Saturday, June 17, 2017

Golden gladiator gooses Grissom's gang: Second 'Iron Man' review (flashback)

Ten years ago, the precursor to Cary's Comics Craze wasn't just my column in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper; it was a REFLECTOR blog titled Cary's Crime Craze. 

As I mentioned in my intro to my 2012 flashback column pondering why the "Batman" TV series wasn't on DVD or Blu-ray yet, that particular CCC focused on the original "CSI" TV series on CBS. I reviewed each week's episode in detail, wrote some additional op-eds, provided some "CSI" news and occasionally, posted some op-eds on the cape-and-cowl crowd.

Such was the case in early May 2008 when I used that Thursday night to watch a one-time showing of the first "Iron Man" movie before its official release the next day. Can you believe that Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark kicked off the Marvel Studios film nine years ago and will appear in his seventh (!) Marvel movie when "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is released July 7? (The CCC review of the trailer is here.)

Without further ado, here's a review that focuses on the "Iron Man" casting, here on this CCC for the first time ...!

May 2, 2008 -- OK, that's not the most accurate headline in the world, but hopefully it got you reading this far -- and besides my readers know I love illiteration. I did watch last week's "CSI," but honestly there's nothing to to say except it was forgettable. ...

Last night I didn't tape the show (hey 2017 readers, remember VHS machines?!) because I took the opportunity to watch "Iron Man" at a sneak preview at Premiere Theatre 8 in Norwalk. ...

I had a grant time watching "Iron Man." I've enjoyed Robert Downey Jr. in everything he's been in and this was no exception.

Downey does a fine job pulling off Tony Stark: His arrogance ("That's not bad" to being called "The Merchant of Death"), his passion for the bottle ("It would be irresponsible not to drink" when his best friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes is attempting to give him a tongue-lashing), the womanizing, even causing laugh-out moments for chastising one of his helper-robots for using a fire extinguisher unnecessarily.

I could go on, but let's face it: Downey owns that role.

My only disappointment -- and it's a mild one -- is the final fight and length of the film itself. Both are a tad too short.

I admit I wasn't crazy -- or I thought director Jon Favreau was -- about casting Gwyneth Paltrow as Stark's faithful assistant, Petter Potts. (Favreau, my first celebrity interview in 2006, is here in a flashback -- the original pre-"Iron Man" Q&A happened on MySpace, so talk about a flashback!) 

Paltrow's never been one of my favorite actresses and I thought she'd just mail in her performance to get some exposure and a corresponding big paycheck in a Big Summer Flick. But I found Paltrow's Potts (oooh, more alliteration!) instantly likable. Yes -- instantly!

In the comics, Potts has many more unrequited feelings for her boss; here it's a bit more "will they or won't they" with Stark expressing his dependence on her. Downey and Paltrow have great onscreen chemistry.

And boy does Paltrow look smokin' hot in that backless dress. Best of all, though, Potts is never purely a damsel in distress. Horray for Favreau!

On the downside, even as much as there is of actor Terrance Howard as Col. Jim Rhodes, I wanted to see more of him. I wouldn't call Rhodey as one-dimensional as VARIETY says he is in its review.

Favreau (who has several great cameos as Stark's driver/bodyguard) adds some nice tension between the characters (Stark: "The humdrum Humvee is back there"), but ultimately you see they are friends dedicated to looking after each other's back.

One more nice fanboy, non-spoiler touch before I sign off: How about Rhodey eyeing the Mach-2 Iron Man armor, saying "Maybe next time, baby"!? Love the foreshadowing. (Cue the KISS song "War Machine" ...)

I'm beginning to babble. Last words: Go see "Iron Man." Come back here and let's yack about it.

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