Were there any hidden layers in the big-screen version of Iron Man? The story certainly lends itself to that purpose - a tale about a man who makes weapons and then stops making them because he realises they kill people and then makes a new weapon which in the end nearly kills him - but I have my doubts. Had the makers equated Iron Man with irony rather than heavy metal, we might have landed up with something more emotionally satisfying. As it stands though, the movie is a weird mixture of fast cars, churning guitars, loud clanking noises, sheep-brained propaganda, more loud clanking noises and in the midst of all this, trying to make sense of proceedings, a bunch of former Oscar nominees. Robert Downey Jr plays his superhero as mocking and flawed (recent Batmen should take a cue) and has a teasing chemistry with Paltrow, who lights up the screen. As for the rest, Jeff Bridges has seen better days, Terrence Howard reprises his accent from Hustle and Flow, and there are a bunch of Arabs from Central Casting. Expect nothing but standard superhero fare and you may not be dissapointed. But its a bit sad that no one seems to be interested in reaching for the kind of artistic vision displayed in Hellboy or the first two movies in the Batman series.
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