Monday, May 3, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark - the trillionaire suave genius who came up with the Iron Man suit in the first instalment of this unikely franchise. He continues in the same vein with the second film, directed with great maturity by Jon Favreau. All the major (and some minor) characters return from the first film and we have added bits and pieces that are quite meaty. Is it any good, though? Well ...

Between the first and second film, Tony Stark has become the poster-child for world peace. His arrogant and wasteful lifestyle has been embraced by the world over and everybody is quite happy to overlook his indulgences. He is confident that his unique position as the man who "privatised world peace" is untouchable. However, Mickey Rourke's Russian hardman Ivan Vanko has other plans. Once his evil plan to off Stark is revealed in a stunning (and ridiculously fake) lower-class formula race in Monaco, he is hired by Stark's biggest business rival, Justin Hammer - Sam Rockwell in another great performance - to create an army of drones that will rival (and improve upon) Stark's technology.

This feels like the encore of a concert that didn't really need one. It's like Pink Floyd playing "The Wall" live and adding a couple of tracks from "Dark Side of the Moon" for the sake of it. When the first film ended with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury introducing himself (and S.H.I.E.L.D.) to Tony Stark, the seeds of a sequel were sown whether it was necessary or not. As you may guess, I thought it was totally unnecessary. And unfortunately I've been proven right.

First the good stuff: Downey Jr again oozes the charisma that made the men all over the world want to be Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow (in perhaps the only improvement on the first film) has more to do this time. Sam Rockwell is fantastic as the slimy Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke has plenty of scenes where he shows off his inhuman musculature.

Sadly all of this is offset by the following: Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury appears in a couple of scenes, but they feel more workman-like than the explosive presence that we expect from him. Scarlett Johansson's character can easily be written off without adding anything to the plot - what an asinine creation and acting. Don Cheadle's Rhodes is as boring as Terence Howard's. Despite the fact that he plays a pivotal role in the finale, he remains as one-dimensional as ever. Oh, had they cast a non-African American actor, nobody would have noticed. Because he is that boring.

I shouldn't blame all of this on the cast - the story is very conventional and ... oh, I'm going to say it: boring. I don't get the emo phase of the superhero movies - what's with all that? I think the most interesting thing about superheroes are their origin stories, anything else after that makes me want to yawn until my jaw hurts.

Don't get me wrong, Iron Man 2 is still heaps of fun - explosions, one-liners, computer interfaces that will make you want throw away your laptop for being too archaic, cool toys that will make your manhood appear bigger ... it's all there. But we've seen it all before.

This concert did not need an encore. It was perfect.


? said...

That is the ugliest, cheapest looking poster ever. Looks like something you'd see on the pirated DVD copy I'm sure is available in half the seedy rental shops around Asia right now.

Anyway, I prefer sequels to origin stories to be honest. And I'll see this for the fun factor.

I have to say the whole build up to an Avengers movie with all these solo entries is a fantastic touch; one to marvel, really.

-- Irish

The Bru said...

Then you will love what happens after the end credits roll.

DubMC said...

Clever play on word, Irish. You get a golen Hey-Oh! for that one


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