So I took a couple hours off work today to go see Iron Man, on the biggest digital screen in the state.
How best to sum it up...
At 2:06 it was too short. I can't wait to buy it on Blu-Ray. I can't wait to watch 2 and 3. It blows the Spiderman and X-Men series completely out of the water; then shoots them with repulsors while they're in the air, knocking them into low earth orbit.
Robert Downey Jr. is MADE to play Tony Stark. The performances from Downey, Paltrow, and Bridges (as Pepper Potts, and Obadiah Stane respectively) were all excellent; but this is probably Downeys the best since Chaplin.
I was slightly disappointed in Terrence Howards performance as Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes (Starks Air Force Lt. Col. best friend); but I don't think that was so much his fault, as it was the pace of the movie and the relative lack of material for him in it. Apparently his role was orignally much larger, but over 40 minutes was trimmed from the inital cut (and lord I hope we see an extended version on Blu-Ray).
My only criticism is that there is either too much, or not enough. By which I mean that there is SO much story to cover, and action surrounding it, that the character development is a bit light for everyone except Stark.
Now, if you're an initiate into the Marvel Universe, you already know the back (and side, and diagonal) stories; so that's not AS big a deal, but it definitely feels like there could have been another hour of story in there.
That said, you don't NEED to be a pre-fan for this; the material stands very well on its own. Mel had never even heard of Iron Man before; and has only the sketchiest knowledge of the marvel universe; but she still loved it.
Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of setup for sequels 2 and 3 (already under contract, but not yet in production). Unless I miss my guess, we're going to see War Machine (kind of a gimme given Rhodes presence) and Nick Fury in ep. 2 at the very least.
Oh and as with all Marvel movies, look for the secret cameos; including one from Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello (who provided music for the movie).
This marks Marvels first in house effort; ending their partnership with the more traditional studio development organizations to take creative control over their movies after the commercial success, but artistic failure of Spiderman 3; and the huge disappointment all around that was X3.
I have to say, I'm favorably impressed. They seem to have spared no effort in getting it right. Great attention was paid to fitting into the Marvel universe; but the story wasn't put on rails either; the creative team were allowed the freedom to experiment. For example, Favreau (the director) moved Stark to the west coast (used to great effect here by the way), and Obadiah Stane was completely moved through the timeline. Also, Favreau and Downey together wrote or re-wrote most of Starks dialogue (also to great effect).
The next release is going to be a new Incredible Hulk (retconning, and having no relationship to the disastrous Ang Lee helmed Hulk movie); and from the trailers looks like it might actually be worth seeing (plus, it's got Edward Norton and Tim Roth, who are both generally very good).
If you look at their in development slate at IMDB... Well, let's just say I'm both excited and worried at the prospect.
So, if you like action, see Iron Man. If you like Comedy, see Iron Man. If you like comic book movies, See Iron Man. Iron Man is made of win.