May 2, 2008, - 2:41 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
The only movie I recommend, this weekend, is “Iron Man.” It’s a great movie, made less so by its message that defense contractors/weapons-makers are evil and that Islamic terrorists work at their behest. HUH?!
* “Iron Man“: This is a well-made movie, one of the best superhero movies I’ve seen in the last several years. But the message–while true to the Iron Man comic book series–is the usual one Hollywood loves to promote, ie., that defense contractors are evil, war-mongers who kill innocent people and enable despots to do so (rather than defending free people, which their weapons mostly do).
And while I loved scenes in which Iron Man sets Islamic terrorists on fire and also blows some of them up–I applauded and cheered them as did the rest of the audience, that is lessened when we discover that the terrorists are working with an evil defense contractor exec. Do we really believe that execution videos, like the one we saw of Nicholas Berg, are really done at the behest of, say, General Dynamics or Northrup?
Robert Downey, Jr. plays Tony Stark, a brilliant single, immature, playboy billionaire CEO of a high tech weapons making company. He is well-cast in this role, originally modeled on Howard Hughes in the comic book. His loyal assistant, Pepper Pots, is dully-performed by Gwyneth Paltrow, who has a quiet, unrequited crush on him.
The story: Downey, captured by Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, is kept alive with an implanted, visible electromagnet, which prevents shrapnel from damaging his heart and killing him. While in captivity, he builds the prototype Iron Man uniform powered by the electromagnet, which enables him to escape. After he’s freed, he decides he will no longer make weapons because they kill innocent people. His evil co-founder doesn’t like that and fights him. Meanwhile, Downey, as Iron Man, flies around killing Islamic terrorists and saving innocent people.
The movie starts out too slow, with too much emphasis on all the big-boy toys and expensive accoutrements that Downey has. But it quickly improves into an exciting action film. The technology and gadgetry on display here is well done. Iron Man is cool, exciting, and heroic. But the peacenik, anti-weaponry message is a turn-off. Ditto for the claim that Islamic terrorists are only as bad as they are because they work in tandem with evil defense execs.
Still, we’re making progress. In a stunning, exciting, big-budget movie, the terrorists are finally Muslims. It’s a start.
My other objection to the movie is that at the end–and this is not a spoiler–he tells a press conference full of reporters that he’s “Iron Man.” Aren’t superheroes supposed to keep their identities secret? Would love to see how they forget this in the upcoming two sequels of the trilogy of “Iron Man” movies scheduled to be made.
* “Made of Honor“: I hated this movie, possibly the most annoying chick flick I’ve ever seen. It was almost a carbon copy of “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” only way worse and with a ton of tasteless, graphic oral sex jokes and other groaners. Blech.
Patrick Dempsey plays a playboy who finally realizes that his female best friend is the woman of his dreams. But he waited too long, and now she’s marrying a millionaire Scotsman. She asks him to be her “Maid of Honor.” He agrees, so he can try to sabotage the wedding. You know what happens–sooooo predictable. And slow and boring. A guy being a “maid of honor”? ‘Nuff said. Skipworthy, big-time.
* “The Life Before Her Eyes“: This bizarre, New Age melodrama was way too confusing, not to mention, pointless. Flashbacks and flash-forwards are confusing and repetitive . . . and unnecessary. Due to a scheduling miscommunication, I came 20 minutes late to the screening and missed nothing. Two best friends, a slut and a devout virgin are caught in a Columbine-style high school massacre. One lives . . . or does she? We see he life now, 20 years later. Or do we?
Not worth your time. Skip it.