Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2 Movie Review

Iron Man 2 starts out at the end of the first Iron Man, with arms manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announcing to the world that he is Iron Man. The broadcast is sent around the world where Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) in Siberia watches it. At the time, his father Anton (Yevgeni Lazarev)is dying. Both father and son blame Tony and his father for their exile. You see at one time Anton worked for Stark Industries helping to develop arc technology. Tony's father dumped Anton when he wanted to use arc technology for profit. Stark's publicity enrages Ivan who plots his revenge.

Meanwhile, Stark is not humbled by the great power he can wield. He's a narcissistic party animal. He's not Spider-man whose phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility" is the guiding principal of his Spidey's heroism. Stark's lack of attention to his business leads to attacks by arms manufacturer and competitior Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who wants the government to buy his brand of combat suits and Senator Sterm (Gary Shandling!) who wants Stark to turn over the Iron Man suits to the military. One of the movie's main plot points comes when Ivan attacks Stark as he competes in the Monaco Grand Prix. After Stark becomes Iron Man and defeats him, Hammer breaks Ivan out of jail. They team up to develop drone suits to bring down Stark.

If you read Entertainment Weekly, you got the first hints of trouble with this movie. In the May 7, issue, the actors, Downey, Don Cheadle ("Lt. Col. Rhodes"), Scarlett Johansson ("Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow") don't take this movie seriously. And when you watch the film, it's clear they didn't. Downey's delivery is dripping with sarcasm with a certain contempt for the Stark character. Cheadle doesn't have enough lines to tell what his feelings are. Johansson is so beautiful that you get the feeling that director Jon Favreau forgot to direct her. He merely frames her angelic face in the best light while she has as much emotion as a Barbie doll. If you remember Burt Reynolds' Cannonball Run movies, you get the same feeling from those pictures when you watch Iron Man 2. The actors,the director and the writer had a party but you the audience were kept out of the club waiting in the rain while a bouncer told you that you weren't hip enough. And who decided to cast Gary Shandling as a United States Senator? It's a good thing he doesn't have much screen time. Shandling's weird comedic pucker nearly sinks the movie.

Great movies start with the writing. Justin Theroux is all wrong for this job. This is the guy who co-wrote the comedy Tropic Thunder (2008) Look, it's good that there is humor in these superhero movies but if you don't take them seriously you end up with the campy TV series of Batman. Stark is written like a rich, shallow, punk. There's no redemption as there was in the first film. Even if he is supposed to be a negative character, you don't care for him. That's because Theroux doesn't take the material seriously.

Favreau's direction is tone deaf. First, he follows the banal rules of the sequel. Bigger and louder. That may be fine, but he must be responsible for the party on the screen. Everybody may have had fun but the audience does not. One of the worst decisions was to film the ending battle scenes at night. Iron Man is chased around an Expo by flying drones. Because it's dark you can't see the drones, just their fiery exhausts. You see very little of Iron Man. Since you can't see what's going on, there's no excitement.

Is there anything good about Iron Man 2? Yeah. Gwyneth Paltrow. She has an idea of what her character, Pepper Potts, wants. And there is the franchise of Iron Man, one of the coolest of Marvel's superheroes. By the way, stay through the credits as you will get scene giving you a clue as to where Marvel is going next with its superhero movies. Hint: It looks like Thor is coming and maybe an Avenger movie is also on its way. For you non-comic fans, Avengers are the team of Marvel's supreheroes. I suggest Marvel hire writers who will take the material seriously. Iron Man 2 is a loud sequel without the wit, intelligence and heart of the first movie. The grade is C+.

No comments: