Finally, we got to see Iron Man. Loved it! Not only because I am a huge Robert Downey Jr. fan but because the feeling that I was going to puke which prevailed during the first 15 minutes or so of the movie did not last long enough to allow prejudice to build. See, when the film opened and there was all that chest-thumping about how building weapons was equal to patriotism, I wanted to walk out. I wasn’t going to waste my time trying to digest stupid American propaganda that tries to justify its wars. Not even in movies.
But the story turned around and everything was fine. The characterization of weapons builders as greedy businessmen (personified by Obidiah Stane) rather than patriots was more than fair.
I never read Iron Man as a child. My exposure to Marvel comics was limited to my brother’s collection and he only collected Spiderman. He had more than twice as many DC Comics so I knew more about Batman and his colleagues than Iron Man. What I knew of Iron Man, I got by watching TV. But even on TV, Marvel heroes weren’t really my thing. Except for Thor, I never really found Marvel characters lovable. I hated Incredible Hulk, and I found Iron Man too incredible… well, okay, perhaps the best way to say it is that the attempt to make fantasy appealing and less incredulous never quite succeeded with me. Or, perhaps, the characters were just too ugly, their images too disturbing that, as a child, I didn’t want them to be the last thing I remembered before going to bed.
Of course, later in life, I would realize that there was more substance to Marvel’s approach at “heroism” than DC ever did. You know, that heroes are not always clean-cut and good-looking. Sometimes, they are ugly and quite horrible-looking but heroes just the same. I still don’t like the Incredible Hulk though.
Anyway, about Iron Man, the movie. The screenplay turned Iron Man’s story into a modern one. You know, set in the context of current events. So, there were “terrorists”… Did they really have to be Middle Eastern-looking? I found that to be a rather racist touch but then Iron Man is an American superhero and it is an American movie, so…
Modern also means high tech. When Sam and Alex saw the computers in Tony Stark’s workshop, they whispered the same thing to me: “Mommy, gusto ko nun (Mommy, I want those).” Well, me too. And me first. :razz: And we all giggled when we found out that the name of Stark’s secretary (played by Gwyneth Paltrow — motherhood becomes her) was Pepper. For us, Pepper will always mean our Pepper.
The story? Was there one? LOL Pretty thin, actually. Tony Stark is the son and heir of a weapons manufacturer. He inherited his father’s business empire but he was more into the technical stuff than the money. The money side was run by his father’s partner, Obidiah (a bald and bearded Jeff Bridges). Stark was kidnapped by terrorists and found weapons with the Stark label in their possession. He didn’t know at the time that aside from selling weapons to the U.S. military, Obidiah was also selling to “terrorists.” Stark was forced to create a Jericho missile for the terrorists but, instead, he created Iron Man. As Iron Man, he escaped and, upon returning to America, held a press conference announcing that Stark Industries would no longer engage in weapons manufacturing. You can guess the rest. It’s pretty predictable.
More than the story, it was the characterization of Stark that was memorable. Boyish with a devil-may-care attitude, he was more of an tech genius-artist than a businessman and millionaire. Lovable, what can I say?
Iron man is a movie in every sense of the word. The director blended technology, pop literature and cinematic savvy to create a visually stunning masterpiece. I enjoyed it more than any of the three Spiderman movies.
Now, what you don’t want to waste your time on is the TV-movie (or mini series?) The Andromeda Strain. I saw the 1971 movie by Robert Wise when it was televised years later, liked it then read the book (my mother’s copy that was lying around in the house) and, shucks, the 2008 remake with Benjamin Bratt was a sleeper.
The Andromeda Strain is about a mysterious virus (codename Andromeda) brought back to earth by a satellite that crashed in the desert. The virus killed everyone in a nearby town save for an old drunk and an infant child who were brought to a government facility where a special team, created specifically for such emergencies, tried to study the virus and discover what the old man and the baby had that saved their lives.
The Andromeda Strain is a medical thriller. The 2008 remake turned it more into a highly-politicized (and biased) biological warfare story (too many references to the Koreans) which, by itself isn’t bad since it got rid of the dated medical science of 1971 when the book first came out. But the film itself…
Not that Bratt was the sleeper. Well, yeah, actually but not as bad as that Christa Miller (that’s the problem when models pretend to be actresses) and Ricky Shroder (he should have stopped making movies after The Champ). It just seemed like no one could really act or, perhaps, that the actors were not able to internalize the characters that they were meant to play. And despite modern filmmaking which should have made Micheal Chrichton’s first best seller more interesting, everything just fell flat.
If there’s one saving grace, it is the characterization of the military (personified by Shroders character) as people who think with the head between their legs (blast first, ask later). Other than that, it was a waste of time.