Robert Downey Jr.’s snappy patter doesn’t save hulking Iron Man.
Iron Man (Paramount, 2008) D: Jon Favreau, w/ Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow. Rating: NN; DVD package: NNN
The dullest superhero movie this side of Ang Lee's The Hulk just got duller. Strip away the movie theatre's great big picture and sound and it becomes painfully obvious that there's nothing here but a shabby story blandly told.
Playboy arms-maker/dealer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) gets captured by terrorists in the Middle East, undergoes a literal change of heart and, upon escaping and returning home, shuts down arms production because he's discovered that America's enemies are using his products. His business partner (Jeff Bridges) seizes control of the company. Then the tin suits battle to the death.
Here's the shabby: Stark's change of heart hasn't moved him from warmonger to peacenik - he just wants to limit his client base. The baddie will sell to anyone. That makes the grand finale merely a fight over corporate control. Whoopee. Bounce that off the feeling you get from watching Batman fight the Joker or the bitter doom of Sin City.
Right now somebody's hollering, "It's a popcorn movie - you're not supposed to think!" Don't listen to them. It's just studio disinformation. Entertainment is engagement. The more engaged you are, the more entertained. Don't settle for shoddy goods.
Spectacle entertains, but we've seen all this before and done better: the flying, the explosions, the high-tech gear and candy-coloured suit. Old hat. Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow (his not-quite-love interest) entertain with snappy patter. Bridges tries, but his best dialogue has been left to the disc-one deleted scenes. Rule of thumb: a boring villain makes a weak thriller.
You won't find much about story in the high-quality extras package, but there's a good look at effects and stunt work, and the actors' remarks on why they took the roles are worth noting.
EXTRAS Disc one: Deleted and extended scenes. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles. Disc two: Seven-part making-of doc, six-part Iron Man comics doc, visual effects doc, Downey screen test and rehearsal footage, more. Widescreen. French, Spanish subtitles.