[Review]It’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s actually good“Iron Man” was not my first movie choice this week. I had my heart set on “Horton Hears a Who!”, only to find I couldn’t catch an early enough showing of the non-dubbed Korean version in time to write this review.
So Iron Man it was.
Anyone who’s been taking public transportation in Seoul has likely been bombarded by ads for this heavily marketed superhero epic. I usually intentionally looked away, as I was positive this movie would be on the same level as the supremely awful 2003 “Hulk.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Iron Man goes heavy on the cheese, I will say that, but doesn’t every good superhero movie?
The digital effects are impressive, thanks to the work of the good people at such firms as Industrial Light and Magic, The Embassy VFX and The Orphanage. Unabashedly heavy on the CGI, especially in the robo-warfare scenes, the result is eye-catchingly flashy and fast-paced. And while a hard rock soundtrack of growly guitars is over-the-top macho (did someone say AC/DC?), it fits with the accompanying subject matter.
Robert Downey Jr. proves a good fit for lead character Tony Stark, a techno-genius playboy who has built his vast fortune on peddling weapons of mass destruction. “That’s how America does it. I see no reason to change things,” he says after a kablammo weapons demonstration for the United States military in Afghanistan. With that much bravado, Stark is practically a member of “Team America: World Police.”
True to the ever evolving Iron Man character, the four-man screenwriting team updates Stark to fit with 2008 American foreign policy, guns a-blazing in Afghanistan. (In the 1960s, Iron Man made the Vietnamese taste his pain, then the Gulf War states in the 1990s.)
Stark is one of those classic characters you hate to love, but no matter how hard you fight him, he wins you over. Unbeknownst to our hero, his weapons find their way into the hands of the baddies. Then surprise! — they attack him and his military convoy.
Faced with the reality of his company’s work while held captive by terrorists, Stark plans a delightfully over-the-top heroic escape, then atones for his sins by assuming a superhero identity.
Later, Stark’s work finds its way into the wrong hands yet again, resulting in one large, clanky metallic clash. This is one of many classic superhero plot devices incorporated in this film, but Iron Man throws a few curves as well.
There is plenty to complain about in Iron Man. There’s the objectification of women, the rampant product placement (Stark’s first request on home soil is a Burger King cheeseburger and even the minivan in a rescue scene happens to be a sleek Saab) and the pop culture overload (gang signs and MySpace referenced in the same line!).
But as with Stark, as much as I hated to love Iron Man, I couldn’t resist its irreverent humor and visual appeal.
Just one thing: One magazine cover in a montage bears the headline “Stark takes the reigns [sic].” Tsk, tsk. But I’ll give them a break; the crew of Iron Man was probably too blinded by the film’s flashy graphics to catch this error.
Action, Adventure / English
By Hannah Bae Contributing Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]