Iron Man” (Paramount, 100 min. Rated PG-13). You really have to wonder just what movie you paid to see when this picture starts out.
At first, you feel as if you are viewing a contemporary war flick, since the setting is in Afghanistan. Humvees are blown sky-high and American soldiers are getting shot at a relentless pace by unseen forces. The only survivor of this convoy is millionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who invents powerful and deadly missiles.
This attack has been brought on by Stark’s own making and puts him in a near-death position with shrapnel moving towards his heart. A middle-aged scientist/prisoner named Yinsen, puts together an artificial super-powered heart (so to speak) to keep Stark alive.As prisoners, they are forced to put together Tony’s latest piece of weaponry, but instead they devise a costume made of iron in their efforts to escape the terrorists’ stronghold. They succeed, with Yinsen sacrificing his life so that Stark can escape. Eventually, he is rescued and brought back to America, where he decides to end his mass-weapon business and start doing something good for his country.
Unfortunately, co-founder of Tony’s company is Obadiah Stane (played by a hairless Jeff Bridges). Stone secretly thwarts Tony’s intentions in his quest to take over the company upon learning of the iron suit Tony invented while in captivity. Meanwhile, Tony has built a more up-to-date costume, and is able to fly easily and shoot bolts of high energy from his hands. This all leads up to a one-on-one confrontation between the two all-metal warriors.
Downey has slimmed down for this role. The man is talented and this is the best thing he’s done since “Chaplin.” Rounding out the cast is Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark’s love interest, employee Pepper Potts, and Terrence Howard as military-buddy Jim Rhodes. Of course, Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee makes one of his on-camera cameos (but you have to find him).
Overall, this is the first of the summertime extravaganzas - The Incredible Hulk will make a return in June. Excelsior! Make mine Marvel!
Rating: 4 of 4 film reels.
“Speed Racer” (Warner Bros., 130 min. Rated PG). If psychedelic and rainbow color screens are your cup of tea, then by all means “Speed Racer” is the film for you.
The acting is pure ham all the way and the story is about 45 minutes too long, but the effects are quite spectacular and glitzy with racing scenarios that would stop any weak person’s pacemaker in a second.
Emile Hirsch plays Speed who is hell-bent on winning a dangerous race that took the life of his brother years earlier. His parents (Susan Sarandon and John Goodman) are dead-set against it, but he does have the blessing of his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci), little brother (Paulie Litt) and his pet monkey Chim-Chim (a real treat to watch above all the other cast members).
Even the mysterious “Racer X” (Matthew Fox) backs Speed, but there are others who want him out of the picture entirely. This group includes a very rich and evil racing mogul (Roger Allum) who is linked with a gang of thugs who make their victims prey to a tank full of hungry piranhas. All in all, the picture is not too bad, but as I said, it could have been a bit shorter.
It’s still entertainment and I give this a rating of 2 of 4 film reels.