IGN AU reviews Iron Man 2
Patrick Kolan from IGN Australia, has seen Iron Man 2 and is now sharing his thoughts on it:
IGN reviews the new Iron Man movie and its looking good so far.
Australia, April 27, 2010 - Like Tony Stark himself, 'Iron Man 2' is a sleek and cheeky number that almost certainly trumps the fun-factor of Jon Favreau's 2008's surprise hit, 'Iron Man'. And, like the bachelor champion, it falls a little short on logic, favouring impulses and glamour over perfect narrative arcs. This follow-on film sets a lighter tone and better pacing however, thanks in part to a mostly solid script from 'Tropic Thunder' screenwriter Justin Theroux, who matches sharp quips with performances from a cast who exude charisma and, refreshingly, plenty of humour.
After recounting the closing moments of the first film, we're led into present day, where Tony Stark's Iron Man alter-ego has all but solved the woes of the world, presumably through equal parts brute force and dirty martinis. This has led to a bit of a tax on Stark's body, as the arc reactor in his chest has begun to poison him. Toss in a vengeful, vodka-swilling Russian, conspiratorial government bodies and a leggy, new office assistant, and you have more plot points than your typical James Bond flick.
Always ready to deliver a caustic remark with a flash of pearly whites, Robert Downey Jr. is once again at home as hero and shameless capitalist greed-head, Tony Stark. It's his movie – not Iron Man's. In fact, Stark only suits up for battle a handful of times; the remainder of the moments trace Stark's relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), a character provided with a meatier, more effectual role this time around.
At the heart of the action is a villain that will divide audiences more than he should. Mickey Rourke, who has enjoyed a resurgence (maybe just a late summer) post-'The Wrestler', plays Whiplash – a Russian engineer wronged by the Stark family years prior. His is a tale of revenge, and one that simply doesn't get quite enough screen time – and it's a decision that we hold against the final film.
Whiplash's initial encounter with Stark stands as the most interesting in Iron Man 2. Set mid-way through the lavish Monaco Grand Prix, Rourke's lumbering form steps into the stream of speeding F1s and, handled with surprising delicacy, choice editing and sound design from Favreau's court, he tears the place apart. As his electrified whips begin to pound a thrumming beat against the tarmac, inching closer and closer to a scattered, winded Tony Stark, you'll feel tension and genuine chest-beating fun in equal measure.
Don Cheadle, who replaces Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, brings more intensity to the role. Unlike the original 'Iron Man', this Rhodey isn't the rule-breaker, friend-on-the-inside that Stark manipulates; rather, he's something of a conflicted army brat who, in the process of adopting the Warmachine suit (no spoiler to those who've watched the trailer), actually steps on Tony's golden toes.
Sam Rockwell, who has managed to ride his fan-favourite performance in 'Moon' straight into Hollywood's higher tiers, actually delivers the stand-out performance. As something of an equal-but-opposite note to Tony Stark, Rockwell is a threatening and charming captain of industry who provides some much-appreciated levity to key scenes, while maintaining a certain unhinged intensity at the right times. He's probably one villain-too-many when combined with Whiplash, but the original 'Iron Man' played with this same formula too in the form of Obadiah Stane.
If it seems like a dense cast, it's because 'Iron Man 2' suffers from character bloat. There are simply too many superfluous characters and plot threads at play by the final act of the story. Where Iron Man 2 goes astray is in the classic 'middle movie' structure that comes from adding too many new elements to the mix, while only resolving a handful by the time the credits roll. We understand why, too – the set-ups for the upcoming 'Avengers' film are all-but-transparent at times. We loved the Captain America reference (you will too, believe us), but there are a few too many scenes that play to Marvel's grand overarching agenda, and it actually detracts from the coherence of 'Iron Man 2's story.
Scarlett Johansson, who plays the sultry Black Widow, for instance, could've been all but excised from the story and the result would've been a tighter narrative that gave more screen time to characters that actually deserved focus – Rourke's Whiplash and Cheadle's Rhodey notably.
There are times when the story sidles a little too closely against the same jokes – particularly between Stark and his troupe of robotic assistants. Some of the leaps-of-logic also stick out; technological 'black boxes', like Stark's multitude of bleeding-edge devices and whiz-bang engineering knowhow solve impossible scenarios with ease – and without explanation.
Of course, all of this should be weighed against the manifold offering here. As a comedic director, Jon Favreau delivers a film that will keep you hooked and chuckling with consistency. The pace is up-tempo, too, adding more value and significance to the quiet exchanges between Pepper Potts and Tony Stark – a love subplot that actually has some chemistry on screen.
Those wanting more intimate moments of character interplay and development (Anyone? Anyone?) will have to settle for an Obi-Wan Kenobi / Luke Skywalker exchange between Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, playing Samuel L. Jackson in an eyepatch) and Stark, as Stark reflects on his upbringing before setting out to take down the Death St—erm, ...dismantle his rival's competing Iron Men-alikes.
The action sequences, if anything, play second fiddle to some hugely entertaining scenes of pure exposition. An early testimonial sequence, featuring a criminally underutilized Garry Shandling, sparkles with playful banter and later, a monologue on the pros and cons of high-grade weapons delivery systems (read: big guns and lots of them) from Sam Rockwell had us in stitches. It's so refreshing to watch an action movie that doesn't try to keep a straight-stitched face, but compels audiences to just roll with it and have a good time. We did, ultimately – and that's where 'Iron Man 2' pulls away from the pack of mediocre superhero films out there.
With a third film an inevitability (or are we merely going to see 'Iron Man's various open threads closed in The Avengers?), this entry in the franchise almost certainly matches and exceeds the wit of the first film. Supported by a terrific cast, surprisingly dense script and excellent effects work, this is another gold star for Favreau's Iron Man.
-------Kolan rated this movie with 4 of 5 stars-----------------------
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