Very fun blockbuster antics, that matches cool tech FX w Robert Downey Jr's patented smartass delivery. Without either them working it would be a pretty generic exercise in the routine "superhero powers up; finds baddy; has a big fight" plot. It never quite hits those "America! Fuck Yeah!" moments you want from a film like this, but it comes pretty close, and the RDJ charm is in full effect throughout.
The various Iron Man prototypes are all accompanied with some highly satisfying sound effects as boozy billionaire genius playboy Tony Stark works his way up from the 1.0 version of the suit he builds to escape from some al-Qaida style bad dudes who kidnap him in the desert somewhere.
The supporting cast isn't bad either: chimp hero Jeff Bridges rocks a mean bald/beard combo and does a good growl throughout. Gwyneth Paltrow is a bit blank, and keeps changing her hairstyle a lot, but isn't too bad as Stark's long-suffering PA Pepper Pots (howcome all superheroes get potential girlfriends with alliterative names?). If you're a Marvel fan, you'll enjoy the "next time" nod from Terence Howard's military man when he gets to check out the suits.
On the down side, there are some awful product placement moments from various cars and burger chains who've forked over big $$$ to get in there - hasn't anyone in Hollywood seen Austin Powers?!
Not sure the politics are really that thought through either: he's an arms manufacturer who gets upset when he sees his weapons blowing things up for the wrong people, so he decides to blow them up, but still let his company sell weapons to the good guys (America)? eh? Er, here the RDJ charm offensive comes into full swing: never mind that, here's another smart line from Downey...
Bound to be a franchise. Could have done with the full Black Sabbath tune somewhere in there too. Just about fun enough.