I saw this in the weekend with a couple of six year olds, and it's everything you expect: loud, exciting, brash and so on and so forth. If you like that kind of movie (as I do) you will like this (as I did). After a fidgetty half an hour of plot fixing, things got moving and the eyes of my compnaions were glued to the screen. Clearly, it hit home with the target demographic.
However, it is relentlessly pro-captitalists and capitalism. It's a capitalist narrative striaght out of Victorian puritanism, via pulp mad science and Ayn Randian self congratulation. When Tony walked out of the senate hearings declaring "World peace has been privatised," a cold shiver went down my spine.
I'm trying to decide whether or not it's all a giant piss-take. The moral core of the movie is about facing challenges and rising up to meet them. Tony faces his Daddy issues (again with the Daddy issues! every Holloywood blockbuster seems to be about Daddy issues!) by developing science ideas his Dad left him, cos that's how blokes bond, innit? by tinkering around building trainsets and Airfix models or by synthesising new magical elements (or by going to boysy super hero flicks...)
But there's a political commentary that's hard to ignore, a bit like Robocop with sides reversed - the corporation is the good guy, while the state is the villain. Is this intentional?
One of the tings that makes it so hard to tell is the brilliance of the central performances. Downey, Rourke and Rockwell were all superb, and Paltrow and Johansson did good work with fairly limited roles. Gwynny in particular gave the role of perpetual sub-servient helpmeet enough bite to make it baerable.
It's possible that there's a wink under those fine performances that it'll take a few years to make clear. In the meantime, it's great movie but a potentially catastrophic thesis on international relations and defense.