Thursday, May 13, 2010
Well, it is the start of the summer movie season (wait.. isn't it only May? Aren't we supposed to have another month to go, yet?) I guess they wanna get an early start on those receipts then.
It's been an interesting Spring with films like Kick Ass and How To Train Your Dragon - but the "big one" people have been waiting for is the sequel to one of the recent huge Comic Book Superhero megahit films, 2008's surprise blockbuster Iron Man. The cast (Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow) returns with the same director (Jon Favreau) to suit up once again for this supercharged sequel.
Those who know me say that I am a picky critic, and why shouldn't one be? Movies are expensive, and so is my time! I am not a big fan of big Hollywood blockbusters in my adult years, though I can appreciate a good popcorn flick now and again (a little escapism is not a bad thing). The first Iron Man was a film that pleasantly surprised me, with sharp writing, likeable characters, wonderful effects and lots of "oh gosh that's neat" moments.
Where the first one shined, the sequel sputters, unfortunately. After the wonderful setup from the first movie, the new one falls into the usual sequelitis territory for these kinds of films. "oh, we need to introduce some mysterious new bad guy to take our hero down a peg, and make the lead question his ability to continue his purpose as he suffers somehow." The villian, a Russian Mickey Rourke, is never really fleshed out in an interesting fashion (he just "wants revenge" for what Tony's family did to his) and his character is not very compelling. The Laser Whips are kind of neat, slicing formula one racers as they do, but this could have been a bit more dramatic if they had him running hog wild through a busy city street, slashing through traffic and sides of buildings and things. Instead, every time he is fighting onscreen, he is dispatched rather easily.
As for the rest of the film, it really plays out like the writers didn't really know where to go after the spectacle of the first one. There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about "discovering new elements" and a bit about Tony's alcoholism - but it all feels kind of sped through and never really is grounded enough to be consequential. They should have lost a few of these elements and concentrated more on the character development, or more interesting action scenes.
The final battle was a big letdown, and Iron Man and War Machine take on a supposedly invincible army of drones.. there's a lot of chasing and dodging, and then some quick inconsequential fighting. A lot of opportunities to show off some amazing battle choreography (hinted at in part one), but they really dropped the ball. What we get instead is just kind of cheesy and tacked-on.
I am being a little harsh, but two cybernetic superheroes fighting a whole slew of evil enemy robots should be heart-stoppingly rendered in modern cinema, especially with the undeniably cool characters developed here. It's forgivable, but let's just say I am not anticipating the next Iron Man movie.