It's been a while since I've gotten to do a movie review, but I doubt this will be my last in the near future with all the big movies coming out this summer. The first, of course, is Iron Man, yet another superhero flick based on the Marvel comics. It shares many similarities with - to be honest - all the other Marvel films that have been made in the last ten years, but fortunately, Iron Man manages to avoid many of the failures that have plagued so many of the others.
The plot follows Tony Stark, the head of a successful weapons manufacturing company. He ends up getting captured by terrorists who ask him to build missiles for them. Instead, he decides to build a giant kickass suit of armor. Somehow, they couldn't tell the difference. Once he gets free, he decides to stop dealing with weapons and use his new suit of armor to protect people.
The whole sequence when Stark is held captive is probably this movie's strongest point. Although it's thoroughly dramatized, it's probably the most real part of the movie, and it's a strong beginning for Stark's hero personality. The rest is extremely predictable, from the rise and fall of the key villain to Stark's love interest. Now don't get me wrong; none of this is badly done. If you have liked most of the recent Marvel movies, then you will undoubtedly like this one too, and it is one of the better ones. It's just that it contains all the same cliches and style choices as all the others, and sometimes, it can just be ridiculous. The best examples of all this come toward the end of the movie, so I won't spoil anything for the sake of giving examples.
Most of the depth of this movie is the result of the recurring theme of manipulation, which is a driving force in both character and plot development. It is also worth noting that this theme is well-presented throughout with some clever camera and editing tricks. Sadly, that's about it for the depth. It's a shame, because there really was some potential for depth, and a good start too. It just didn't turn into very much. The overall plot is shallow and predictable.
One of the specific problems is that the plot dwells too much on the creation of the suit. That is of course the focus of the action when Stark is held captive, but even when that's over, he spends about the middle third (that's a guess) of the movie building and testing new models of the suit. We get it, the suit is awesome; now let's see some deeper character development.
On that note, I have to give them credit for Stark's development. For a superhero, he actually has some depth and internal conflict, and it's kind of interesting to see his change from a wealthy asshole to a slightly more (but not overly) caring person. That said, every other character, however significant, is very shallow and underdeveloped. The acting from the other major characters is also not nearly as strong as Robert Downey, Jr.'s.
As far as the action goes, there are some explosions and such, but mostly, it's just scenes of Iron Man being a badass. And hey, that's cool, as long as you think a rich dude in a super high-tech suit is badass. I thought so.
As a whole, Iron Man is a solid superhero adventure. It's fun, it's funny, and if you take it for what it is, it works well. It's no Batman Begins, but it's also no Batman and Robin, and for fans of the genre, that's all that matters. For the rest of us, it's only as worthwhile as we're willing to make it. If you just want to see a fun summer movie, then you will be entertained. I just doubt that this will be one of the superhero movies that will be widely remembered and respected in 10 years.
Caius's Rating: 3 stars