Saturday, May 08, 2010

Iron Man 2

A fine sequel! Iron Man 2 may not raise the bar the way The Dark Knight did, but the strengths of the first film -- the superb actors and inspired casting, the snappy repartee, the overall tone and style -- are all here, and in greater helpings. And it's consistently funny, which is perhaps the main thing that sets it apart from its brethren. Iron Man 2 is superhero movie dressed up as a screwball comedy. It turns serious when it needs to, but thankfully without the melodramatic mustache twirling and catch phrases you expect from the genre. (The plot appropriately centers on proliferation of the iron man tech.) The set-pieces are all good but these were the least interesting parts of the movie, which is to its credit. The high-caliber cast of actors at the top of their game is what elevates Iron Man 2 to a whole other level. Same as last time in that regard.

Don Cheadle was great. (Terrence who?) I did feel like they could have dug a little deeper on the Stark/Rhodey friendship and falling out, but the acting more than makes up for it. I love that he declined to return the war machine suit in the end. Surely just coincidence that this provided Marvel Studios with a contingency if Downey Jr ended up saying "no" to The Avengers. The exchange at the end where Fury tells him they want Iron Man but not Stark serves the same purpose. He's saying they want him, not his b*llsh*t--which has been on spectacular display throughout the film--but phrased in a way that gives them wiggle room to substitute Cheadle in The Avengers, if need be. (Downey Jr did eventually sign up.)

Sam Rockwell -- Brilliant, as expected. Hammer is a perfectly executed high-powered corporate douchebag. I love how they transitioned him at the end from an adversary for Tony to an adversary for Pepper.

Mickey Rourke is fully transformed. A really impressive performance. Whiplash could have been an embarrassing choice. Instead, he's genuinely menacing. He never rants and is never campy, even with the bird, which plays as an oddly touching, humanizing element. Very well done.

Gwyneth Paltrow is wisely given more to do this time. The chemistry with Downey Jr is crackling, and the script smartly deals with her screwball promotion from Girl Friday to CEO by having Bill O'Reilly angrily questioning her qualifications on FOX News. Pepper takes it all in stride, because she's a superhero, too. She even gets in another memorable jab at the reporter Tony slept with in the first film.

The supporting cast is equally great. Scarlet Johansson is a welcome addition, more than holding her own with Downey Jr, Paltrow and Favreau, and she kicks ass impressively. She should get more to do next time. And if that next time is in Joss Whedon's Avengers, that would be spiffy.

The wonderful Clark Gregg is dryly amusing as Agent Colson. The gag with Captain America's shield is piss your pants funny. John Slattery, as Tony's father, was a nice touch, though I expected him to chain smoke. He'll reportedly reprise the part in Captain America, as Gregg will Colson in Thor. Favreau himself is more prominent as Happy Hogan, this time, and has several memorable scenes with Johansson. But it's Gary Shandling who steals the show with his constipated senator, forced to grin (through his teeth) for the cameras as he pins a medal on Tony a bit too enthusiastically. "Oops! A little prick is always so annoying, isn't it?" More of him next time, please!

Sam Jackson's Fury did strike me as a little too ... happy. I always think of Fury as an impatient, take-no-prisoners/brook-no-b*llsh*t type. But this is a nitpick, certainly, and the movie is so entertaining that it doesn't deserve to be nitpicked.

The movie gets a little bogged down towards the latter part of the second act as we wait for Tony to confide in someone, anyone that the suit is killing him and get over his daddy issues. But really, so what? This isn't a nitpick, but the film has earned so much good will by this point that it really doesn't detract from my enjoyment. The pace picks up again after daddy saves his life from beyond the grave and everything comes together for a highly satisfying final act.

All in all, I think I liked it a little bit better than the first one.

Late in the second act, Colson gets called away to New Mexico. In the after-credits tease, we find him standing at the edge of a crater in the desert reporting back to Nick Fury, "we found it." The "it" at the bottom of the crater is Thor's hammer. The geeks remaining in the theater squeed while their girlfriends (and boyfriends) rolled their eyes and continued tapping impatiently on their iphones.

Bring on the God of Thunder (written by my buddy Zack and his partner Ash, directed by Kenneth Branagh) next summer, and the one-two punch of Captain America and The Avengers, in May and July, 2012, respectively. Iron Man 3 in 2013?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review! (What he said...)

5/8/10, 5:47 PM  
Blogger Alan Scott said...

Hey, Scott! Great review! I haven't heard much about Iron Man 2 so I appreciate your review here.

Thanks!

7/24/10, 8:35 PM  
Blogger Fallhiker said...

great review and pretty much spot on, however, I would add a detracter. This being whiplash's plasma whips; Where they can slice a racecar into pieces like it was warmed over butter, yet leave the road fully intact. I would think asphalt would melt and cut up easier than steel and manganese alloy. Just me I guess.

3/25/11, 9:52 PM  

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