Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Problem(s) With Iron Man

I saw Iron Man shortly after it came out, and overall I was very satisfied. It was not only an enjoyable comic book movie, but it stood up well when viewed strictly as a film. I would rank it up there with X2 or maybe the first Spider-Man movie. HOWEVER, I felt that there were a few flaws in the movie that kept it from being mentioned in a "best ever" debate the way Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins are.


1. Tony Stark: Injured War Hero or Heartless Bastard?

When Tony Stark first sustains his shrapnel injuries, he is fitted with an electromagnet that supposedly slows the shrapnel's movement toward his heart. Okay, I can buy that. However, problems arise later on in the movie, when the writers seem to suddenly decide that the electromagnet IS his heart without bothering to tell us they changed the rules. Twice during the movie, Tony's magnet is removed and he immediately suffers severe health problems (first when Pepper is changing the magnet, then again when Stane removes it). If that magnet was still serving its original purpose, it should have taken a while for the shrapnel to reach Tony's heart; it would not have happened immediately. If the writers want to change the rules and say that the electromagnet takes on a new role as Tony's surrogate heart, then they need to tell us.

2. Climax: Batteries Not Included

In the climactic fight between Iron Man and Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, Iron Man has to rely on his original, just-about-spent heart/magnet/battery thing. This means that he won't be at full power, and/or his suit (and heart) won't stay powered for very long. Right off the bat, this tells the audience that the climactic battle will be SHORT. Bad idea. This is the first film in what should end up being at least a trilogy, and the audience deserves to see a knock-down drag-out slobberknocker between our hero and the villain. With all the build-up, this should have been a monumental brawl. Unfortunately, the final showdown was entirely too short, and all the best shots had already been blown in the trailers (more on that later). Granted, giving Tony Stark a time limit to complete his objective added to the drama, but it happened at the expense of the action. A great comic book movie should be able to deliver both. Any comic book movie fan knows that you don't take away or limit the hero's powers until the SECOND film in the series (see: Spider-Man 2, Superman 2). Giving us a half-powered Iron Man in the first film really cheapened what could have been a showdown on a scale to rival the famous train fight from Spider-Man 2.

3. Trailers, Spoilers...What's the Difference?

There's no two ways about it, the Iron Man trailers gave away all the best moments. Blowing up the tank, catching the car, flying with jets, throwing a flying haymaker at Iron Monger...all these great scenes were spoiled by the trailers. There weren't any surprises left by the time audiences finally saw the movie. Most of the comedy was fresh, but the action scenes had lost the element of surprise. When that tank took a shot at Iron Man, we all knew what would happen next. When Iron Man took to the skies, we knew how it'd look. During the final showdown with Iron Monger, we were all waiting to see the car go flying. None of it was new. None of it was unexpected, and a movie's "awesome" factor has everything to do with giving the audience something they don't expect, whether they're watching a drama, a comedy, or an action flick. The movie's still a lot of fun, but it's like being told weeks ahead of time that you're getting exactly what you want for your birthday. It sucks a lot of the fun out of unwrapping your gift.

Counterpoint: Things Iron Man Got RIGHT

As I said, despite its glaring flaws, Iron Man is a heck of a movie, and I will definitely be adding it to my DVD collection when the time comes. The things I'm griping about are the flaws that kept it from transcending "really good" status and moving into the realm of "amazing." Fortunately, the things that were wrong with the movie are far outnumbered by the things that were right. Here are several reasons why Iron Man was absolutely worth seeing:

1. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark

2. Jon Favreau in the director's chair

3. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Terrence Howard in the supporting cast

4. The inclusion of S.H.I.E.L.D.

5. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

6. Sabbath. 'Nuff said.

7. The use of practical effects whenever possible

Go see Iron Man. Oh, you already did? Go see it again. It's worth your time and money. It just could have been so much better...

Puny humans.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And so it begins...

Here we all are, at the genesis of what I hope will be an ongoing and regularly-updated blog. I can't promise that everything you find written here will be insightful or entertaining or at all worth reading, but I can promise that it will be almost completely free of grammatical errors and misspelled words. Except for prepositions. I'm never sure where to put those at. Oh, and there might be an occasional sentence fragment (see: "Except for prepositions"). But I can guarantee you that any time I use sentence fragments or begin a sentence with a conjunction (see: "But"), it will be intentional and it will hopefully add some gravitas to the surrounding content. Other than that, I make no promises, and offer no apologies. If reading any or all of my blog entries turns out to be a complete waste of your time, then I suggest that you write down the exact amount of time you feel was taken from what I'm sure is an otherwise very exciting life. Keep an ongoing log of lost time, and when it adds up to at least 90 minutes, let me know. I will then give you the name of a movie which would be a complete waste of time to watch. This should cancel out the amount of time you feel you wasted reading my half-cocked rants and not-at-all-cocked opinions regarding music, movies, television, and whatever else happens to catch my fancy during the day.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair (I think Ozymandias said that. Or maybe it was Killface. I guess it depends on who you ask).

Puny humans!