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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.39%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.41%

7 reviews, 134 user ratings

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Iron Man
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Kiss kiss clang clang."
3 stars

The summer-movie season kicks into high gear with "Iron Man," the latest expensive blockbuster based on a comic-book superhero. The fan press has given it a warm embrace and tongue kisses, and they’re not the only ones; as I type this, "Iron Man" enjoys a 94% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and has been voted #159 in the Top 250 movies by users of the Internet Movie Database. It’s supposed to be fun, and it is, in spots. But for all its fizz and pizzazz, it left me in a terrible mood.

The film glorifies the wit and lifestyle of a slick war profiteer — Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a brilliant inventor of “smart” missiles — then attends dutifully to his moral re-awakening, yet still says that superior firepower gets the dirty job done.

Downey has gotten his share of the praise, and he deserves it. His Stark is the tech wonk as rock star, swanning around important functions with scotch in hand and women on his radar. (They can’t resist him.) Downey has fast, supple interplay with formidable actors like Terrence Howard (as Jim Rhodes, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who follows Stark around like a puppy) and Jeff Bridges (as Stark’s duplicitous business partner Obadiah Stane — subtle name). But once Stark and Stane lock themselves into their respective combat armor, so do Downey and Bridges. These two protean actors become Iron Man and Iron Monger, bashing each other through buses, and poor Bridges has to deliver lines like “Nothing’s going to get in my way! Least of all you!”

Iron Man works best when it snarks at Stark and his technology fetish — the sequence dealing with Stark’s first shaky attempts at flight with his hand and foot repulsors, while an oversolicitous robot stands by waiting to douse him with a fire extinguisher, is reliably crowd-pleasing. But this hero’s origin has its roots in grim current events (much like the initial Iron Man outing in 1963, wherein Stark’s armor was forged in Vietnam). At the start, Stark is in Afghanistan, blithely showing off his new Jericho missile to the assembled American military. He gets captured by the usual gang of swarthy mountain-dwelling guerrillas, and he gets videotaped in a scene carrying unwelcome reminders of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. With the help of a sympathetic co-captive, Stark builds a rudimentary Iron Man suit and blasts and burns his way free.

Upon his return, a changed Stark exclaims “I saw Americans die.” He doesn’t say anything about the men who died at his hands — being forced to use his own destructive technology, being forced to become a killer and to see the dead close-up, is not something the movie has time to explore. Iron Man is as thoughtless as it is weightless. Director Jon Favreau (who brings no particular style or vision to the party) and his four credited writers are too wowed by the high-tech bang to question the morality of making and selling weapons — the problem is that they wind up in the wrong hands because of corrupt businessmen, and if you drop those businessmen through a roof from several thousand feet up, that problem’s solved. Iron Man pumps itself up by exploiting real, ongoing misery without even pretending to deal with it. It's a tricky balancing act, and Favreau isn't up to it.

All of this is inherent in the original Cold War-era material, of course, but why drag it into 2008? Because Iron Man is "cool"? The bullying fanboy idea of "cool" is growing wearisome and is threatening to kill movies. And it’s a very strange time politically to insist on the triumphalism of full metal American righteousness. War, Inc., John Cusack's satire on the munitions industry, is getting a limited release later this month (opposite Indiana Jones, yet) on its way to DVD. Iron Man is getting the ninth widest release in box-office history. Tell me again how liberal Hollywood is.

Gwyneth Paltrow hasn’t been around much lately, and she still isn’t around much here, playing Stark’s smitten assistant Pepper Potts without the sense to take off her heels when running from peril. She and Downey use their quiet pockets of the film together to re-enact James Stewart and Barbara Bel Geddes in Vertigo — the devoted woman suppressing her love for the obsessive man. I enjoyed their rapport while knowing, depressed, that their characters would eventually be reduced to Damsel in Distress and Knight in Shining (Lethal) Armor. These superhero movies play better for me when they don’t knock fine actors down to their level. In the months to come we’ll witness Christian Bale disappearing into his cowl again, Heath Ledger cackling and blowing people away, and Edward Norton grimacing as he steps aside for CGI.

That’s about what happens to good actors in all these movies. Robert Downey Jr. smirks and winks, his helmet clangs down, and it could be anybody under there.

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originally posted: 05/04/08 10:12:01
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell great fun skip 2&3 though 5 stars
5/12/15 Christian Paulson The rebirth of comic-book movies!!! 5 stars
10/02/14 Horror Lover Still the best solo superhero movie from the Avengers Universe. 4 stars
8/27/12 roscoe disappointing because relies heavily on stark and not enough of iron man 3 stars
10/19/11 Magic The most fun superhero movie at that time. RDJ's best performance in years. 4 stars
1/22/11 Jeff Wilder Easily among the best recent superhero movies. 5 stars
12/03/10 Dr.Lao Definitely one of the better live action marvel superhero movies 4 stars
9/11/10 Barbara Leaf Downey, Jr. looked vulnerable with his puppydog eye -until he donned that iron suit -WOW. 5 stars
2/24/09 man love it 5 stars
2/08/09 Monday Morning Great super hero. He should kick some Wall St. banker and politician ass in the sequel.. 4 stars
1/01/09 zenny not bad, not bad at all 4 stars
11/01/08 Annie G A little disappointing based on reviews, but still an enjoyable action flick. 3 stars
10/21/08 Nichole This is the best movie! 5 stars
10/10/08 man fantastic 5 stars
10/10/08 dude so good 5 stars
10/07/08 Luisa Robert Downey Jr is awesome! Great action flick! 5 stars
10/02/08 Charles Tatum Nothing but fun, great cast and action sequences 5 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner One of the greatest movies ever made! 5 stars
8/22/08 The Talking Elbow Way better than the Dark Knight fo sho 5 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman Extraordinary! Bring on the sequels! 5 stars
7/28/08 David Good, but a little overrated. 4 stars
7/19/08 Susan Lee Love RDJ but was skeptical about his role .. he did awesome job. Gweneth was wasted tho 5 stars
7/14/08 Karen Awesome movie! 5 stars
6/26/08 DK Downey is immense and good script but the ending was like Transformers done worse. 4 stars
6/26/08 Mario A bit overrated, but still a good action film. 4 stars
6/25/08 JD Smith A bit uneven, but overall V entertaining 4 stars
6/25/08 FJ Am ever a fan of RDJ. Thee movie is entertaining, but i would say slightly overhyped. 4 stars
6/22/08 J Black Excellent movie RD, jr was perfect for the role 5 stars
6/22/08 David V Great acting and action, but this is a little over-rated. 4 stars
6/12/08 Heather Incredibly fun movie. Robert Downey Jr. was ubelievably brilliant. 5 stars
6/08/08 John Patricio Great ac tion and acting. How could you not love it. 5 stars
6/06/08 Ming K BEST Comic film of the year...great actions and story 5 stars
6/05/08 Jayson Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect!! 4 stars
6/05/08 katmagick Robert Downey Jr is excellent in this flick! 5 stars
6/04/08 Dana awesome movie i highly recommend it 5 stars
6/02/08 George Barksdale Good action movie and worth going to 4 stars
5/29/08 Raymond What a load of can such crap get good press reviews??!!?? 1 stars
5/28/08 jordan keith i loved this movie but what happens after the credits? 5 stars
5/28/08 Arcane The moive is good, but wayyyyyyyy overhyped. 4 stars
5/26/08 R.W. Welch Hi-caliber perfs for a comic book flick, especially Bridges' smarmy villain. 4 stars
5/20/08 bullit16 Not just a great superhero movie ... a great movie 5 stars
5/19/08 Bert Overrated, formula movie,unlikable people 3 stars
5/18/08 mr.mike Close to awesome , climactic battle could have been a bit better. 4 stars
5/18/08 jm Overrated if you ask me. Good story, crap action. Tony stark is hard to like. 3 stars
5/17/08 Anthony Feor This is the superhero movie I've been waiting for. It is the best one ever made. 5 stars
5/14/08 dude great 5 stars
5/13/08 matt end fight could have been longer, but highly enjoyable 4 stars
5/12/08 pin Finally. Great Casting. a little cheap on the music. 5 stars
5/12/08 austin wertman best superhero movie since spider-man 2 5 stars
5/12/08 kris Overrated. Only the first 30 mins were very good, the rest was formulaic and for kids. 3 stars
5/11/08 Koitus A couple of unlikely plot points (original suit=no eye protection), but still a good movie. 4 stars
5/11/08 Ole Man Bourbon Meh. 3 stars
5/10/08 ironman this film is fkin awsome 5 stars
5/09/08 Quigley Surprisingly excellent comic book film. Great CG effects and spetacular Robert Downey, Jr. 5 stars
5/07/08 dee Great movie, great cast, Downey is terrific 5 stars
5/07/08 Greg It's a movie about evil weapons-makers and it's still non bleeding-heart enough for you? 5 stars
5/07/08 Sarbu Rada Yes, an amazing movie. No wonder it made so much money and they already plan the sequel 5 stars
5/07/08 my precious What a whiney reviewer... forgot to take his meds so that he could properly review a movie. 5 stars
5/06/08 AJ Muller Oh, and I can't take it anymore - Gonsalves is fucking retarded. Erase this if you will - 5 stars
5/06/08 michaelb1478 Downey was spot on, great comic book movie 5 stars
5/06/08 Loserboy2049 When life hands you lemons just dance a disco beat 3 stars
5/06/08 AJ Muller Downey is perfect; Favreau does a kickass job. One of the best comic flicks ever. 5 stars
5/06/08 carlos Not perfect, but > than SM3, X3 & others trying 2 do 2 much. Oh, & easter egg aft credits! 5 stars
5/06/08 Wolfrider Didnt exactly live up to my expectations - but the GF liked it 3 stars
5/06/08 CallistaZM I would agree with others that this is the best superhero movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
5/06/08 diggz it was ok. but the fighting scene at the end has the corniest dialouge ive ever heard. 3 stars
5/06/08 Cherie Partain Great movie -- Robert Downey, Jr. was great! 5 stars
5/06/08 Loserboy2049 Take it from me, rust doesn't taste like ketchup! 1 stars
5/06/08 sue bobier Best movie in a long time, robert downey, jr is awesome! 5 stars
5/06/08 STH Rob, Iron Man kicked ass. nuff said 5 stars
5/06/08 Loserboy2049 One time I got lost in an abdondoned van 5 stars
5/06/08 Excruciator Why is this bonehead allowed to review movies with any measure of authority? 5 stars
5/06/08 mlvassallo You know Rotten Tomatoes labled your review as "Fresh"... so you are helping with the ratio 5 stars
5/05/08 Blue Knuckle Your review is replete with spelling errors!!!!! 5 stars
5/05/08 NB Your first sentence has a flaw. He is repentant 5 stars
5/05/08 Loserboy2049 My feet smell like cat piss after I stepped in cat piss... 1 stars
5/05/08 Brett Your review is inane. Great superhero rollercoaster ride! 5 stars
5/05/08 FredGarvin I'm very sorry for what seems to have happened to you as a child. It wasn't your fault. 5 stars
5/05/08 Amy You just seem to hate that it's popular and that it isn't a bleeding heart anti-war film 5 stars
5/05/08 Mark In the hands of a lesser actor, this movie would have fallen on its face. Props RDJR. 4 stars
5/05/08 igor deviates in a good way from many recent superhero movies 5 stars
5/05/08 MightyMad For God's sake, Rob: it's a summer blockbuster, dummy! Enjoy it for what it is - I did! 5 stars
5/05/08 Ryan Best superhero I have seen 5 stars
5/05/08 Kevin This reviewer is insane 5 stars
5/05/08 JC Awful, predictable movie... this thing didn't surprise me once and relied on cheap humor... 1 stars
5/05/08 Dennis Awesome movie had alot of fun watching it might even go back and see it again your review s 5 stars
5/05/08 BB It's pretty good movie. I supose it's just that you don't like superhero movies that much 4 stars
5/05/08 Andre The movie is true to the source material, and fun, it isnt pro war, or right wing 5 stars
5/05/08 Ya Daddy Anybody that didn't like this plays with Care Bears 5 stars
5/05/08 Bob best movie I've seen lately. 4 stars
5/05/08 Kay Best superhero flick ever! Downey was fantastic! 5 stars
5/05/08 Darkstar Be sure to wait until after the credits roll for the best scene of the movie. 5 stars
5/05/08 Doc Austin I wanna see it again! Sorry if I'm politically incorrect here, but i liked it a lot. 5 stars
5/05/08 bill s stick to art-house. i hate when movies try to drag reviewers down to theri level 5 stars
5/05/08 Michael Quite simply the movie was boring- it wasn't about anything after he escaped from kidnapin. 1 stars
5/05/08 zetronet This critic can not be taken seriously and should not be paid more than minimum wage 5 stars
5/05/08 Jimmy probably great if you're a comic book fan, otherwise it's just kind of meh 3 stars
5/05/08 Destarius This movie rated 94%. You're not intellectual, you're just flatulent and out of touch. 5 stars
5/05/08 Terry You're rating simply shows your liberal upbringing - get a grip! The movie is excellent! 5 stars
5/05/08 Derek C "Iron Man is as thoughtless as it is weightless." Much like your review, Iron Man rocks!! 5 stars
5/05/08 Drei Hw didn't bring up the fact that he killed people himself because he didn't people knowing. 5 stars
5/05/08 joey Your review stinked... awesome movie! .. setting up for a nice sequal 5 stars
5/05/08 Diesel Downey captures the snarkiness of Stark and achieves superhero-movie apotheosis! 5 stars
5/04/08 Kzach What a dumb review. Talk about having an agenda. Get off your political high horse, moron. 5 stars
5/04/08 johnnybgoode Great casting. One of the best superhero movies to date. 5 stars
5/04/08 Dutch Your right , great entry into superhero flicks but the end was a letdown. 4 stars
5/04/08 m price GREAT comic book movie. Plus far-lefty Tom Morello gets it in the cave. Nice touch. 5 stars
5/04/08 Steve Excellent movie, ignore this pretentious wannabe and his subpar review and go see it! 5 stars
5/04/08 MCMC Another bitter, failed critic pooping and screaming for attention and praise. 5 stars
5/04/08 philip Simply incredible, best superhero movie to date. 5 stars
5/04/08 SonofAnon Very good movie I don't know why people give it bad reviews could of been like fantastic 4 5 stars
5/04/08 AJ Gudmundsen "I saw Americans Die" I dont know you didnt understand that. 5 stars
5/04/08 Kyle What the hell is this reviewer talking about? Pretentious douche ahoy! 4 stars
5/04/08 Kanoose One of the best movies I've ever seen. Was enjoyable from start to finish. Good job. 5 stars
5/04/08 ska-boss I was thinking the same thing when he said "I saw Americans die" 4 stars
5/04/08 Jerry N. Wow. Once again Gonsalves has proved himself to be mentally hadicapped. 5 stars
5/04/08 lawl Pretentious douchebag critic drowned in fanboy spam, and rightfully so. I lol. 5 stars
5/04/08 Stephen Glad someone says it. This movie is awful. 1 stars
5/04/08 stavos williams Talk about pretentious critics - Rob "SnobMan" Gonsalves wants a moralistic pacifist Ghandi 5 stars
5/04/08 Rock Star This reviewer does social commentary better than film criticism 5 stars
5/04/08 John Christopher The movie was fantastic, and you review was poor. Maybe you should find a new career. 5 stars
5/04/08 Phil The best super-hero film? It just might be....... 5 stars
5/04/08 Tony G The bar has been set for super-hero movies and Iron Man is IT!!! 5 stars
5/04/08 Jmac64 Saw Movie twice in 12 the only choice for Stark...A Millenium Classic 5 stars
5/04/08 Jacqueline Carpenter Keeps me interered all through 5 stars
5/04/08 gcc Equal to the 1st spidey and x-men, Downey perfect as Stark, well done. 5 stars
5/03/08 sebas1972 Excellent movie!!! Stay during the end credits... surprise at the end!!! 5 stars
5/03/08 Obi Wan Very well done movie. RDJ, JB and GP were on the money! 5 stars
5/03/08 Dan Excellent. Downey Jr. was perfectly cast and did a superb job. Only weakness was PepperPots 5 stars
5/03/08 john nicely done...2008 is finally getting some great movies like '...Sarah Marshall 5 stars
5/03/08 action movie fan very good adaption of marvel super hero-downey is good as stark-good story 4 stars
5/03/08 damalc big fight should have been longer, but very good. downey cast was perfect! 4 stars
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  02-May-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Sep-2008


  DVD: 30-Sep-2008

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