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Man of war

PUBLISHED: 17:05 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

ROBERT Downey Jr is Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy head of Stark Industries, a corporation specialising in the production of cutting-edge military weapons. While out demoing his latest wares to military head honchos in Afghanistan, he is taken capt

ROBERT Downey Jr is Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy head of Stark Industries, a corporation specialising in the production of cutting-edge military weapons.

While out demoing his latest wares to military head honchos in Afghanistan, he is taken captive by a group of non-descript Afghan terrorists.

The bad guys then force their captive to build a new high-tech missile system for them. Instead he knocks up a super-powered robot battle suit A-Team-style out of the materials he finds in the workshop and uses it to escape.

Stark then has something of an epiphany and decides to stop manufacturing weapons after realising the Afghan rebels were supplied with hardware produced by his company.

It turns out that they were given the weapons by his second in command Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) who wants to kill him and take over as head of Stark Industries. Stane keeps a close eye on his rival and soon discovers that Stark has been building an improved version of the Iron Man suit and sets about making one of his own which all leads nicely to a robot v robot showdown. Vital to the success of the film is the look of the Iron Man suit itself, and the designers have done a good job of updating the character slightly while remaining largely loyal to the original comic book drawings.

The CGI is of a high standard throughout but falls somewhat short of the slickly animated robot wars mayhem seen in Michael Bay's Transformers movie released last year.

There are some slow moments, particularly when we are forced to watch Stark fashion not one but two Iron Man suits and it is largely left to Downey Jr to hold things together. As it turns out he is more than up to the task.

His Stark is charismatic, witty and cocky without being cocksure and brings a much-needed splash of humour to the goings on. The film suffers somewhat due to the lack of action, but compared to the glut of dire Marvel superhero flicks such as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Spiderman 3 that preceded it, it's a masterwork.

l Iron Man is released on DVD next Monday.

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