On with the next movie - Iron Man.
I think about half the reason I enjoyed Speed Racer, was because visually it was so interesting.
With Iron Man though - it was just a good, fun movie.
Robert Downey Jr. made a perfect Tony Stark. Even though I don't remember a lot of the comic book personality (I haven't read Iron Man in nearly 20 years), he made a great character out of him. He was both a self-centered jerk, and yet completely likable. He had a self-effacing manner about him, and a definite charisma. Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) had great onscreen chemistry with him. Between the two of them (along with Jeff Bridges who is also excellent here), this is the best caliber of actor I've seen in a superhero movie since Gene Hackman in Superman. A lot of the failings of superhero movies is when the character behind the hero fails to be interesting. In this film, the two are the same. Stark is always Iron Man, Iron Man is always Stark, and there is no weaker character hiding behind the hero.
I was really glad to see them stay true to the original, bulky, gray Iron Man suit as part of the origin story. From a Hollywood standpoint, it's not a "sexy" looking piece of machinery, and it probably would have been safer for them to start off with the cool looking armor. But it was essential to the story to start the way they did, and it worked. The change of heart (so to speak) that Stark has due to events at the beginning of them film is very believable, and Downey manages to pull it off sincerely, while still keeping the core personality of the character intact. Having truly menacing villains in the film, and timely ones at that, really helped to sell the reason why he becomes Iron Man.
Without giving anything away, there are a lot of "cheer for the good guy" moments in this film when you're just waiting for Iron Man to lay the smack down on the bad guys, and he doesn't disappoint. It was really satisfying watching him in action, and also for the smart way he would use the suit, not just randomly blasting everything in sight.
Up until recently, this film just couldn't have been made. First of all, some of the technology shown in the film is just a few steps ahead of what we've got now, and it makes how the suit is created and operated very believable. Second, is that the special effects technology has gotten good enough to pull it off. Only a couple of times did I feel I was watching CG effects. Most of the time, I just saw it as a guy in a real cool suit, blowin' stuff up and flying around. In part that's due to the special effects, but it's also due to setting up the character so you're more concerned with the guy in the suit. I also appreciate the fact that this film takes place here and now. They don't try to make it some fictional city or country, or some indeterminate time in the near-future. It grounds the film, and makes it more believable.
Iron Man was an absolute blast, and is the most fun I've had watching a film in a long time. I wanted to get into the suit and fly around (assuming they make an XL) - forget the fact that it doesn't exist! Great actors, story, direction and editing, awesome action sequences and first-rate special effects... a winner all the way around. Also, the film at times has genuinely funny moments. It's not merely trying to be funny - it succeeds, and the humor isn't forced. It's part of who the characters are. This really sets a new standard for superhero films, and here's hoping the inevitable sequel lives up to it.
P.S. And stay around through the end of the credits.