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Iron Man

I have been driving Susan nuts by humming the Black Sabbath song incessantly. “I… am… Iron Man!” Which are not the actual lyrics. “Dah dah dah dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah!”

Does everyone know I put spoilers in my reviews? OK, good.

I think it’s the best acting we’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. Downey’s fussy and scared and pissed off in appropriate measure. In a way, yeah, he’s playing himself in that Tony Stark has addiction problems and a lot of money. On the other hand, Downey isn’t living a life overshadowed by the achievements of his father, with a mentor who he looks to for paternal wisdom. So there’s that.

Likewise, Jeff Bridges is good. It’s tricky to make the big fight scenes work, what with the masks and all. Bridges does this nice slow patient simmer throughout the movie, which means it’s easy to believe that the big giant suit of armor is letting out all that tension through the thrill of physical violence. You know it’s Bridges inside there not because he takes his hat off at the end, but because Bridges portrayed a character who’d get off on acting the way the suit acts.

Also good: Paltrow! Not expected. I’ve seen her turn in good performances, but it’s usually in the chilly socially superior roles, so I wasn’t expecting her to do a good job as Pepper Potts. Possibly it’s that she needs a character with a lot of reserve and a lot of pride? Either way, yep, that worked. And Terrence Howard is great as Stark’s other pal. I’ve literally never seen him before — no, I lie, I’ve seen Dead Presidents. But I don’t remember it. Anyway, he’s got kind of a thankless role, but I liked him holding down the acting fort while Tony’s jetting around with a mask on in foreign airspace.

OK, so great acting. Allow me to summarize the CGI with this: “Yep, the CGI isn’t getting in the way of the movie any more, good times.”

The script, well, I liked the dialogue. Unfortunately, I think the plot reveals that Favreau falls prey to one of the comic book movie traps; he doesn’t give the story enough weight. You kind of want to do something, even just a throwaway, to establish why Stark is willing to use the same battery for both his pacemaker and his powered armor. And it’s helpful to explain why modern surgery is unable to get shrapnel fragments out of someone, given that an electromagnet can hold ’em back from penetrating the heart. Maybe turning up the power on the magnet would help?

I think it bugs me a little in retrospect — and it didn’t bug me during the movie at all — because you can maybe work around that stuff. Tony’s obviously too busy to get surgery, and he’s a stubborn bastard, so throw that line in there. The scene with Pepper swapping out fusion generators is a great scene, but it means that Tony clearly can build multiples of the thing, so there’s no reason not to put one (or two) in each suit of armor. I’m not a screenwriter, so I won’t come up with a glib fix. It’s just a plot hole of minor importance.

None of this kept me from thinking it’s in the top echelon of superhero movies. Again: best acting. And a good script, mostly, just with those few casual flaws.

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