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Iron Man (***)
directed by Jon Favreau
written by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway,
based on comic book stories by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, and Stan's brother Larry, who wrote as Larry Leiber
Principal Cast
Robert Downey Jr. -- Tony Stark / Iron Man
Terrence Howard -- Jim Rhodes
Jeff Bridges -- Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger
Gwyneth Paltrow -- Pepper Potts
Leslie Bibb -- Christine Everhart
Shaun Toub -- Yinsen
Faran Tahir -- Raza
Sayed Badreya -- Abu Bakaar
Bill Smitrovich -- General Gabriel
Clark Gregg -- Agent Phil Coulson
Tim Guinee -- Major Allen
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Iron Man Iron Man is a fun superhero film, certainly a lot more fun than the comic book upon which it is based, whose highpoints are when the lead character became a drunk and when he turned fascist. (Ve haf vays of making you tell us your secret identity, schuperhero schvine.)

The first two screenwriters wrote the much better film, Children of Men. The second two do not have any screen credits to speak of. Were Fergus & Ostby brought on board to smarten the film up? Were Marcum & Holloway brought on to dumb it down? Time will tell, as we see what Marcum & Holloway do with The Punisher.

Of all the superheroes created by Stan Lee and the Marvel bullpen in the early 60s, Iron Man was the next to least -- the only one worse was Ant Man (who will also get his own film). Since these were the characters with which Jack Kirby was least involved, this is good evidence of how important Jack was to Stan. On the other hand, one needs only read some of the DC comics scripted by Kirby, which are bursting with ideas but read funny peculiar, to see how important Stan was to Jack. Both were best when Jack drew the story and then Stan put in the dialogue.

The film is based, loosely, on the origin story in Tales of Suspense #39, with the action moved from Vietnam to Afghanistan, and the story where the red and gold suit fights the old Iron Man suit, from Tales of Suspense #65. Neither of them is a story you would care to read today -- even the golden glow of nostalgia doesn't make them readable -- but the film has thrown out the stilted dialogue ("Only someone powerful, as powerful as Iron Man, can defeat Iron Man!") and added a lot of clever bits. Not, of course, believable bits -- the crashes Tony Stark lives through would kill anybody, armor or no armor. But fun, given a willing suspension of disbelief. The excellent acting helps.

The opening of the film is awkward. Someday the people who script action films will learn a better way of starting a story than with a big action scene followed by the words "36 hours earlier." Yes, I know Homer did it. But Homer did it better.

By all means, stick around for the credit cookie.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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