Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura) directs yet another Marvel comic adaptation (yes, Stan Lee makes a cameo), Iron Man, that fit the super hero formula so well it made $105 million dollars in its opening weekend. Robert Downey Jr. headlines the all-star cast as inventor/tycoon Tony Stark, an unpredictable genius at the top of the business elite in the United States.
Set in California and Afghanistan, the story highlights the important origination event then develops Stark’s most important business venture yet. Inevitably, Stark learns some harsh lessons on the business end of his Stark Industries ventures. “Just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean you own it,” one character says. Downey’s acting talents, fast dialogue delivery, and believable physical abilities match this extraordinary character perfectly. Stark’s trials eventually show his true genius as he isolates himself to produce a special project to avoid other power-hungry mongers from leaching off his talents.
Of course, every great man has someone supporting them from behind the scenes. Gwenyth Paltrow plays Stark’s faithful assistant Virginia “Pepper“ Potts. Though she doesn’t always do what he says, the two have a strong trust — something that predictably, but admirably forges a lasting relationship. Jeff Bridges’ physical appearance fits his character Obadiah Stane, but he doesn’t really make a large impact in his role. Terrence Howard plays military man Jim Rhodes who also has a close relationship with his “mentor” Stark. He can quickly defuse Stark’s bright personality like no one else can. “You don’t respect yourself … you won’t respect me,” he says to Stark. Faran Tahir (Charlie Wilson’s War and the upcoming Star Trek) plays the antagonist Raza while Shaun Toub (The Kite Runner, Crash) plays Yinsen. Christine Everhart, a Vanity Fair reporter played by Leslie Bibb, and agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, try to dig deeper into Stark’s business. Filmmakers create plenty of realistic emotion without stressing or manipulating the audience.
Director Favreau molds some great action sequences (e.g. the jet chase), a flashback, and interactions with the supporting cast that produce realistic emotions without being too theatrical. Special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic (including Stan Winston) enhances the plot tremendously with their memorable special effects (check the “Jericho” demonstration) and Iron Man armor designs. Science elements and realistic business themes run through the story as well while filmmakers use the “show it then destroy it” set technique to make that big budget stretch. Composer Ramin Djawadi uses a lot of guitar in his music score while filmmakers keep the heavy metal songs limited to AC/DC at the beginning and Black Sabbath during the ending credits.
Watch the ending credits for a special sequence. Recommended and rated PG-13 for intense action violence and brief suggestive content.