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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Gwyneth Paltrow
Robert Downey Jr.
Terrence Howard
Jeff Bridges
Shaun Toub
Leslie Bibb.
Directors
Jon Favreau.
Screenwriters
Arthur Marcum
Matt Holloway.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr tackles ol’ Shellhead


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Plot
Tony Stark (Downey Jr) is a mechanical genius, playboy businessman and CEO of a major weapons manufacturer whose family motto is, “Peace means having a bigger stick”. But when a trip to Afghanistan goes explosively wrong, he’s mortally wounded and captured by Talibanish baddies. So he hatches a hi-tech escape plan, which also gives birth to his ironclad, wrong-righting alter ego…


Review
Iron Man
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Iron Man is an origin story in more ways than one. This is, after all, the first true Marvel Studios picture, the first fully financed by the comic-book publishers-turned-entertainment megahouse. And, with north of $150 million dollars invested, it represents a risky way of kick-starting your business. Especially when you look at the creative team: some great names, with several Oscar nominations between them (and one statuette, for Gwyneth), but none who have ever opened a summer blockbuster. Kudos to Marvel for going for talent over big-name draw – a gambit the studio’s also taken for the upcoming Incredible Hulk. But kudos doesn’t cover overheads. You can almost hear the collective breath-holding over at Beverley Boulevard while those multi-million-dollar dice are being rolled…

Origin stories are tricky things, too – they too often feel like feature-length pilots for intended franchises. X-Men suffered from being all set-up and no pay-off, and even Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Batman Begins was less sure of how to climax than it was of how to, well, begin. And where’s it written that comic-book franchises need origin stories? It didn’t hurt Indiana Jones, Connery’s James Bond or Captain Jack Sparrow that they arrived on our screens fully formed. Superheroes these days require a full C.V. and cover letter to get into our multiplexes – especially the Marvel mob.

The problem isn’t so much that origin stories themselves are inherently uncompelling, rather that by the film’s midpoint they’ve run out of steam, leaving the latter half, and usually a rushed final act, to summon up and dispense with a token threat, the hero’s mettle duly tested. For all the bold casting and inventive selection of director, Iron Man certainly doesn’t break the mould on this front. It opens dramatically and impressively with the tinkle of icecubes in whisky, casual references to Maxim cover girls and an explosion, setting up Tony Stark as an amoral, money-grabbing high-flyer who is felled with inevitable irony by his own hardware, incarcerated in a cave and ordered by Afghan guerillas to build a mountain-levelling missile. It’s in these harsh, subterranean surroundings that Stark travels most of his character arc, discovering a conscience and constructing the Ned Kelly-style ‘Mark One’ suit of armour (which looks absolutely nothing like the missile that was on the menu, but somehow his captors don’t notice, despite the fact that they keep him under constant video surveillance). Logic-lapses aside, it’s the most thrilling part of the movie, and it’s over all too soon.

Don’t misunderstand us – there’s still much to enjoy. There’s winning comedy in Stark’s suit-perfecting misadventures, involving a dash of Wile E. Coyote slapstick and some great deadpanning from Downey Jr as he teases and berates his robot-arm assistants, one of whom is a little too eager with the fire extinguisher. And the acting-powerhouse cast don’t disappoint. Jeff Bridges may be more typically pitched these days as the amiable slouch, but his Obidiah Stane is crisp, bullish and hard-edged, even if he’s the worst-kept secret-bad-guy since Palpatine. Meanwhile, as the terribly named Pepper Potts, Gwyneth Paltrow invests the thankless archetype of the torch-holding secretary with true warmth, and her scenes with Downey Jr zing with smart banter and thrum with unrequited passion. And, in case you hadn’t guessed, the role of Stark fits Downey Jr like a titanium-alloy, servo-assisted glove, the back-from-the-brink actor veering nimbly between the swaggering and sensitive sides of his character, never mistiming a wisecrack.

Yet once Downey Jr’s in the completed red and gold robosuit, and it’s revealed precisely how his former captors clapped their hands on his lethal hardware, the movie loses momentum. Building on its fine, inexplicably Oscar-denied FX for Transformers, ILM’s photo-real work on Iron Man himself is flawless, yet Favreau – so much more an actor’s director – makes the action scenes too brief, too flippant; a zoom here, a flash there, with plenty of pulse, thump and crunch, but never the sustained symphony of cybernetic smashmouth and state-of-the-art firepower you might have hoped for – notwithstanding any squeamishness you may have about one arguably too-topical battleground.

It’s a minor disappointment, thankfully not crushing enough to drain us of anticipation for future instalments, but it’s good to have the obligatory origin episode out of the way. Marvel’s gamble will likely pay off, and that collective breath should be comfortably exhaled. Here’s hoping, though, that future projects will prove as creative in the storytelling as in the casting. Over to you, Dr Banner…


Verdict
It’s not sure where to go once the final Iron Man suit is constructed, and seems in a rush to get there, but Downey Jr and the supporting cast are so perfectly placed we're already looking forward to the bound-to-be-better sequel.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Iron Man
Empire Star Rating

The best of Phase 1 Marvel

I fully agree that the final act of the film is its weakest...but it's still bloody great, and rides in on the back of a completely engrossing origin story written with genuine love and played with poise and skill by all concerned. Raimi's Spiderman is the only other phase 1 movie that comes close, and it shares the same qualities: perfect casting, respect and affection for the material, and a focus on the flaws of its hero. So each to their own, but 3 stars for this?! That seems just wilfull... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wedgeski at 15:38, 16 July 2013 | Report This Post


Iron Man Review

Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey make this smart, high impact superhero movie one that even non-comics fans can enjoy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 14:08, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


ironman

i coudn't take this film seriously. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 05:00, 05 December 2011 | Report This Post


Evolution not Revolution from Marvel

I would agree that Iron man is certainly fresh and likeable entertaiment with charismatic actors like Downey Jr and Paltrow involved, but it isnt half as interesting as what history seems to have made out. I found it quite predictable and the ending a little over the top. Aside from this being Downey's film, it feels buisness as usual as far as marvel is concerned. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 22:44, 15 August 2011 | Report This Post


Evolution not Revolution from Marvel

I would agree that Iron man is certainly fresh and likeable entertaiment with charismatic actors like Downey Jr and Paltrow involved, but it isnt half as interesting as what history seems to have made out. I found it quite predictable and the ending a little over the top. Aside from this being Downey's film, it feels buisness as usual as far as marvel is concerned. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 22:44, 15 August 2011 | Report This Post


Fun, Boneheaded Entertainment

Robert Downey Jr couldn't be better cast as the lovably smug Tony Stark. His dubious morals and ironic witticisms make him an always interesting character to watch, and Downey Jr. does an impressive job. That's something this film offers that not many other comic book movies do these days. Most get so caught up in making the films 'dark' or more 'adult', that they end up being no fun. Iron Man is tons of fun and as has more of an entertainment factor than a million Dark Knights. The story is som... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 11:22, 23 May 2011 | Report This Post


Fun, Boneheaded Entertainment

Robert Downey Jr couldn't be better cast as the lovably smug Tony Stark. His dubious morals and ironic witticisms make him an always interesting character to watch, and Downey Jr. does an impressive job. That's something this film offers that not many other comic book movies do these days. Most get so caught up in making the films 'dark' or more 'adult', that they end up being no fun. Iron Man is tons of fun and as has more of an entertainment factor than a million Dark Knights. The story is som... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 11:21, 23 May 2011 | Report This Post


Fun, Boneheaded Entertainment

Robert Downey Jr couldn't be better cast as the lovably smug Tony Stark. His dubious morals and ironic witticisms make him an always interesting character to watch, and Downey Jr. does an impressive job. That's something this film offers that not many other comic book movies do these days. Most get so caught up in making the films 'dark' or more 'adult', that they end up being no fun. Iron Man is tons of fun and as has more of an entertainment factor than a million Dark Knights. The story is som... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 11:21, 23 May 2011 | Report This Post


Awaome

This is one of the greats of the superhero genre. Jon Favereau creates a movie that is full of light comedy, Big Action and buckets of fun. It reminded me of Richard Donners Superman. Iron Man 2 is not up to the same standard though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bnicholson50 at 20:59, 20 August 2010 | Report This Post


Some flaws but excellent direction!

The villain was no suspense plus the making of Iron Monger was too quick. But the kidnapping ad building a blue print version was excellent ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sumiebeg at 19:27, 03 July 2010 | Report This Post


Iron Man Rocks

A great movie. Downey is awesome. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 18:28, 08 May 2010 | Report This Post


Iron Man Rocks

A great movie. Downey is awesome. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 18:28, 08 May 2010 | Report This Post


Iron Man Rocks

A great movie. Downey is awesome. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 18:28, 08 May 2010 | Report This Post


Iron Man Rocks

A great movie. Downey is awesome. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 18:28, 08 May 2010 | Report This Post


As preparation to viewing part 2 next week I re-watched part 1: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/]Iron Manfter this second viewing the movie still stands up. It`s still a good mix of humour, great action and excellent acting performances by Robert Downey Jr. (with this being his highpoint in his remarkable comeback over the last few years) and especially Jeff Bridges (who actually steals the show). A lovely no-brainer. Hopefully part 2 will be as much fun as this part. /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 01:08, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post


One of the best comic book films in years

The title just about says it all. Everything one would expect from a comic book film is to be found here. The writing is rather exceptional and very fitting to this type of film, almost to the point that you will forget you are watching a Marvel movie. Robert Downey Jr. is simply a revelation: who knew a character such as Tony Stark could be given so much depth and charisma? The rest of the cast is, of course, satisfying, especially Jeff Bridges. Jon Favreau manages to balance the film's action... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 17:26, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post


if we compare this to batman begins, this is by far the better film. hopefully this will be as good if not better than the dark knight! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sir muhammad patel at 00:33, 02 April 2010 | Report This Post


Okay, Nothing Special.

Iron Man has pretty to look at with a good round of casting especially Robert Downey Jr that fits the lead role perfectly and Jeff Bridges was a unreconiseable villian with a bald head. But it's nothing special, I wasn't totally overblown with it and the action scenes are good but not really jaw-dropping. I felt the ending was done a little too quick, the relationship between Downey and Paltrow dosen't fully gel and the discovery of the villian was very preidctable. I'm sure I'm not the only one... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 14:48, 23 November 2009 | Report This Post


3!!! That's insane

How Empire could give this film 3 stars is beyond me. Great story, great action and great acting - what more can you ask for? Oh yesh - Robert Downey junior - but he's there too so watch this movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smootle at 17:53, 19 September 2009 | Report This Post


3!!! That's insane

How Empire could give this film 3 stars is beyond me. Great story, great action and great acting - what more can you ask for? Oh yesh - Robert Downey junior - but he's there too so watch this movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smootle at 17:53, 19 September 2009 | Report This Post


Downey Rules!!!

Marvels second best film (after "X-Men 2") and a really entertaining comic book film. The fourth star is for Robert Downey Jr. as "Tony Stark". What a brilliant performance and I cannot wait for the sequel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PaulJohn at 22:21, 11 June 2009 | Report This Post


3 stars?

Is a stupid review as they give the movie praise all the time when discussing the sequel. Also a very rewatchable film... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HoboCop at 15:49, 10 June 2009 | Report This Post


One of the best comic book/super hero movies ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HoboCop at 15:48, 10 June 2009 | Report This Post


One of the best comic book/super hero movies ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HoboCop at 15:48, 10 June 2009 | Report This Post


3 stars?!?

3 frigging stars?!? Really? Empire can suck my balls for such a dumb review! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jimoakley666 at 12:42, 29 May 2009 | Report This Post


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