Like the wise one says, “necessity is the mother of invention” and Tony Stark’s mother birthed the crude chrysalis of Iron Man in a cave in Afghanistan. While demonstrating the Jericho Missile, spoiled, womanizing, arrogant weapons manufacturer and brilliant engineer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr. ) is kidnapped by the Ten Rings terrorist group led by Raza (Faran Tahir). He is seriously injured during the attack. They hold him captive with a kidnapped doctor, Yinsen (Shaun Toub), who saves him from further death by attaching a device to his chest. Yisen and Tony work together to escape alive. Instead of recreating the missile for the terrorists, Tony develops the beginnings of Iron Man, emotionally and mechanically.
Iron Man is studded with easily recognizable names camping it up for the story. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Tony Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts. She runs around in four inch heels, maternally tending to Tony’s needs. Her dialogue is fun but a little grating at times because she is a deep as a teaspoon. Terrence Howard plays Jim Rhodes, Tony’s friend in the Air Force. He puffs his chest in ways that would make a Marine commercial blush.
Iron Man isn’t a huge modernized Rock-em Sock-em Robots revision, nor is it a strict superhero movie. It deals with the very beginning of the Iron Man legacy, so it is more Tony’s personal development story. He begins as a self absorbed, uncaring, skirt chasing billionaire dilettante with no regard for the consequences of how his money is made. By the end he is a self absorbed, skirt chasing billionaire dilettante who cares about the people around him, where his money comes from and what people do with his weapons.
There is no shortage of scenes meant to make you laugh that add nearly nothing to the plot of Iron Man, including one with stripper flight attendants. The scenes meant to evoke laughter sometimes force the audience into an uncomfortable giggle, like a chuckle one might give their unfunny uncle. It isn’t all middle aged relatives; some of the laughter was well earned. His machines are fun, his mistakes are entertaining and his arrogance earned more than a few smiles.
The scenes where Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man are exhilarating. I found myself clapping for flame throwers; how often do you get to do that in real life? I was fond especially of the learn
ing scenes where Tony was trying to perfect Iron Man’s suit.
The computer generation of the suit is flawless. I did not have to set aside belief because the light was wrong or the shine was too perfect. The only problem I had with the Iron Man suit was the inside of the mask, which seems like it is the size of a space suit when the camera looks in it at Tony. If one was to judge the size of the entire suit as it relates to the space in the mask, one would think it was designed for a couples naked high-altitude romp.
I found Iron Man enjoyable but, unfortunately, my socks remained firmly on my feet. I couldn’t really escape into it but I didn’t mind watching it either.
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