IRON MAN 2 (2010)
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Garry Shandling, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Jon Favreau, Kate Mara, Leslie Bibb, Olivia Munn and Adam ‘DJ AM’ Goldstein.
Screenplay by Justin Theroux.
Directed by Jon Favreau.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 125 minutes. Rated PG-13.
When the first Iron Man movie came out a couple of years ago, comic book adaptations had pretty much forgotten how to have fun. Instead, Hollywood seemed to think we wanted our superheroes dark and brooding like Batman Returns or The Hulk or any of many others.
Well, Iron Man is essentially a multi-billionaire playboy who vanquishes bad guys in a heavy metal armor with a whole series of insanely cool weapons. What’s there to be depressed about? (Of course, that never stopped Bruce Wayne from massive bouts of navel-gazing.)
The smartest move that Iron Man director made was taking a chance on Robert Downey, Jr. as his hero. (It’s hard to remember now that this series rocketed Downey’s career to the stratosphere, but at the time the first film was made Downey was still considered a serious a gamble even though he had finally conquered his massive addictions.) Downey had never helmed a big franchise like this – in fact at that point of his career he was reduced to doing supporting roles in crap like the remake of The Shaggy Dog.
Downey was able to give the film a shot of adrenaline simply through pure personality. He took what was obviously a kind of ridiculous story and made us care about the man behind the armor. It was a good trick and deservedly pushed Downey back to the A-list.
However, for as good as Downey was, the film itself was right on a par. Finally, a comic book film could be fun without being silly. Iron Man connected on all cylinders.
In Iron Man 2, the sleek and powerful engine is back and mostly intact, but the contraption is starting to sputter a bit.
The film starts off confidently where the original left off, looks like it is making all the right moves, then suddenly bogs down in a horribly slow second hour.
Probably the biggest problem with Iron Man 2 is that they create a terrific villain with Mickey Rourke’s muscled and metal-teethed Ivan Vanko, introduce him in spectacular fashion in a Monaco Grand Prix showdown with Iron Man, and then pretty much shuffle him off to the sidelines until the climax. If you hire Mickey Rourke to crazily emote and act the horribly eccentric yin to Downey’s yang, it seems like you should give him much more to do in the flabby middle section of the film. We want to see these two premium-but-occasionally-overwrought actors just go at it – a no-holds-barred knock-down-drag-out fight of overacting.
Instead, the film spends entirely too much time with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johannsen, apparently trying to set up an Avengers spin-off series of films.
Iron Man 2 is something of a disappointment in comparison to its much more confident predecessor, but it’s still one of the better superhero films to come down the pike in recent years.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 4, 2010.