Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A great summer film- IRON MAN

The summer movie season is upon us with one excellent movie already out and raking in the cash. IRON MAN is a rare thing these days. It's a crowd pleasing special effects film with strong characters and fine acting. But as with nearly any film the real strength of it is the darn well written script. I think this is the one element that has been overlooked by the popular support the movie is getting. It's easy to praise Robert Downey, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and the fantastic directing of Jon Favreau- because they ARE great. It's harder to realize that the heart of the high quality story and its intelligent structure are owed to a very tight script. There is no wasted effort in the telling of the tale with only the smallest of asides to flesh out the personalities of the main characters. There are some fine performances in this movie (and there was reportedly some improvisation on set among the actors) but if the stuff on the printed page isn't solid you can't get to the high level of quality shown here.

You might not think writing a script for something like this is all that hard given that there are more than 40 years worth of comic book stories to be drawn on. But one only has to look at cinematic disasters like the FANTASTIC FOUR movies to see that having a large amount of material to adapt does NOT mean you will find someone able to craft a good script out of it. Or that you will find someone who actually cares about the project enough to strive to make a good film. I mean honestly- the person responsible for directing the FF movies needs to just stop.

Comic book/super hero fans have been spoiled over the past few years. The first two X-MEN and SPIDER MAN films were excellent things. Well made, high quality tales handled by people who clearly love the subject and had the skill to make a good movie. But there are just as many poor examples (SPIDER MAN 3, BATMAN & ROBIN, etc.) showing how easy it is to just pump out something. And as long as the profits for the FANTASTIC FOUR films remain as high as the ones racked up by the good ones like IRON MAN there will be less incentive to make the really good ones. After all- they all generate cash. Who cares if it's good?

Well- other than people like me. But what do I know? I liked HULK. And SUPERMAN RETURNS. A lot.

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