A blog about movies and filmmaking.


In action, comic books on May 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Since this blog started a while after the original IRON MAN movie was released, I don’t know that I’ve given my opinion on it much – other than I guess the two posts I’ve dedicated to the trailers of the sequel, where I probably expounded on my love of the first movie in this franchise.

Okay, well, I guess that covers that. Now on to the sequel.

There are things about this movie that make it leaps and bounds above the original, but then there are also things that seem like they might have been forced in to add spectacle – or in some places asses. Overall though, I have to say I really enjoyed the movie. I thought that the action was spectacular and in most situations tension-filled and realistic (y’know, for having a metal-suited guy or two punching each other). The actors were all spectacular, from the moments of Director Jon Favreau in his small role as “Happy” Hogan; the few scenes that Clark Gregg (as SHIELD Agent Colson) has are funny just like in the original; and even John Slattery (MAD MEN), playing Tony Stark’s father in some “archived footage” was pretty great.

But of course all the attention is rightfully put on the main stars of the movie. Gwenyth Paltrow is back as “Pepper” Potts and just as before she really shines in this role – I think it’s the red hair. Blondes are so out…Which also goes for Scarlett Johansson, who dons the scarlet trestles for the movie. Unfortunately other than some tight suits and her walking around in them, and a few scenes of her kicking butt, she doesn’t have much to do. Sam Rockwell, as Justin Hammer – or as he should be called, “Tony Stark-lite”, is fantastic in his role. He thinks that he rules the world, but in the end his bark is a lot bigger than his bodyguard’s bite. And his spray-on tan really makes his hands look funny. Mickey Rourke – who I’m sorry to have to mention this, but he has the weirdest fingernails in the world – goes through a pretty big transformation; applying grey streaks to his long hair (or maybe that was real, don’t know), and Russian prison tattoos all over his body – which makes his character right on the verge of a real-life comic book character in that he’s built like an ox (or is that “strong like bull?” Yes, I’m attempting a Russian accent through text….), and seemingly also a super-genius. He builds his laser whips, hacks computer networks left and right, and still has time for his pet bird. Also, through half the movie, we have no idea what he’s saying – even when he’s attempting to speak English.

The star of the show, though, is again Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Tony Stark and is put through his paces not only by the villains of the movie, but also by his own increasingly metallically poisoned body. We get the same, smug yet hilarious Stark from the first movie, but we also get a little more of that frail-human emotion from him in certain scenes as well. But, yeah, mostly he spits out the funny.

Wait, who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, Don Cheadle, as Lt. Col. James Rhodes; who makes good on the promise of “next time” that Terence Howard gave us in that role in the first movie. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but what he does is pretty great. And the thing is, he’s completely believable with every part of the role he’s given to play. You want “Rhodey” to be strict, cold soldier? Check. Want him throwing out the one liners? Check. You want him kicking Iron Man’s ass? Check. This isn’t a mark against Howard – who I kind of feel, whatever the circumstances were, got gypped – but Cheadle nails Rhodes and War Machine.

Which brings us all the way, back around, to the movie; and it’s real star. The special effects. I’m a big believer in the “suspension of disbelief.” You want to have a man turn into a giant, green Hulk-ing beast? Go for it, who am I to say he looks unrealistic? Maybe that is exactly what he would look like. Same goes with some of the effects in this movie. There’s a moment where two men, in metal suits, are punching each other. Other than expecting RDJ to make some kind of “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” joke, it kind of looked silly – and in a couple shots, not that well rendered. But, again; maybe that is indeed what two robotic-suited men would look like flinging each other around.

Visually though, the movie is pretty stunning. From the Iron man suits, to the war drones, and even Ivan Vanko’s (that was Rourke, in case I didn’t mention that) electric whips; it all looked stunning. In fact, the whips and the energy and realism in their interaction with sets and characters made those scenes – specifically the ones on that race-track scene – especially dramatic. I was actually afraid for a couple of the characters that were there, but not in metal suits…or somehow otherwise indestructible. No, I’m not going into that…Remember, “suspension of disbelief”?

But, and there had to be the but coming (quite a bit of posterior-oriented mentions going on here, I don’t get it…but I like it), this movie suffers from something that a lot of sequels suffer from. They replace the character development that is usually a large part of movies that are first in a franchise, with fluff. And there’s a bit of it here. Things like, the “Ironette” dancers, which sure they look hot, and it’s cool that there are scantily-clad women with palm-repulsor beams; but did we need to see that instead of the great scene from the original trailer where Pepper kisses the helmet and throws it off the plane? (Not in the movie, at all, by the way.) Did we really need to draw out the Senate hearing scene so long, with Garry Shandling’s witty repartee, and Justin Hammer’s little speech? We needed more of the Tony dealing with his ticker, his “daddy-issues”, and more of Pepper dealing with her role. More of Rhodes dealing with the struggle of being a friend and a soldier. Even more of Rourke toiling with the betrayal that he and his family have suffered at the hands of the Starks.

Actually, we might not have needed anymore of Vanko, I just felt like I wanted it. But, that could have turned into a “too much of a good thing” kind of problem.

I also felt like the movie was shuffling around too much since we visit five different geographic locations within the first 20 minutes of the movie. There’s Russia, New York, DC, Malibu, and Monaco. I know the movie has to move, and bring us the action – that some people said was lacking from the original, but I say they’re crazy – but let us get some feet under us. The character bits that are thrown in, work; but they could have been handled with a little more…nuance, I guess is the word. We get Johansson’s character who is presented as one thing, becomes another, and then shows up – not unsurprisedly if you know the comic book lore – as one more, with the minimal of care given to how she’s dealt with.

But, criticisms aside; I really liked the movie. I thought that the tension and dynanicism added to the action scenes, the interesting supporting characters in the shape of Vanko and Rhodes really gave Stark someone to bounce off of. So, I’m still excited for the franchise. I think maybe next time, writer Justin Theroux and Favreau ought to bring in someone else to help write the script. I think that Chabon guy – y’know, who helped write SPIDER-MAN 2 – might be able to help; and if they’re not strictly signed to Warner Bros., maybe a Nolan brother (more likely to get Jonathan, though).

Lastly, there’s that whole “post-credits” scene, that has been much talked about. After the one in the first movie, I had become excited to know what they’d do to take it to another level; but I have to say, that while in itself it was pretty awesome. I felt like it wasn’t the proper way to “cap” (that’s a pun that’s not a spoiler for the scene, but is kind of tangentially tied into it) this movie.

And in case you didn’t see the trailer the first couple times I’ve posted it (I still get chills with that beginning part. Sigh.)

Oh, and does this now, officially welcome us into the Summer movie season??

  1. Yeah and next we’ll be debating oil spills! 🙂

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