Movie Review: Iron Man
Thu May 8 2008
Dying to see Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man? Just leave your seven-year-old at home. The story depicts realistic scenes of war in the Middle East that are too intense for younger kids. Plus, aside from Jeff Bridges as a perfectly smarmy captain of industry, all the obvious bad guys are scowling Arabs and Eastern Europeans. I suppose that’s standard in Hollywood films these days, but it still made me cringe.
For kids 11 and older, Iron Man could prompt discussion about the business of war. Director Jon Favreau (of Swingers fame) tries hard to compensate for the action genre’s glorification of automatic guns and dramatic explosions with an anti-war story line. Tony Stark (Downey) is a weapons manufacturer whose eye-opening visit to Afghanistan causes him to renounce his family company’s war profiteering. From then on, he fights people only to win the right not to fight—get it? Favreau and Downey acknowledge the mixed message they’re sending: Real violence is bad, but cartoonish violence is fun! And adult audience members can only nod in agreement.
Many reviewers hailed Iron Man as the summer’s best bet, but the film’s not nearly as subtle and carefully crafted as the last Batman. Don’t feel short-changed if you have to wait for the DVD.