Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Man on Film: Iron Man 2

If I'm not mistaken, this is actually the first time in the history of Inconsiderate Prick that I'll have ended up writing about the sequel to a movie that I have also written about. In that regard, I suppose this is a milestone of sorts. To celebrate this, I have treated myself to a bowl of Honey Nut in honor of Omar. Now I'm going to drop a dramatic deuce and engage in a self high-five*.

*All right, I just spent about ten minutes trying to find a video to no avail. The video was that of the short-lived mid-'90s Fox sitcom "Too Something," a show I can't say I ever actually remember having seen, but I do remember the promo that Fox surely ran about 10,000 times leading up to its lackluster premiere. Weirdly, the concept of the self high-five was emblazoned into my memory then and its execution still kind of amuses me. Unfortunately, there is no video that I can provide for you to lay down a framework for what I'm talking about.

Now, as far as the experience of seeing Iron Man 2 was concerned, it was an engaging film that left me thinking, That was pretty good. That may not be the most glowing reaction, but given my feelings about much of the high-profile films what I've seen lately, I was mostly pleased.

As was the case with Sherlock Holmes and the first Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr., makes this film work. Both of those films could have failed easily if not for the wiles and charms of Downey, just as Iron Man 2 could have. His cocksure bravado is precisely what this franchise needed. It fuels this sequel, infusing it with an energy that is needed as the film comes to its close slightly anti-climactically.

Yes, Iron Man 2 does kind of rush into and through its conclusion. Some complaints levied against the film and its according narrative shortcomings chalk them up to biting off too much in regards to foils for Tony Stark. I would hardly say that is the case. X-Men or Spider-Man 3 this film is not. Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko and Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer both add much more to the film than their possible division of dedicated screen-time to villainy could take away. Rockwell is especially solid as the slimy defense-contracting douche.

As was the case with the first Iron Man, the staging of the climactic end fight scene simply leaves a bit to be desired. For starters, much of the flight/pursuit action borders on unintelligible. Perhaps this can be attributed to my second row seat, but there were 10 - 15 second sequences at the end that were a blur as much as anything else. When War Machine and Iron Man finally face off against Whiplash, the fight seems to end almost as soon as it begins.

Luckily, Iron Man 2 is ultimately character-driven, and it works entirely in that regard. While Justin Theroux's (holy hell, did I think it was weird that Theroux was writing this movie) screenplay may be unbalanced from a narrative standpoint, it succeeds on the personal front, and Stark's dealing with his mortality works exceptionally well.

Ultimately, the film's shortcomings don't do enough to detract from one's enjoyment of the film, and it does leave you looking forward to the eventual foray into the Avengers series of films down the line.

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