Reviewed by Steven Frith

My Superhero Movie Standard – X2: X-Men United

Viewed on: Saturday, May 3, 2008

This clever, quick-witted, tightly scripted adaptation of yet another superhero movie may actually turn into one of the most respected and highest ranked movies in this genre’s increasingly impressive collection.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, and Gwyneth Paltrow

Rating/Length: PG-13/ 2 hours 6 minutes

Directed By: Jon Favreau (Elf)

Written By: Mark Fergus (Children of Men), Hawk Ostby (Children of Men), Stan Lee (X-Men trilogy, Spider-Man trilogy, Fantastic Four series), Jack Kirby (many of the same as Lee), and other writers too (see Iron Man webpage).

Synopsis: After a POW experience that nearly cost him his life, brilliant playboy weapons designer, Tony Stark, vowed to destroy his extremely potent weapons that fell into the wrong hands. To destroy his weapons, he will have to use what is actually the most powerful weapon he has ever created.


Honest Opinion: I almost skipped seeing Iron Man because the trailers made it look like another Fantastic Four. When I walked out at the end of Fantastic Four, I felt like I just lost two hours of my life I wouldn’t be getting back. Not even Jessica Alba in her undies made that one worth watching…Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that I’m glad the good reviews of Iron Man caught my eye and I ended up going to it because I loved this movie.

I should say that I like the more “realistic” comic book movies, and am not a fan of the borderline cartoon ones. For instance, I am not a fan of, really, any of the Spider-Man movies. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst just completely blow that whole series for me, I just can’t get over their atrocious over-acting as well as the cartoonish characters. On the other hand, I loved Batman Begins and the first two X-Men movies (I have yet to see the third). They had good stories and were well-cast.

For those that are unfamiliar with Iron Man (as I was not four hours ago), Tony Stark has no super powers. He, like Batman, is extremely intelligent, but unlike Batman, he is also a rich, womanizing playboy. Those subtleties that are his flaws are what make his character so likeable. He is quick-witted, a smooth talker, and seems to get what he wants. It’s a refreshing change that our hero doesn’t have to start as a nerd or as someone that is dark and mysterious – he is just a really cool guy in a James Bond kind of way.

It isn’t a perfect movie, but it is wellcast, well-written, has very impressive special effects, the characters have a lot of chemistry, and the overall story is very entertaining. Isn’t that what you want from a movie?

Directing: I was very nervous about what I was going to be subjected to as far as the directing of this movie. I had seen Elf before and liked it, but that is the extent of my Favreau directing repertoire. (who doesn't love him in Swingers though?) I think he did a very solid job moving the story along and getting the right amount of emotion from his actors. I also like how a lot of the story was told almost sub-consciously. Instead of spending half the movie setting up what was happening, as Stark was handling other business, news reports in the background kept us up-to-date with what we needed to know. You realize at the end, you knew why things happened, but can’t really put a finger on when they told you.

Writing: A very good superhero script that allowed the characters to develop. They left out the corny lines, and allowed humor to fit in the movie naturally instead of forcing it. The final scene could have had a little more for me, but I get the feeling they were just trying to give us a taste because this will probably turn into at least a sequel or trilogy.

TIP: This is especially for you comic book nerds. Make sure you stick around for the final scene after the credits. A special cameo reveals something that excited many of the others that stayed around with us to the end. For non-comic book nerds, the cameo itself was pretty cool to wait the 5 minutes for…plus you should be staying to show your respect for all the little people in the movie anyway.

Acting: Favreau was rolling the dice by signing a 43-year old, recovering drug-addict to be the lead actor for his movie, but Downey Jr. did anything but “crap out.” In reality, he was brilliant and the perfect match for the role. His version of Tony Stark was witty, funny, but could still be serious when he had to be. Paltrow and Howard had smaller roles, but you could get the sense that their roles will increase in future projects. Bridges was a solid close friend turned villain that comics are famous for.

Music: A solid soundtrack of a lot of hard rock/metal groups. The music fit perfectly into the movie. Apparently Iron Man already has a cartoon theme that I had never heard that is in the movie somewhere, but real bands that are part of the soundtrack include: Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Linkin Park, Aerosmith, Sugarcult, Metallica, and Guns ‘n Roses.

To Quote the Movie: Virginia “Pepper” Potts (his assistant): (After walking in on him taking off the suit that she had yet to see) What’s going on here?
Tony Stark: (with a “busted” look on his face and a shrug) Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve ever caught me doing.

Verdict: SEE IT TONIGHT. Because of the special effects, you have to see this in the theatre. If you like any of the X-Men, Superman, Spider-Man, or like movies, you will love this one and be looking forward to the next installment.

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