Saturday, May 1, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)


IMDb link

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johannson, others.
Release date: April 29, 2010 (UAE)

In 2008, Iron Man smashed the box-office by defining the concept of a fun modern superhero movie. Unfortunately, Iron Man 2 falls into the same formulaic trap that many big sequels fall into: more being mistaken for better. It does boast of two wonderful action sequences, but Iron Man 2 undoes the strong characters that held together the action sequences of the first movie, reducing them to caricatures here, and in turn disconnecting the audience from a world that was so well defined in the first film.

Iron Man 2 brings back Robert Downey Jr. as the egoistic genius playboy Tony Stark. The arc reactor in his chest, while keeping him alive, is also poisoning him, driving him to alcoholism and more recklessness, whilst he also searches for a cure. Meanwhile, one Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) wakes up in Russia to avenge his father’s death & misery by unleashing technology and fury on a pride-blind Stark. Love interest, ex-PA and now CEO of Stark Industries Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), buddy Lt. Col. James Rhodes (now Don Cheadle trying hard to fill Terrence Howards’ uniform), rival weapons industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell in a wondrous turn as a “wannabe”) and new PA Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson, uber sexy but little else) inhabit what eventually becomes a filler story for the larger Marvel movie universe.

The opening scene of Iron Man 2 brings the audience back into the familiar world of the superhero. However, the constant dismissal of believability, even in the world defined within the movie, leaves you either laughing or scratching your head. It reaches a peak with the dues ex machina appearance of Nick Fury, inspiring Stark to even discover a new element. Now this is not too far-fetched, considering the source material. The absurdity is in how Stark finds the idea for his new element. This is perhaps the biggest oversight the director makes - taking the audience for granted. Iron Man 2 seems like a rush-job, of quickly putting together the familiar characters, adding staple villains to the fold and filling in the rest with inanity. The wafer thin plot hardly explores the multitude of characters that have been carried over or been newly introduced. It is to the credit of Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell who succeed in bringing fantastic charisma to their roles, sadly something that Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johannson are unable to do. Cheadle’s first appearance as War Machine is downright silly.

Although Iron Man did not break new ground, it was a rewarding and entertaining watch. It also established Robert Downey Jr. as a star. The sequel falls back on the now-established star power of its lead actor, taking him from charming to annoying. Iron Man 2 is also populated with references and introductions for the upcoming Marvel movies. Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avengers initiative are blatantly advertised to invest in a future audience.

Favreau does not have an excuse. The likes of Brian Singer, Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro and Christopher Nolan have set examples of how a super-hero movie sequel can be equally good, if not better than the first. Conversely, Marvel Entertainment, in their ambition to capitalize on the multitude of superheroes at their disposal, has set an unhealthy precedent here. Between Iron Man and the sequel, the importance of an individual movie to stand on its own has been diminished. I had compared the first movie to a Cheese Burger: fun, fulfilling and easy. On the same scale, Iron Man 2 is probably just the bun.

My rating --> 2.5 of 5

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