Kick-Off: Iron Man

by KV

    Things to ponder upon this week:

1. The latest hottest reality TV show to hit our shores is the live telecast from the Dewan Rakyat: the place where Honourable Monkeys gather.
2. In football, it is actually possible to score a Premier League goal with your boy sausage, as demonstrated by Christiano Ronaldo’s goal against West Ham yesterday.

    Iron Man, in 3 words: The. Audi. R8.

Audi R8

    Okay okay, it’s actually: Robert. Downey. Junior.

    What a way to kick off the summer blockbuster season. Um, okay so there’s no summer in Malaysia, but that’s quite beside the point. Anyway if there was summer in Malaysia it sure doesn’t feel like summer right now because it’s been constantly raining cats & dogs & even horses & pigs & ducks & rats & dugongs…you get the point, since December till now. Which just kinda gives me the feeling that the world is gonna end the way The Day After Tomorrow depicted it, in superfreeze mode rather than the way in the 2 hour Al Gore lecture in An Inconvenient Truth. Have I gone off course? Right…we were talking about the man who made maroon & gold look ultra-cool.

Robert Downey Jr.

    I watched it twice with Alan & Chris in the cinemas, so you know for hell sure it was awesome. The movie kinda felt like a gritty war movie in the beginning, as billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark gets captured by the Ten Rings group (a hint at the Iron Man’s future ultimate nemesis, the Mandarin), which have in their possesion Stark Industries’ weapons. In captivity he meets his fellow prisoner & car battery specialist, Yinsen, who thanks to him, Tony now has to carry around a 12V car battery everywhere. Instead of bending to the Ten Rings leaders (bald gay-looking dude & fat dumb ass dude) orders to build the Jericho missile for them, he builds himself an impossibly mini nuclear reactor for his damaged heart (so he does not need to bring that car battery with him when he goes for one night stands…you know, it’s kind of a turn-off for the chicks). He then sets on to build the 1st version of Iron Man with whatever the dumb Ten Rings asses provide him with, making it an escape plan for him & Yinsen. However, during the escape, due to the slow program loading, Yinsen dies while Iron Man Beta Version 1.0 manages to escape in a short burst of flight from the camp. Basically after that, the movie went into comic book mode, where Tony Stark, in an act of redemption, builds a much improved & good-looking suit to kick some bad ass guys, flirts around with his assistant, Pepper Potts, & has a final showdown with his company partner, Obadiah Stane, who himself has built the Iron Monger.

Stark & Pepper

    So the story is pretty much simple & formulaic, so what the hell made it so good? For one, director Jon Favreau paid great attention to the detail & realism of the fully CGI’ed Iron Man suit, & it paid off. Stark’s genius & skills were on full display for us to gasp & ooooh at every step of the detailed rendering & design works on the suit, from scratch to the final upgraded version. It was exhilarating to watch Stark constructing his suit from scratch, & during those hilarious flight tests. Wasn’t his virtual design programme marvelous? There was even a rubbish bin for him to throw crap in virtually! What the fart! Favreau then gave us further delight during scenes like the suit undergoing a full-body check, & then came the first time Stark put on the maroon & gold suit, where every single part was carefully assembled & fitted on him by robotic arms. Although it looked remarkably similar to Transformers, it was completely slick. During flight, parts of the suit moved to achieve aerodynamic realism on screen, & the full suit was given slick mechanical sound & whirrings during movement. & did you notice Stark was wearing a diving suit before stepping into the titanium gold alloy suit? A nod to Favreau’s detailed effort, it was incredible.

    The cast itself is solid, but hands-down Robert Downey Junior was perfectly cast as the larger than life Tony Stark. Downey gave the character the exact amount of arrogance, flamboyance, conflict & charm needed, from playboy billionaire weapons mogul to a man with a personal mission to save the world from the very weapons he created. His affinity for the character shines, even more when it bore some parallel resemblance to Downey’s own personal life. Downey looked so natural in Stark’s shoes, nailing all the comedic one-liners with spot-on timing. Speaking of that, the movie itself was filled with comedic elements that were perfectly timed, which helped keep the entertainment at the highest of levels. Oh boy how we all laughed during those suit flight tests, especially at 10% thrust! What about in the beginning, when escaping the cave in the 1st suit, a baddy tried to shoot at the armour head of Stark when his hand got stuck, & the bullet just bounced off & hit the baddy’s own head? Simply hilarious! Even the robotic arms, Butterfingers & Dummy, were lovable! While Downey was supremely Stark through & through, the rest of the cast, though massively talented & established, suffered in comparison. Gwyneth Paltrow, an Academy Award winner, did everything she could with Virginia “Pepper” Potts, the 2D perfect assistant to Stark, & was sweet & loyal, but that’s about it, aside from the fact that Paltrow really looked good on screen. She did however have some remarkably serious chemistry moments with Downey; the scene of her helping to replace the nuclear reactor in Stark’s body was a perfect example, as were their awkward sparkling conversations. Paul Bettany was the voice of JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), the A.I. “butler” & suit programmer for Stark, while director Favreau himself cameo’ed as Horgan, Stark’s driver.

    Perhaps the most disappointing were Terence Howard & Jeff Bridges. Terence Howard looked pitiful all along, & his only memorable contribution was his glance at the prototype suit of Iron Man & then saying “next time, baby.”, a nod at his future becoming of the War Machine of course. Jeff Bridges sure looked like a bad-ass, but the scariest thing about him was his bushy beard & bald head, otherwise there just wasn’t enough development screen time in his character for us to truly feel the fear & urgency of him becoming the Iron Monger. The villain was simply not up to par with Iron Man, which gave us that feeble & predictable finale that did not match the rest of the movie. However, though there was certainly not enough action in the final showdown (& frankly I couldn’t see much of what was happening when Iron Man was squaring off with Iron Monger on the streets even after 2 viewings), Favreau did give us some truly adrenaline-pumping moments when Iron Man went on his first mission at Gurmila (did you see the way he landed in front of the fat dumb ass?), then got hit by a shot fired by a tank while in flight, taking out the tank in a true superhero backdrop scene, then went head to head with two F-22s. Though it might be a tad limited overall, this movie was more about how Stark became of Iron Man, & as most time & attention were given to the making of the hero, everything was justified. Oh, you might wanna stay after the credits to catch the conversation between Stark & Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson.

    All in all, though not exactly perfect, Iron Man still lived up to all the hype & thrilled me to bits. The effects & the CGI of the armour were extravagant, marvelously realistic & exhilarating, but did not overshine the film’s emotional resonance & finer points, or the Audi R8…kidding. After disappointing comicbook superhero movies like Ghost Rider, Spidey 3 & Fantastic Four last year, I am absolutely euphoric (& relieved) that Iron Man has managed to live up to my expectations, & many across the world for sure. One can only hope The Dark Knight continues if not better the superhero momentum. Though contrasting in mood, as Bruce Wayne/Batman is darker & broodier compared to Stark’s flamboyant personality, Downey certainly has matched Bale in making their respective characters bigger than their suited hero persona. As a matter of fact, Iron Man’s success is reflective to that of Batman Begins due to 1 similarity; that both Favreau & Nolan decided to dwell & concentrate on the man behind the suit before anything, & both had a capable cast of pulling that off. Iron Man though has the upper hand when it comes to onscreen chemistry; Paltrow was a perfect match with Downey.

    As for matching the absolutely jaw-dropping Audi R8 of Stark, Bruce Wayne might want to consider throwing away that new motorbike of his, & perhaps purchase the car that was inspired by the F-22 design: the Lamborghini Reventon.

    At least Batman might be able to hook up with chicks easily in that screamer compared to the big-ass clunk of a Tumbler he has.