Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Invincible Iron Man

The Avengers movies did a good job of establishing this new line of animated Marvel features, but I gotta say, this one really didn't do anything for me at all. It came out about a year before Jon Favreau's version hit theaters, and just comes off as totally unnecessary and unlikable in comparison. For one thing, it's another take on the Iron Man origin. With his cartoon version already established enough in the Avengers movies and a big budget origin coming out a year later, was this anywhere close to necessary? You can understand why so many big budget, live action films based on comics dedicate time to explaining a hero's beginnings. You're introducing them to a new audience, and you'd like them to understand where they're coming from. But right now we're talking about a straight to video, animated movie. This is pretty much just for guys like me, and probably some kids, who already know what's up. Get to the good part.

Unfortunately, there really isn't a good part to get to. Unlike the live action series, they actually go into Mandarin's story instead of just teasing it with a few rings, but it's not nearly enough to save an uninteresting and dramatically dull film. There's very little to recommend about it. Tony Stark is simply not the Tony Stark we know and love. I've been spoiled by Robert Downey Jr.'s comic genius, and even the blowhard from the comics is written more interestingly than this. His voice actor is pretty awful, coming off as smug with every single thing he says, and all he really does is whine about stuff and spout a few extremely bland one liners. The action is pretty poor, slow and unexciting, and too heavily computer animated. A merging of the two forms can be effective, but done wrong and it's just as obvious and abrupt as computer effects mixed with live action.

There are several deviations from the standard Iron Man story that I didn't much care for. Howard Stark is alive for some reason, and isn't really given anything to do other than come off as a slightly bigger jerk than Tony. Way too much time is spent with Tony on the run, a plot which doesn't add much besides a bit of tedium whenever he has to return to the Stark Tower for some information or equipment. And it's revealed after his initial escape from the bad guys with the Iron Man prototype that it wasn't actually a prototype at all - he shows Rhodie his secret room filled with different suits equipped for different purposes. Uh, what? The closes we get to the classic suit is the one he brings to the volcano, which I think is just supposed to be able to withstand the heat. The rest of the time he's just stomping around in overly large, clunky suits that simply aren't exciting to watch take on some elemental monster guys.

And I mean... all this could have been saved if there was something good to the core story. And it definitely tries, really it does. There's a girl and some family tragedy and destiny and all that. But it's just not handled right. It comes off really dumb. Like... unbelievably stupid. It doesn't make any sense. At all. Any attempt at drama and sadness is thwarted by how easily any of the heartbreak could have been avoided if these characters had brains. It's really disappointing. To this point though it only looks like a temporary stumble for these animated movies though, so it's not a huge deal.

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