Iron Man
IRON MAN. 2008
Director: Jon Favreau

HANCOCK. 2008
Director: Peter Berg

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Iron Man There are so many films in this world one has to pick & choose which to see, & over time I've figured out I don't get nearly enough out of "superhero movies" based on comic book heroes. I'd like them if they were really, really, really good, but not if they're just okay commercial blockbusters.

I was of two minds about Iron Man (2008) as a potential exception. Critics kept saying it most certainly was an exception, & previews, which can seriously mislead, looked thrilling.

So I finally broke down & watched Iron Man (2008) because the previews seriously did make it look like it wasn't aimed at unformed minds like ninety-percent of the superhero blockbusters.

Robert Downey, Jr., is a suave, handsome, charming, amoral s.o.b. & second generation war profiteer, with a genius for inventing ever more harmful weapons. When his own company betrays him into the hands of evil Moslems in the mideast, he's tortured & forced to build a weapon.

Iron ManThe routine about all this got him his artificially sustained heart is rather grim for a kiddy flick, but integral to his character's transformation into guilt-ridden would-be peacemonger.

Instead of building the weapon demanded, he builds his first robot suit under the watchful eye of the evil Moslems. Why the evil Moslems don't notice it's a robot suit & not a super-missile, until it's finished & ready to put on, we're just not supposed to ask.

The suit is a very cool & gothic critter, with which Stark bashes his way out of harm's way, & returns home to start work secretly on the next generation of robot suits. At the same time he's trying to change his weapons corporation into a developer of peaceful inventions, which just ain't gonna happen.

The presence of Downey definitely upraises Iron Man with unexpectedly rich acting, though story-wise it boils down to a rock'em sock'em Good robot-suit vs Evil robot-suit climax. Intelligent it is not.

Nevertheless, if mature actors headed up the cast of more of these nonsensical movies I'd be a bigger fan. Good actors can make even the most absurd material convincing. The art design &am CGI is pretty decent stuff, but without an actor of Downey's quality, Iron Man would be little more than a cartoon slander of Islam.



Hancock While on the superhero movie jag I watched back-to-back with Iron Man the Will Smith vehicle Hancock (2008). Again the previews made it seem better than it would turn out to be, but Will unquestionably has screen charisma, & for the first third of the film he completely had me.

Will portrays a depressed, alcoholic superhero who comes out of his drunken stupors only far enough to do his crime-fighting duties, invariably with collateral damage to L.A., to the tune of millions of dollars to the taxpayers every time he acts.

He's been this way for eighty years (Hancock never ages) & the city is very used to him. Children look up to him without concern for his extravagant faults, but the authorities have just about had it with his tearing around the skies bashing into the sides of skyscrapers & being a public danger.

This superhero hobo saves Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a failure at the public relations game because he's always trying to promote happy-happy joy-joy save-the-world ideas. Stuck on a railroad track, Hancock arrives in the nick of time, but in the process destroys the train & several automobiles (we have to ignore the fact that the train wreck would've killed a lot of people on board; Hancock may fly through the the sides of skyscrapers by accident but flying & falling glass never hurts anyone either).

HancockRay is so grateful to be alive, yet he sees all the witnesses to the heroics are really very mad about the wreckage, which makes the helpful drunk bitter indeed.

So Ray takes on Hancock as his pet project, helping him overcome his drinking & vulgarity, convincing him to wear a cool leather super hero suit (which like Hancock is immune to bullets & explosions, though in what magic taylor shop Ray found super-leather we're never informed).

Ray heads up the PR process to transform Hancock into the respected, beloved superhero he has secretly wished he could be.

Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron) hates the presence of Hancock in her house, & his influence on their overawed son Aaron (Jae Head). But we can see Mary's disdain disguises an eagerness to cheat on her husband.

This element of easy cuckholding doesn't fit the "family" tone of the rest of the film, as the story is ultimately another cartoon for kids, some few of whom might wonder why the mother figure of the tale is so eager to get it on with the super-hobo.

The kids will certainly enjoy how the hobo avenges young Aaron against the neighborhood bully (Daeg Faerch), though again, any kid that was tossed a thousand feet into the air then caught a minute later just inches from crashing into the ground would in fact be just as dead landing on Hancock's arm.

Once Hancock begins to change into a "proper" superhero he's no longer interesting, so the plot throws a Monkey into the works to perk it all back up, & the perking ain't that perkly.

[SPOILER ALERT!] We learn rather late in the game that Hancock has no memory of his origin. He was badly injured eighty years before, & suffers amnesia.

All attempts at the time to find out who he was failed. The sad part of his bitterness about life is that he feels he must have been one unloved forgotten shithead, since nobody ever came forth to claim him, & by now they'd all be dead, & he's connected to no one.

Ah, but he is connected -- to Mary. He turns out to be thousands of years old. It is revealed that he's someone who was treated as a God Hero in the ancient world, & there are only two of his kind left, the story is thereafter clumsy, CGI dependent, & a lot less satisfying than the character-dependent beginning. [END SPOILER ALERT]

The one thing that was unforgiveably stupid about the film is a corny ending that requires the Moon to be turned into a big advertising billboard for one of Ray's pet projects to do good. Defacing the Moon is supposed to be a good thing. This assinine event was swiped from the cartoon series & comic book superhero spoof The Tick wherein defacing the Moon was presented as what it is, the feat of a complete retard.

Still & all,l though obviously a commercial concept-film for a leading actor's continued boxoffice draw, Hancock does contain a lot of human compassion, thanks to Will's performance as the angst-ridden drunk with powers beyond reckoning. I didn't feel like anyo of it wasted my time, though I also wasn't convinced I should submerge myself in more superhero movies, the most popular of which tend to bore me.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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