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Reviews
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

NOLAN'S BATMAN FILMS ARE FAR SUPERIOR!!!

GOOD! NOTHING MORE! FAVREAU DIDN'T SHOW US YOU CAN MAKE A GREAT COMIC BOOK FILM! NOLAN DID! THIS IS AVERAGE. GOOD BUT TYPICAL! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 10:43, 01 May 2009 | Report This Post


NOLAN'S BATMAN FILMS ARE FAR SUPERIOR!!!

GOOD! NOTHING MORE! FAVREAU DIDN'T SHOW US YOU CAN MAKE A GREAT COMIC BOOK FILM! NOLAN DID! THIS IS AVERAGE. GOOD BUT TYPICAL! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 10:43, 01 May 2009 | Report This Post


OVER RATED!!!

I admit the film is good. But that's all iti is. All this talk about how it's the perfect Blockbuster movie is gorilla balls! Robert Downey Jr is the best part of this film. But other than him. Evey other aspect of the film is just average. It is not a great movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shaunyboy27 at 10:39, 01 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man

its a classic block buster ... More

Posted by Globed at 06:22, 01 May 2009 | Report This Post


AWESOME!!!!!

This is a brilliant film!! The actors are perfect, the action is fantastic and Jon Favreau proved that you really can make a superhero film, that stays well and close to the comics, become one of the best superhero films of all time. Just in one word.... AWESOME!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MadMatty15 at 11:23, 07 April 2009 | Report This Post


AWESOME!!!!!

This is a brilliant film!! The actors are perfect, the action is fantastic and Jon Favreau proved that you really can make a superhero film, that stays well and close to the comics, become one of the best superhero films of all time. Just in one word.... AWESOME!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MadMatty15 at 11:23, 07 April 2009 | Report This Post


Perfect

I loved the movie and thought Rober Downey JR was perfect for the role. Looking forward to seeing the next one. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JDN at 01:08, 03 March 2009 | Report This Post


Great fun

So, it doesn't really do anything new within superhero genre, but it delivers in slick and fun fashion. Plus Downey Jr is amazing and has into his character right from the start. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SkullKassidy at 19:26, 28 February 2009 | Report This Post


Robert Downey Jr. Steals the Show

this film was fast, fun ,exciting, well written, well acted, great special effects and if the dark knight hadnt have come along would be the best superhero film of the year but is without a doubt one of the best superhero films ever made. Great Fun! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 07:56, 25 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man

5 stars !  ... More

Posted by Worldz at 17:30, 22 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Overated

I watched Iron Man and Hulk at the cinema - at the time I thought Iron Man was superior, but having watched them both on DVD, the Hulk came out top 2nd time round. Dunno why. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 14:08, 05 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Overated

L: shawmab Just not as good as people claim, Looked good, FX were good. Downey Jr was charismatic (We knew that already) and suits the genre well. Story was boring. It was too long. sp; Just seen this and quite agree with you. It was pretty dull really but I have high hopes for the sequel. ... More

Posted by Guchmeister at 11:20, 04 November 2008 | Report This Post


Overated

Just not as good as people claim, Looked good, FX were good. Downey Jr was charismatic (We knew that already) and suits the genre well. Story was boring. It was too long. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawmab at 19:04, 31 October 2008 | Report This Post


"Decidedly Average" is Right

The first star is the effects, the second star is Downey Jr's watchable but not particularly good performance. I just don't get the furore ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Silvertouch at 08:36, 29 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man

The Dark Knight is about 6478 times better, but Empire are right - this film set up enough stuff for the sequel to be a hell of a lot better. ... More

Posted by hatebox at 12:49, 26 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man

I think it has the potential to spawn great sequels, but I did think it lacked something. The cast were great, particularly Downey Jr and I did like the way they established the character, but I thought the end was a bit of an anti climax. ... More

Posted by TellThatMickHeJust at 02:25, 25 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man

L: Larry of Arabia Saw this the other day, and although I can understand people liking this for the fun and what Downey Jr., Bridges and Paltrow brought to the table, it's not quite as good as all the praise would have you believe, I thought. It is a very solid, entertaining two hours, but the direction and story for me let it down slightly. Storywise, this was probably due to it being an origin story, but with the direction, I don't feel Favreau is particularly accomplished yet. That may... More

Posted by TellThatMickHeJust at 02:20, 25 October 2008 | Report This Post


Iron Man

This truly is Downey Jr´s year and he has made one hell of a comeback. The star´s second greatest role of the year so far is in this film(the best being as Lazarus in Tropic Thunder) as the egotistical millionare Tony Stark whose privaliges change when he finds out that his technology is being used for evil doings and deeds, he is kidnapped by a middle eastern terrorist organisation that wants him to build a wepon for them. He builds a suit during his captivity that keeps him alive whi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AxelB at 00:12, 22 October 2008 | Report This Post


Pretty good

Man, this movie had real potential. It was enjoyable enough though. Very good CGI, but no credibilty. I mean, how does the guy build a super-duper robot in a CAVE with NO TOOLS? Oh yeah, he also develops the world's most sophisticated power source while in the cave. ROFLMFAO ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mojo88 at 22:42, 21 October 2008 | Report This Post


great movie

irob man is a truly great film robert downy jr is brilliant in this movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanand conor at 14:34, 15 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man (2008)

I'd give this movie four stars and Robert Downey Jr earns half of that on his own with a super performance as Stark. I've been getting pretty bored with superhero movies but I really enjoyed this for one major reason. It's basically more sci-fi than superhero and Stark's creations are just for want of a better word/ swear word - fucking cool. I thought the action was first rate and the supporting cast (Bridges and Paltrow mainly) were excellent as well. Jeff Bridges' suit was another qu... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 12:56, 10 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man (2008)

Out of this years (2008) comic book flicks, Iron Man was the "best" of a very bad bunch. I found the slapstick humour c/o  director Jon Favreau to act as an unconscious apology for the material (think how silly and parodic the Chris Reeve Superman movies became, for example) and the sub Bogey/Bacall, Nick & Nora type patter between Paltrow and Downey Jnr. didn`t work at all. Neither did the set pieces - yes, we i]R.D. Jnr. is Iron Man at the end of the movie - keep your ... More

Posted by ElSloano64 at 15:14, 02 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Iron Man (2008)

Decidedly average film, only good thing about it was Bridges playing a villain (but all to briefly). ... More

Posted by bozo at 01:23, 02 October 2008 | Report This Post


Iron Man (2008)

Art from n from Yahoo.com ... More

Posted by Mason Verger at 15:40, 29 September 2008 | Report This Post


Fantastic..

..I enjoyed this every bit as much as Nolan's Batman films. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jim Bob at 09:16, 22 September 2008 | Report This Post


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