I have this friend named Crevice. Well, his real name is Matt, but I call him Crevice. He calls me Crevice. It’s complicated.
Crevice knew that I was going to see IRON MAN 2 at midnight last night, so he stopped by today to ask me what I thought. His main question was, “Is it as good as the first one.” My answer? I don’t know.
IRON MAN 2 is a great movie. The action is ramped up from the first movie. The characters are all like friends that have been missed for a while. The story is…well…it’s an Iron Man story. The story…moves…
I liked the movie. I really did. But I think there are a few factors that may play into me being a bit more critical of the movie than I want to be. Read on after the jump to see what you think. Spoilers will be present and heavy, so you may want until you’ve seen it to read my full review. I DO recommend that you see the movie. Its one not to be missed…flaws and all.
To be fair, I don’t know that the movie has any flaws. I guess I need to explain where any negativity about the movie may come from before I go on.
First, I think I’m getting too old to go see a movie at a midnight showing. I was quite tired by the time the movie got going. I honestly think I could have fallen asleep right there in my chair. There was a time when I was disappointed if the theatre I frequent didn’t have a midnight showing for a new release. I loved going to them. I loved the atmosphere, the excitement, the struggle to hold a place in the front of the line to make sure I get my favorite seat. Last night, I was just stressed about it all. I was irritated at people for chattering during the previews. It was too crowded for my tastes. All the things I used to love…kinda irked me now.
Add to that the theatre was HOT. I mean it was a situation where we were cozy when we first walked in, but by the middle of the movie I was uncomfortable HOT.
So, remember those factors as you read the rest of this review.
IRON MAN 2 is great. You know the players. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts and does just as good as she did in the first film. Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. Even John Favreau gives a good, fun performance as Happy Hogan. The original cast is great.
Then there are the new additions.
First, there’s Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff (aka The Black Widow). While Johansson looks a little younger than I would expect Black Widow to look, she turns in a perfect performance as a high level spy posing as an assistant that rivals Pepper Potts in her ability to remain unflappable in the face of Tony Stark’s excessive lifestyle. When she goes full on Black Widow, it is a sight to behold. She is not someone to be trifled with, young or not.
Don Cheadle takes over the reins of Rhodey from Terrence Howard. As anyone would expect, Cheadle does a great job. He’s an outstanding actor. Honestly, this role was the one I was the most worried about. It’s always jarring when an actor steps into a role that was originally played by someone else, especially when Howard brought such a likeability to the character. However, Cheadle turns in a performance with the right amount of light-heartedness, gravity, and toughness to the role. It’s to be expected though. Cheadle is quite an accomplished actor.
Not necessarily a new addition, but a role that wasn’t explored at all in the first film is Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. This becomes the first sticking point to me. I LOVE Samuel L. Jackson. I love his look as Nick Fury. However, there was just something with Jackson’s portrayal of Fury that felt off to me. It was too much of what we’ve seen from Jackson before. He was Sam Jackson…and Sam Jackson’s bad…but he just carried himself differently than I would expect Nck Fury to.
Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash) was scary. A physicist that can kill you with his bare hands? Seriously. I never gave much consideration to the character of Whiplash. In fact, the only comic I remember seeing HER (yes there was a female character called Whiplash in the comics) was a Spider-Man comic in which he fought a group called the Femme Fatales. There was also a male Whiplash, but I always considered both the male and female versions of the characters pretty throw away characters. In fact, I don’t know that Whiplash or Backlash (same character different names) have had all that many appearances in the comics. However, kudos to the writers of IRON MAN 2 and Mickey Rourke for bringing this character out and making him scary and a worthy opponent to Tony Stark. In fact, Whiplash becomes one of the more compelling villains that I’ve seen in a super hero movie to date. He is a classic Marvel “I had a bad day and I intend to make people pay for it” type bad guy.
The story of IRON MAN 2 is a great follow up to what we’ve already seen. Essentially, Tony Stark has used Iron Man to bring a security to The United States that hasn’t been seen in years. While I’m not sure how I feel about this aspect of the character, it certainly fits in with the Tony Stark we’ve been given throughout Civil War and it’s fallout in the Marvel comics.
Not only has Stark been doing great things as Iron Man, he is secretly dying because of Iron Man. The element he uses to power his mini arc-reactor is poisoning his blood stream and slowly killing him. So we are introduced to a Stark who is living like every day is his last. He’s drinking it up, living it up, and eventually it all catches up to him. It’s through this riotous living that Rhodey obtains the armor that is equipped with the weaponry of War Machine by Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer.
Rockwell, turns in a good performance as an industrialist who tries to be everything Tony Stark is, but seems to always fall just short of the mark. This leads him to team up with Vanko to try and adapt Stark’s technology and turn it against him. This is the classic Super Villain team up with a twist. We don’t necessarily have two super villains in this movie, but we have the villain and his financier.
From the trailers, I could never quite tell how this movie was going to play out, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. After Whiplash first reveals himself to Tony and is arrested, you may think the rest of the movie is one big Hammer versus Stark kind of thing. You would be wrong. Thankfully, the trailers do NOT give away some of the best action beats or too much of the story.
I was pleasantly surprised at Whiplash’s evolution through the film, as well as Tony Stark’s. Each character moved forward in their development appropriately, and the film felt like the natural next step.
The only issues I had with IRON MAN 2 had to do with pacing and editing. When things are moving, they are moving, but when it’s time for dialogue and exposition things seemed to get very boggy. There wasn’t the snappiness to the scenes that the first movie had. I’m not sure if this is due to the nature of the scripting process of the first movie or the editing in this film, but there were moments where it felt like the movie slowed down too much, but wasn’t trying to.
A perfect example of this is Tony’s senate hearing. What seems to be a great “gotcha” moment for Tony in the hearing in the trailers is actually a lot longer and Tony has a little less control than it would seem in the trailers. The scene, while important, could have been edited to be a bit sharper. This was true of many of the dialogue scenes.
The other issue I had is just how much everything revolved around Stark’s technology. We’ve already had the “dark reflection” of Iron Man in Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger from the first film. It felt like a bit of a retreading to use the tech all over again as the central point of conflict.
That said, what a great movie that I can’t wait to see again. I don’t know if it’s better than the first, but it certainly is a great second outing. I look forward to seeing it one afternoon in a well air conditioned theater with less people attending, and in a few months on Blu-Ray from the comfort of my own home. If for no other reason that the awesome climactic battle.
IF NOTHING ELSE, Favreau and company nailed what the end of a super hero movie should be. There was no action beat earlier in the movie that outdid the final “battle.” That’s as it should be. Too many movies focus on big visuals and spectacular fights early in the movie only to have a bit of a disappointing ultimate climax. Not IRON MAN 2. From the appearance of War Machine to the take over by Vanko to Vanko’s Whiplash taking on Iron Man and War Machine, and then the explosion…OH MY LANTA!!!! Good Stuff. Better than the first movie? I have to go see it again.
Overall, I give the movie a solid 4 out of 5…which very well could change once I get to see it in a way that appeals to the old fogey in me.