Iron Man is a good movie. The script is fairly solid. The acting is believable. The effects are well done. The directing is clean. And the story holds together well. There are some good jokes in it, too, but the humor does get a bit slap-sticky at times.
It has plenty of surprise twists and turns. Some of the best moments in the film would be mild spoilers, so just trust me -- they're there.
The movie opens with Tony Stark, head of major weapons maker Stark Industries being captured in Afghanistan. We learn that Stark was a major electronics prodigy as a kid. Many of the innovations of Stark Industries are the direct result of Tony Stark's efforts. The film quickly takes us through Stark's early years and shows who he is today -- an alcoholic, immature, cocky, genius CEO.
The filmmakers do a great job of telling the audience all they need to know about Tony Stark and the world he inhabits in the first 10 minutes of the movie. The exposition is appropriate to the story and not heavy handed. Right from the start we understand his motivations.
A viewer who was not familiar with Iron Man before the film can get right into plot and keep up just as easily as the comic book geek.
As the story goes on, it gets a little preachy about weapons and war, but that's to be expected. They don't try to hammer the message home too strongly, and I appreciate that.
The special effects are well done. Often in action movies, I quickly lose track of who is doing what in major battles. Things move too quickly; perspective shifts too rapidly. And, in night scenes, the colors and characters often blur together.
That doesn't happen in Iron Man. The action sequences are sharp and well done. It's easy to keep track of who is doing what to whom. I don't know if this is due to the skill of filmmakers or due to innovations in CG. Regardless, I hope to see this trend continue in other films.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts is a little bit of a weak spot. Potts is Tony Stark's Alfred but the character becomes a bit muddled halfway through. I think the problem is in the writing rather than the acting. But it's minor problem.
For me, this film also represents the hazards of reading reviews like this.
When the trailer first came out, I expected them movie to be just awful. The effects were impressive, but I had doubts this superhero film could live up to that. I expected it to be less Batman and more Batman and Robin.
Had I seen it then, I probably would have like it a lot more. It would have well exceeded my expectations.
After it came out, reviews across the 'net raved about what a great film it was. People were telling me it was better than Spider-Man -- better than the 1989 Batman.
And as a result, it fell slightly short of my revised expectations.
Regardless, it is an excellent movie and well worth seeing in the theater. Robert Downey Jr does a fantastic job as Tony Stark, the story holds up, the effects are good, and the direction is clean. The film should also be accessible to non-comic fans.
If you are looking for a good action film to start off the summer, Iron Man is a great place to start.