I’m not sure when, but there was definitely a point between the opening blaze of bullets and the closing press conference of Iron Man that my mind sort of drifted to a happy place that I normally reserve for especially intriguing New York Times articles, Wikipedia entries about Space, Star Wars Video Games and socially conscious/culturally philosophical comic-booking. In this happy place, my awareness of reality melts away and become one with my chosen medium and embrace it wholly as a part of my being. It makes me feel warm, accepted and beautifully coddled in the precious womb of geekery. Needless to say, I liked Iron Man quite a bit.
I’m not going to say much that other people haven’t already said, especially regarding the flawless performances of the main cast (special recognition goes to Robert Downey Jr. for playing Tony Stark better than I could have imagined, and to Jeff Bridges for making Obadiah Stane chilling and relevant, and for being the only person to ever look like a badass on a Segway) Jon Favreau knows how to direct, and direct well. This film easily slips from rock n’ roll action to non-exploitative social commentary in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen before. It was like the Spielberg duality of thrilling of action films and historical drama sort of rolled into one, it was just fun, it was smart.
Tony Starks evolution from a male Paris Hilton to a Robotic Barack Obama is done extremely well and never once did I feel like Favreau was pandering to me or telling me “just wait til we explode stuff!”. The relationship that Stark develops while captive is heartening and develops real weight, as if it was just what he needed to divine is real purpose.
I’m also a big fan of how quickly paced the story was. The plot unfurled efficiently and never felt like it was dragging along. When the movie was over, I had hardly realized that I’d been sitting there for 2 hours, I though the film had just begun. It was fresh and never boring, each scene held its own but still made sense in the larger context of the film. All in all, the main chunk of the film takes place over a couple days, and the plot hits the right notes and it unfolds into a climactic battle that could be one of the only chinks in the armor. The final battle felt rushed and went by too fast. Having now seen it twice though, I now realize that the oft-compared to Transformers fight scene is actually just what the doctor ordered and fit well with-in the established universe, pacing and context of the film. It wasn’t too flashy, but meaty enough to make sense in the end. I think most people didn’t like it in the same way most people on a diet don’t feel full after just having a salad. We were expecting a bloated, gluttonous cheeseburger like all the superhero/action/jerk-off movies of the past, but instead, we got a well-balanced, nutritious and well portioned meal of awesome.