Saturday, May 8, 2010

Iron Man 2

So apparently a fairly popular film had a sequel come out recently. I normally don’t know about such things, preferring to focus on terrible films with budgets that roughly average less than a grand budget-wise. This one of course wound up being pretty good, if not as good as the original, and while I haven’t checked to confirm that this made like three hundred million its opening day, I’m pretty confident that it at least did okay.

The plot is the real weak point in the film, as it tends to be more than slightly cumbersome, with the screwing over of the 60s partner and the fatal blood poisoning and the competitive oligarchy and everything else, but despite itself it still manages to give us enough action sequences to satisfy the base audience. While generally good, they do expose one of the main problems with Iron Man in general -- Iron Man doesn’t really have the great rogues gallery that a Spider-Man or a Fantastic Four has, and so a film about him mostly has to rely on how self-destructive the main character himself is. In this, the movie largely succeeds, solely on the strength of Robert Downey Jr. and his strangely uncanny ability to look like a career fuck-up. I can’t explain how he manages to look so much like a lifelong drunk/addict, but good for him for managing it.

The action sequences (both of them) are very well made, both the early one at the racetrack that features so prominently in the trailer, and the climax, that goes on a bit long and manages to not be as exciting as it would have been had the danger to actual humans been more visible. Seriously, with everything that happens it looks quite clear that dozens or hundreds of people must have died in the last half hour, but we don’t see a single one. What the hell? I get that this is designed to be kid-safe, but come on. Don’t design the ending that you did if you can’t carry it out to its logical conclusion.

The acting is of course universally good, as was the first film (though this might actually qualify as better, given that they traded up from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle). Indeed, the whole film is very well made, outside of the general screenplay. Jon Favreau has done a quality job with this, that should satisfy both fans of action movies (though they may be upset that it takes so long for an action scene to occur) and fans of Iron Man comics, who will enjoy little mini-jokes, such as when Stark mentions he’d be happy to become Secretary of Defense, like he was back in the 90s. Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell are both fine villains, though the franchise is clearly heading toward Spider-Man 3 territory, when the franchise is so overloaded with villains that it can’t survive the unnecessarily complex plot. Hopefully Jon Favreau will be able to avoid that trap for the third film, and the series won’t become a problem like Spider-Man and the X-Men both were.

Rating: ***

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