Sunday, May 9, 2010

Iron Man 2

The Flick: Iron Man 2

The Participants: Robert Downey, Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, etc.

The Dealio: OK, so when we left our titular hero, he had just identified himself as Iron Man to the general public. The story picks up a beat or two later, and things are not going well for the man in the iron pants: his suit is slowly poisoning him and weakening his heart. In addition, he is scorching through the batteries with which he is able to maintain and reinforce his stamina with the level of destruction one usually only sees in a cell phone or digital camera. He is working and reworking the research that led him to the current level of scientific development, but it is clearly not enough, since his chest and neck are starting to look like a trailer for Scanners. The government wants that suit, Tony Stark wants to settle the score against a competitor in the arms production race who, clearly, feels inferior to Tony, but wants to come across as the man of the hour. Against this backdrop, lurches an upcoming 'important birthday' and a Senate witch hunt, a crazy Russian with a vendetta and the after-effects of a remembered, uncaring father. Tony decides to turn over the management, the day-to-day of Stark Industries to Pepper Potts (Paltrow), then dedicate himself to the pursuit of the perfect battery for his decrepit ticker.

The Grading Session: 4.11 pengies out of 5. Bonus points for AC/DC on the soundtrack. While the original IM was pretty breathtaking, and, had I been blogging then, I would have awarded pretty close to 5 pengies, I couldn't, in good faith, do that this time around. Why not? Glad you asked.
First of all, while the storyline was ambitious, probably a touch too much so. We are sent off onto tangents like Tony's health, the war on terrorism, old vendettas, the nature of war, the nature of excess and that old bugaboo, father-son relations. A storyline this complex demands a lot from screenwriters in order to support and expand the original inspiration. It simply was not there. While the beginning of the film was all fiery technique and great set-up, the middle of the film seemed to sag, losing ground, exhausted, mirroring, if you will, Tony's worsening physical condition and increasing disengagement with the day-to-day. Instead, what was probably easier to do, overall, was to fall back on special-effects-heavy violence.
And, really, what is the point of having such fine actors as Paltrow, Johansson and Jackson so under-utilised as to appear to be virtual cardboard cutouts of their characters? As my boss would say, 'Missed opportunities!'
My official movie-going partner slash weaponry expert was appalled by the plethora of mistakes in the area of munitions. Tsk-tsk, y'all. These, above all, are really so simple to get right. Why not put in the extra effort?
Lastly, this was an interesting addition to the series, and Robert Downey, Jr still obviously has a zest for the part and does a great job of staying in the moment...wherever that particular moment takes him. I think Cheadle did very well stepping into the War Machine's boots. Speaking of which, what was up with the physical characteristics of the suits designated for the various military branches? I saw nothing that shouted 'Army', Navy', Marine Corps' etc. Was it mere laziness or a simple misstep? Either way, it cost you-with us, at least.

Lessons Learned: So very, very many. But I will try to keep it lean.
1) Got really frickin' tired of Whiplash's nuclear whiplashes. OK, I get it. He's a bad hat. With very poor dentition and some pathological fingernails.
2) Ever notice that, however high tech the assault purveyors are, they only do a great job for about the first 45 minutes of the battle? After that, the outcome of the fray seems to rest on something philosophical, basic or meant to be seen as such. ('I need a partner. Can we come together?' That, apparently, is all it takes to overcome overwhelming evil might).
3) It is really creepy to see DJ AM deejaying in a party scene. Creepy, and oh, so very sad.
4) And this is vital: do NOT leave the theatre until you see the MPAA rating run by. With this series, there is always juuuuuust a little more to be seen.

No comments:

Post a Comment