Word on the street has is that Iron Man 2
is a boring film. That's depends on what you're looking for in a film. If you're looking for a lot of great lines, big swooping scenes, some physicality and a lot of "Mommy, wow!" moments, Iron Man 2
delivers...if you're a fan of clever dialog.
The lines were dense and duplicit constantly popping off like a fully automatic weapon. Sitting in the theater I was instantly reminded of His Girl Friday
specifically and 30's films generically. Despite the Jazz Singer
being release in '27, it took some time to perfect and implement dialog recording devices that would actually work with film. When the technology was finally there, writers went hogwild with the ability to put their words in character's mouths to the point that a lot of early talkies had more dialog than they needed just to use this new development.Iron Man 2
carries on this tradition; it is not a film for the lazy ear.
Much like the first film, this film didn't feel like a two hour movie. Granted, the first film felt like a thirty minute film. Iron Man 2
felt more like an hour. I must say, I'm really impressed with Jon Favreau's work. He really understands pacing.
That having been said, something needs to be done about the writing. Sure, there's some great dialog in the film but the plot takes a back seat to the action in the film. Typically this is forgivable, but one has to ask: what's the point of introducing Ivan only to have him and Iron Man fight twice? It just doesn't seem right.
After the the too slow reveal of the almost MacGuffin, there's a minor altercation between Ivan and Iron Man at the race in Monaco then the not-so-big big fight immediately after killing the drones. Maybe Favreau's secret ingredient is an old marketing trick: never fully satisfy the customer. Just like portions that are just three bites too small or a blog that never quite answers the searcher's question, so too does the new Iron Man franchise give the public the fights between machines, man and technology and yet leaves the viewer wanting more because he doesn't feel there was enough.</p>
If there's a subliminal message in this film, it's hard to ascertain.
Tony Stark's speech after his grand entrance to the Stark Expo was platitudinous at best. "It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about us. It's about our legacy and what we leave behind." I suppose a really clever individual with enough tenacity could try to somehow spin the speech into supporting overzealous conservationism in the name of saving the eco-system, but that's antithetical to the positively reinforced message of letting Stark Enterprises continue to manufacture weapons capable of mass destruction.
True, the overbearing Senator Stern was quite representative of our current Congress: an arrogant elitist that has lost all connection with the common man and the Senator was annoying an fun to dislike, but there was no animosity and the distaste for this character could hardly be construed as hatred. Compared to the real clowns in office that have already caused more damage and rage than any fictional character could, Senator Stern is a lovely man; there isn't a 60's message of distrust and dislike the government. No political points to be made here.
Iron Man 2 doesn't even go after the patriotic. Simply put, Iron Man 2 is a story about huge, weighty technological marvels fighting each other for two hours.
Despite being a huge fan of the wildly popular British TV show Top Gear, I was oblivious to the various cars used in the film. Sitting in the theater I did have three thoughts: this movie feels like a light-hearted Daniel Craig Bond film, it's too bad that we won't get a third Daniel Craig Bond film this year due to MGM's bad aura and I recalled the episode of Top Gear where Hammond tried to drive the Grand Prix racing car but couldn't keep the car going fast enough to keep the tires warm enough to hold traction.
Robert Downey's Oscar Worthy Performances and Talent as an Actor
Much to my chagrin, I did not review Sherlock Holmes last Christmas. I say that because one of the things I wanted to focus on in that review is Robert Downey, Jr.'s career.
I'm sure there are a lot of people wondering where his talent magically sprang from or think that there's some magical flip from addiction to focusing on work. Whatever his personal story is, I think that the truth is much simpler than that: I think that Robert Downey, Jr. is a natural-born performer.
In order to put this in proper perspective, you have to go back and look at Chaplin. Watching Chaplin, you get the feeling that you're watching a slightly dramatized documentary rather than a biopic. (Although, isn't that the point of biopics?) Things to look for in Chaplin: physicality (major), delivery of lines, timing‚Äìall ingredients that, when properly applied make a good performance a great one.
There's a reason that Chaplin was nominated for three Academy Awards.
I think it's because of Downey's Oscar-worthy performance in Chaplin that he was able to make a comeback in the business after hanging himself out there to dry. Granted, I haven't seen all of his work, but I thought that his work in Good Night, Good Luck and Zodiac were decent "training wheels" to lead to bigger and better things like the Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes franchises, not to mention a wonderful performance in The Soloist. Downey now has a solid career ahead of him and I think that having gotten to the place where he is now he won't make the same mistakes he made in his prime.
It's the Chaplin level of performance that Downey has been consistently giving that makes Iron Man what it is given the demand for physicality for the role both on camera and in motion capture.
Cheadle vs. Howard - A Ruse
I have no qualms with Don Cheadle's Rhodey nor do I have qualms with Terrance Howard's Rhodey. I like both actors equally well because they both have worked on films that really push the envelope; case in point, Crash which they starred in together though I don't recall them sharing any scenes. I refuse to compare the actors or their interpretations of Col. Rhodes. I think they both did a fine job and brought their own personal touches to the role. My gripe is with the money men.
I don't understand why producers can't just leave well enough alone. Rumor has it that Cheadle was always the first choice for Col. Rhodes. Fine by me. What's not fine by me is getting used to one face and then having to switch to another. So what if you wanted Cheadle? He wasn't available when you needed him. You couldn't buy him out of his obligations at the time and you couldn't hold production on your movie, so you hired a different actor. You're also starting a franchise. The point of franchising is creating a brand. You can't create a brand if you change the product with every iteration.
I'm reminded of the Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaal switch-a-roo. I hated it. In fact, I hated it so much I was against Dark Knight during production until I saw the first trailer. Then, with the story of Heather's death being sold to the public the way it was, I got caught up in the hype and believe that Dark Knight was a masterpiece of a film created by a very talented crew.
I think I would prefer Katie Holmes being on screen to Maggie Gyllenhaal, but Gyllenhaal pulled her weight and didn't kowtow to the cries of an ornery fan base. I also think that Chris Nolan is a very talented director and it was his leadership on Dark Knight that caused the film to be a success on so many levels. But the Iron Man situation isn't congruent.
I don't have a preference for either Howard or Cheadle for the role by themselves. If my life depended on it, I would tip the scale in Howard's favor slightly because it was his role first. The other factor that makes Iron Man different from Dark Knight is that there wasn't as much pressure on Favreau to perform given that he had a capable actor regardless. I don't know how much input Favreau had in the decision to can Howard, but what's done is in the past‚Ä¶unless someone decides it's a good idea to swap the two actors in the next installment.
Mickey Rourke's Contribution
It's nice to see Mickey Rourke continuing to build his comeback career. Though his character was shallow thanks to hollow writing, Rourke found his groove and had fun with the material even if it was subpar and cliched.
Though I'm no expert in Russian accents, I believe I can say two things: Mickey Rourke was well coached into the accent he does use in the film and he did an excellent job of keeping the same accent throughout the film.
Ivan's whole back story felt like a MacGuffin. It took forever to fully put Ivan's motivation on the screen but despite the slow reveal, the question felt unanswered immediately after being unveiled. There wasn't any empathy with Ivan's plight to destroy Iron Man.
Sundry Performance Notes
Scarlett Johansson was underused in this installment of Iron Man. When she was given her moments, she did just fine, but the drama between her and Paltrow's Potts just didn't work on any real level. Ditto the buddy cop routine between her and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Furry. Johansson is a leading actress for fuck's sake. Let her lead!
In Iron Man I, Paltrow seemed like a square peg that was sanded down to fit the round hole that could fit if enough force were applied but it didn't change the fact that she was a square peg and the role was a round hole. She was more more comfortable with her character this go around, perhaps because she got to have massive amounts of control over various characters throughout the film.
Sam Jackson's appearance as Nick Furry was more of an elongated cameo. This isn't a character type that he hasn't already played before numerous times in his career so this isn't much to remark on for this serving. Perhaps he will have a larger role in subsequent installments.
Looking to the future
Looking at Robert Downey, Jr's IMDB page. it looks like the next movie in the sequence will be The Avengers prior to the official Iron Man 3.