Also known as "Iron Man", this is a little-boy flick disguised as a guy flick that pours the prodigious acting talents of Robert Downey, Jr. into a metal suit, where it hides them so well that they're mostly invisible even when he's not wearing the suit. Actually, when he's not wearing the suit, Downey seems more interested in showing off his brand-new muscles than in acting. The movie wastes Gwyneth Paltrow in a role she should have been ashamed to accept; could she possibly need the money that badly? The only actor whose reputation might be enhanced by this is Jeff Bridges, who spends the movie chewing a cigar and the scenery with equal gusto.
Downey plays absurdly brilliant weapons inventor Tony Stark. Kidnapped by bad guys in Afghanistan, he escapes by building himself a heavily armed metal flying suit from those high-tech scraps that apparently fill the mountain caves in that part of the world. After getting back home and undergoing what must be the most fuzzily defined moral crisis in movie history, he builds himself a much more advanced version of the same metal suit and sets off to save the part of the world that the weapons made by his company have heretofore been used to destroy.
Along the way, we see astonishingly advanced robots and Artificial Intelligence software, created by Stark but used mostly for plot convenience and comic relief. But these are inventions that would have transformed the world far more than any of Stark's weapons could, and would have made him far richer, too. Or, if he really did want to destroy things, then instead of a suit for a man, Stark could have used the robot and AI technology to create very small robots that could have infiltrated any enemy position or country undetected and done all the damage required. The scriptwriters don't seem to have realized this. That shows you how focused they were on blowing things up instead of thinking about the story.
The politics of the movie are very strange. Stark realizes how much damage his weapons have done to civilians, but no blame is attached to the U.S. government, which has murdered thousands of innocent Afghan civilians - in the movie, by using Stark's weapons. Nor do the moviemakers seem to want to blame the vile Taliban, who are mysteriously absent from the story. Instead, they invent a third group of unnamed terrorists who are killing civilians and Americans and anyone else available, who seem to have no connection to any of the real factions in Afghanistan, and whose goal apparently is to use Stark's weapons to conquer the world. They're led by a sinister figure who speaks English perfectly and thinks deeply and should be a great villain except that, when the plot requires it, he turns out to be absurdly easy to eliminate.
That scene must be one of the worst anticlimactic letdowns in action-movie history, just as the scene in which we learn the identity of the bad guy who is behind everything, and which should be a stunning revelation, instead elicits a no-shit-Sherlock response from anyone in the audience with an IQ above 60.
But this movie isn't aimed at them.
Two stars for the CGI, which are undeniably cool