Iron Man makes a strong showing

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Even though spring still has the nation in its flowery clutches, it is time for the summer blockbuster season in Hollywood. That means wicked computer graphic imagery, big budgets, bigger explosions and little plot.

For the past few years, the kick-off to the summer blockbuster seems to be comic book adaptations, and this year is no exception with the May 2 debut of "Iron Man," a Marvel comic from the 1960s.

In what can only be described as a brilliant casting decision, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy and genius inventor. After his father’s death, he inherits Stark Industries, a company invested in everything from alternative energy, medical research and weapons manufacturing.

On a trip to Afghanistan to demonstrate his new breakthrough missile, The Jericho, Stark is captured by Afghan warlords and forced to create weapons of mass destruction for them. (The weapons and materials the insurgents have acquired are all products of Stark Industries.)

Despite being kept alive by what looks like something that could be seen going to a rave, he, along with sensitive medical doctor Yinsen (Shaun Taub) decide to use their brains to get out of their prisoner of war status.

While cameras monitor their every move, they build the first Iron Man armor fitted with flame throwers, machine guns, missiles and rockets.

After his narrow escape, Stark comes home and, much to his right hand man’s (Obadiah Stane, played by Jeff Bridges) dismay, announces his plans to shut down weapons manufacturing operations. He is still the same charming sleaze as before, but he wants to make a different impact after his captivity and near death experience.

As this is an origin of "Iron Man" movie, his background covers a good hour of the 126-minute flick. It does not drag on though, Downey Jr. makes sure of that. In fact, the slower parts of the movie come whenever he is off screen. For instance, did anyone else think the scene where Pepper Potts, (Gwyneth Paltrow) Stark’s personal assistant, goes to retrieve classified computer information lasted forever? I know they were going for suspense, but it just seemed like you could reach infinity faster.

The rest of the movie is spent either testing out his latest Iron Man models, or dealing with the betrayal from a trusted friend.

In this computer graphic heavy movie, the Iron Man suit looks awesome. It is not as sweet looking as the Batmobile in "Batman Begins" (2005), but it isn’t as stupid looking as the Golden Gate Bridge scene in "X-Men: The Last Stand."

The only thing I had to roll my eyes at were when Iron Man comes back to Afghanistan to take out the rest of his Stark Industries missiles (and the remaining insurgents who captured him), and the end fight with the Iron Monger. (When did that thing get so large?)

I admit to not knowing much about the comic, which could be a good thing. I didn’t spend my time wondering why they didn’t add this or that (evilly looking at "X-Men" movie franchise for not putting in comic crush Gambit), but instead spent my time enjoying this good movie.

I gave this film a B.


Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.

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