Ex-junky Jr’s new fix: Bad action movies

"With great power comes great responsibility." Wait. Have we heard that before? Yes.

.”Iron Man,” the newest addition to the line of comic superhero films from Marvel, tails Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a prodigy world-warfare weapon designer/celebrity man-whore, as he one day realizes that his weapons are being used as liaisons of terrorism instead of for their intended protection of America.

Iron Man

DIRECTED BY: Jon Favreau
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges
RATED: PG-13
PLAYING AT: Area Theaters

After his sudden consciousness, he decides that he will guard the destructive technology himself. The writers sketch a few figures in the margins, like Stark’s redhead assistant Pepper Potts (Kirsten Dunñ whoops, I mean Gwyneth Paltrow) and a greedy uncle/business partner (Jeff Bridges), ending up with another successful, slightly unoriginal Marvel flick.

Director Jon Favreau does exactly what we would expect from the director of a superhero action film. He performs a ritual sacrifice of meaningful elements – characters with depth or intricate plots that examine human social patterns – and favors flashy, cinematic computer graphics and Paltrow’s eye-batting antics.

To be fair, the computer imaging is stunning. The epic battle scenes (toward the end, a tad monotonous) are executed brilliantly. The camera angles dynamically capture the shifts of power between hero and villain, and the integration of computer graphics and stuntmen is seamless. Though the action is the movie’s only ace in the hole, the card is unquestionably well-played. Luckily for viewers,

“Iron Man’s” battle scenes tear through the screen for more than half the run time.

Downey performs well in the opportunities granted to him. The stuck-up a-hole is a difficult role to spoil. The writers attempt to evolve Stark over the course of the story, but Downey Jr.’s efforts to portray emotional depth are altogether futile.

The strained “moments” between Stark and Potts are ridiculously forceful efforts to make “Iron Man” a realistic character. Stark would have been more effective as a man who won’t change, driven only by self-interest. We’ve already seen the selfless hero, and, frankly, we’re a little sick of Tobey Maguire-faced moral dilemmas.

As expected, Downey is strongest in two situations. First, when we cannot see him that is, when he is clad in maroon and gold (go Gophers!) and fighting Middle Eastern terrorists. The other time he shines is when he plays a shallow jerk. Audiences will find a few unexpected laughs over the course of the film. In experimenting with flight jet-packs, Downey hurls himself into the cement wall of his underground lab.

Jeff Bridges delivers the strongest performance of the film, for his character is a relentless sinkhole of greed and power-mongering. You won’t find any surprise attempts at emotional capacity or regret in his performance. He is every bit the man you expect him to be.

Let’s be honest, Paltrow hasn’t really acted since her Oscar win in 1998 for “Shakespeare in Love,” and this film is absolutely no exception. The only thing Paltrow does semi-successfully is walk quickly in high heels a lot and wear half-ponytails.

In its entirety, Iron Man is a sub-par adaption of a Marvel comic. The characters are flatter than graphic novel sketches and action is flaunted through the evolution of computer imaging and science-fiction technology. Don’t even start on the post-credit we’re-obviously-making-a-teaser clip. If “Iron Man II” wants our eight bucks, they better downsize Downey’s pseudo-melodrama and cut Pepper Potts from the picture.