This Iron Man is SMOKIN’…
With lots of fanfare and one kickass trailer paving the way, “Iron Man 2” came crashing into theaters to jumpstart the summer season of 2010. And while it’s definitely not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, it IS a good start to what looks like a lackluster summer season.
What you probably already know is that Robert Downey, Jr returns to be the man behind the mask. Just like in the first one, his charisma and snark carries the movie past the typical superhero flick. In my opinion, Downey can do no wrong. He is, quite easily, the best actor in the business right now. So with him as the lead, it’s already a given that the movie will be entertaining. The dialogue is quick and his ability to convey emotion with just his facial expressions alone (usually when he’s in his suit) are strong-points in this film. Add to the mix the fun he seems to have with the technology at his disposal (lots of holograms & robotics), I have to wonder if maybe this would have been a good film to see in 3D. But whatever…at least the producers of this movie didn’t try to “fake” 3D this time like they did with “Clash of the Titans.”
The rest of the cast is pretty good. I only had a couple of issues with casting, mostly with Sam Rockwell as the other arms dealer in town. While Stark Enterprises takes a dive (or a hiatus, depending on which CEO you ask), Rockwell’s Hammer has upped the ante and is making a bid to build the U.S. military it’s own version of the Iron Man suit. Rockwell seems to be playing the role for laughs, with his Hammer being a geeky goofball who can’t seem to get out from under Starks’ shadow. It’s a role that, I feel, should have been played at a much darker level, especially since Hammer ends up hiring the mercenary Whiplash (Mickey Roarke), who is hellbent on revenge and faces off against Iron Man in several intense scenes.
As you might imagine, Roarke steals almost every scene he is in. His version of Whiplash as a quiet yet deadly villain is on the mark. I have read that to prepare for the role, Roarke actually went to a Russian prison and stayed for a while, talking to the inmates and studying the language. In the movie he speaks very little English and when he does speak he uses a convincing dialect. It’s a good role for him and physically he is an imposing figure, especially when he shows up for the first time at a Formula One race event in Monaco. He slices up Stark’s car with his laser whips and almost takes this film to a darker area…almost.
There are multiple storylines happening in “Iron Man 2” and that seems to be its biggest problem. It gets a little bogged down when it tries to mix all of them in the middle of the movie. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that Tony Stark has several issues in this one and there seem to be 2 or 3 too many for this film to handle. If you take away a couple of them, this might have been a bit more entertaining. As it stands, it’s still a pretty good movie, it just could have been trimmed down a little bit. Say…about 20 minutes less?
There’s a lot of buildup for the possible “Avengers” movie that seems to be in the works. There’s a quick reference to Captain America in one scene and Samuel Jackson is a major player this time as “Nick Fury”. I dunno if I consider Jackson’s casting as being a major coup for this role. I’m still undecided at this point. However I will say I totally enjoyed the secondary character of Scarlett Johanssen as one of the super agents for S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s quiet & expressionless as she infiltrates Starks’ business and she is the lucky agent assigned to watch over him as he accepts his role as a super hero. The scenes where Johanssen gets into the action are some of the coolest scenes in the movie. So we will have to wait to see what becomes of these 2 major players as Marvel trots out its line of superhero films coming out over the next couple of years. I know “Captain America” & “Thor” are in production and that an “Avengers” movie is planned. I’m just wondering how they’re going to handle so many personalities in one film, especially with so many A-listers (except for the guy playing “Thor”. No idea who he is.) bidding for screentime? But that is a discussion for much later. As for now, “Iron Man 2” delivers the goods and is worth your money. Oh…and like last time, if you wait until after the credits, there’s an added preview for a future hero. I won’t give it away though…you decide if you want to wait. But it is there. But I wouldn’t get all excited about it…
Overall Rating: B+