Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Iron Man Excels

Iron Man has turned into box-office gold, raking in over $150 million since its opening two weekends ago. Like other summer blockbusters, it’s got bankable stars, CGI wizardry and comic-book source material. But it also has something many mid-year movies lack, namely an excellent story.

It came to me right after a bloodied Robert Downey Jr. staggered out of a den of murderous Middle Eastern warlords that Iron Man has precious little fat on it. That’s a rarity on any week of Hollywood’s release schedule and well-nigh miraculous during a period that’s known for bloat. Nearly every scene develops the story’s plot or characters or themes or setting. It’s a cinematic application of
Ursula Le Guin’s advice to "keep the story going and keep the reader going with it." Hence an absence of copious numbers of fight scenes (the iconic gold-and-read suit only sees action twice) and the presence of some authentic human interaction (the hero quips and flirts with his comely love interest but never actually kisses her). The only level on which the film outright fails is a thematic one. (There’s more than a little irony in building the perfect weapon in order to rid the world of weapons.)

None of this is to imply that Iron Man is a work for the ages. But it’s surely an embarrassment to the Academy that it’s
the best-reviewed film year-to-date. That honor should go to movies of weighty import, those directed by names like Coppola and Eastwood and Scorsese, right? Perhaps it would if those high-minded efforts possessed the one thing that makes pulp so pleasing -- strong narrative sense.

(Picture: CC 2005 by


Amy said...

A hearty "Amen!"

Justmatt said...

are you sure that you should have given up writing movie reviews? I mean this might be the best review I have read on the movie. You sumed it up nicely. Thanks!

Loren Eaton said...

Awww, you guys are too nice. Stop it, you're making me blush ...