Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Movie Review -- Iron Man 2


I was able to get into a press screening for Iron Man 2 tonight, and figured I'd share my thoughts on it. I promise to keep the spoilers to a bare minimum.

Did you like the first Iron Man film? Odds are good that you did. Well, fear not, because with part 2, you're gonna get the same exact film! Well, not exactly the same film, but still. Marvel, Paramount, and Jon Favreau took absolutely ZERO risks with the characters or story, and that's probably the biggest disappointment I had with it.

Not that I expected them to take any major risks. The first film was a huge surprise, and established Iron Man as one of the top comic book-to-film characters (right behind Batman and Spider-Man). It was so big, I figured that they would stay away from Tony Stark's alcoholism that gave his comic book character some welcome depth. And while you see him drink a martini (and you see him drunk in the suit, in a particularly funny scene), that's it. Favreau (and script writer Justin Theroux) gave his character an issue to deal with, but it's handled way too easily, and then all but forgotten. By the end of the second film, we get pretty much the same Tony Stark we had half-way through the first.

Now, does that mean it's not a decent movie? No. It's still good summer fun. The pacing is a little off, but the story does well enough to pull us through, and the performances are strong. Robert Downey Jr. was fine, although it felt like the film didn't benefit as much from his presence as the first one did. Mickey Rourke does sinister just as well as you'd expect. I needed a shower just from looking at him. Don Cheadle does well to replace Terrence Howard, although he doesn't get much screen time. Samuel L. Jackson gets a couple of good scenes, and there are no snakes or planes in any of them (and he even gets to work in a good eye patch joke!). Gwyneth Paltrow was decent, as she was in the first film. Scarlett Johansson, however, was blah. I thought of using the word 'disappointing', but I can't say I expected anything from her, since I'm yet to see any work of hers that impressed me. She's great eye candy, for sure, but there are plenty of other actresses I'd rather see in the role. For my money though, Sam Rockwell had the most enjoyable performance. You could tell he was having fun with it, and his exchanges with Rourke got the most laughs from the audience.

As for the action, there isn't a ton of it, but what's there is good. The last 20 or 30 minutes is pretty much non-stop, and made up for the two other action scenes that were in the first hour and a half. I don't need 'shit done blowed up' every five minutes, but most of the main set up has already happened in the first film. Again, I liked the story, so it wasn't a problem for me, but I think it's going to be a problem for the majority of the film-going public. However, the CGI is very good. They let the characters in the suits show their faces from time to time, which helped the action not feel like a bunch of spreadsheets fighting each other.


However, as in the first film, the action isn't always perfect. The 'final battle' was no improvement. In fact, it had a lot in common with the final battle from the first film, although this one was a little more in the context of the characters.

In many ways, Iron Man 2 is more of the same. The best 'second' comic book films show the heroes changing (and growing) in one way or another. Superman 2. Spider-Man 2. X-Men 2. The Dark Knight. Because of its unwillingness to take any risks with plot or character, Iron Man 2 is not as good as any of those films. But it's still well-made, fun, and worth your time.

7/10

P.S.: Just like the first film, stay through the credits.

P.P.S.: I want one of those suitcases.

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