• Title:  Ironman
  • Director:  Jon Favreau
  • Date:  2008
  • Studio:  Paramount, Marvel
  • Genre:  Action, Fantasy
  • Cast:  Robert Downey Jr, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“So you’re a man who has everything and nothing.”  — Yinsen (when Tony tells him he has no family)

“Thank you for saving me.”  — Tony Stark
“Don’t waste it.  Don’t waste your life.”  — Yinsen

“I saw young Americans killed by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them.  And I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero accountability.”  — Tony Stark

When we first meet Tony Stark, well, when we first meet him — he’s getting blown up by one of his own weapons manufacturing company’s weapons — but the film quickly flashes back and shows us the previous thirty-six hours of Tony’s life.  Tony Stark is rich, powerful, irresponsible, a playboy, and a bit of a jerk.  He has no idea what his own company is doing, though he thinks he does, and he probably doesn’t care.  On a publicity trip to Iraq or Afghanistan to demonstrate his company new weapon, the Jericho missile (a multi-warhead missile that reminds me of the “probes” in Stargate:  Atlantis), Tony’s convoy home is attacked.  And thus we are back where the teaser to the film starts – the convoy is blown-up, and Tony is blown-up by a Stark Industries weapon.

Tony wakes in a rebel camp, the multi-national Ten Rings group.  He’s tortured, but his life is also saved by an electro-magnet installed in his chest by a man also being held captive, Yinsen.  Yinsen is learnéd, a doctor, and had met Tony before at a lecture, though Tony doesn’t remember him.  The rebels demand that Tony build them a Jericho rocket.  Tony refuses.  Then he agrees, but instead of building the rebels a weapon, he builds a suit (and a miniature arc reactor to power the electro-magnet in his chest keeping the shrapnel from entering his heart).  His plan is for he and Yinsen to get out of there.  Yinsen dies in the attempt, but Tony not only gets out, he uses a flame-thrower to burn-up the cache of weapons and several of the rebels.

Rhodey, Tony’s friend from the Air Force, rescues him and returns him to Pepper Potts, his administrative assistant.  Tony refuses medical attention, asks for a cheeseburger, and has Pepper arrange a press conference.  At the conference, he announces Stark Industries will no longer manufacture weapons.  Obadiah steps in and shuts him up.  Tony isn’t pleased.

Tony has shown himself  to be an excellent engineer — with the ability to not only plan how to make something, but to actually assemble it — with skills in welding, forging metal, building things, and improving things.  He uses the paladium from some of the weapons in the rebel cave to forge a ring that powers his arc reactor, as well as making the Mark I  Ironman suit.

Tony returns to “The Orphanage”, his home in presumably California, and begins working on improving his Arc Reactor.  Obadiah tells him “the board” thinks he has PTSD, and orders an injunction against him, freezing him out.  Tony still insists Stark Industries will no longer make weapons.  He returns to his workshop and starts the Mark II Ironman suit.  Tony, again, is an excellent engineer — and some of the best scenes in the film are of him working, by himself, to solve a problem.

And by the bye — I WANT a Jarvis!  A computerized butler, assistant, and 3-D computer interface.  Jarvis goes on my short list of SF inventions I want (along with, say a TARDIS), but I digress.

Tony goes to the Fire-Fighters ball that one of  his charities sponsors, and dances with Pepper, but then discovers (a) Stark Industries is selling weapons to the enemy, (b) Obadiah froze Tony out so he could continue to do so.  Finding about about Stark weapons being used to target Gulmira, Yinsen’s home town, Tony gets into the Ironman gear and decides to do something.  He kicks butt, basically.

More confirmation that Obadiah is not Tony’s friend:  he’s paying the rebels (in cash and weapons), and asked them to kill Tony Stark.  And this was before Tony becomes Ironman.  Obadiah takes the pieces of Tony’s original survival suit (which were left in the desert) to Level 16 of Stark Industries, so he can make more suits.  Tony needs proof of this so he sends in Pepper to get that proof.  But she doesn’t immediately agree — that their conversation says a lot about both characters and their relationship.

“There is the next mission and nothing else.”  — Tony
“Is that so?  Well, then, I quit.”  — Pepper
“You stood by my side all these years while I reaped the benefits of destruction.  And now that I’m trying to protect the people I put in harm’s way; You’re going to walk out?” — Tony
“You’re going to kill yourself, Tony.  I’m not going to be a part of  it.” — Pepper
“I shouldn’t be alive, unless it was for a reason.  I’m not crazy, Pepper.  I just finally know what I have to do.  And I know in my heart that it’s right.” — Tony

Tony is learning responsibility, and he’s starting to acknowledge his feelings for Pepper.  Feelings she’s returned but for the fact that he’s her boss.  But there is a caring between the two.

Pepper gets the info and runs into Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D.  But Obadiah gets to Tony first, stuns him, takes the arc reactor, threatens to kill Pepper, and informs Tony he’s going to make an army of Ironman suits to sell to the highest bidder.  Dying, Tony tries to get to his workshop to put the old arc reactor in his chest.  Meanwhile, Pepper is frantic — worrying about Tony.  She sends Rhodey to him.

Tony is able to get in the Ironman suit and fight Obadiah.  Though S.H.I.E.L.D. prepares an alibi for Tony – he admits before a press conference that he is Ironman – cut to end credits.

Ironman walks the path of many more traditional hero stories — the hero (to be) is a jerk, with problems understanding the real world.  The hero faces a life-altering threat.  A mentor helps the hero see his true path, but dies.  The hero emerges in a new guise but isn’t quite ready or the completed/perfect hero yet. There’s another crisis.  By walking through the fire of  the second crisis — the hero becomes the final, complete, perfected hero he is meant to be.  However, the film does it with style — and the artful talents of Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow — both of whom are excellent in this.  Enjoyable and fun!

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  4 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Ironman II

Sherlock Holmes

  • Title:  Sherlock Holmes
  • Director:  Guy Ritchie
  • Date:  2009
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers
  • Genre:  Action, Mystery
  • Cast:  Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work. The sooner the better.”  — Sherlock Holmes

“Holmes, you must widen your gaze. I’m concerned you underestimate the gravity of coming events. You and I are bound together on a journey that will twist the very fabric of Nature. But beneath your mask of logic, I sense a fragility that worries me. Steel your mind, Holmes. I need you.”  — Lord Blackwood

“It is a huge mistake to theorize before one has data. Inevitably, one begins to twist facts to suit theories … instead of theories to suit facts.”  — Sherlock Holmes

I loved this movie when I originally saw it, and it really loses none of it’s appeal upon subsequent re-watchings. Robert Downey Jr is playing Holmes as an action hero, as he should be played. And his relationship with Watson (Jude Law) is perfect! They complement each other perfectly, and one can see how they drive each other crazy but still have a strong friendship and caring for each other. Thrown also into the mix is Irene Adler (Yes, her name gets mis-pronounced — it should be “I–REIGN-ah”), but anyway — she and Holmes have known each other for awhile, and Watson tantalizingly says that Holmes and Adler ran into each other twice and she beat him both times. But Irene Adler still has secrets, and she’s working for a mysterious man. Even once she tries to get out from under his clutches — she is pulled back in, and can only warn Holmes about Professor Moriarty.

Meanwhile, Watson seeks to marry his Mary — and Holmes seeks to stop the wedding, since he can’t stand the thought of losing his friend, even to marriage. The Holmes and Watson relationship is intense; and on Watson’s side – you can see how he puts up with Holmes’ eccentricities because he truly cares for him, and he needs excitement in his life.

The plot of this film involves Lord Blackwood — who’s killing women in Satanic rituals. Holmes catches him in the opening act, and Blackwood is sentenced to die. He’s hanged and Watson confirms the death. Later, Blackwood seems to come back from the grave and continues his killing spree. But Holmes not only discovers exactly what is going on (all is not as it seems) but he stops a horrendous crime, confronts Blackwood, and insures he won’t trouble London again. To say more, would spoil the fun.

Director Guy Ritchie has Holmes talk through, in his head, what he’s going to do during a fight sequence (filmed in slow motion) then he films it at normal to normal/fast speed as Holmes takes action. This lets the audience in on how Holmes thinks and how fast he thinks. I also liked the scene of Holmes waiting in the restaurant for Watson and Mary, and we hear the over-whelming noise that Holmes hears. It’s almost as if rather than being a manic depressive as in the books or Jeremy Brett’s portrayal, this Holmes almost is an autistic savant. And, throughout the film there are visually stunning moments.

All in all, Sherlock Holmes, is a fun film. It sticks to much of the spirit of the original short stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though the plot is more bizarre. However, there were some bizarre plots in the later stories.  Also, the relationship of Holmes and Watson, always key to getting any interpretation of Sherlock Holmes correct was spot on. A highly enjoyable and well-made film.

Trivia:  Jude Law also appeared in an episode of Granada’s Sherlock Holmes series starring Jeremy Brett (as Holmes) for ITV. The series title was The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, and the episode title was “Shoscombe Old Place”, and Law played Joe Barnes.

Recommendation:  See it!  Highly recommended!
Rating:  5 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Shrek