have some assurance that I won’t be wasting my money on some film, I’m unwilling to pay. Sadly, movie reviewers are no help. Either they are blinded by their own political agendas which align with the majority of the populace within the intellectually isolated province known as Hollywood, or they don’t know morality from a hole in the ground, thus making it difficult to know whether or not to trust them. Christian reviewers are no help either, as they are usually too busy counting profanities to know whether or not they are watching a well-crafted storyline in action.

But comic book movies have proven a relatively safe bet as of late. There have been exceptions, of course. The first of the Fantastic Four movies was abhorrent, and as those who saw the second one warned me of its equally poor quality, I didn’t bother to see it. The X-Men movies were terrific so long as Bryan Singer was at the helm. But when he jumped ship to go to the new Superman film (not that great itself), he left the third X-Men film to fall apart in the hands of others. Much criticism was also thrown at the Incredible Hulk movie from about four years ago, and I’ll admit I disliked it at first. Repeated watchings have given me a sense of appreciation for it. Apparently I’m the only one though, as the whole cast from the last film was chucked and has been replaced for the sequel, due out this summer.

Despite some missteps, the movies based off of comics have been good. They aren’t always as morally sound as I being a Christian would like them to be, but they do pretty good over all, and I overlook their wickedness in the same way I overlook the wickedness of the worldly-minded people I deal with everyday.

Iron Man was one of the better comic book movies. (Warning: spoilers ahead.) I think I only had a couple of Iron Man comic books when I was a kid, and so I wasn’t really familiar with the basic storyline. That ignorance didn’t prevent me from enjoying the film, though.

Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark, who became Iron Man in the film. I don’t keep up with the gossip in Hollywood, but I knew enough to know that Downey has had his share of substance abuse problems. It has interfered with jobs he’s worked on, resulting in his being removed from the cast of Ally McBeal a few years back after a short stint on the show. I had heard nothing about him since then, and so I was both surprised and glad when I first saw trailers for the movie and saw he was playing the lead. I wouldn’t have pinned him for a superhero role, but he pulled it off and, I thought, was perfect for the part.

But the first commercials I saw for the film only featured him. As it turns out, the film features Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who played Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts. Downey’s humor was a highlight of the film, and his chemistry with Paltrow was fantastic.

The script was great, the acting was great, the cinematography was great, and the music was great. Yes, it was all great. I especially thought the inclusion of a portion of Black Sabbath’s song “Iron Man” during the closing credits was a nice touch. What would an Iron Man movie be without it?

There were the expected political agendas. The film begins in the Middle East (Pakistan, I believe… I don’t remember for sure), and a fair portion of it is set there. Tony Stark goes from being a weapons manufacturer, to being captured by radical Muslims (though you can rest assured that neither the word “radical” nor the word “Muslim” was used in the movie), to deciding that, since his weapons are falling into the wrong hands, his company will no longer produce weapons. The typical simplistic Hollywood leftist pacifist position is at play here, and while I side neither with the left nor the neoconservative right, it would be nice if Hollywood could make a movie without trying to preach at me. Make a violent action film, and preach against war in the movie. What’s wrong with this picture? (Pardon the pun.)

But Stark’s personal transformation carries Christic overtones to it too, as do many superhero myths. He goes through a sort of death and resurrection, as he descends into a cave (into the earth), only to arise as a new man. This also pairs with the historic American Evangelical narrative of the New Birth. Stark goes from being a rich playboy, to being born again as a man repentant of his former life and interested in the world around him for the first time. The only down side to this is that while he finds the woman who should be his true bride (Pepper Potts), the relationship remains frustrated to the end of the film. Oh well. There’s always the sequel.

And there will be a sequel, as those patient enough to wait until the end of the credits found out. Samuel L. Jackson makes an unexpected appearance there, suggesting the possibility that the next film will in fact be an Avengers film. I can’t help but wonder if this is Marvel’s attempt at making up for it’s screw-up on the X-Men franchise. Two X-Men that I know of (Wolverine and Beast) were also Avengers in the comic books, and so this might present a chance for a cross-over from those movies. Spiderman was also an Avenger, as was the Incredible Hulk, so maybe there will be some connections there as well. Marvel will have to do it up right for me to like an Avengers film as well as I liked the first two X-Men films, but here’s hoping they will pull it off.

For now, though, if you haven’t seen Iron Man, you should. It’s worth the price.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jason Payton said...

Hi Kerry,

Melissa (my wife) and I took the boys to see Iron Man at the Grande on July 5th and we were stunned at how well made it was. I love comic book movies anyway, almost indiscriminately, but this one, I thought, was up to the standards of any movie blockbuster or not. I'd pay to see it again in a heart beat!

11:37 PM  

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