Monday, June 21, 2010

Iron Men Have all the Fun...

Well the inevitable sequel to Iron Man finally hit theatres and my partner in crime -Bonegod- and I went to witness the spectacle. From the beginning I had high hopes for the aptly titled IRON MAN 2 due in large part to the great ad campaign and Jon Favreau's involvement as director. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and was looking forward to the next one like a blowjob and a fine cup of coffee.

The plot follows billionaire industrialist playboy Bruce Wa- er I mean Tony Stark AKA Iron Man as he fends off enemies from all sides. Fellow industrialist Justin Hammer is trying to out-Stark Stark with his own military exoskeletons, a scary Russian technical genius named Ivan Vanko with a personal vendetta against the Stark family and tries to exact his revenge with his very own power suit complete with badass (and somewhat kinky) electrical whips and even the US government is trying to get all up in his business and try to take his Iron Man technology away by legal means. Through it all there are several subplots involving Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow obviously trying to set up the eventual Avengers movie, Tony's rocky friendship with Lt. Col. James Rhodes, and a brief look at Tony's bout with alcoholism as well as his failing health due to now obsolete technology. In the end all of this, of course, leads up to a giant action sequence at the end of the movie.

Between all the explosions, hot babes, and special effects, IRON MAN 2 attempts to capitalize on the expectation that the core of the summer blockbuster is supposed to be pure fun.  It only partially succeeds. Not nearly on the same level as the first Iron Man,  Favreau and Downey Jr. deliver a passable superhero movie. This movie picks up pretty much exactly where the last one left off with Tony Stark revealing his secret identity to the world. This movie had a nice twist as Mr. Stark dealt with the revelation of his alter ego under the close scrutiny of the public eye. This added another level of conflict not seen in other movies in the same vein. But really, all the conflict was merely an excuse to show a bunch of dudes in various incarnations of Iron Man's suit beating the shit out of each other. And beat the shit out of each other they did.

Much to my friend Bonegod's chagrin I now have to compare any comic book movie adaptation to the ultimate entry in that genre (so far) THE DARK KNIGHT. Some might say because TDK was so perfect that it would be unfair to judge any movie -let alone a mere comic book movie- by such dick-hardening standards. But unfortunately that's the way the fucking world works. You don't lower the bar so the lesser can succeed. Unfortunately, the comparison was difficult in this case because the two films were not exactly playing the same sport. This was a far different beast than TDK and from the get go set a far less serious tone. This is not a thinking man's movie and the plot was far from Shakespearian. This might sound like I'm bashing the movie (and I guess to a certain extent that might be true) but there's only so far you can get on style alone.

A great deal of the credit for what successes there are in this film lies with director Jon Favreau who obviously had a clear idea of who he thinks Tony Stark/Iron Man is, a clear idea of the tone he wanted to set for the movie, and a clear idea of where he wanted to take the character. This kind of consistency and coherence go a long way to making this a fun and entertaining ride despite this movie having far, far less substance than the first. The characters have a lot of comedic moments but the characters have just enough depth to keep them from being laughable and cartoony, though it was slightly disappointing that Tony Stark had no character arc per se as he was kind of "reset" to the irresponsible asshole that he was at the beginning of Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is an excellent choice and you can tell he's having a great deal of fun in the role. Don Cheadle stepped up as James Rhodes/War Machine in this go around (taking over, of course, from Terrence Howard) and he did an excellent job once again displaying his acting range as he is torn between his friendship with Tony and his duty to the military. Gwyneth Paltrow once again proved the perfect foil and straight woman for chronically irresponsible Tony as Pepper pots. Another gem was Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. Sam Rockwell is easily one of the best actors of his generation and I hope to see him in a lot more flicks in the future. Mickey Rourke gave an excellent turn as Ivan Vanko and gave the best Russian accent I've heard since Famke Janssen in Goldeneye. Although not quite as sexy as Famke (though it's pretty close) Rourke is an excellent and formidable villain and proves once again that he is back and here to stay. He also cuts quite an imposing figure and I think without the suits this guy would have torn Tony in half. Fuck that guy is built. Scarlett Johansson was surprisingly less annoying than usual. To me she is still just a pretty face (and a great ass) with practically no acting ability. While this movie didn't erase all of that she did do a commendable job and did some kick-ass action scenes. Sam Jackson. That's all I have to say because no matter what he's in I fucking love him, especially when he plays a bad ass motherfucker (wallet or no wallet) and his portrayal of Nick Fury was great as usual.

For a summer blockbuster, the pacing seemed a little odd.  There were a couple excellent action scenes at the racetrack and at the end with the cluster-fuck of bad guys but in between there was very little else. In my mind this kind of movie thrives on action, so to starve it halfway through seems counterproductive. Yes, Tony Stark has drinking problems and yes he's having health issues and yes he has daddy issues, but really who gives a shit? Sure a drunk Iron Man dancing at a party is funny, but I just want to see less of that and more of him -and War Machine- fucking up bad guys. I mean it all made sense and it didn't feel extraneous or anything, it just could have used a few more action beats in the middle. More of Mickey Rourke destroying things would have been nice too. His character comes in pretty early (right in the credits!) and then he kind of disappears until near the end. When he was there he was great but the character seemed thoroughly underused.The only other issue I have is that the plot could have had a little more depth. I mean it was pretty good but it was pretty predictable and there were no real surprises. The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good with no shades of grey.

Other than that what we have here is an action flick that entertains the kids but also has just enough substance and adult humour not so much to entertain but at least to distract mature audiences. The action (when there was action) was great, the special effects were superb and the actors did an excellent job. It was fun but not quite on par with the first film. I especially like all the allusions to the Avengers which I hope to god gets made because in the right hands could totally blow our minds as well as our loads. I also loved how they established just how powerful Iron Man really is. I mean this one "weapon" has basically ensured world peace because all the terrorists and scum around the world are scared shitless of this thing and no other country is even close to duplicating this power. I would like to see how Iron Man fared against some other adversaries though. So far all he's fought are other people with other power suits or power suit drones. I mean how would he stand up against the Abomination for example? Or does technology just trump biology in this universe? What about Iron Man vs. Wolverine? Or better yet, Iron Man vs. Magneto? Bets anyone?

Something else I really enjoyed was the inclusion of War Machine. It was pretty cool to see this guy kick some serious ass. I always thought that having a giant fucking machine gun mounted on your shoulder looked cool. I mean, look at Blastoise. The filmmakers did an excellent job at including him and making his presence felt but not having it overpower or upstage Iron Man. That end battle was enjoyable enough, and even though the final showdown with Whiplash was disappointingly short, it would make even Jesatan think twice about battling these two titans.

While not nearly on par with the its predecessor, IRON MAN 2 is a nice little distraction, though hopefully not an indication of where Marvel is heading with their movies. Also stay around after the credits and you'll get a nice little, tasty treat. IRON MAN 2 gets a solid 6.5/10 = Two Shining Metallic Heads One With a Mounted Machine Gun Next to It With Ominous Glowing Eyes.


Post a Comment