Thursday 29 April 2010

Review: Iron Man 2

Year: 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenplay: Justin Theroux
Starring: Robert Downley jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell, Micky Rouke, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson

I was talking to a friend (whose forgotten more about movies than I'll ever know) over the weekend about the marketing of Iron Man 2. He was quite surprised that heading into May (Summer Blockbuster territory) and the opening of the biggest film of the year (at the present moment), that the advertising seems a little lackluster. I hadn't really noticed because, being at the cinema almost constantly I've seen the trailer more than enough times. But in terms of promotions and tie ins, it has felt a little light on that aspect. He concluded that it's very interesting for an "event" movie to be released mostly on the basis that you liked the first film these days and I agree. I mean even Transformers 2 had Micheal Bay bemoaning the marketing of the movie despite the fact that it made shitloads of cash.

Advertising or no, it's safe to say that I really enjoyed the second chapter of the Iron man story. While the first Iron Man film was a very well crafted origin story (which surprised many who didn't expect much), this next entry puts more at stake, builds upon the already nicely defined characters and brings about actions scenes that are not only bigger than the previous film, but also more exciting. The film has some unfortunate cute moments (did we need THAT kid in the third act), and the second act at can feel a little stagnant, with the Warhammer vs Iron Man scene is obviously put in place to break up all the talking. However, for me the films faults were pretty minimal, considering some of the other perils that Favreau had to avoid.

Yes Iron Man 2 had to deal with such hazards like too-many-characters-syndrome. A common problem which has help take out other movies such as say Batman and Robin. Characters take a back seat but that didn't faze me. The film concentrates on the character of Stark and his wavering mortality. It highlights and advances certain relationships, but doesn't focus too hard on them, and for me this works. We don't get a top heavy feature a la Spiderman 3 in which we have everyone fighting for screen time, but a film in which characters neatly fit into the plot when needed and never overstay their welcome. I was never bothered that we hadn't seen enough of someone if they were off screen. The film does a good juggling act with so many characters.

With this said, it is called Iron Man 2 and Robert Downley jr isn't going to allow this movie to run away from him. He revels in Justin Theroux's (Tropic Thunder) sharply written banter and his facial tics and energy make sure that there's never a dull moment on the screen. The flaws of Tony Stark are brought to the surface this time around and it's the strength of an actor like him that makes this ovie tic. Your with him when he jokes and your with him at his moments of weakness. The clash of Starks swagger and his impending mortality is something your just don't get with Bruce Wayne and Batman. Such a conflict is warmly welcome.

This is not to say that the supporting cast don't get a say. Gwyneth Paltrow is a great foil to the eccentric antics of Downley jr, while the new casting of Don Cheadle is a welcoming change. Scarlett Johansson is mostly here for eye candy, but still brings a stronger display than this role than in some her recent films. I not only enjoyed the casting of Sam Rockwell and Micky Rourke but I also loved the banter and the threat they posed. The idea of bringing two villains together to kill the legacy of the hero? Far more interesting than merely killing the man. And the small cameo from Garry Shandling? Nicely done.

The first Iron Man surprised people who didn't expect too much from the material and what many got was a more colourful alternative to Batman. The second film doesn't match the scope of The Dark Knight, but as an expansion of Marvel universe as well as the Iron Man saga, this was an exciting watch.