When a 12 year old tells you that it's the best movie he has seen so far, you of course take it with a grain of salt. When as a 49 year old, you consider it the best super-hero movie that you have seen, you can see where that 12 year old is coming from.
And thus is the consensus between father and son on Ironman, which we were able to see tonight courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Ironman is an eye-popping, popcorn chomping, visual feast of action, comedy, and did I say action. The transformation of Tony Stark into the Iron Man costume, as an example, makes the transformation of the Transformers from cars into robots seem like yesterdays news. The special effects in Iron Man are among some of the most impressive I've ever seen.
The story opens in Afghanistan. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr./soon to be Iron Man) has just given a demonstration of the latest weapon created by Stark Industries. Being escorted in a Humvee back to the airport they come under attack. Tony is severely injured by gunfire and is taken hostage by terrorists. His life saved by Yinsen (Shaun Toub) a fellow captive, Stark is ordered by the terrorist to build them the Jericho ( the weapon he had demonstrated). He was to make it with their hourde of weapons, which to Stark's surprise, were all made by Stark Industries.
Knowing that their lives will end when the weapon is complete, Stark and Yinsen instead began building a suit of weapon equipped armor. It is through this suit, a prototype for the later suit that everyone in comic book kingdom recognize as Iron Man, that he is able to escape, partly thanks to Yinsen sacrificing his life in order for Stark to ready the iron suit. Battling against the terrorists and then taking flight in the armor to escape, he crash lands in the desert, but is rescued by Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Terrence Howard) and returned to the states.
It is because of his three months in captivity and seeing the horror that his weapons create, that Tony goes through a transformation and announces that Stark Industries will no longer produce weapons. Of course this doesn't sit too well with the Board of Directors and especially with Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Stark's right hand man. Stark Industries stocks plummet and Tony is removed from his position in the company.
Meanwhile, in his unbelievable mansion on a hilltop in Malibu, Stark spends most of his time revising his creation made during his captivity. This part of the movie has quite a few laughs as he goes through trial and error in refining the metal suit to fly.
When the suit is finally ready, he makes his return to Afghanistan to seek out his captors who are reeking havoc in the country. The military becomes aware of him when they intercept him on his way back in a no fly zone. The action zooms as he tries to avoid being shot down by the fighters.
It turns out however, that Obadiah is the real villian in this movie. He had paid the terrorists to kill Tony Stark in the first place. When they found out who he was, they were holding him alive in order to get more money from Obadiah.
Without giving away too much more, the final battle comes down to Ironman and Obadiah who had scientists/engineers at Stark Industries construct his own suit of armor (with refinements) in order to then build an army that he would control. The finale is full of action and unlike other superhero films, is not dragged out interminably.
One other main character in the film is Virginia "Pepper" Potts, Starks (Gwyneth Paltrow), longtime, lovelorn assistant. What would a superhero movie be if there wasn't someone secretly in love with the hero. She provides some sweet moments and comic relief, and hopefully her role will expand in sequels as she is the constant in Stark's life.
Parents should be aware that there is real, shocking, violence in this movie, most notably at the beginning of the movie when Starks convoy is ambushed. There are real deaths and they are not in a comic bloodless style. On the plus side, unless I missed them, I can't think of a single curse word being said in this film. Parents should also note that Tony Starks lifestyle is that of a playboy and it is intimated that he has been with multiple partners for one night stands. In fact, they show him having a roll in bed with one conquest.
As in all Marvel movies, don't forget to look for Stan Lee in a short, funny cameo. This movie has sequels written all over it and I hope the first film has enough success that there are more. Robert Downey Jr. is quite possibly one of the best portrayers of a super hero and his alter ego that has ever been in a movie, even more so than Toby McGuire of SpiderMan fame and Christopher Reeve of Superman.
So, as you can tell I liked this, the beginning of the popcorn eating, summer blockbusters. Me and Tyler agree, Ironman is heavy metal fun at it's best. 4 out of 5 stars. Iron Man is a Paramount Pictures film and is rated PG-13. Running time was about 2 hours and 6 minutes. Kudos to director Jon Favreau.