Movie Night: Iron Man 2

I don’t even need to bother to establish the heights of my geekery. As of late, this blog has been pretty much dominated by my love of comics and, now, movies. So what’s better than comics and movies? How about movies based on comics? Well, really they’re not always that good, but I’m trying here. So, last week Friday was finally Iron Man 2 night. The Wednesday Night 3+ posse came together sweetly at the Brightwater Commons in Randburg to view it in regular awesome 2D. I hate the Commons (its name says it all), but I got really good service at the Nu Metro. On the other hand, you can steer clear of that Morroc-Egypti-Arabic restaurant, Sahara. I may as well have gone to the kitchen and made my own tea, then guessed the bill (my waiter tried that) and paid for it in Monopoly money.

There were two trailers before the movie… well, two that stood out. One was for Tomorrow When The War Began (watch the trailer here), which is an Australian sci-fi thing based on a book that was really popular a decade or so ago. Sit through the trailer and tell me you’re not intrigued. The other trailer was for Leap Year, which I won’t link to because it’s basically a movie you’ve seen before with different actors: goofy American girl runs to Ireland after her rich, smarmy (and, no doubt, evil) American boyfriend to propose to him on the 29th of Feb. Stranded somewhere else, she has to drive with an unshaven, odd but strangely good looking local. The two don’t care for one another, but she needs the ride and he’s got some or other reason to take her (money? a bet? a crush? pick one). You don’t need a manual to see where this is going, and the trailer knows that. All the “good” jokes and anticipated moments are in it, and we’ll all be taking our girlfriends to see it in a month (well, not me, but you all).

But let’s get into the real review now, shall we?

The Iron Hangover: Let's face facts. We'd all pay oodles to see Robert Downey, Jr. be a charismatic drunk in any suit.

I’ve been looking forward to Iron Man 2 since the first installment ended on the interesting market-driven proposal that Marvel Studios might actually produce an Avengers movie starring some of its biggest characters. The first film was a big spectacular action piece with cool effects and an even cooler leading man. In fact, strip away the reflective body paint and the glowy chest piece and Robert Downey, Jr. pretty much carried that movie on his own. Not to knock his capable co-stars, but really, they didn’t have all that much to do besides play off the impeccably well cast Tony Stark and his iron ego. And it was still awesome.

The second film, however, doesn’t suffer from that same problem. It’s packed with actors who have a lot more to do even when all they’re doing is reacting to Tony’s shenanigans. Shenanigans which range the gamut from the impressive and easily understood to the ridiculous awesomeness befitting a big, shiny superhero movie. But here’s where the second movie duffs things up a bit: with so much for the cast to do, and not enough playroom to do it in even with the 2-hour running time, some plot elements feel rushed to a conclusion. And let’s face it, with Iron Man 3 only a blip on Marvel Studios’ radar right now, the film really does need to power through its plot and conclude pretty much everyone’s stories in the here and now.

A big driving force behind Tony’s waxing and waning personality in this movie is the fact that the lump of tech in his chest is now slowly killing him. Being near death pushes his eccentricities to new extremes, but the film can’t decide when to revel in this new dimension, and when to play it up as a moral dilemma. Tony goes from drunkenly assaulting his best friend and trashing his home to humorously devouring donuts in minutes, as if the filmmakers were too afraid to effectively deal with the very real problems of mortality and alcoholism he appears to be facing. Tony is clearly meant to be making a sharp descent into increasingly reckless behaviour and letting his mad genius run wild, and Downey does a good job of trying to balance it all, but somewhere between the scripting, directing and editing, he just comes across as a jerk who is using his imminent death as an excuse to misbehave.

Meanwhile, Iron Man 2 jumps from his story to the villains, in the form of Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) and Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Rockwell plays the corporate anti-Stark; a half-assed, corner-cutting wannabe whose desperate attempts to appear as cool as Iron Man are fun to watch. He’s a far cry from the elderly Justin Hammer of the comic books, and thank the Norse Gods for that! Rourke is, once again, a washed up something-something with a beat-up face, but damn he’s good at playing this role. Both actors don’t fuck around with their roles, providing nuanced performances where they could’ve just phoned it in as goofy maniacal supervillains. Unfortunately, they’re both sold down the river in the film’s rush to climax like an 18-year-old in bed after a creative aerial battle. The film builds up, then lets us down far too gently to make sure we remember this is Downey’s picture before its anybody else’s.

Honestly, the movie probably could’ve done without the crammed subplots involving Stark’s new secretary, Natasha Romanov (the Black Widow in the comics), and Sam Jackson’s hammy appearance as Nick Fury. Scarlett Johansson can’t act, and she can’t walk in heels, so she basically has one awesome action sequence near the end to make you remember she was even in this. She’s also quite hot (to some people) and so I guess she adds eye candy. Samuel L Jackson may as well have ended every sentence with “motherfucker” while staring directly into the camera and winking at the audience. We get it, dude. It’s you, playing Nick Fury, in a comic book movie, and you’re a huge geek. Calm down and try acting, please?? We know you can do it. Jackson just about pulls off something like serious acting at some points, then messes it up by just wallowing in his love of one-liners. Christopher Walken does this kind of cameo work all the time, and he seems to know just how far to take it, even when he’s playing comedy. Jackson needs to just tone it down a bit, otherwise these Nick Fury appearances are going to get even more annoying even sooner.

Really, Scarlett and Sam could’ve been cut entirely from the midsection of the film, leaving more room for the witty stuff between the stronger actors like Downey, Paltrow, Rockwell, Rourke and Cheadle (who is much better than Howard was in this same role, if only because he has a better voice).

So, all in all, what’s Iron Man 2 like? Well: the constant jump-cutting between the various characters slows things down a little in the middle of the film; some of the additional characters bloat things a bit where it could’ve been streamlined; director Jon Favreau seems a little afraid to ditch the comedic aspects in favor of the dramatic ones; and the absolute final battle is a tad disappointing… BUT, the first movie was basically about a guy hanging out in his garage to modify his costume, and it was still awesome. If you liked that (I did), then you’ll love this too.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Movie Night: Iron Man 2”
  1. Nexorsist says:

    Well, first to comment on the Australian film, that actually looks like it might be worthwhile watching so I’ll keep my eyes open for it. With regards to Leap Year, I have the dvdrip on my pc at home and watched it last night… You pretty much summed it up, its a feel-good standard formula romantic comedy, with an unrealistic ending, but yeah it is probably what you would take your girlfriend to go and see.

    I haven’t watched Iron Man 2 yet and I am looking forward to it, although I have to agree with you Jackson and it isn’t just this film that he has been pulling this stunt with lately, I don’t know if he sold his soul to the devil at some point but his roles are getting increasingly more useless as time goes on and it is very disappointing as we all know that he is a superb actor (or was at some point).

    I think all in all the Directors just forget that LESS is
    sometimes better, and trying to shovel too much shit into one 2 hour movie can ruin it regardless of how many A-Grade actors you put in there.

  2. I’m definitely one of those people who thinks Scarlett Johansson is hot. Even if she looks mildly cripple in high heels

  3. Nexorsist says:

    Well,

    I went to go watch the movie tonight, and I do agree with most of you said. But as we know that Sam Jackson is a good actor they could have given him more to work with to actually stretch his proverbial acting wings, but they didn’t and that was the result. However Sam Jackson shouldn’t have settled for a role like that.

    All in all I really enjoyed the movie and, going by sequels, it wasn’t bad at all. All in all I do think the bad guy was a little too easy to defeat and didn’t pose much of a threat, for a genius he really didn’t think out his evil mastermind scheme quite well.

    The humour in the movie was great, and I think Downey was/is still the perfect choice for the role.

  4. Ivan says:

    Thank you skinny younger Barry Ronge. What’s next on your reviewing agenda?Kickass?

  5. Jase says:

    Come on man, Scarlett Johansson’s hot.

    Overall, I’d rank it around as good as the first. I agree that Black Widow could have been cut from the movie entirely which makes me wonder why they felt the need to include the character at all, unless she’s sure to have a role in Avengers.

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