Sunday, June 10, 2012

Marvel Movie Project #13: Iron Man 2

Aimee's Take:

Iron Man 2 was a very highly anticipated release, due to the success of Iron Man and the general asshole-ish likeability of Robert Downey, Jr as Tony Stark. We all filed in to see it, expecting more of the same fast-paced, tightly maneuvered fun we had enjoyed before. We were... disappointed.

Not to say that the movie is all bad. It's not. It's decently watchable. The problem is... it's too much. 

It's as though the filmmakers took everything we loved about Iron Man and hooked it up to an amplifier. Unfortunately, that amplifier has been dropped a few times and has a tendency to make very annoying noises at very inopportune times. Pepper Potts has had her neurotic stress level turned to 11; SHIELD and Nick Fury involvement has been turned to 11; and Justin Hammer has been introduced and doesn't need additional volume to be incredibly annoying and terribly unfunny. Rhodes as War Machine is unnecessary and ill-used.

At the same time, we're given a surprisingly toned-down version of Tony Stark, who is struggling with a life-threatening problem and dealing with daddy issues. 

When you plug all this into a flimsy plot that is frankly all over the damn place, you don't have much opportunity for fun and excitement.

Remove the SHIELD subplot--now we're getting somewhere. There's almost no reason for it; Tony could have dug into his father's past alone. Let's not make the "new element" subplot so convoluted, ok? It's too tidy for all of the wild factors; I guess we should all be happy to find that Pepper was throwing away that giant city model right at the best possible time for Tony to find it--like something that huge was maybe in the coat closet? Why was it not in archives? You want me to believe that Stark Industries doesn't have archives? 

Whiplash is fairly compelling, why not create an escalating hostility between him and Tony, ultimately culminating in a showdown? Why is Justin Hammer in this?

This is another film that is shamed by the masterful execution of The Avengers. It had too much going on and not enough "meat" to hold things together. Sure, the characters are (mostly) fun to watch. Yes, there's eye candy. Yes, I get it, everyone loves Sam Jackson. But this effort is solidly sophomoric and deserves its low spot.

What Stan Says:

Sequels are tricky things.  When the first film is great, a follow-up must extend the glory of the original, introduce something new, and maintain the status quo that has been established.  When done well, you get Godfather Part II, when done poorly you get Iron Man 2.

As Aimee says, Iron Man was incredible.  It blew every possible expectation I had for it out of the water.  Honestly, I don't care for Iron Man.  I have always found the character to be a bit unrelatable and boorish.  But Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Tony Stark made me like Iron Man, and what's more, made me care about the character...(for the rest of this paragraph see the upcoming Iron Man entry in the Marvel Movie Project.)  Iron Man 2 managed to undo a lot of the good work Iron Man worked so hard to accomplish.

Oh my dear lord.
The first film was simple, straightforward, and pure.  Iron Man 2 is none of those things.  The story wanders all over the place from Whiplash's origin to a car race to the introduction of Black Widow (I am IN LOVE with Scarlett Johansson's Widow, too bad there is no reason for her to be in this film) to Justin Hammer's ridiculous factory to Tony Stark's birthday party to a giant park and on and on.  Pick a story and go with it.

How about a simple one where a rival developer is stealing Stark designs and turning them into weapons contracts?  That story is in there somewhere and it would be great, but instead we clutter it up with an uncharacteristic (and considering the source that's saying something) drunken birthday brawl, some kind of SHIELD subplot, the Black Widow and War Machine.  None of which are things we need.  This could be so easy.  Justin  We also get a secret film of Howard Stark who just happened to invent the very element Tony needs to save the day.  All Tony has to do is find a treasure map with an X on it in the form of ridiculously giant model, the build a thingy to create the element.  You can see the slippery slope that leads us to doom, can't you.  I could have been so easy.  Try this on for size:  Hammer steals Stark designs, sells them, hires Whiplash to work for him and keep Iron Man off his back and then he uses his power to leverage whatever his bigger agenda is. Theisre are plenty of big fights between Iron Man and Whiplash, and Iron Man and Hammer's Iron Men. We don't need the rest of it.  Well, maybe Scarlett...

But worse that all of that, is that I don't really like any of the characters I came to love in the first film.  Pepper is just freaked out all of the time and her hysterical anger and whining is old 5 minutes into the film.  Her bizarre rivalry with Black Widow is forced and feels like it.  Stark is Stark, but he's also being a douche and not in the good way like in the first film.  Cheadle is a fine substitute Rhodey, but he is given the worst possible things to do, so he's not as likeable as Terrence Howard.  Plus, despite the set-up in Iron Man, I do not believe for a second that he ever gets in that War Machine suit, not until the very end anyway.  Black Widow too is wasted here and would have been much better had we waited to introduce the character in The Avengers where she is dyno-mite. 
So a dismally convoluted plot, unlikeable characters, and way too much unneeded clutter, what is there to like in this movie?  Must be Spectacle.

The film is big and action-packed.  It is a thrill ride, but the ride is without any of the substance that made the original Iron Man such an unexpected treat.  It's a blockbuster type film but it lack the heart to be more than a flash and is ultimately unforgettable.  It is only on the back of  Robert Downey Jr, and the incredibly high production values (the suit still looks amazing!) that Iron Man 2 makes it this high on the count up.  For my money, IM2 is the "Best of the Worst" on our list.

No comments:

Post a Comment