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Iron Man 2 Review
So in 2008, 2 films revolutionised comic book movie history; The Dark Knight and Iron Man.
They were equal, for opposite reasons. Both played the hero angle
seriously and drew almost immediately from their comic history but one
was an enjoyable action romp and the other one threatened to kill your
whole family and puppy just because it wanted to. This is the sequel to
Six months has passed from the end of the previous film and Tony Stark (Robert Downey
Jr.) is seeing the consequences of revealing his superhero
identity...mainly a whole lot of ass. Struggling to keep the Iron Man
‘weapon’ out of U.S. government control, Tony’s relations with Rhodes
(Don Cheadle) and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) are put under tension,
meanwhile the miniature nuke in his chest has started throwing up
complications that could end the hero in a much less grand finale.
Meanwhile, Stark is marked for death by the son of one of his father’s
collaborators, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who teams up with Justin
Hammer (Sam Rockwell) to bring about the millionaire’s end.
God, that was a long paragraph. Straight off the bat it is worth noting that Iron Man 2
suffers from sequel syndrome, too many plots, all of which could have
But it’s all in the delivery, right, so how is the acting? Well, pretty decent all
round, really. Downey Jr. is still the master of our age, showing off a
range of expression, this time thankfully including drunkenness. Paltrow
is right at home as the only woman who can keep him in line and Cheadle
certainly is the MkII upgrade from Terence Howard, often playing
friendship scenes much more intimately. Rourke is an incarnation of a
god but why a physicist is as muscle-clad as he is never really
explained. And Samuel L. Jackson (it’s my beer!) comes in with a much
larger part as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow...well
three things: my lip is bleeding I was biting it that much, I need new
jeans, and Ryan Reynolds is a bastard. Sadly, this solid cast is
undermined fundamentally by Sam Rockwell who, straight out of his
incredible performance in Moon, has decided to channel his role as Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
And this is the big wound. The film can work, competently, without Hammer’s presence. He
takes it from a solid film of self discovery and working through
limitations to a battle royale of no real substance. You can argue that
Vanko needs Hammer for financing, but he’s Russian; Russia hates
America, I’m sure he can find funding there. Everything attached to the
Hammer character ruins the movie; the acting, the character, the mechs,
the lifeless chase at the end. It is just such a shame it is a framing
device for Rourke’s excellent work.
So what works? Well all the other’s acting. The light touch of comedy is there that we
have expected from Favreau alongside his unparalleled fan knowledge of
what is cool. From the suitcase suit to the Stark Expo to Nick Fury, he
knows what works to make people wish they were Iron Man.
One thing I realised in this film is that Favreau is not particularly an action
director, but this works well. The character’s scenes are filmed with
such simplicity and deftness that we are never confused or in motion. We
simply see the scenes, allowing us time to see the strong acting.
Sadly, there is a little less variety in this film with a lot of the
filming taking place in a few closely linked areas. But we do see
Russia, I shouldn’t complain. One strange thing this film introduced was
POV, amateur, and news coverage which I’m not sure melds well with the
high-tech aspect of the Iron Man mythos.
Oh, and the music. I love AC/DC. Pretty much the whole sound track is riffs or
entire songs by them which, while limiting the operatic score we have
come to expect in movies, throws in a whole new look at soundtracks. It
kicks ass and really is the soundtrack of Tony Stark. I can’t imagine
Tony listening to classical music unless it was to bed the head
violinist. This is much more fitting.
As ever, the CGI is wonderful, being almost unrecognisable and when mixed with a partial
real life suit is a real joy to look at. We also get great variety in
image. We see the silver prototype suit, the red and gold, the upgraded
red and gold, the upgraded silv- WAR MACHINE. I’d list the Mk numbers
but even I’m lost now since somehow there was a second red and gold in
the hall of costumes despite him wearing the MkII(?) suit. Also, Vanko’s
Whiplash costume is very cool, so is a costume he gains later, and oh
my god, the suitcase suit is boner inducing. Sadly, when the chest piece
is being removed at the Stark Expo it looks a bit fake. 1 frame.
So what is the overall feel of this sequel? A disappointment largely. Never has one
aspect of a movie so cataclysmically damaged a film for me. Even Jar Jar
Binks had other shit going on around him. Well, that’s unfair. I can’t
compare Justin Hammer to Jar Jar Binks, but he has the same effect; he
cheapens every aspect attached to him. However, this film is still worth
watching. You have all the solid performances of the first film plus a
lot of cool stuff from the comics which you don’t need to know but adds
and extra bit of spice to the geek factor. This film is best watched in a
group. Grab a buddy or a legion and make sure to pick up a snack to
Oh, and Johansson starts tearing her clothes off in the back of a car. Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamt of that. Still, it fails to match its predecessor.