We believe all of it on that marvelous level that transcends our pedestrian reality.

Iron Man

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            “Iron Man” is everything a summer blockbuster should be. It has a hero, a villain, a love interest, and a sidekick - each portrayed by a highly respected actor known for versatility. These are, of course, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard. When actors of this caliber lend their talents to a big Hollywood movie, the result is likely to be especially rewarding – a busman’s holiday of sorts. Though this is a remarkable team effort, Robert Downey Jr. is riveting in his wit and endearing in his vulnerability. He is a genuinely stylish actor.

            If you like James Bond, if you melted to Christopher Reeve flying through the sky as Superman, or if you read the earliest Superman comics, you will love this movie. Referencing bits of all of these, “Iron Man” adds a good plot, crackling dialogue, a fine score, and special effects that produce a huge “Wow” factor.

            Director Jon Favreau takes only five minutes or so to sketch our hero’s background. Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries is the maverick son of the founder of this company that manufactures and sells weapons to anyone who wants them. Tony, the passionate inventor of new products, takes a trip to Afghanistan to demonstrate his newest missile only to be blown up by his own weapons. By the time the scene is over we understand the father, the company, and the son. Captured and held in a mountain cave, Tony questions his own assumptions as he works on a prototype that may eventually become a force for good.

            The rest of the movie is Tony’s headlong race to shift his company’s philosophy from evil (Jeff Bridges’ Obidiah Stane) to good (the new Tony). He can depend on his loyal assistant, Pepper Potts (GynethPaltrow) and his military advisor (Terrence Howard), but the momentum is his own. Tony, enduring the risks and accidents that attend the inventor’s trade, works in a spectacular garage/lab on level #1 of his even more spectacular house. Carved into a Malibu mountainside, it is unattended by staff or peripheral characters. This is a man who works alone – unless he happens to need Pepper Potts for special tasks.

            Downey endows Tony with a conscience, a warm heart, and a glib tongue. We laugh at his one-liners, root for him to love Pepper, and hope he blows the terrorists sky high as he protects Afghan citizens. We even feel protective of this guy, impaired as he always is by the accidents of his trade. By the time his superb creation – Iron Man – lifts off with his foot thrusters, we believe all of it on that marvelous level that transcends our pedestrian reality. Tony and the audience sail into the land of comic books and into the inspired sky fight between the powerful villain and the glorious red and gold titanium alloyed man who has become the symbol of conscience.

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