Movie Review: Iron Man

May 10, 2008
Aaman Lamba

What if Goliath turned against the Philistines? David wouldn't be really needed, save as a spark, or a mirror to show the seeds of destruction sowed by the makers of sickles and swords. The walls of Jericho might come down, and the horror of crumbling bricks be revealed in small villages off Haditha or perhaps Gulmira, Afghanistan.

Iron Man carries dangerous memes with it, perhaps the kind that increase the knowing to a point where it breaks out of the pages of comic books. Then again, the knowledge has always been there, and shadows on curtains provided simulacra of reality, audiences have taken it in, had glimmers of awareness, then let it drift away, or buried it under unending torrents of media messages.

Tony Stark finally understands what he has probably already known - and breaks away from his carefully cultivated playboy image. It is a mission of self-redemption, by a knight in shining armor, quite literally. He is looking to make up for a lifetime, indeed a familial sense of guilt, and yet, his actions are explained away as 'accidents' or 'training exercises', yet again enabling media masseurs to manage reality. His attempt at balancing the scales between the asymmetrical counter-parties might be in vain, and the film avoids any examination of ultimate responsibility. The villains are stereotypical bad guys, and the centurions not expected to reason the whys and wherefores of their actions.

The best parts of the film are the intensely detailed engineering scenes, a kind of geekporn-meets-steampunk mashup.  Post-modern user interfaces, including one that looks like what Microsoft Surface might turn out to be, and intricate CGI stunts blend, but don't quite flow together well. The CGI could have been better, especially in the flying scenes. The reactor is a bit fishy, especially in a climatic scene where the prototype explodes at the cost of one faux-Iron Man, yet spares the real steel.

Robert Downey, Jr., gives the role his all, yet comes across as Terminator on a Robocop mission, cloaked in a XOS exoskeleton. This is more interesting, given we know of his own failings at the all-too-human level. His transformation from smooth-talking playboy to metalmouth is compelling, and the shift in acting style quite evident. He does not turn misanthropic, or even pacifist, going for the counter-terrorist angle. The lightweight Jon Favreau could have done more with his source material, yet went for a gently muddled anti-war, pro-little guy tale, a safe bet when dealing with masters of destruction. He does go further in the quest of authenticity, than say, Spider-Man, with quite graphic scenes of torture. There are various layers to the film, despite its weaknesses, and it is most definitely enjoyable and promising, from a franchise perspective.

Aaman Lamba is the Publisher of, a Blogcritics network site. He also blogs, more infrequently nowadays, at Audit Trails Of Self
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May 10, 2008
02:46 AM

I thought the movie gave a faithful rendition of the hero's origin story, while also providing a stylishly updated, contemporary look.

With a sequel having been announced, I'm hoping we'll see more kick-ass action, acting and intelligent story-telling.

May 10, 2008
02:50 AM

Here's a distant memory from the past:

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