Monday, 11 May 2009

Movie Review - Iron Eagle

Top Gun was a very enjoyable movie that had more cheese than a city-sized pizza. Iron Eagle, on the other hand, has enough cheese to top a pizza the size of Jupiter even if that pizza had extra cheese and cheese-stuffed crusts. Top Gun is, by comparison, almost a vegan option.

That’s right, a film that makes one of the cheesiest films of the cheesiest decade in history (the eighties, as if you need telling) look remarkably straight-laced. Iron Eagle could induce lactose intolerance in a creature that customarily swallowed entire solar systems whole.

The Plot (for want of a better word)

Well actually the plot isn’t that bad. American Air Force Colonel Ted Masters (Tim Thomerson) gets captured (flying inside airspace considered by the county to be there’s but not recognised as such by the Americans or, presumably, the international community) by an unnamed Middle Eastern Country and is interrogated by an Arabian played by David Suchet [the definitive Poirot – smarmy, self-righteous Belgian creep…]. Masters’ son Doug (Jason Gedrick) teams up with a reserve Colonel (Louis Gossett Jr), steals two F16s, and fly out to rescue dad…

Okay so I lied. It really is that bad. This thing reeks of straight-to-video. It’s stale and predictable throughout, with no real sign that any reasonable amount of thought was given to the story. It’s waaaaaaaaaaaay over the top but still takes itself seriously (without being droll), which is always a bad combination.

The Cast

Um… how can I say this kindly? Given the tripe that substitutes for plot, Louis Gossett, Jr, as the Colonel who helps plan and execute the rescue operation, comes out relatively unscathed, his performance isn’t too bad, and his grumpy character was kind of fun for a while. David Suchet hams it up quite enjoyably and manages not to completely destroy his acting career in the process. The main star, Gedrick, isn’t actually too bad but, as with the other cast, is hampered by some appalling dialogue. Thomerson picks up the award for cheesiest performance. Some of the other performances just don’t bear thinking about at all. It exhibits all the traditional hallmarks of a children’s film without a rating that allows children to watch it. Weird…

The Message
I think the Arabs were being portrayed as the bad guys, but at the same time I was never quite sure if the fact that the Americans were portrayed as absurdly arrogant idiots was intentional or not. So is the message that unnamed Middle Eastern country regimes will be defeated, or that Americans are a bunch of arrogant so-and-sos but will win anyway? Or does it not have a message at all? Let’s hope not… This film came out in 1986, a few years before the first Gulf War… strangely prophetic in some ways.

The Dogfights

One of the best things about Top Gun was that the aerial sequences actually looked fairly convincing. The same thing can’t be said of most of the sequences in Iron Eagle. Some weren’t too bad, but these were usually the ones where nothing actually happened, you just see the plane flying along. Every time an unnamed Middle Eastern country’s plane was shot down, you see the guns blaze or missile launch, then immediately it cuts to an explosion as the enemy or target explodes. You never see the missile actually travel between its origin and target, it’s all a bit reminiscent of the original series of Star Trek. These days you would expect a bit more. Another thing I learnt from this film is that unnamed Middle Eastern country’s fighters rarely hit their targets, whereas American fighters always do. Wow. No wonder they won the Gulf war.

This film just really annoyed me in its mindlessly simplistic portrayal of warfare. It’s not quite one star material, there were a few moments that bordered on average, and the sound track was decent enough. For a kid’s film it would be okay if it weren’t for the facets that pushed up its rating to a 15 (UK) and PG-13(USA). (Okay I guess in the US kids wouldn't be stopped from watching this then...) The inclusion of more adult-oriented material in this was a strange one – if the script is only believable for children whose age is still in single figures, why not make it for them? Avoid.

One more thing… I can’t believe this actually spawned not one, not two, but three sequels!!!! How could anyone let this happen?!?


Comparisons with Top Gun are inevitable. Iron Eagle, however, doesn’t even come close.

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