Saturday, May 01, 2010

Iron Man 2

By Reymundo Salao

I thoroughly enjoyed IRON MAN 2. But there are some very minor stuff that sort of bothered me. First off, I did like the character played by Mickey Rourke, which is Ivan Vanko (which seems to be a combination of the comic book characters Whiplash & Crimson Dynamo). But I felt that the details of the character were too underdeveloped. We got to see his some of his quirks and a little bit of back story which we thought was going to be spotlighted later on in the movie. Only to realize that the backstory which felt like a teaser was not fully satisfied in the end anyway, and we walk off the movie not really having a full grasp what his character was all about. If the story wanted him to be a mysterious "force of nature" villain, the film should not have heavily teased on a backstory in the first place, and should have gone with the fully mysterious psycho all the way. Basically his character was out to have vengeance on Stark, accusing his family of stealing an idea his (Vanko's) father pioneered. But in the end, it really was not clear what that "stealing of idea" was all about, or how Vanko's father was allegedly betrayed by the Stark family.

There is a fantastic use of various rock n' roll soundtracks. The popularity, massive budget and the power of this movie probably made it easy for the film to acquire rights to various songs that were smartly placed in the film. Sometimes to a point that you could tell that this is merchandising at work because it subliminally entices you to go get the movie's soundtrack album.

It should also be noted that the movie also builds up to an anticipated AVENGERS movie. To those who do not know what I am talking about, AVENGERS is a superhero group in the Marvel comics universe where characters like IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, and many others are organized into one group - THE AVENGERS - in order to fight greater threats from more lethal super villains.

You cannot dismiss the movie as just a superhero movie because like any good superhero movie, the story focuses on the characters rather than on just the superhero. The film does not solely rely on action, but much on humor. There were moments in the middle of the movie that made me forget I was watching a superhero movie, or an action movie. Much of IRON MAN 2 centers its focus on Tony Stark's relationship with his friend Rhodes, his assistant Pepper Potts, and his rival Justin Hammer. Also, the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow is very sparklingly attractive and fun to watch.

Don Cheadle was fine as Rhodes, Tony Stark's friend. But the fact that he is not muc of a physical match with Terence Howard, the actor he replaced for the role, messes up what should have been a fluid consistency with the previous Iron Man movie. In the end, though, you will forget and disregard this minor detail (and he is, in comparison, as good as a replacement as Maggie Gyllenhal was in replacing Katie Holmes in the Dark Knight movie).

Scarlett Johansson was sleek and sexy as Natalia Romanova, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer was indeed supposed to be annoying and corny, which made him such an opposite of Stark (on the other hand, I would also have wanted to see a faithful portrayal of Justin Hammer as he was in the comics, which is that he is supposed to be an old guy and supposed to be scary, but that format of character has become such a cliché in superhero movies at this point in time)

Robert Downey Jr. is magnificent in his role. His Tony Stark is like the ultimate new role model; girls throw themselves at him and guys wanna be like him. His humor is always on the spot and his charms are flawless. His screen presence and how he makes a scene come alive is the major battery that makes this an enjoyable film.

And then there's Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury. Which reminds me of the other nitpick detail that hated about the movie, and that is Nick Fury's first appearance in the movie. For a character which is supposed to have some degree of importance, his first scene looked like it lacked impact. Fury, appearing and having a conversation with Stark, in morning daylight, while wearing that shiny coat, made him look like a joke. And then we see the first costume appearance of Black Widow in the same scene, which also made her appearance have no impact at all. In fact, it was a scene that awkwardly made Nick Fury and Black Widow look silly and indeed looked like two people wearing costumes for some Halloween party. Even though the first line of Fury was indeed very funny, I still stand by the opinion that it was one scene that was just poorly conceptualized.

Comedian Garry Shandling also appears in the movie, and although his role is not a major one, I consider him to be a highlight of the movie. He plays a Senator who is very skeptical and critical of Tony Stark and seems to have a shady background. His role was deadpan serious and almost villainous that he instantly feels like an unignorable beloved "other villain". From the moment he appears you can tell that he's supposed to be a big A-hole, and he does a great job with it.

Jon Favreau who is both a great actor, comedian, and is also the director of the movie did a great job in making this sequel spectacular and continuously fun to watch. Despite its flaws, the movie was very enjoyable. It was well-paced, and designed never to bore its audience. The dialogues are very witty. And its performers did a marvelous job with their lines. It also had interesting non-cliché comedy gold moments. One of the funniest scenes that I enjoyed involve Robert Downey Jr. and one of those office decorations (you will know by the time you watch the movie). Although I felt that there would have been many interesting stunts or refreshingly new action tricks that can be made with the new villains (especially one wielding a super-powered whip), I cannot disregard the fact that it was a good thing that the film invested more on the storyline aspect so to not make this movie just a mere “dumb action flick” and eventually achieves to appeal to all audience demographics.

All in all, IRON MAN 2 is a High Matinee movie. Although greatly flawed, these flaws are only noticeable from a critical point of view. Even I came out of it with a full-bar fun movie satisfaction, and only realizing its flaws hours later. If you love a movie with witty characters and some cool heavy metal robot action, then this movie is definitely for you. And let me remind you that there is an ADDITIONAL SCENE AFTER THE END CREDITS, so if you don't wanna miss it then you might wanna stay awhile for it.

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