I went to see Iron Man today at the Arclight, with one Mr. Jeremy Smith. He may chime in with his thoughts as well. I liked it well enough. Afterwards we went to Lucky Devils, and I had a Kobe Bacon Blue Burger (which may be the most perfect burger ever) and knocked back some Racer 5 IPA’s, which is a 7% beer. After talking about the movie on the walk over after the film, talk turned to cinema at large – as it often does with us – and other bits of business, and after going off on Stanley Kramer, I realized I hadn’t thought about the movie for at least an hour. At all.
I just got home, and have not entirely sobered up, and am contemplating whether to keep drinking and play GTA IV all night, or try and sober up over the next three hours and go out dancing. Decisions. Decisions.
My thoughts on Iron Man:
- When I was talking to Quentin Tarantino (yeah, I know) he asked about Horror Express, which played at the Dante fest at the New Beverly, and Edgar Wright (again, I know) brought up a scene where someone says to Christopher Lee “You expect us to believe that a million year old fossil thawed out and is now sucking the brains out of its victims and, absorbing their learnings?” and Christopher Lee responds with “Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to believe.” And I chimed in, “And that’s the only time it comes up and that’s never held in doubt! There’s no character wasting fifteen minutes saying ‘Oh, medical science has never seen something like this.'” to which Quentin added “Yeah, we hate scenes like that.” And it strikes me that I hate scenes like that. The film presents information that is understood and if the very premise is rested upon that, then wasting screentime dedicated to explaining to characters why what is what is useless. Sadly, Iron Man has a corker of a bad scene like this (which Jeremy brought up immediately, to which I wish I had beat him to it, because it was my least favorite scene in the film) where a character has to do something that doesn’t reveal any information that is revelatory. I get why it’s there, but it’s a waste of time, and the audience doesn’t need it. Since the film is a little fat, I don’t know why it’s in, except that Jeff Bridges adds the grace note (“Puzzle”) that almost redeems the whole thing.
- In that, such reveals that Favreau and his scripters really don’t put enough English on the ball. We see Stark’s two “hearts” as it were, and we get the set up, but a good scenario twists what we know, and that sequence is again only redeemed by the grace note. But it’s ploddingly linear.
- Jon Favreau is not a particularly good director. He’s got something of a car commercial sensibility. The action sequences are perfunctory at best. And when you compare Stark and Hulk’s trips to outer space, well, Ang Lee wins.
- What makes the film work is the performers, specifically a one Robert Downey Jr. But Gwyneth Paltrow is also excellent, and so is Jeff Bridges considering what he’s working with. Terrence Howard seems signed on for the sequel, which the film acknowledges in a ploddingly obvious way (though the bit with Clark Gregg – or is it Gregg Clark – caught me by surprise, though if his character knows what he knows, his inaction is borderline wii-tarded.)
- Man, would I love to watch Tony Stark in the party period of his life. Him on the plane with Rhodes, I get why it’s all there, and partly to sexualize a character who goes chaste after fucking Leslie Bibb. Which, you know, bully.
- Robert Downey Jr. is really amazing in the film. He makes so much work, it’s like the Jack Sparrow 2.0 performance. He comes to bring the surprise, but he also gives the character a humanity that you buy. He’s the only performer who could spell everything out for the audience in a show don’t tell moment, and make it magical. He can give a “well” or an “oh” and give it layers. The man is a heavy lifter, and this franchise couldn’t happen to a better actor.
I liked the film for the most part, but it is the very definition of ephemeral. So are most comic book movies, which have too much origin and too much Godzilla.