May 9, 2008

"Iron Man"

From my review of "Iron Man" in The American Conservative:

Rather than fighting crime like Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark's focus was foreign policy. In 1963, while prototyping a new Stark Industries weapons system for our advisors in Vietnam, he was captured by "red guerilla tyrant" Wong Chu, who put him to work building a superweapon for some nefarious purpose. Stark, though, secretly banged together a robot exoskeleton (perhaps inspired by the mobile infantry power suits in Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel Starship Troopers) and smashed his way out.

The movie is transplanted to Afghanistan in 2008. The villain isn't the Taliban (there are a lot of Muslim potential ticket-buyers out there), but a freelance warlord who has assembled a multicultural gang of mercenaries from across the Eurasian steppe, from Hungary to Mongolia, to rebuild the empire of Genghis Khan. (How using Stark's high tech weaponry to pillage one mud brick village in the Hindu Kush gets him closer to world domination isn't explained.)

In most action movies, the bad guy's henchmen are suicidally devoted to the cause, even if they are just in it for money. In a clever touch of realism in this consistently enjoyable film, however, the hired goons are just bullies who flee in terror from what looks like a man wrapped in pick-up truck bumpers.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

13 comments:

testing99 said...

That's a problem for Hollywood Steve.

First off, there are not that many Muslim ticket buyers out there. Revenue either from theatrical box office or DVDs in Muslim countries is peanuts. Most will just watch pirated/bootlegged DVDs anyway.

European revenues aren't that great either, it's Japan where the big bucks are. [China just bootlegs like everyone else.] American Gangster (with Crowe/Washington) was supposedly available as a pirated DVD in LA Swap meets a week before opening in the US theatrically.

Hollywood consistently makes crummy movies by taking the Americanism out of them, in a futile and stupid attempt to make money abroad (where distribution and revenue sharing deals means they get a fraction anyway of box office and DVD sales). With extra costs of dubbing and marketing in many different languages and cultures.

It's like putting the steering wheel on all Toyotas in the middle because some nations have right hand drive and some left hand drive.

Not only does this leave money on the table in the US, it makes for crummy movies. Half American, half loathe-America.

I suspect Iron Man would have been far more entertaining if the Taliban had got theirs. Yeah no one abroad would have purchased anything, but they don't really anyway. China's pirates will see to that.

Anonymous said...

"The movie is transplanted to Afghanistan in 2008. The villain isn't the Taliban (there are a lot of Muslim potential ticket-buyers out there)..."

Gee, Steve, does the number of "potential ticket-buyers" stop Hollywood from relentlessly vilifying Christians? White males? Southerners? White rural communities?

Once again, Steve, you refuse to acknowledge the hateful ideology undergirding the Culture War. Funny how you constantly sugarcoat and downplay the motivations of those behind the propaganda machine.

Ali said...

The UK's the biggest foreign market.

From Slate:

"In the first quarter of 2005, just eight countries provided nearly 75 percent of the studios' total foreign revenue. Britain alone accounted for 20.7 percent of it; Germany, 12.8 percent; France, 9.6 percent; Canada, 8.1 percent; Japan, 7.2 percent; Italy, 6.1 percent; Australia, 5.1 percent; and Spain, 4.8 percent."

Anonymous said...

I am with testing. In the 1980's there were lots of movies about terrorism and kicking terrorist butts. For some unfathomable reason, Hollywood has completely dropped the ball since 9/11. Nobody has made anything but sappy, victim-mentality movies on the subject.

I liked Iron Man, because it was a film that finally gave some emotional release to the "kick terrorist butt" theme.

Unfortunately, the other aspect of the movie (corrupt military contractors) resonated a little bit too. US taxpayers are paying $99 plus profits for a certain enterprise to do one bag (yep, you heard that right) of soldier's laundry in Iraq.

David said...

According to testing99, the world outside of the greatest country ever (the USA) - is but little more than a cabal of pirates who loathe America (i.e. who hate the good for being good)!!

Biff!! Bam!! Pow!!

A cartoon comment from a cartoon commenter about a cartoon movie. Appropriate.

Loved this zinger: a futile and stupid attempt to make money abroad (where distribution and revenue sharing deals means they get a fraction anyway of box office and DVD sales). With extra costs of dubbing

In the real world, all the money in movies is made basically on the back end. Theatrical releases are advertisements for a movie; they make no profit; the best case is when a release breaks even or nearly even. The money is made in DVD sales (the theatres get by on popcorn and cola revenue) and, yes, overseas.

Hollywood would die if it took the attitude that everyone abroad is a goddamn thieving antisemite who oughta be nuked - nuked - nuked! Maybe this is testing99's plan...

And now, back to the real world.

Josh said...

I was a little surprised at your comments,Steve! Saying that Hollywood declines to make the Taliban the bad guy because of financial concerns!! HA! (Is this a test?)Obviously,your theory of the Good and Proper Villain is in effect,here. They dont want to offend Muzzies,or the multi-culti Left.I am surprised the villains werent blonde/blue South Africans! (Er,or were they?) Had they had I.M fighting Al Quaeda or the Taliban,their revenues would prob be even higher than they are!

dearieme said...

We have a Thai DVD of Pride and Prejudice: the dialogue is in English and so are the subtitles. The subtitles are wonderfuly funny in their inaccuracy. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

testing99 knows as little about Hollywood economics as he does about everything else. The big money is made from domestic box office plus theatrical and video revenues in rich countries with strong copyright laws and enforcement mechanisms. That means, basically, Western Europe plus Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the other developed east Asian economies.

Russia and China provide decent theatrical revenues but are piracy hotbeds when it comes to video.

As for Iron Man, 90 percent of the audience is going to read a bunch of swarthy Arabic speakers as Taliban/Al Qaeda-esque, while the comic book geeks will recognize the references to "the ten rings" as a nod to Iron Man/Marvel continuity.

simon newman said...

"Hollywood would die if it took the attitude that everyone abroad is a goddamn thieving antisemite who oughta be nuked - nuked - nuked! Maybe this is testing99's plan..."

Hey, us abroad-ers liked Team America World Police. >:)

Hollywood used to have Muslim terrorists, eg in True Lies, but only until Muslim terrorists actually did something, then they became off limits.

How popular are the Taleban anyway? From what I can tell around 2/3 of Muslims worldwide would have no objection to watching a movie where the Taleban get beaten up. Though they'd probably prefer it were other Muslims doing the beating up. I think testing99 is right(!!!) though that the Muslim movie dollar doesn't amount to much.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: For some unfathomable reason, Hollywood has completely dropped the ball since 9/11.

Oh, I don't think it's all that difficult to fathom.

The problem with fathoming it is that, in so doing, you quickly realize that you're living in the middle of a great societal tragedy.

And most people would rather be blissfully ignorant & naive than be saddled with the realization that they are actors in a tragedy which can't be stopped or even mitigated.

nzconservative said...

Of course wha would have really entertaining would have been to place Ozzy Osbourne in the film, as Iron Man's sidekick, shouting at the bad guys:

You're all fookin' mad!

David said...

The underlying problem of crummy movies about our foreign policy isn't the movies but the policy.

It isn't easy to make anti-terrorism movies with a clean conscience when your own government is terrorist.

Scene: EXT. DESERT - DAY

We WATCH a rag-tag group of occupied people fighting back against their mighty oppressors - Davids against Goliaths. CAMERA PUSHES IN TO REVEAL insignia on a tank rolling over the skinny bodies of starving rock-tossers...and we SEE there the Star of David, with the words "Made in America" beside it.

THAT movie could be made with old-fashioned gusto. What movie could WE make with moral clarity that wouldn't resemble a Riefenstahl or worse?

Matt Parrott said...

They should have a sequel in which the weapons dealer Tony Stark is pitted against weapons dealer Efraim Diveroli to see who can make the most lame MySpace page.

*comedy cymbals*

It was a good movie. Of course they opted for a one-dimensional bad guy who didn't represent any actual groups. It's a frickin' comic book movie! It's not supposed to make controversial points and it would have distracted from the movie experience if it had.

If anything, it was a bit old-fashioned in that it pitted two intelligent White guys against each other. None of the brown characters were really developed, and only served token roles as hapless victims and nameless villains.

Not that anything out of Hollywood could meet your high standard of political incorrectness, Steve, but I really don't think this movie made any real efforts to be politically correct, either.