Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Review: Iron Man 2

You've just seen everything worth seeing in this movie.

Comic book movies, with a few notable exceptions, are escapist bonanzas jampacked with snarky protagonists, exciting fight scenes, and attractive women. Now, that's not necessarily a criticism. Sure, it doesn't often make for great art, but it's entertaining on occasion. Iron Man 2, however, doesn't even manage to pull off entertaining. From the start all the way through the tedious and ludicrously long exposition to the disappointingly non-explosive finish, the film feels as though no one making the movie actually bothered doing any actual work on it, figuring it'd make buckets of money anyway. What a disappointment.

The plot was quite clearly written by writers who knew they could write whatever they wanted. The principal villain is out to viciously eradicate Iron Man because, uh, their dads worked together or something. Iron Man's dying from some kind of poison, so he's worried about his legacy, and he finds his dad's legacy in the form of a secret code in a plastic diorama. In case you missed it, they talk about legacy for about the middle third of the movie, until the required quota of “sort of meaningful stuff” has been met. If this were the first Iron Man movie, you might think that legacy might be an allusion to former President George W. Bush, but in this movie, they don't bother with anything even approaching political commentary. The first movie's message of the dangers of war profiteering and conscienceless capitalism is totally abandoned in favor of what appears to be a couple scenes of Robert Downey Jr. getting drunk, Scarlett Johansson looking pretty, Sam Rockwell as a gratingly irritating but weirdly irrelevant business rival, and a completely egregious appearance of Samuel Jackson with an eye patch.

The commentary on technology of the first movie is also completely abandoned in favor of asinine instant fixes. At one point, Robert Downey Jr. discovers a new element using some pipes and a big laser, flipping a giant bird to that whole science thing, and after blatantly ignoring how science actually works in favor of magic fixes to all his problems, comments: “that was easy.” Probably a lot easier than actually writing plots. The bad guy also skips all that pesky science rubbish, in favor of building GIANT GLOWING WHIPS. They can cut cars in half with the power of science, but have one fatal design flaw: their complete inability to harm the protagonists, no matter how big or glowy they are. Darn science.

"You wanna go star in a decent movie?" "Word."
They also didn't bother giving any of the characters any actual, you know, character, choosing instead to just get attractive actors and let them be snarky the whole movie. Admittedly, with two of those actors being Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, this strategy works fairly well. In fact, upon close examination of the movie, I have to tell you that Scarlett Johansson DOESN'T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING. She just stands around, looks pretty, and occasionally beats people up the whole movie. Oddly enough, nearly the same is true of Tony Stark. Multiple situations are thrown in front of him that seem like they have to create some kind of meaningful character development. Nope, they just culminate in opportunities to show Iron Man being drunk. At the end of the movie, Tony is reading a mental evaluation of himself, and comes across the line “textbook narcissist.” Has the movie showed us that he's learned a lesson about putting other people first? No, Tony just nods in agreement to the statement. Admittedly, the star power is the one thing that actually makes this movie occasionally passable. Sure, there's no plot whatsoever, but Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson are still quite entertaining to watch. Plus there's good fight scenes, right?

Maybe if there were a little more of this . . .
Wrong. If this film had excellent fight scenes, it would at least be an entertaining escapist release. Unfortunately, none of the fight scenes are at all entertaining. First glowing whip man shows up at the Monaco Grand Prix and slices up some cars. Then Iron Man grabs him. Wait, were you expecting a fight scene? Nope, just Gwyneth Paltrow whining, and then done. Then there is nearly an hour of boring exposition. Then Tony and his buddy get in a drunken fight. Despite the fact that this isn't a real fight, this fight scene is hands-down the most entertaining. Then yet more nothing happens. Then finally, the final battle scene we've all been waiting for. Tony has to face down thirty-two fully equipped battle drone suits, plus the big boss. Badass fight scene? Again, nope. They fly around for a bit, worry about civilians, Tony trades some witty one-liners with his buddy, then the fight scene ends. Two laughable finishing moves are used, one involving invincible lasers, the other involving, believe it or not, guns. All the fight scenes make you ask simultaneously “wait, that was it?” and “why didn't he do that sooner?” Typically enough, the most entertaining fight scene, actually the most entertaining scene in the whole movie, has pretty much no relevance, and can be summed up in five words: Scarlett Johansson beats people up. Yep, that's it. See, if they'd stuck to that, and just had half an hour's worth of fight scenes of just Scarlett Johansson beating people up, the movie might actually have been watchable.

All in all, Iron Man 2 was an utterly forgettable waste of two hours, made only occasionally interesting by the sheer star power of Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. You may have noticed I don't mention Gwyneth Paltrow under star power. That has something to do with her being utterly dull, whiny and useless in the film. If you just really like seeing Robert Downey Jr.'s face or listening to him utter corny one-liners in his sexy voice or are hypnotized by the idea of Scarlett Johansson in tight leather beating people up, then maybe watch this movie. But I wouldn't recommend spending real money on it.

Official Rating: Dislike

Death and Glory,


  1. Very forgettable "bang-pow-things-go-big-boom" popcorn fluff of summer.
    Nice review. It was cool to watch for just surface-y entertainment, but it did get incredibly repetitive.

  2. Dude, all the Avengers stuff was dumb. It was like, oh look, we're too dumb to make an actual movie, so we'll just be a giant preview for another movie that might actually be good.

  3. haha. yep.
    even though Whedon is directing it, i don't think he could pull it off.
    too many storylines, storyarcs, storycurves, stories! to deal with.
    too many main characters, subcharacters, villain characters, henchmen all crammed together.

  4. I think your being waaaaaaay too harsh but you'll hear about that in my review. (coming soon!).

    What I really wanted to say is that apparently there is going to be an Iron Man 3 with the villain being the Mandarin which A. is supposed to be the best villain of the comic book series which is cool and B. has ties to the ten rings gang which was (apparently?) mentioned in the first movie (hopefully this means a return to a more political plot as well?).

  5. I'm going to lend my move knowledge to this to give Iron Man 2 a little bit of a break. All of you will probably agree that the first Iron Movie was a lot better than this one. That's because for the most part, Marvel let Jon Favreau do what he wanted. But then they realized how much money the movie made and decided to make it their poster boy for the Avengers Movie. So they rushed Jon into the second one, they actually started filming with an incomplete script, and they made him put in all this crap about the Avengers initiative. Sadly, this resulted in practically no character development of any character whatsoever, for anyone. And it also accounts for the crappy plot and the characters in general in the movie. You can't deny, even though you don't see it as much in this one as the first, that Tony Stark's character is really good though. Well written(props to Mr Stan Lee), well acted, and overall very interesting. So Peter, the little Avengers things in here, like the hammer and the shield, actually were a big impact, because the reason they got shoved in the movie is because Marvel screwed over the director with time and what he had to put in the movie in that time. If Favreau had a little more elbow room on this one, I think it could have been better than the first. Jon and Robert and planning on one more, and then they're both down with the franchise because they got so sick of Marvel. On top of everything else, Marvel told Jon that if he did everything they said, he'd be the main candidate for the Avengers(no offense to Joss Whedon, but I am nervous about their choice in director). Turns out, he wasn't even being considered for the role!! So I will agree with a lot of what you said about the movie, but think it could be a little more accurate. background helps.


  7. Remember the interesting first movie? Yeah, the producers didn't. Good review.

  8. Alright, I can give the directors a break. It's my bad if I came across as sounding like I was entirely blaming the makers. I don't know whose fault it was, and I'm really not trying to make it anyone in particular's fault, although multinational corporations sure make good scapegoats, I was just commenting on what I personally thought the quality of the movie was. Apologies if it sounded like I was personally insulting Jon Favreau, who did a fine job on the first movie.

  9. You should write a post about it!

  10. More or less, you should have said, "you should right a post."
    Yeah... I'm kinda been slacking lately.

  11. It's okay jo. You were absolutely crushing in in a way that made it seem like everyone in the movie ruined it, when in fact, as we all know, there's always more behind a movie than just a script and actors playing characters. But it's fine.

  12. Oh, and I really disliked your comment about Robert Downey jr just being there for star power and because he's attractive. Tony Stark is an incredibly hard character to play, because you have to be a jackass and still be likable. And RDJ does it perfectly. And he was also there because, well, he kind of was the main character of the first one, and I don't think it ever crossed anyone's mind that replacing him would be a good idea. Just saying....

  13. Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe you misunderstood, but the point of that was that Robert Downey Jr. was one of the few GOOD things about the movie. The writers may have done very little with his character besides make him spout one-liners and look awesome, but Robert Downey Jr.'s performance was one of the only legitimately entertaining things about the movie.


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