On Friday night, The Boyfriend and I (as well as a few of the usual suspects) ventured out into the wilds of Boston proper to go see Iron Man. I will admit that I was not originally stoked about the idea, seeing as it was a chilly, drizzly, graduation weekend in Boston which leads to larger than usual movie-going crowds, and when combined with it being opening weekend of the first of the summer superhero blockbusters, I was sure there would be far too many of "the humans" to allow me any cinematic entertainment. And at first, I was right. We were herded into a little corral for the 25 minutes leading up to the theater opening (though it seems kind of extreme, I think Loews's management of the crowd was pretty reasonable) with the rest of the deranged and slavering fanboys. But as we were standing there waiting, the previous showing of the movie let out, and everyone looked...happy. I mean REALLY happy. They were all talking and gesturing and a couple people were actually leaping up in the air with joy.
Hmmm, I thought to myself.
The previews were pretty exciting in themselves: The Dark Knight and Indiana Jones VI in particular (I like to pretend that I never saw the one for Love Guru...that is like three minutes of my life I can never have back.) There was also one for the new M. Night Shaymalan picture, The Happening. I very seriously question his casting of Marky Mark (I know, I know, he's "Mark Whalberg, the very serious actor" now, but he will ALWAYS be "Marky Mark, the rapper in his underpants" to me) as the lead. I'm actually not really sure what it's about, but I'd be willing to bet there is some kind of craaaazy twist at the end.
As for Iron Man...let me make a list so I can talk about this without babbling.
Things I Liked About Iron Man:
1. Robert Downey Jr. I have always liked Robert Downey Jr., and I think he's probably one of the better actors of his generation. I particuarly enjoyed his performance in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and had been looking forward to seeing him again in a bigger movie. He manages to do the superhero thing without going down the "I'm Batman, oooh, I'm so brooooody" road, and he studiously avoids the "I'm Spiderman/Superman, and I'm just so gosh-darn wholesome" trap, too. I mean, the character of Tony Stark is...well, obnoxious. But he's obnoxious like that friend you have (and everybody has one...if you don't, then you ARE that guy) that is kind of a douchebag, but he's such a hilarious, charming, self-deprecating, FUN douchebag you just kind of forgive his jerky behavior in exchange for the good stuff. In all, Stark is a character I liked played by a massively talented actor. Score 1 for Iron Man!
2. Jon Favreau. I am not entirely sure how Jon Favreau lucked into this gig--up until this point, the only major movie he'd directed was Elf--but thank goodness he did. The script for this was pretty great, the casting was pretty much great, the effects choices were excellent, and best of all, the fight scenes were COOL. None of that "flashy flashy ultra close up flash flash blurry close up POV shot flash flash explosion!" thing that directors seem to be favoring in action movies. You could actually SEE the fight! It was amazing! Who knew that the guy who played Gutter in PCU would go on to do this?
3. Dialogue. Most action movies have some issues with dialogue. There is usually at least that one scene when you kind of slap yourself in the forehead like "Oh, jeez, ow, that was lame." Even Batman Begins--which I LOVED--was blighted with a few of those moments (all courtesy of the robotic Kat(i)e Holmes). Iron Man didn't seem to have any of those moments. Partly, I suppose, because the romantic subplot was kept pretty aggressively "sub," and partly because RDJ managed to keep his character from really saying any soppy out-of-character bunk.
4. Comedy. The scenes with Stark in his lab with his robots were PRICELESS. I laughed until the tears rolled down my face.
5. Villain. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to buy Jeff Bridges as a villain. As a commenter on a review site I read (Pajiba.com) mentioned, "Every time he and RDJ were arguing, I just kept waiting for him to say 'That's just, like, your opinion...man.' like the Dude." As someone who lives with a Big Lebowski addict, I'm kind of ruined on Jeff Bridges. However, he did the best he could to be menacing with a smile (which is muc more disturbing than outright menacing.) As a sidenote, though, the guy who runs the superhero's company while he is away is ALWAYS evil.
6. Special Effects. Incredible. Come on, the suit? The sexiness is overwhelming.
I was not particularly thrilled with the casting of Gwenyth Paltrow as the lead female/possible romatic interest Pepper Potts. However, she was not terrible (once again, I bring up Ms. Holmes in Batman Begins--in my opinion, that woman ruined every single scene she appeared in...not even the hot sexiness of Christian Bale could help her...it was like watching a nervous kid doing Shakespeare with Olivier) and in her favor did have really excellent shoes. I think they would have better off casting someone a little more snarky and less pretty (something along the lines of a young Janeane Garofalo, maybe?) but on the whole it could have been so so so much worse.
Overall, I give two thumbs up--it was just really really fun, and that is something I look for in my blockbuster films.