Saturday, May 8, 2010
I am out of town right now for my birthday, and wasn't planning on writing this weekend, but I did want to post a couple of quick thoughts on Iron Man 2 since I was so over the moon about the first film...a masterful work that has become one of my favorite movies from the past several years. First up, Iron Man 2 is not the film the first one was but I didn't expect it to be. Comparisons aside, Iron Man 2 is quite a splendid follow-up that trades in much of the emotion and character development of the first film for some truly astonishing action sequences...sequences that all manage to feel incredibly modern without losing the grittiness that separated the first film from the majority of the comic-book superhero adaptations of the past decade.
While I greatly enjoyed the quite explosive (and strikingly seamless) effects found throughout the new adventures of Tony Stark and crew I was mostly taken, like I was in the first chapter, with the performances. Particularly watching Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke, two favorites who couldn't even even get insured in the recent past, square off in the summer's biggest film was especially sweet. My favorite scene of the film is indeed the moment Rourke and Downey meet and all I could do was marvel at two such powerhouse actors and icons sharing the screen together.
Other cast members give Iron Man 2 a charge as well although none are used quite as good as Rourke and Downey. Scarlett Johansson is breathtaking and spectacular as Black Widow Natalie Rushman, but she is ultimately underused and frankly needs her own film. I also couldn't shake the memory of the absolutely perfect Terrence Howard from the first film even though the always brilliant Don Cheadle does as good of a job as possible replacing him. The rest of the cast, an impressive mixture of talent ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow (still the perfect Pepper Potts) to Sam Rockwell (a great obnoxious villain) all deliver great work with only Samuel Jackson being mostly wasted as Nick Fury, although I suspect this has more to do with Iron Man 2's place as a transition piece more than anything else.
Despite some issues I greatly enjoyed Iron Man 2 and I suspect it will be, quality-wise, miles above most of the Summer Blockbusters that are coming our way. While I wish the film had been longer and as rich as the first chapter, director Jon Favreau has brought us another work that is smarter, sharper and more flat out entertaining than most of the CGI driven productions that are a dime a dozen at this point. It's also more sly and subversive, as ultimately Tony Stark is a much more complex and flawed character than most modern commercial American films allow, and I suspect that repeated viewings of Iron Man 2 will make it even more rewarding. For now, just enjoy seeing it on the big-screen. I saw it in Imax and I won't be shaking the shots of Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke reminding us what real Kings of Cool look like anytime soon.