Sunday, May 16, 2010

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 (2010) is a sometimes-spirited sequel that again features Robert Downey Junior as Tony Stark, the CEO of an advanced weapons manufacturer, and erstwhile but ever-so snarky superhero.  The movie suffers from several unneeded characters and plot threads, and has a flagging middle section which make the entire experience rather underwhelming.

Once again, RDJ plays Stark as a flamboyant, attention-seeking narcissist, and almost every moment with him on screen is scene-chewingly entertaining.  However, Stark is now dying because of the power source that drives the suit. This causes him to ruminate on the time that's rapidly running out for him, and drives him to drink and other self-destructive behavior.

There's a few too many plot threads; these include
  • Ivan Vanko (played with smoldering intensity by Mickey Rourke), a Russian physicist whose father was wronged by Stark's father, and who builds powered whips with which he attacks Starks while he races in Monaco (the action highlight of the movie)
  • A rival weapons manufacturer, headed by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who hooks up with Ivan Vanko to build a better Iron Man suit
  • A US Congressional Committee that wants Stark to relinquish his Iron Man suits 
  • The theft of an Iron Man suit so that the US Army can weaponize 
  • An Expo to highlight just how simply wonderful Stark's weapons technology is
  • Stark's dysfunctional relationship with his father
  • Stark's rapidly deteriorating health due to the effects of Iron Man suit's power source, and the search for a less-harmful replacement
  • Stark's alcoholism and self-destructive spiral
  • Stark's growing but still veiled overtures to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his executive assistant. Paltrow is underused has little connection to the primary plot thread and I suspect was only casted because she's great eye candy
  • The Avengers, a mysterious group of superheros, headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who places a soon-uncloaked mole in Stark Industries to keep tabs on Tony Stark
  • ...and a few other
These plot threads should have twisted, knotted and combined into a revelation that drove the finale into an emotional frenzy; however, this doesn't happen, and the multiple plot lines only caused the movie to drag.

Several plot threads were simply unneeded and cause the movie to drag; they should have been removed to give the movie a punchier pace (some, for example, are only present to clearly signpost spin-offs). While I was watching the flagging middle third of the movie, my thoughts drifted to the much more cohesively plotted The Dark Knight, a much better comic book adaptation.

The action scenes are zingy and well directed but are spread a smidgen too thin.  The CG has very high production values (Vanko's attack on Stark at Monaco is visually breathtaking) but since the movie creates few emotional connections with the characters, the action scenes don't have the payoff the should have (again, compare this to the far superior The Dark Knight).

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