Ah, yes – the honorable Mr. Downey. The man never disappoints. He’s one of the best actors in the business, always seeming comfortable and in command of the screen, even through the wide variety of roles he has taken on. Well now he can add super-hero to the list. As Tony Stark/Iron Man, Downey is magnetic (sorry, I couldn’t resist). By all reports, he has cleaned up his act off-screen and looks quite fit.
Side note 1 – CC wasn’t interested in seeing this until I mentioned that Downey was looking buff and had a few shirtless scenes; now she’s considering taking it in. Let me put it this way – comfortable as I am with my own heterosexuality, even I know he’s hot!
Side note 2 – I want to put in a plug here for the little-seen 1995 film Restoration which features Downey in one of his finest performances as an English doctor on a remarkable journey, as well as another fave of mine, Sam Neill, as King Charles II. Add in Meg Ryan as an Irish peasant woman and a nearly unrecognizable Hugh Grant as a heavily made-up, foppish, prissy painter. An epic tale of adventure and redemption!
Back to Iron Man – Speaking of people who are unrecognizable, look for paunchy, bald, bearded Jeff Bridges as a corporate heavy. I always enjoy Jeff Bridges (and I’m not even sure why, but that’s fodder for another post!). Gwyneth Paltrow hits all the right notes as Pepper Potts, loyal assistant to Tony Stark.
I promise not to give away any important plot points, but I want to mention a few things that made impressions on me while watching the film. Early on, I noticed that Tony Stark responded to virtually everything anyone said to him with a quip. Heck, he even traded quips with his computer. After a few minutes, I began to wonder if he was going to keep that up through the whole movie, and he mostly did, with some notable exceptions. This isn’t a criticism; quite the contrary, it’s a tribute. If you’ve ever read much in the way of superhero comic books, you know that responding in quips is a time-honored convention of quite a few of them. Yep – you can be trying to save the world from the destructive forces of Galactus, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have time to trade quips with him. The point I want to make here is that, even with this flippant style of speaking and behaving, the artful screenwriting and Downey’s acting made him a completely sympathetic character. I wasn’t rooting for him simply because the gears of the plot told me I was supposed to; I liked him and cared about him. There have been some pretty high-profile, big-budget movies over the years that have failed to achieve that, so thank you for caring, all you Iron Man folks!
There was one cute detail I should point out, even though it kind of dates me. One of the early scenes takes place at a fancy awards banquet that includes a live band. And what music are they playing? It took me a second, but then I recognized it as a reworked arrangement of the theme song from the 1960s Iron Man cartoon show! That put a smile on my face.
If you go to see this movie, I must exhort you to stay through the entire closing credits sequence. I’m not going to give anything away, but there is a very brief scene after the credits that you’ll be glad you stayed for. Being a special effects extravaganza, the credits are quite long, though I usually stay for them anyway, but a friend had tipped me off – he knew someone who had attended a sneak preview of the film a few days ago. He reported that he was one of the few people in the audience who was still in the theater by the time the credits ended. So now you know!
This movie is a very fine addition to the catalog of super-hero movies, and it ought to make a big pile of money. One can only hope that they’re thinking in terms of a sequel, and if so, that director Jon Favreau, Mr. Downey, and Ms. Paltrow will all stay on board!