Saturday, 1 May 2010

Any Old Iron

Iron Man 2 2010 US
Directed by Jon Favreau
Screening at Cinemas now

Well that’s a shame. I remember a couple of years back, going to my local cinema with a friend to see the first Iron Man movie and really not expecting much from it. What was nice on that occasion is that I was blown away by it. Not because of the action scenes, which seemed a little unevenly handled to me, but because the script was just so darned good. The dialogue in the first Iron Man film is basically straight out of a 1930s screwball comedy in both tone and pacing. And to up the ante you had some first class actors like Rob Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges to deliver these brilliant, slickly written, witty two handers. Really quality.

Cut to last Thursday. Went to see the new Iron Man sequel expecting great things from it. The end result... a movie which neither blew me away or left me feeling that satisfied.

There’s nothing really terribly wrong with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not one of these regular sequels we seem to be getting these days that actually let down the memory of the first film like, say, The Descent Part 2 or Transformers 2. There’s a lot to like in this new movie and some nice ideas... it’s just not a great movie by any means... whereas the first one was, pretty much, “a great movie.”

So what’s wrong with it and what’s right with it? In... you know... my humble opinion.

Okay... on the good side there’s only three real action sequence set pieces. Looks like certain little corners of Hollywood are beginning to relearn that if you want an action piece to stand out and feel spectacular and exhilarating... you don’t surround it with yet more action that dulls everything down in comparison. You surround these sequences with everything but action and I have enough respect for the director/actor Jon Favreau to know he’d take this kind of approach. And putting the first real action scene straight in the middle of the track at the Monaco Grand Prix and wasting as many cars as they did gives this film a very nice, James Bond international feel.

Another good thing was Jon Favreau himself. As a director he only gave himself a few scenes as Tony Stark’s bodyguard in the first film but in this film he lets loose and gives himself a much larger role... and a brilliant fist fight intercut with a Black Widow beat-em-up fest and a nice comic pay off towards the end of the movie.

Sam Jackson is back from the last movie reprising the modern incarnation of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D (probably better than David Hasselhoff’s version of the character from the Nick Fury movie some years back) and there are also a few other references to the Marvel universe. There are two guest “props” which make an appearance which will be seen again in two up and coming Marvel movies of the next year and which will all, ultimately, lead up to the new Avengers movie in a few years time. If you are a fan of Marvel comics characters then you will recognise them when you see them but... be warned... you will need to wait until all the end credits are played out at the end of the movie to catch a site of one of them... a reference to an upcoming Kenneth Branagh movie, no less ;-)

Right then... onto the bad.

The dialogue is not terrible... but this movie just doesn’t have the sparkling, witty dialogue which the first movie had in spades. It tries to rise above that of most other movies playing today... and in a few scenes it’s certainly elevated to something better than most... it’s just not nearly as good and so consequently falls flat.

Point 2: There’s not enough Pepper Potts in this movie. She’s barely in it compared to the first one. Perhaps that’s why the dialogue is not sparking up where it should do.

Point 3. I adore Scarlett Johanssen... in films like The Girl With A Pearl Earring, Ghost World and Vicky Christina Barcelona she rules... but she’s no Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)... and that’s the character they’ve got her playing here. It’s not so much that she’s playing the character they’ve written here badly... it’s just that the character as written here is so much different from the character as I remember her. Plus her hair looks fake. Now it’s been some time since I read a Black Widow comic... probably not since the early to mid-seventies, but I do remember she was a very emotional, bleak, depressed and ultimately tragic character... certainly not the frigid, calculating character on show in this movie. And what’s with her “Widow’s Bites”? They can clearly be seen in some shots around her wrists where they should be but I don’t recall seeing her use them once... which might be because...

Point 4. This film is yet another casualty of modern MTV editing. The action scenes are cut so frenetically and haphazardly that you really can’t see what’s going on here... it’s just confusing. There seems to be a popular convention going on that in order for a big action scene to work it needs to be cut at a frenetic pace with no shot lasting for more than about a second and a half. That’s rubbish. Big films like the second and third movies in the modern Bourne trilogy and Quantum of Solace all seem to suffer from this... and it’s just plain confusing and in no way a substitute for a well edited action sequence. Cut it out guys!

Ok... that’s about all I have to say. If you don’t recognise the character of Rhodey in this second film, and he’s quite a major character in these films, that’s because they fired the actor from the first film because he wanted more money and replaced him with the more up-market Don Cheadle. Great actor... but wasted because he’s trying to play the character like the last guy played him... and it doesn’t quite work.

Iron Man 2 is an okayish entertainment to while away two hours of your life with... just don’t go expecting great things.

1 comment:

  1. I, on the other hand, thought it was a very good sequel as sequels go and kept the pace of the original Iron Man movie consistent, which in sequel terms is the first thing thrown out when the STUDIO's green light a project, hats off to the production people and maybe roll on an Iron Man 3 that could be fun.................