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Iron Man 2

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on May 17, 2010

IRON MAN 2 (2010)

I’ve had AC/DC on the brain for days, so seeing this film only helped keep that going. If you don’t know, the film could essentially be considered a giant music video for the AC/DC “album” ‘Iron Man 2’, which is really just a soundtrack compiled of a lot of their “greatest hits” that were used in the film. Oh, there are a few other songs in the movie that are not by AC/DC, but they don’t really matter :P. But I guess I should talk about the second installment of the superfranchise instead of the soundtrack, so here goes.

Unless you live under a rock, you know about Iron Man and you know the general storyline of the main character, Tony Stark/Iron Man. At the end of the last film the world had just been informed that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) really is Iron Man, so now both Stark is even more of a celebrity. And everyone loves him. So now the question is, who could possibly be his adversary, and how? I mean, the guy’s suit is at least 17 different kinds of awesome and powerful.

He's so awesome that he has a YEAR-LONG Expo that looks more like a concert on steroids.

The obvious answer is that we need to reach into Stark’s backstory to find another villain, and also delve into his own issues just a bit more. Forget the ego and the arrogance; this movie swirls around daddy issues. And it’s because of his father that we get the main baddie, Mr. Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler). How can someone battle Iron Man without harnessing pretty much the same energy that Iron Man uses? Mr. Vanko, you have the floor:

Look familiar, bitch?

Vanko is Whiplash, and uses the same energy system that Stark uses (based off his father’s brilliant idea) in order to create superpowerful whips that extend from those handles. I’m sure you’ve all seen the previews. It’s kinda awesome how deliciously evil Mickey Rourke can be while tauntingly whipping those things around almost like jumpropes. And I love the accent so much. But Whiplash clearly isn’t enough– he’s but one man, hellbent on revenge (that story is just SLIGHTLY underwhelming and underdeveloped, but I’ll let it pass). He’s also clearly obsessed with one thing: destroying Tony Stark.

You know, with the proper lighting, that crazyboard could really pull the room together.

Clearly the best option for a competitor to do would be to fund this maniac and give him access to your warehouse, full of your latest attempts at duplicating Stark’s Iron Man suit. Enter Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell, seen in Moon, Galaxy Quest, and many others), the clearly insecure and sleazy competitor.

Distinguished members of Congress, allow me to dazzle you with my false air of cockiness and obnoxious mannerisms.

Again, this storyline is a bit underdeveloped and is also highly improbable. Nothing about Vanko screams “stability”, and yet Hammer thinks that teaming up with him is clearly the best call.

Never trust a man whose conditions include supplying him with his pet parrot.

It’s so hard to talk about the rest of the movie from here because SO much is going on. We are introduced to a brand new Lt. Rhodes, as Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Ocean’s 11-13) replaced Terrence Howard, and we are introduced to a brand new assistant for Stark in the form of Scarlett Johansson.

I think the assistant job required that her bra must be showing at all times while on the clock.

I was weary of both of these casting choices, as I consider Cheadle to be a bit more refined and I didn’t dig Scarlett’s action performance in Michael Bay’s mess of a film, The Island. However, I was actually fine with both actors during the film. I do like Cheadle and I’m not particularly fond of Johansson, so I’d say that this was pretty successful. I have to say that I was grateful that the filmmakers decided to make the costume for Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow nowhere near as provocative as the comic book character…

I find that ass-kicking is best done in a black pleather-like jumpsuit, with ample cleavage.

However, I was really annoyed by one major thing, quite specifically in this scene. It’s really simple and nit-picky, but I have to say it: Her hair is down. Yes, I know that many women in action movies have their hair down while they fight, but that’s not generally by choice. It’s not like they gear up, expecting to be involved in a lot of hand-to-hand combat and knowing they will encounter any number of armed assailants and decide that today is the day for that “cute, soft, wavy tresses” look. Black Widow got ready for this scene and changed her outfit, and decided, for what I can only assume to be male satisfaction, to leave her hair down. Why is that a problem?

I also work best while partially blinded by my long, flowing locks.

Yes, I know she’s not being blinded in that shot, but I thought it illustrated the potential hazards of long hair in such situations. Trust me when I say that you don’t decide to leave your hair down when split-second decisions and catlike reflexes are necessary to survive. You don’t get that extra second to wipe the hair from your face before getting shot in the ovary. It’s a silly thing to do, and it bugged me (clearly). Moving on…

We got to see a lot more involvement of the S.H.I.E.L.D. group in this one, as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, who needs no motherfucking introduction) was introduced in one of those sneaky “extra scenes” after the credits of the last film.

This time they hold their supersecret meeting in a donut shop, the best place for superhero pow-wows.

Fury’s presence plays more into Stark’s daddy issues, as his father is constantly brought up and it’s quite clear that there was some distance between the two of them. I think that this particular storyline was poorly executed. I wouldn’t have been so bothered by the whole thing had the specific set-ups with things from his father’s past were not so obvious. If I’m sitting through a scene staring at a particular set-piece that is largely being ignored, chanting to myself “GET THAT THING. JUST GO OVER THERE AND GET IT,” and the director has the audacity to have the character pull a near-miss with the item… I want to scream.

My father said, "We built this city on rock and roll." Jarvis! Prepare yourself... we have a mystery to solve.

OK, I realize I’m not doing a very typical review, and that’s mostly because, well… it’s Iron Man 2. The fact of the matter is, it’s a fun action movie and it delivers pretty well. It’s not as fulfilling as the first one, but it’s a pretty adequate sequel. But there’s also not a lot to criticize without spoiling too much… and there are too many pictures available for me to ignore. I’m serious, it’s so hard for me not to use some of these. And it’s getting in the way of my review, dammit!!

Now down to some serious issues I had with the film: It was a little crowded. On top of the new characters, which gave us two villains and a ‘henchwoman’, of sorts, there were a lot of storylines happening. For example, I did think that the Congress sequence was a bit over the top, and that Gary Shandling, who plays Senator Stern, looked like his face was made of melted plastic.

I hope you got a refund on that plastic surgery, Gary darling.

Then we also have to deal with Tony’s health issues, as apparently the solution from the last film had run its course by now.

Ah, the diseased veins of a champion.

I am also constantly shocked by how Tony Stark must have contractors on call 24/7 for every time her destroys part (or all) of his house.

"Is that the bill from when I blew a hole through my wall, or was it when I destroyed every window in the house?"

As for the good, I mostly addressed that, but I’m pretty satisfied with the cast (also, a shout-out to Paul Bettany for providing the voice of Jarvis). I’m not so keen on Jon Favreau (who was great in the film PCU), the director of the film, being the curmudgeonly handler, but that’s mostly because I find him to be overly annoying when playing such roles. Speaking of Mr. Favreau, let’s discuss how he directed the film. I was struck with a bit of ‘eye-confusion’, if you will, with some of the action sequences. Mostly it was the flying sequence towards the beginning that made me want to take a page from my criticisms of Michael Bay and hand them over to Favreau, but the film, overall, was not poorly executed. I’m still rather shocked that he’s directing these films– I mean, he directed Elf. I don’t really make that leap to action films when I think of him, but I believe he has a good handle on this franchise.

Another surprising element was the writer, Justin Theroux (American Psycho, Mulholland Dr.). He’s an actor, and I recognized his name immediately. But he has proven himself as a screenwriter before in Tropic Thunder, where he took on comedy (and worked with Robert Downey Jr.); here, he tackled the art of the action film. It was interesting because much of the enjoyment of the film came from the wit of the characters and their interactions. I especially liked the screwball comedy-esque style with which Theroux and Favreau handled Stark and Pepper Potts’ (Gwyneth Paltrow)’s interactions– it had a very His Girl Friday feel to it, with neither character letting the other really finish their sentences before talking over each other.

This would seem like a sexually-charged scene if you didn't know the context.

Meanwhile the action, which was decent enough, was fairly minimal. There were not a lot of major action sequences. Actually, most of the action came at the end. There were certainly some situations and some explosions and the like, but not quite on the same level as most other action films.

Do I recommend this film? Yes. It’s a good summer blockbuster movie, and Robert Downey Jr. is excellent, as per usual. I like a lot of the character relationships, though I don’t quite get what was going on with Rhodes in this film, character-wise (didn’t want to spoil it for you all). Would I have welcomed more action? Of course, assuming it was executed well. And I could have done with a less convoluted plot scheme, in terms of all these storylines intertwining and trying to drive each other forward. So many of them felt like they were given equal consideration, and there’s just no need to have so many conflicts going on at once. But it certainly was a fun film to watch, and before you ask, yes–there is a scene after the credits.

P.S. This film features an appearance by Adam Goldstein, AKA DJ AM (playing himself), the famous DJ who overdosed and died a number of months ago. That’s just a random piece of trivia for you.

P.P.S. I also don’t know if the pictures are showing up in such a way that my format is ridiculously weird-looking, but I can’t figure out what that’s happening (at least, it looks that way to me). Any help would be greatly appreciated!


8 Responses to “Iron Man 2”

  1. Geno said

    Yeah part of the reason why there were so many plot lines going on all at once is it seems that they are making the Iron Man movies the lynch pin to the eventual Avengers movie. This character has already had his first outing so I am guessing rather than fit too much Avengers pre plot into the upcoming first movies of Captain America and Thor they would rather stick it into a movie thats already a guaranteed hit.

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      See, I don’t like that idea. I am OK with using Iron Man to, perhaps, introduce some other characters (and I totally didn’t mind the Thor outing at the end of this film, because it doesn’t mean that Thor has to really be in the Iron Man franchise much) but to use Iron Man as simply a vehicle to shove the rest of the Avengers universe down our throats is just not palatable to me, and I think the film suffers for it. The first one is, in my opinion, far superior, and I don’t know how much re-viewing power this one has. Iron Man is such a good franchise with a great actor as the lead– they should try to maximize these films instead of pimping others in them. Also, while I’m sure the studio had a lot to do with pressure to include others for the Avengers tie-in, Favreau and Theroux could have probably figured out a better way to do this. Just because you have these characters doesn’t mean you have to mash them all together in a film like this with such insane storytelling. And Thor is already well underway with a totally different director tied to it, which I think is kinda… odd.

      Oh, and thanks for the feedback! 😛

  2. Marion said

    I liked this movie too, it’s funny how they actually had to make a new villain for it though.. but I guess it makes sense, since most of Iron Man’s villains kind of suck.

    I was slightly disappointed though, I wanted Pepper to kick the Widow’s ass at some point in the movie, I know that had 0% chance of happening, but still… never really liked either the actress or the character >_>;

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      I didn’t get the flirtation thing with Black Widow, either. It seemed like she was basically inviting Tony to have sex with her when she handed him the martini (which, by the way, was NOT a dirty martini– dirty martinis have olive juice, and that one had a citrus twis–it was a bad joke that made no sense with the drink of choice). I am not sure how I like the character but I could tolerate Johansson more so because her character didn’t have much substance. And yeah, I did expect there to be more tension between Pepper and Natalie. There was a confrontation that got broken up because of the BFF fight, but it never went anywhere. Shouldn’t there have been some unresolved issues from Pepper basically accusing Natalie of trying to sabotage Tony in whatever way? It was kinda sloppy.

      I didn’t mind the new bad guy, and I thought Rourke did a fantastic job. He was super creepy and effective. I love his little creepy laugh, too. That man is one hell of an actor. It was just that they didn’t give him as much weight because they had to split his story with 15 others :P. He could have been a stronger villain if we could really get more of that revenge rage going on. It was more just stated than it was palpable. That was a bit annoying.

      Thank you, as always, for the feedback :).

  3. Kevin said

    Good review, and I get what you mean with the hair thing for the Black Widow. My hair is ALWAYS getting in my eyes, and it’s not half as long as that.

    Also, I preferred the actor for Lt. Rhodes from the first film over the guy in this one.


    • Cantankerous Panda said

      Indeed, I think Terrence Howard was more fit for the role, but I was satisfied with Don Cheadle’s performance.

      And yeah, the hair thing was total bullshit.

      Thanks for the comment!!

  4. I know there was a scene cut with Gweynth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson, but did they have to leave the little bit of them arguing while Stark was going all apeshit in his house at his birthday party? It just didn’t make sense that they suddently hated each other!

    I also had a WTF moment when she let down her hair… does.not.make.sense!

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      Interesting! I will have to look into the cut scene. I mean, I had a basic understanding of why Pepper did not like Natalie or whatever her name was (Natasha? Black Widow? I’m going to just call her that), but I don’t get how it could go from that mini-fight at his house to a whole cordial “I trust you” sort of relationship that we saw in Pepper’s office the next day or so. It was confusing because the entire issue was totally unresolved.

      I am so glad that others feel the same way about Black Widow’s hair! I talked to a guy friend about it and asked him why she would leave it down. His response? “Because it’s hot!” I said “EXACTLY, but it makes no sense for her to do that if she’s focused on killing people and staying alive instead of turning on the henchmen she is about to face.” If she had been ambushed or suddenly found herself in the midst of an attack, I can understand having her hair down, but it’s like if I were getting ready to play basketball– I most certainly would not leave my hair down, nor did I when I did play back in high school :P.

      Thanks for checking out the blog and leaving a comment! I get so excited when I see a new icon :D. I hope to see you around again! I think I’m going to get to work on my review for The Runaways, so if you’re interested, keep your eyes peeled for that!

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