Posted on: May 7th, 2010 REVIEW: The Super Ensemble of IRON MAN 2

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Iron Man 2 rocks. Simple as that. I liked it better than the first film, but that doesn’t mean it’s without it’s flaws. But more on that later!

If you want a synopsis of the film, you’ve been living under a rock. If you’ve really been living under a rock, you smell, wash up. Then read Mr. Ferrier’s review of the film, where he gives a detailed plot . Then come back here and read what I have to say. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
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Welcome back.

Rock solid performances, bravado, machismo, empowered heroines, dastardly villains, and 2 sneak peaks at important icons in the Avengers mythos, make Iron Man 2 an absolute MUST view. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and does what Robert Downey Jr. does best…wow us. This films Stark is more manic, more self-obsessed, quicker with the quips and downright perfect. There is no other actor I can think of that could pull off the Jekyll & Hyde that is the main character. It is a true testament to Downey’s charisma and talent as an actor, that he can be cast again and again in mainstream roles as well as indie films and always hit a home run. I believe him to be one of the most talented and ‘real’ actors working in film today.

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Which leads right into one of the other best actors in the medium. Sam Rockwell. His portrayal of baddie Justin Hammer is a revelation. He too balances his bad character with humour, wit and an edge of maniacal. When he does lose it and let the baddie take over the entire theatre hushed, so drawn in by the sudden change, you could hear the collective intake of breath. The great thing about throwing Hammer into the Iron Man saga, along with Ivan Vanko, is that the film doesn’t suffer Spiderman 3 syndrome…too many bad guys. Rockwell’s character is not meant to be a “bad guy”, he’s meant to be a ‘villain’, which I think carries two very different distinctions. In any superhero film you have the bad guys, expendable though cool, and the villains, necessary to keep the garage of baddies full. A bad guy can disappear from film to film. A villain shows up through many films…and its delicious to revisit them over and over.

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Mickey Rourke, where the hell did you come from these past couple of years. Rourke was SO awesome in Nine and a Half Weeks, and yes, even Harley Davidson and the Marlborough Man (shut up, I liked it), and then kind of disappeared into B film obscurity. Enter The Wrestler and I thought ‘good for him, one more kick at the can”. I felt the same thing we all did when hearing of his casting as Whiplash….Wha? Don’t worry. He’s excellent. Accent – Perfect. Subdued crazy – Perfect. Cool Tats – Perfect. He plays the role straight. No frills, no gimmicks. There’s none needed when you brandish whips of electricity.

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Scarlett Johansson became an action star. Remember when you saw The Bourne Identity, and you left the theatre and said ‘When did Matt Damon become a bad-ass?”, I said the same thing about SJ. She rocks this film. Nothing else to say. She made me man-wet!

Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Rhodey, and while I love Howard’s work in everything, I enjoy Cheadle more in the role, and accepted him as War Machine easily, whereas I couldn’t see Howard pulling off the role. Cheadle brings a reserved bad-ass to the character when he’s in the suit. And his best moment is the last scene he appears in the film…and there’s no fighting at all. He just LOOKS cool in the suit.

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Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is still, as in the first film, her best work.

I’ve been a Jon Favreau fan for as long as I can remember, but where and how he learned his director craft for action flicks I’ll never know. This guy gets what a comic book movie should be. Over the top without being cheesy, appealing to the comic book geek and action film fan, never taking itself too seriously even during the serious scenes. The sets and backdrops, the camera work and effects, story and soundtrack all work so well together. He knows this craft, and part of me wishes that every superhero film made in the future is helmed by Favreau. Bravo sir.

Now, the negatives, of which there are few, and don’t really take away from the film. I’m a little less forgiving for the pacing of some scenes as Mr. Ferrier was, I get exposition. I get set-up, but there were times when the film lulled for me in the middle, very slightly, but not nearly enough to be a deal breaker. There wasn’t enough action for me. The first film’s action sequences were long and crazy cool. Looking at IM2, I think there’s the same amount of action, but in very short bursts. The final battle scene was over as quickly as it began, which I found disappointing, because where it should have been more bad-ass, it was an anti-climax for me. A little trimming of the ‘lull scenes’ to use those minutes during the climatic battle would have served this reviewer better.

And finally, I just don’t buy Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. I’m sorry, I love Sam Jackson, and his role at the very end of Iron Man was awesome, because it was short and played close to the hip. Having him as more of a central character in the film took away the edge, he became more on an ‘everyman’, a detraction from the character they’re trying to build…the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Let me quickly address, Iron Man 2 is awesome and serves the franchise well, but I also left the theatre with the feeling that the entire thing was a big set-up of the forth-coming Avengers film. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it felt like a snippet of the larger picture. When all these films have been released, you will see a massive box set of every film, packaged together, and called something like The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And again, that’s not a bad thing when you look at the sum of the parts as a whole.

One more quibble, and this has nothing to do with the film, but film’s in general. With today’s technological advancements in home theatre, why can’t we get a better looking theatrical display. Washed out colours, the film looked slightly out of focus and didn’t pop. We have Wi-Fi televisions now, we can’t improve film? I said to myself MANY times in this film “I can’t wait to pop the Blu Ray of Iron Man 2 in my BR player, and watch this on my 52” HD T.V. and see it the way it was meant to be viewed.” But that’s a topic for another debate.

Yes, Iron Man 2 lives up to, and actually exceeds, the hype. It is well-crafted, a sight for the eyes, extremely funny and a worthy successor to the Iron Man franchise. Bring on Thor and Captain America and let’s see The Avengers already! Don’t suck Avengers, you’re building some great back story and amazing character performances.

P.S. I am going to have Ryan Reynolds institutionalized, and ‘be there’ for Scarlett when she needs a shoulder to cry on. Then club her and drag her back to my cave. What, too soon?

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