Iron Man returns – and gets a bashing

I have a headache this evening and I don’t know if it’s because of the oppression in the air, waiting to be lifted by evening rain, or because of Iron Man 2. After the initial disappointment caused by the Iron Man 2 premiere being shifted to LA from London due to the Ash Cloud of Death, Tony Stark fans then had to endure the wave of poor to midddling reviews that did make their way across the pond. I’m glad now that I read them because if I hadn’t my headache might now have been much worse. My diminished expectations were met.

Iron Man 2 poster

I’m a Robert Downey Jr fan and have been for years – I was lucky enough to see him in person on the Jonathan Ross Show a couple of years ago, on the night of the premiere of Iron Man I. [I’m going to go off on a tangent here… My other blog (Wetdarkandwild) was named after a quote from Robert Downey Jr. Therefore, how amazing was it that I was in the audience of the JR show on the night when the guests were shifted to accomodate the premiere and I saw RDJ on WDW’s first birthday?! I thought it spooky myself and I was a little afraid…] So when I, a Marvel Trainee at best, learnt that Robert Downey Jr would be Iron Man, I was thrilled – at last a superhero that I could identify with. An Indie Superhero. I was even prepared to put up with Gwyneth Paltrow.

The first film was incredible from start to finish. No complaints there. But, as soon as it finished, it felt like there was something to worry about. Terrence Howard left the cast. I like him – I wanted him in it. Maybe the producers knew best. I’d wait and see. They kept Gwyneth Paltrow in – I’d try and live with that. But when I saw Iron Man 2, I remembered how the first film had made me sit at the edge of my seat while laughing out loud. I chuckled once during Iron Man 2 – and now I can’t even remember at what. Maybe towards the end, something to do with Stark and Rhodey in the greenhouse.

Sam Rockwell

There was plenty to IM2 I didn’t like, not least because IM1 came before it. Firstly, I did not need to see another start to the film with another genius constructing another Iron Man weapon/suit. I didn’t get the point of all of the Fury subplot – if this mattered, give it a purpose! Give it some weight in the story, don’t just make it something to discuss at tables – tables in cafes, in homes, in ‘offices’.

But before I accuse myself of being overly negative, there were parts of this film that I enjoyed. Scarlett Johansson was good – much better than I expected her to be (I find it hard to get over that Boleyn film) – and such a pleasant antidote to Gwyneth (I fear that it may take me some time to get over the movie Proof). But her sole function was to lead into Iron Man 3. I don’t like paying to see a movie that I sense is just a trailer.

Scarlett Johansson in Iron man 2

But there are two things that made IM2 a movie of its own – apart from RDJ who is a given, despite all the talk and the unnecessary scenes of this film – Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke. Sam Rockwell is a fine actor; Moon ranks as one of my top five films for 2009. It’s good to see Sam get such a prominent role and he twisted and turned it to make it his own. He was diabolical – wonderful! Dancing onto stage, shifting his feet, bullying minions, quoffing caviar, impeccably dressed, dangerous but never able to live up to the evil promise of all that money.

Mickey Rourke is not one of my favourite actors – we go back too far – but his confrontation with Stark in Monaco? Sensational. And that scene is reason enough to watch the entire film for me. But his character? It was just the same as all the other characters I envvisage Rourke playing for the rest of his career. Give him some tattoos, some muscles and just a few words (and maybe a pet?) and he’ll be fine.

Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2

This is the spoilery section of MB and so I’ll also say that I did enjoy the end – not least because of the relief of having some action at last! A ton of IM drones facing Iron Man and his partner in a rather lovely garden. Not much left of it at the end. It was explosive, and I was ready for that after an hour of watch checking.

Overall, my feeling for Iron Man 2 is that it would have been much better without the ‘2’ at the end. The use of the ‘2’ suggests to me that this is not the end – it might not even be the middle. Give it a name, please! An identity. This film is clearly intended as the filler before 3, when we will at last learn more about Fury’s Avengers. I’m not a comic book fan, I’m not a superhero fan (at least, not yet), but here at last is a group I’m interested in. Unfortunately, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell have paid the price for the filler.

Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man 2

What I do continue to enjoy about this franchise, as it now is, is the character of Tony – so full of Narcissistic flaws and because of that still human despite his metal heart. There are special effects but they don’t replace the character of the film. This second film was a disappointment to me because the first film was so good, but also, to get down to basics, because the excitement of the beginning was lost throughout the middle and it didn’t return until the end. You need plot and story and action – it’s best if they can co-exist. After all that, I will most definitely go and see Iron Man 3 and I suspect it will be a better film but, whatever happens, I will always be interested in Tony Stark.

Pictures from IMDb.

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4 Responses to Iron Man returns – and gets a bashing

  1. Pickle says:

    Hi!
    I’ve just came back from the local Odeon cinema after watching this,
    and can I say how much I was sooooo excited to be able to see Prince of Persia trailer on the huge digital cinema screen today? (finally!! and the trailer of the theatrical version was a bit different from the one of the version on the Disney official site)
    Yeppie!!!!
    That was awsome to be able to watch ‘action Jake’ on the big screen!
    Even made Mr. Pickle (who is not gamer but likes Indiana Jones and The Mummy series oh, and may be Gemma…) to convince us to go back to the cinema for the next family day out.

    Ahem, Anyway about IM2,
    I agree with most of the things you have already written about the film, the each casting in particular for this….even Scarett Johansson ( now is very happy Mrs. Ryan Reynolds!) who I normally do not approve of as an actress but I thought she was doing pretty good job here too (away so much better than Sienna Miller in G.I. Joe).
    However, I’m rather fond of not only RDJ but also Micky Rourke since Rumble Fish.
    So I may be biased but the problem of IM2 was not the stereotyped performance of Rourke.
    I thought that the prblem was really the character he was performing who seemed rather ‘dated’ from the cold war time? or something, did not quite fit into this near-future settings with lots of hi-tech world of Ironman at all.

    Another confusion for me as a middle-aged audience who is not a ‘comic-book’ fan
    was Samuel L. Jackson’s character.
    Who the hell is this?!???
    Apparently, if you are fan of the Ironman comic book fan, you know who he is and would be very excited to see him brought or something…..Thank you very much.

    It was not bad for the casting wise for me to enjoy the day out but there were some confusion as well.
    Overall I’ve got an impression that IM2 started off like a bit Post-The Dark Knight and finished off with Ironman (was which is much simpler as pure entertainment) impression.

    Not bad but not that great as well.

  2. Rob says:

    I think you’ve both hit the nail on the head in terms of IM2 suffering from “middle-film” syndrome. A lot of time and effort was expended in laying the groundwork for another film, and tons of fan-service for people like me who know about Nick Fury and the Black Widow, and what the hammer in the post-credit sequence is all about.

    The thing is, the film they’re winding up for isn’t IM3. It’s the Avengers movie. And as we’re not going to see that until after Keneth Branagh’s Thor and the Chris Evans-starring Captain America, things like the Fury subplot were, as Pickle points out, completely redundant to the script. It’s cool to have Fury there, but as a deus ex machina to solve Tony Stark’s palladium problem the character is badly wasted. (incidentally, palladium in the blood will not give you fancy technorganic tattoos. It’s nasty stuff. http://www.holisticmed.com/dental/palladium1.html)

    But on the whole I have to say I enjoyed IM2. It’s a bit more thoughtful than I anticipated, and had some interesting things to say about Tony, his relationships, and his place in the military-industrial complex. There’s a blog post in there, and it’s already ticking away in the background (on why all Tony Stark’s opponents in the film had a really good point, basically). And I am a complete techno-hound, so I grooved away on the heavy ballistics. The performances were generally solid. Kate, I agree with you and would like to sign up to your chapter of the Sam Rockwell fan club. He, Mickey Roarke and RDJ liven up any film they’re in. Having all three at once in a film is a treat. Plus, Scarlett in that jump suit. Yummmm.

    But yes, there’s only so often you can get away with suits of armour smacking each other across New York State. Which is why I don’t think you’ll see an IM3 any time soon.

  3. WDW says:

    Hi Pickle – and thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂 I agree with you that the makers of IM2 were reliying a little heavily on the knowledge of its audience. Not all of us have it and so I think they were testing our patience.

    Hey Rob! I’ve been looking forward to you seeing this so you could tell me what you think. IT’s interesting how some people will like all the insider Avenger nods – and the end etc – while many of us just feeel perplexed and think we’re not in on the in joke. That probably doesn’t matter but I suspect the vast majority of IM2 viewers may not know the history of Fury et al. I’m not sure this film will make me want to do the research.

    But there were some real treats here – the cast was astounding and the talent huge! I liked the sense that Sam Rockwell was given free rein – loved what he did with that character. And Big Sam, as I think of him, loved him – just wish he did more, just wished I knew who/what he was.

    I’ve remembered now what made the audience laugh – that magic bullet/missle in the greenhouse bit! Would have enjoyed more laughs like that.

    It’s interesting – you could be right. Maybe IM has gone as far as he can out there on his own. Maybe the next one will be the Avengers. So long as RDJ’s in it, gotta be worth a look.

  4. Sheba says:

    Thanks for your review WDW. I too am a huge RDJ fan and Iron Man 2 kicked ass. It was so much better than I expected. I think you probably needed to have some knowledge of the comic books to get a real understanding of the development of the storylines. The ending after the credits revealed the next superhero they’re going to use.

    *spoiler* The Avengers movie is really shaping up.

    One question: what was the purpose of Pepperpot’s role? She became more and more redundant as the movie went on. Scarlett was great, Sam was very appropriate for the part and even though I mourned a little for Terrence, Don did OK. The Iron Man Vs Rhodie fight scenes were excellent. I loved how those cars were cut in half by Mickey’s character, excellent. My favourite scene has got to be drunk Iron Man as a DJ. That got me rocking in the cinema. Very poignant to see the cameo by DJ AM but so glad they left it in the scene.

    I’d love for Paul Bettany’s role to become bigger and perhaps he could become an Avatar *eek* so we can see him.

    I loved it, not as much as 1 but 2 will definitely do 🙂

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