I just saw Iron Man at the theater. You’ll read some of my criticisms here, but all in all it was a fun and exhilarating cinematic ride. Oh yeah… minimal spoilers, so relax (in case you don’t read comic books)!
This was a pure gem for Robert Downey Jr. as he masterfully filled the shoes of our metallic hero. With all the problems Downey has had in the past it’s easy to approach his performance skeptically… until the movie starts. The ease and comfort with which he fell into the role of Tony Stark (Iron Man) is nearly dizzying, as was his command of the camera and fellow actors.
Stark is a complex character who’s unbridled and energetic approach to women and engineering (a winning combination tantamount to chocolate and peanut butter) would leave both the geekiest slacker-geniuses and the smoothest lady-killers equally schooled. Downey fit the part like a glove.
Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow also rise to the acting occasion to round out the cast of conflicted characters. Bridges was excellent and sold the corporate suited Obadiah Stane. Paltrow, looking better than ever, deftly portrayed a demure yet savvy “Pepper” Potts (Stark’s assistant) including near-perpetual nonchalance at Stark’s antics.
Being an engineer I always have a hard spot for bad science (especially physics) in movies. By “bad” I don’t mean things like light sabers or warp drive… I mean science that violates known and common laws of physics.
Now, it’s believable that some super-armor can absorb severe impacts by missiles and bullets… but if you’re inside the suit you still will feel the full forces from your sudden changes in velocity. In Iron Man there are times when Stark’s body undergoes accelerations and decelerations that would near-liquefy his brain, yet he easily survives.
At other times Stark lands (on his feet) onto both hard and soft surfaces from incredible speeds and without leaving much of an imprint… yet in one part of the movie just gently setting down his suit feet-first onto a concrete structure caused it to collapse – under his weight, I guess – and then collapse through an additional floor of the house down into the basement.
My biggest gripe, being a former soldier and perpetual patriot, is the goofy take on national defense and military weaponry that the story partially took. Stark is the mastermind behind his father’s business, the powerful weapons development and manufacturing company Stark Industries. After Stark’s ordeal at the beginning of the movie he starts to rethink the morality of creating weaponry after seeing his weapons used by the bad guys to hurt innocent people.
Hollywood frequently interjects leftism into its movies, and I’ve become numb to their depiction of the US military as a shoot-first outfit. Iron Man was a little better at not doing this. But the annoying thing is that the inevitable conclusion to Stark’s moral crisis would have to have been: making good weapons for ourselves leads to bad people using them for evil so I should stop making good weapons for ourselves. As if our enemies would no longer have any weapons? As if the mere existence of the weapons coerces people to do evil things?
Now, I work for Lockheed Martin (but don’t speak for them in any way construed or misconstrued) and our fighter jets (or any of our weapon systems) don’t find their way into terrorists hands regardless of what Hollywood says. America’s defense technology is kept under such tight export controls that it’s a wonder sometimes even our staunchest allies can get hold of it.
And speaking of… did anybody besides me notice that Stark Industries was a completely un-subtle spoof of Lockheed Martin Corporation, the United States’ biggest defense contractor? Not only does the Stark Industries logo (complete with bold-italic capitals and elongated angle-point) look strikingly like Lockheed Martin’s, but they even make the same F-22 Raptor fighter jets!? [see photo]
Despite my bellyaching I highly recommend this flick for any lover of action and acting. I thoroughly enjoyed it and anticipate a sequel, because what’s a comic book story without lots of sequels?