Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd!!!!!!! vol. 20


IRON MAN 2 is a movie about Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, and Black Widow's Scissors (tee). and somewhere in the middle, Iron Man happens.

forgive me for being glib... i'm just following their example.

in all seriousness (whatever seriousness can be possible), IRON MAN 2 isn't a bad sequel. It boasts strong performances, engaging set pieces, and is generally memorable. It's lighthearted and fun without being insulting to the source material, and further expands on the cinematic Marvel Universe in ways that captivate the audience into looking forward to upcoming projects.

Unfortunately, the movie felt like little more than a space between the first Iron Man film and the Incredible Hulk movie (released also in 2008, though to much less fanfare... even though i personally found it to have much more of a rewatch value than it's much more successful cousin, but i digress) and the upcoming Captain America and Thor films, each scheduled for next year. The goal of course is that this will all culminate in an ensemble AVENGERS film, which is all well and good, but why not do something a little more fresh? like... oh i dunno...

a S.H.E.I.L.D. movie?

those were the characters that generated the most interest to me in this movie... Nick Fury and

*sigh* Black Widow. btw Scarlett Johansson has never been sexier. She doesn't say much, but she doesn't have to... not when you're dressed like Molotov Cocktease and snapping necks between you thighs. but i'm getting off track... more geek ranting; S.H.I.E.L.D. movie fantasy;

The idea of this globe-trotting clandestine government organization fighting psychotic villains while trying to conglomerate and mobilize the earth's (and one Norse God) super-heroes into one squadron has so much potential for a bad-ass action sci-fi event movie. It's got it all. but let's not get to swept up in fanboy woulda/shoulda/couldas.

The first film was great cause it established Stark/Iron Man. The sequel feels like more of the same. He's charmingly glib, self-destructive, flirtatious, and though out in the open with regards to his super-hero persona, nothing really feels like it has changed. The idea of super-hero as celebrity is interesting, and worth exploring, but much like many of the plot points in this film, it feels as if it's just another premise without real exploration or resolution. The second things start to get "real", everyone goes back to being cute and casual. You don't have to go super-dark or anything, but at least make it seem like the threats are of significant danger, not just another set-up for a stunt or a one-liner that will be tossed off seconds after it occurs.

The film is also lacking in the villain department. Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko (an amalgam of classic Iron Man rouges Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo) is certainly compelling on a visual level; a brooding gold-toothed Russian physicist covered in prison tattoos who builds his own crude-but-effective counterpoint to Stark's armor; an exo-skeletal harbinger of death capped with giant electric whips, Has one really great moment at the beginning of the film when he first attacks Stark, but that's pretty much it. He never really recovers the momentum. Rourke's heart just doesn't seem into it here. It seems like he tried to add some quirks to the character, the most prominent being a pet cockatoo, but those come off more a substitute for developing an interesting, threatening antagonist. The final battle thus doesn't have nearly the weight it should have, because they isn't much interaction between the adversaries leading up to their inevitable confrontation... certainly none of the tension that was built between Obidiah Stane and Stark in the first film.

Sam Rockwell's Justin Hammer only fares slightly better. He nails the wormy, socially retarded Hammer, playing him as a giant dork who essentially exists to be Tony Stark, only he lacks the charisma to pull it off convincingly. While he plays the part well... there is no real confrontation between the rivals, and Hammer never feels like a real threat, partially because Stark never takes him seriously. In the beginning of the movie it works, because it's ample fuel for Hammer's jealousy and rage, but it's never nurtured. Like Vanko, Hammer just feels like one dimension of the first film's Jeff Bridges Stane/Iron Monger (Hammer being the jealous business rival Stane was at the beginning, Vanko being the giant robo-monster he becomes at the end). In the first film, you really felt like Stane was a serious threat. He was angry, twisted, delusional, and truly malevolent.. Lex Luthor meets ED-209. in part 2, though we have two villains, neither posses the interest or depth the part one's sole adversary.

The film has some great moments; Stark drunk at a party while in the armor could've easily been played for laughs, but instead comes off as an uncomfortable, potentially dangerous situation. this of course is rendered null when it just becomes a set up for a fight between Iron Man and the future War Machine. That's endemic of this movie; things happen that may seem like they will develop the characters, but then they are just blown off while we move on to the next thing. That pretty much sums up this entire film... something that happened that we will forget about while we go on to the next thing.

Avengers Assemble... eventually.

05/10/10 edit;

Look whose FINALLY coming in part 3

'bout fucking time. get Gordon Liu on it and all will be well. shit... i'd even take this.


emanonguy said...

I liked it too, had a pretty good time. The performances certainly helped, had they been lackluster it would have been a lot less enjoyable.

Not really sure the characters could have been/done any different, but I could see Vanko being at least a little more aggressive in speech. But I think he did the best he could with how his character was written into the movie, being in Hammer's employ for the bulk of it. Maybe if they had cut out the drones earlier - say Pepper and Hammer's programmers back at the expo were able to defeat Vanko's code, forcing him to fight Ironman and Warmachine himself. They could have, seeing Ironman now has an ultimate "final battle" weapon, cut through fighting the drones much earlier to force a longer battle with Vanko. The exploding dueling suit laser b'lasts was a cheap way to exit the battle, but again, would you have done any different if you were Ironman? I bet they did it to keep the movie from going on too long after a decade of three hour action flicks.

The same logic goes for Hammer. He's never taken seriously and spends the movie being the milquetoast. They could have furthered the removing of the drones and had Vanko give him a suit, let him "battle" Ironman for just long enough to make him think he has power only to double cross him and fight Ironman himself. I dunno, the debate on what shoulda happened could be the subject of much comic book nerdery. Either way I enjoyed Sam Rockwell's performance because he rocks well because he's Sam Fucking Rockwell. I could watch just about any movie that dude does and enjoy it. So that helped.

Oh well it could have been better but at the very least Johansson's fight scene was brilliantly choreographed, even fap-worthy. And the killing of the drones with the "final battle" laser was, after all that build up, quite a release and visually compelling. I got the crowd into a slow clap on that one.

I had to leave to get my wife into the theater as she was running late, so I missed the part of Tony discovering the new element. I'm pretty big on Ray Kurzweil and the whole technology-saving-the-world thing, so I'm going to have to watch it again to get my own impression. What did you think of it?

emanonguy said...

Oh yeah, though I haven't read much S.H.I.E.L.D. it seems like it would make a pretty rad movie.

The Lex Luthor meets ED-209 is pretty accurate, and it really is a shame they didn't give Vanko more of a battle - in both battles I was really hoping to see Tony really fight for his life, even get a little more scared.

Also as accurate is the summation both in the beginning and end of your analysis - character development does get put on hold at pretty much every turn. I don't mind though, it's kinda like a light hearted anti-Empire Strikes Back until the third installment.

And now that I think of it, my friend is a VFX dude that Favereau personally consulted on IM2...And a "priest" of Odin, which is really just a way to celebrate history and take it back to caucasia without being a racist. And though he's a nerd he's no dork.

I gotta ask him if he pushed for Thor, because that would make perfect sense.

Man, when I saw that hammer...Again, haven't read a lot of Thor but the possibilities! He could totally keep the rings of Mandarin magical so long as Thor is around. In fact, with Thor coming, they can't make Mandarin NOT a wizard.

Dude, this could be a pretty epic battle.

Nick said...

I thought the part about Stark discovering the new element was probably the most compelling stuff... maybe my favorite part of the movie, cause they actually followed through on something.

this article on CHUD reveals all the geeky goodness under the surface, which give me slight nerd-boners;

I did like the Hammeroids (boy ain't we cute?) battle... so much so that it dwarfed the showdown between Crimson Lash (that's what i'm calling him cause it sounds both deliciously racist and awesomely homoerotic) and Iron Man/War Machine. also i hate War Machine, in the comics and on the screen. he's just a boring copy of Iron Man that Ritalin Kids think is a bad mother fucker cause he got cannon guns, bro. when Iron Man is firing giant fire lasers out of the palm of his hands, machine guns seem so blasse.. but i digress.

I hope they do Mandarin in the next one, just so we don't have deal with another Iron Man clone baddie. But really i just want a good Captain America movie. everything else is just incidental.

Nick said...

well that was a tie-in to the Thor movie that's coming out next year, directed by Kenneth Brannagh.

emanonguy said...

While I can see why you would dislike War Machine especially in light of "he got cannons, bro", there is a certain visceral satisfaction to good old firearms. The impotence of the Hammer "final weapon" was probably a nod to the War Machine haters. I digress.

You may be right about Thor. I asked my friend on his Facebook in a fashion that would comply to his NDA but referenced the after-the-credits scene. He replied that his influence can be seen all over the movie.

Not really saying yes, but not no as well. We shall see - but I also forgot about the Brannagh Thor, so that probably adds to your notion.