IRON MAN 2
STARRING: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth
Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Clark
Gregg, John Slattery, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson
2010, 124 Minutes, Directed by:
action sequences in Iron Man 2 are pretty cool . . .
Okay, that bitchy comment makes
one sound unappreciative of the movie while the truth is that there are in fact
lots to like.
In many ways the movie actually
improves upon the first film. Perhaps stung by criticism that the mano-a-mano
fight sequence towards the end of the previous movie was a bit on the
anticlimactic side, the Iron Man 2 film-makers have made sure that the
long Iron Man and his War Machine sidekick battling a small army of army robot
drones sequence does indeed kick metal butt. Or maybe they just had a bigger
budget this time round . . .
The action sequences are truly
thrilling to watch. It’s however a pity that there aren’t more of them. The
movie however remind one what was missing from
Transformers 2 for instance: human interest. Iron Man 2 takes some
effort to make us like its characters. Robert Downey Jr. may be crowded out of
the limelight a bit by all the newcomers, but he still makes us like the arch
capitalist pig that is Tony Stark.
Plus the fact that director Jon
Favreau (who also directed the previous Iron Man
movie) actually knows how to edit action scenes and not present them in the
incoherent music video style that dogs Michael Bay’s work. These scenes should
be watched in a state-of-art theater – preferably IMAX – the loud sound as
robots fly underneath highway overhangs literally rattled the cinema seats when
we watched it.
Superhero sequels as of late
have made the mistake of going “darker” with each new installment (we’re looking
at you here, Spider-man 3). Iron Man 2
however sticks to the same light-hearted comedy flavor that made the first movie
such an unexpected surprise hit at the box office. So don’t expect any Tony
Stark does Leaving Las Vegas stuff (in the comics Iron Man famously
struggled with alcoholism).
That is on the plus side.
On the minus side, the movie
makes the classical superhero sequel mistake of introducing too many new
characters . . .
"Does this movie count as an Avengers prequel then?"
It is about two years after the
events of the first Iron Man movie. In this time
Tony Stark (Downey), who invented the Iron Man suit, has single-handedly brought
about global peace it seems! Naturally the U.S. government doesn’t like this
sort of thing. They want Stark to relinquish the Iron Man designs so that their
military can use it. Stark refuses of course . . .
In the meantime a tattooed
Russian ex-con (a particularly smarmy Mickey Rourke – you wouldn’t want to sit
next to this guy in the subway!) hatches a plan to get revenge on Stark because
of something that Stark’s dad did to his daddy.
Also thrown into the mix are: a
corrupt weapons dealer who comes across as an annoying mirror image of Tony
Stark (Moon’s Sam Rockwell); Nick Fury (Samuel L.
Jackson) trying to recruit Stark for a top secret spy organization known as
S.H.I.E.L.D.; a sexy Russian superspy (Scarlett Johansson); a U.S. senator who
hates Stark (Garry Shandling); Stark’s limo driver, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau);
and so on. This is in addition to the characters from the previous movie played
by Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle who replaces Terrence Howard.
Iron Man 2’s biggest
problem is that with the many new characters vying for screen time it takes its
sweet time in getting round to the action scenes. Like a chess player moving
around its pieces, screenwriter Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder) takes a
long time to shuffle characters around to get round to the action finale. At
times it all feels unfocused and we actually thought to ourselves that “gosh,
this is taking a bit long.”
It’s talky and while the
dialogue crackles with inventive cleverness some subplots could easily have been
left on the cutting floor to get to the action sooner. One such subplot is Iron
Man / Tony Stark having daddy issues, which feels half-baked and not fully
explored in any case.
Despite these faults it’s still
an enjoyable time at the cinemas. The over-hype might have led one to expect
more, probably because there aren’t as many genre movies offerings this year as
last, but Iron Man 2 is a fun popcorn flick as the quote whores (critics
who always get quoted on movie posters) like to say . . .
(Note: in-jokes abound. Look
out for Stan Lee in his usual cameo and
shield. There are also lots of small references to the upcoming Avengers
movie. Does this movie count as an
Avengers prequel then?)