The release of IRON MAN this weekend meant the beginning of another crazy summer at the movies. Naturally I had to geek out and see it on it’s opening weekend like most of you and for the first time, I looked forward to taking my soon to be 9 year old son along to experience it all. His journey to the “Nerd-side” has begun. (It actually started last year with the release of Transformers)
So what about this much hyped flick? Was Robert Downey Jr. the right man to play Tony Stark? The answer is a resounding YES.
…. but wait. I wouldn’t be posting this review if I didn’t have my gripes about it right? Like i’ve mentioned before in previous reviews, the true benchmark of any film is character and storytelling. As an audience we’ve come to expect state-of-the-art special effects and art direction from films these days but we all know that story is king.
**** READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE!! ******
The problems I have with IRON MAN are mainly in the plot/logic departnent. These rather surprising plot holes diminish a fine performance by Downey Jr. along with the really well staged and well executed action scenes. Again, there was nothing wrong with the visuals at all and it’s well worth the price of admission. But if your audience goes “huh?” in the middle of your movie, it’s a killer. Here are the glaring quandaries that took me out right out of the film:
1. An enibriated Tony goes to Afghanistan to demo the latest Stark Industries superweapon called the Jericho. (it makes parking lots out of mountains) On their way back to base his convoy is wiped out and a half-dead Tony is taken prisoner. He comes to and finds out that an electromagnetic plate has been surgically implanted on his chest to keep in-operable, wayward shrapnel from entering his heart. A fellow prisoner greets him and introduces himself as the man who saved his life. He is not an american but someone local. He is well-dressed, urbane and soft-spoken. Someone somebody could trust? Maybe? Maybe not? Soon their captors make it known that they want Tony to build them their own version of Jericho so they can use it to fight the Americans as well as terrorize their own people. Afterwards they claim that they will set Tony and his friend free. Something they both believe will not happen, even if Tony builds the weapon. So Tony decides to defy his captors and build something else. Something they can use to bust out of captivity. Sounds pretty simple right? I’m buying it so far. What should be in your mind right now if you where Tony?
a) Can I trust this guy who can speak arabic and english who claims to have a family he hopes to come back to? Why is he here in the first place? (Other than maybe they forced
him to keep me alive)
b) How can I go on tricking them that I am building them the Jericho, something they know that looks like a missle yet build a suit of armor that will help bail me out of here?
You would probably say, if this guy even double crosses me i’ll beat him with a tire iron and, I’ll use one of the missle casings and pretend I am working on it while I build my suit just off the security camera’s view/incognito. Very logical right? But guess what? Tony not only trusts the guy one-hundred percent, he OPENLY draws up schematics and builds the suit for everyone to see. All the while it’s inter-cut that the Afghans are continually checking in on their progress and convincing themselves that they are “working on it”. Even Doctor Emmet Brown from Back to the Future built a bomb made up of pinball machine parts to confuse the terrorists in that movie.
So Tony gives the Afghans a list of stuff he will need to build them their missle. Most of the parts are already there when Tony realizes that these guys have somehow gotten a hold of all of his company’s neatest WMD’s.
Then it’s the”building” montage as Stark and friend form sheet metal and weld parts and such including the iconic iron face-plate. The uber Afghan leader is finally fed up with delays and personally pays them a visit. He threatens to kill Tony’s new friend but Tony says he needs him to finish the missle. (Uber Afghan even looks at the schematics which clearly reads as a suit and not a missle) Uber-leader gives them 24 hours or they’re dead. So they hustle up, get Tony suited and he goes on to kicks ass and escapes. His friend, in a heroic gesture gives up his own life to buy Tony some time by engaging the insurgents while the iron suit charged up. In a massive fireball, Tony launches himself away from the terrorist camp and lands in a scrap heap a few miles away. He wanders the desert but is soon rescued by American troops.
HUH? First of all his friend was exactly who he said he was. Just another prisoner. In the throws of death he tells Tony that his family had already been murdered and he had nothing to live for. Now he can join them in the afterlife. I kept waiting for this guy to betray him or something but he doesn’t. NO ONE IS EXACTLY WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE!! If so then we can pack it in and call it a day folks.
2. Tony upon returning to civilization decides his company can no longer make weapons because they kill people. Obadiah Stane, the man who helps stark run his company does his best to diffuse the situation. He is leads us to believe he’s nicey-nice but he turns out to be the guy that wants Tony out of the picture. Thank goodness finally someone who is not who they say they are! Obadiah not only wants Tony dead (he ordered the ambush on his convoy) but he’s also “dealing under the table” by selling weapons to those same Afghan terrorrists who kill innocent people.
HUH? Why all this elaborate mumbo jumbo? Obadiah is a powerful man himself and could have rubbed Tony out easily. He lives fast and drives fast cars? Stage an accident or something?… And why where the same people that Obadiah sold weapons to want Stark to build them their own personal Jericho?? Obadiah was already supplying them with WMD’s, why not just give them the Jericho (which by the way, they end up miraculously acquiring in the middle of the movie) in the first place??? My head hurts.
On top of that, the afghans recover the remains of the original iron suit in the desert (where Tony and the military decide to just leave there for no apparent reason) so Obadiah can conveniently make his own IRON MONGER suit.
There are more incredible plot holes but I really don’t want this post to go longer than it already has. Despite these issues, IRON MAN is a really fun movie and I don’t think there’s an actor out there than could have played Tony than Robert Downey Jr. It’s just too bad they couldn’t find time to polish their story.
So it goes for Iron Man. Bring on the sequels. But now my money is on SPEED RACER.