Thursday, 13 May 2010

Bigger, Faster, More…

…all the things this movie wants to do…all the things this post is not….
Iron Man has always been rooted its cynical take on the contemporary world – contemporary America to be exact. It’s steeped in its glitz, the glamour, cheap thrills. The first film toed that line between decadence and intelligence that made it less of a by-the-book “superhero” movie and something not necessarily better, but more original. When watching Iron Man 2 my mind immediately went to the other sequel I saw recently. Sure, it’s for an entirely different audience but in its way Nanny McPhee routine “saving” of children is an incarnation of Downey Jr’s superhero. It’s obvious though, Thompson’s tale improves on the original… Iron Man 2.
I can’t explain how it’s taking me so long to give my thoughts on this; I guess the general apathy I feel towards doesn’t help much. I have to purge, so on with the words.  
It’s an action flick, and in that realm I suppose Favreau feels the duty to give his audience what they want – endless thrills. The thing is, the film starts out for thirty minutes without trying to give us any outlandish, or obvious thrills and this is where it works the best. Sure, Stark is still something of a prick, but Downey Jr. can pull that off. And sure Palthrow’s Pepper continues to be written as little more than a caricature making her work even harder, but she can handle it. You’d think that with a fairly good starting it’d be off to a good film, but no – false alarm. Moreover, I can’t even be certain why, but I have my ideas. It’s as if Theroux thinks that by injecting the film with character after character, and plot point after plot point he’s going to make the film better. But we can’t build any one character in such a muddle. The film seems to be lacking any significant plot, even as I’m well aware that there’s quite a lot going on. Stark has revealed he’s Iron Man, he’s dying, Pepper is the new CEO of the Company, he’s being pressured to turn over his “weapons”, Ivan Vanko wants to kill him, so does Justin Hammer, a new assistant is more than the benign girl Stark believes her to be, oh and his father also arrives from beyond the grave to order words of wisdom. Did I miss anything? In this way Iron Man 2 reminds me of a huge roll of cotton candy, eye catching and ostensibly sweet but  ultimately unfulfilling (and unhealthy too). But it’s not a bad film….
Iron Man 2 reminds me of Alice in Wonderland - but whereas Alice in Wonderland despite it’s obvious poorness at times, stays on point and features excellent performances from Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway Iron Man 2 doesn’t succeed as much. Downey Jr. charms wear thin eventually and Palthrow is wasted, even if Pepper has an ostensibly large role. Samuel Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and even the much feted Mickey Rourke add nothing substantial to the film – not because they’re not trying but because no one seems sure what exactly they’re supposed to be offering. I’m not mad at it, though, because it does all it does with honesty at least, and truthfully I hope it makes all the money it can. But really, I’m neither here nor there on it…which is shame considering on all that could have been…


Luke said...

Great write-up. I don't know why I keep reading the reviews to this movie before I actually see it, but the more I read the less I want to see it. I barely enjoyed the first one as it was.

I'm going to have to disagree with you just on the Anne Hathaway having a good performance in Alice, but the overall comparison was alright.

Simon said...

Excellent review. I couldn't figure out what the A-Plot of this movie was supposed to be, so there's that.

Is it weird that every time I see 'Vanko' I start saying every 'w' word with a 'v'? I don't think it's weird. it's like vessels.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Interesting and well-done review. I liked it a lot more than you did, but I understand and even sympathize with some points (the dad scene especially seemed to come from a different movie). But I loooved Mickey Rourke in this.

As for Alice: other than the great Helena Bonham-Carter and an OK turn from Anne Hathaway, ugh.

Castor said...

Insightful review. It's disappointing because this movie would have made a ton of money no matter which way Favreau and co. took it. I wish they would have been bolder and taken more risk instead of doing what was "expected" of them ie more of the same, action sequences, the end.

The Mad Hatter said...

Gotta say, being a week late to the party here has been entertaining to say the least.

I get to sift through almost everybody's take on this film and wonder what the mindset was on opening weekend.

Here's what leaves me perplexed - you say there isn't much of a plot and then rhyme off a luandry list of things that happen. Isn't that a plot?

Admittedly the pacing is a little herky-jerky, but you weren't interested by the thread of Stark trying to get a grip on what he's gotten himself into as the honeymoon of the situation ends and it gets hard in a hurry?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

luke go see it, it's not BAD just not very good. but it's enjoyable-ish.

simon it is weird, but weird is trending right now.

walter yes, that dad scene. yeesh. definitely my least favourite moment.

castor it would have made money either way indeed, but i'm not mad at it (or him).

mad hatter yes, much is happening but there's no link and if there is it often feels so very tenuous. downey jr. is gripping but i'm still unmoved when it comes to him coming to grips with the situation because even he doesn't seem to be taking it too i can't either.