Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2

Film review by: Witney Seibold

Jon Favreau‘s “Iron Man 2,” while being delightful, affable, and incredibly well-acted, still suffers from typical sequel burnout; too much content included in order to outdo the spectacle of the previous film. In addition to our hero, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) fighting a vengeful Russian bully named Vanko (Mickey Rourke), we also have his best friend Col. Rhodes (Don Cheadle, stepping in for Terrence Howard) donning an Iron suit, and becoming a superhero himself. We also have a bitter rival of Tony’s (Sam Rockwell) doing backalley dealings with both Rhodes and Vanko in order to outdo Tony at a world expo. We also have Tony’s would-be girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) becoming CEO of his compay, a curvy secretary-cum-she-spy named Natalie (Scarlett Johansson), and a subplot involving a character named Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who is operating some sort of policing system for superheroes. More on him later.

Oh, and, lest I forget, Tony having to invent a new chemical element to power his artificial heart. And a hint left behind by his deceased father. And a bitter senator (Garry Shandling) trying to get Tony to reveal the secrets of his Iron suit, and hand them over to the U.S. Government. This is last detail was refreshingly realistic. If a single rich playboy like Tony Stark was gallivanting about the world blowing things up in the name of peace with a hugely destructive new Iron Man weapon, the U.S. Government would, without a doubt, step in to control things.

“Iron Man 2” doesn’t skimp on the action, and has plenty of scenes of techo-suited people doing robot mayhem. Rourke wears giant electrical cords on his hands, and can cut cars in half. Cheadle flies about in an iron suit, and he and Tony have not one but two Iron Man battle royales. There’s a lot of rocketing, a lot of clanging and smashing and exploding. Those itching for bright colors and quick, ADD-addled movement will not be disappointed.

Those expecting the thought and introspection displayed in 2008’s “Iron Man” may be. There are few moments when “Iron Man 2” slows down to ask questions about superhero logistics, and doesn’t have the slow build to action that the first possessed. The first, while catering to comic book fans, didn’t seem preoccupied with pleasing the supernerds in the audience. “Iron Man 2” seems so eager to include references to the source comics, that actual storytelling becomes a mite mixed-up. Especially ith the inclusion of the Nick Fury character.

Nick Fury, as most comic book fans know, and few other have heard of, is the star of his own line of comics and has been included in “Iron Man 2” as a gearing up for an “Avengers” film in a few years time, a film that will overlap the characters from “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and the upcoming “Thor” and “Captain America” movies. “Iron Man 2,” then, seems less like a complete film in itself, and more a single chapter in this cinematic superstructure where no feature film will ever conclude, but be part of this large, open-ended, multi-billion dollar serial. This may be all well and good for the comic book fans eager to see everything eventually connect up, but it doesn’t make for good autonomous feature films.

The film’s center is with Downey, and, luckily for us, he is just as wry, just as quick, just as witty, just as funny, and just as good as he has always been. When the film allows Downey to be affable and playful, the film begins to sparkle, and when Rockwell, Platrow, or Cheadle begin to trade barbs, the film shines outright. Favreau seems to be more interested in the playful, established friendships of characters than he is in rote action and mayhem, however good at it he may be.

 

I can recommend “Iron Man 2” on the basis of the talent alone. Stark is a cocky man, a drunk, and a brilliant arrested adolescent, and Downey is able to, with ease, depict every facet of his personality in any given scene. Paltrow manages to turn a potentially weak character into a charming and take-charge kind of woman. Rockwell plays sleazy better than I would expect him too (although we saw some of that in “Choke”), and Cheadle perfectly rides the balance between goofy humor and dead seriousness. Even Rourke gives a strange method performance as a Russian superthug, and seems to be living inside his character; he has no time for any of the other characters’ BS. Johansson is included just because she’s devastatingly pretty.

But do I need to recommend this film? Probably not. It’s made its millions, and you’ve likely already seen it. I guess this review can just be added to the discussion. I’ll see “Thor” and I’ll see “Captain America,” although I kind of hope that the planned “Avengers” film is never made; it’s far more interesting to contemplate than it would be to watch.

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Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Nice review! Thanks for sharing this. I personally love this movie. It may not deserve an Oscar, but it is really entertaining.


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