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Friday, 11 June 2010

Iron Man 2 Review (text)

Having recently stated that I don’t watch “effects movies”, I was a little worried about confessing to having been to see Iron Man 2... Then it occurred to me that I had been reviewing Avatar when I made that statement, and by comparison to that, Iron Man 2 is an old-school plot driven piece!


Aww Yeeeah!

But seriously, I wasn’t too sure about going to see this movie. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love Rob Downey, jr. Hell, I was a fan of his before most people my age had even heard of him! I must confess, the first thing I recall seeing him in was US Marshalls, the sequel to The Fugitive. I remember sitting in my mother’s car, looking at the DVD case and saying “Man, I can’t believe Joe Pantoliano didn’t get 3rd billing in this (having seen The Matrix relatively recently, and thus become somewhat of a fan of his – this was before I ever watched The Sopranos, though I suspect his seasons were on at about that time); this Robert Downey, jr. guy got it instead! I’ve never even heard of him – he looks like a gay Al Pacino” (I’m not sure the adjective I used was “gay”, but I remember likening him to Al Pacino – and for those of you who don’t see it – pick up a DVD copy of US Marshalls next time you’re in HMV, and have a look for yourselves).


You can kinda see it here, but on the cover it's way more obvious.

But after watching the film, I just thought “man, what a dude”. I was instantly hooked! A while later, I watched Natural Born Killers (I was probably around 16 at the time, so it would have been right before Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was released), and it blew my mind – and from that moment on, I’ve sought out Robert Downey, jr. films to watch – and whenever asked who my favourite actors were, he always made the list, sometimes even topping it (especially right after I saw Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; which I bought the same day I got my A Level results back in ’07 – purely on the strength of his being in it). So, as big a fan as you’re likely to find among the crowd too young to remember Chaplin. In fact, I’m so much of a fan that when one of his new “fans” (read: douche who only started claiming to like him after Iron Man and Tropic Thunder came out – it’s ok for me to call him a douche, because the guys who were fans of Downey’s after seeing Chaplin and 1969 say the same about me) said “Oh, Empire said that Robert Downey, jr. says he’ll be happy to just do Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes for the rest of his career, and alternate between the two – that would be so awesome if he did”, I called him a tard and came damn close to punching him in the face, because what makes Downey such a genius is the way he picks and mixes his parts – he does the studio roles, sure, but he does great independent films – and I would hate for him to pass on the next Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (as in a hilarious Indie movie, not a direct sequel, genius…) to just do the same fucking studio movie over and over. Also, why does anyone subscribe to Empire? They gave Shoot ‘Em Up 5 stars. I love Clive Owen as much as the next guy; hell, I even let his daughter borrow my coat (short story – they were going up to Dartmoor and she didn’t have a coat, so she borrowed mine.), but that movie was a pile of wank. It was literally like the result of some producer saying “Hey, all male film goers are idiots, right? I mean, if we throw violence and tits on the screen non-stop for an hour and a half, we’ll probably break the box office record, right?” And incredibly, it worked well enough for Empire to give them 5 stars. I mean, what was good about that movie? If you want a stupid, over-the-top, brainless action movie written by someone who is probably retarded, and with a British lead, you might as well watch Crank, or one of the Transporter movies. Sure, they’re not great, but they’re certainly better than that heap of shit. But enough ranting about Shoot ‘Em Up – back to the main subject. Whilst I am a HUGE Robert Downey, jr fan (the password to my laptop is his name – but not my Google account, in case you were thinking of hacking me… ok, I admit it! It’s ‘Rob_Downey69’ – please don’t delete my files!) I was still a little worried about Iron Man 2…



You see, Iron Man 2 has received some very poor reviews. In fact, almost every magazine I’ve read gave it 2 stars. As a matter of fact, based on these reviews, I had intended to go and see “Bad Lieutenant” instead, but didn’t because apparently nowhere West of Bristol is playing it (seriously – I checked the Apollo and the Vue. The Apollo doesn’t seem to have it at all, and the closest Vue to me that’s showing it is Bristol. Annoyingly, if I had stayed in Portsmouth, I could have seen it at the Vue there. Perhaps I’ll go when my Portsmouth Homies get back from Hong Kong…). So, I was left with a choice of a few new movies – sure, I could go and see Sex and the City and try to pick up loose (sorry, LIBERATED) women in the audience, but the cost-to-benefit ratio of that scenario made me decide against it. So, I was left with choosing between Iron Man 2 and The Losers. All I know about The Losers is it has Stringer Bell in, and is basically a rip-off of The A-Team (as is The Expendables – all 3 of which are coming out this summer – what do these producers think we are? Idiots?)



So, we tossed a coin. Naturally, The Losers were Tails, and it came up Heads, so we went to see Iron Man 2.



In a number of ways, Iron Man 2 is very similar to the first. It includes a number of scenes of Rob Downey, jr spouting amazing one liners, and “epic burns”, and a number of instances of him just being a plain old dude. Sure, Terrance Howard is missing, but Don Cheadle does a bang up job – and hell, I bet Cheadle has a bigger cock, so clearly he’s better suited to the part of the Air Force Colonel… Wait…


But seriously, some of the new casting decisions I liked. Don Cheadle was good , Mickey Rouke was surprisingly good as the psychotic Russian Villain (No matter how much of a bitch he is. Ok, that probably needs some elaboration, so I’ll just get that over with now. I think Mickey Rouke is a dick. Want to know why? No? Well fuck you, I’m telling you anyway. I read an interview with him in a magazine once – Times Magazine, I think it was, maybe Culture, in which he was talking about one night when he was in London, and he was walking down the pavement with his posse, and this English guy was coming down the pavement, and rather than get out the way, this English guy just said “Ladies…” and worked his way past them, and Rouke was saying to this reporter “that was so disrespectful, I almost went after him to teach him a lesson”, and I just thought “what a cunt”. I mean, seriously – you take up the whole fucking pavement with your faggot posse, and just because a guy isn’t intimidated by you yank cunts, he’s disrespecting you? Why don’t you go fuck yourself you whiney fucking bitch? A real man wouldn’t need to be walking with a fucking posse, wouldn’t need to worry about a guy coming the other way having to get through, and would bother to learn how a foreign country’s humour and respect systems work before getting pissed off at a harmless comment that the guy was well within his rights to say to you, given you were walking in a posse like a goddamn faggot – faggot as in a pussy, not a gay dude. Although…), and Scarlett Johanssen was… well, hot, I guess. I didn’t really notice the acting talent so much as her other talents, AMIRIGHT? (apologies to Ryan Reynolds – I’m not trying to steal your wife from you, dude. But if you’re up for a threesome, let me know – I don’t find MFM weird at all…) – but seriously, she seemed to only be there for sex appeal, nothing else (I’ll discuss this in more depth later). But the best casting decision they made in this movie, by far, was SAM MOTHERFUCKING ROCKWELL!




Seriously – I mean, I can’t think of many movies I’ve seen with Sam Rockwell in, but the second I saw his name in the credits, my immediate thought was “this is gonna be awesome!”. There are few names which really tip a movie like that, except obviously those of the lead characters. Seriously, seeing Sam Rockwell’s name in the Iron Man 2 credits was, for me, as good as seeing Bruce Campbell and John Mahoney’s names at the start of The Hudsucker Proxy, or seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name on the cast list for The Expendables before anyone else had even heard of it (except for the pricks who bothered to get IMDB Pro, of course…) – and I wasn’t let down. Sam Rockwell was by far the best of the new characters, employing some of the most awesome mannerisms ever, and really nailing the part of the ‘bad guy’ on the head. And that dance he does in that one scene? Fucking AWESOME!

Apparently there isn't a clip of this on YouTube, so instead, here he is dancing in Charlie's Angels:



Seriously, I enjoyed seeing Sam Rockwell do that dance infinitely more than I enjoyed the dancing cheerleaders at the start, who just reminded me of that one Lordi video with the vampire cheerleaders at the roller disco, and he was vying with Robert Downey, jr. for the title of “biggest Dude of all” for the entire movie. Hell, based solely on their performances in this movie alone, I reckon Rockwell clinched it!


Heeey!

On top of the epic casting, there was plenty of other stuff to like about this movie. For the most part, the story was pretty good, and the direction was great – even though John Favreau seemed to spend more time in front of the camera than he did behind it. But hell, his character was great, and had a lot of comedic moments. Though, of course, it should be borne in mind that many people blame John Favreau’s script ‘Swingers’ for the emergence of the Guido culture:




The effects were also, for the most part, really well done – and there weren’t any “Two Face” moments in the film, which was good.


Seriously, fuck this guy. Fuck him right in his fat CGI mouth!



I do, however, have a few complaints about this film:


There was a bit too much of the effects stuff towards the end, and I actually found myself at one point thinking “this must be what Transformers is like”. But at least the lead females in this movie are infinitely hotter than Megan Fox (Why do guys think she’s hot? Have you seen her thumb? What the fuck is with that thing? I honestly thought I was gonna puke when I first saw it! You know what? Picture.)


Am I the only one SEEING THIS?!

But then, I guess when the highest grossing movie ever (not adjusting for inflation) is all about fancy CGI effects, the producers feel they have to go for some of that to make money – which is fair enough, given the only reason the movie industry even exists is, ultimately, money. There were, however, a few other things I didn’t like about the movie.


The scene where Scarlett Johanssen and John Favreau broke into Sam Rockwell’s company building annoyed me somewhat, because it seems that movie producers still haven’t worked out a way to do a fight scene involving a woman fighting more than one man, and make it good. Don’t get me wrong – there are some awesome fight scenes involving women fighting men out there, like Patricia Arquette’s fight with James Gandolfini in True Romance. But what they can’t seem to do is have a woman fight off a group of men, like when Ray Stevenson fights about 15 guys at the start of Punisher: War Zone, and make it good. For some reason, it all has to be “sexy”, but in a way that isn’t actually attractive. There is an obsession with women having to wear tight leather or latex suits, and they always have to wrap their legs around guys, and do the splits, etc. For once, I would like to see a film in which a female character does some Krav Maga on a group of about 10 guys, and kicks the shit out of them in a convincing fashion, all whilst wearing ordinary clothes. But apparently that’s too much to ask. Why is this? I mean, seriously – imagine that scene in Oldboy when he fights all those dudes in that corridor, but with a woman, and tell me that wouldn’t be better than this stupid pseudo-sexy pathetic fighting we get shown in every film involving a female character who kicks arse.

And I know it’s a comic book movie, and they want to keep the outfits as similar as possible to what they were in the comics – but come on, having a woman in a tight leather catsuit was done in Batman returns, and done again in The Matrix. Can’t we at least try and make it different? It might just as well have been Trinity fighting in that scene (where the stupid moves and outfit were ok, because she didn’t have to obey the laws of physics). It also makes me very aware that I’m watching a film based on source material which is little more than wanking material for pathetic nerds who get off on the idea of women in those ridiculous outfits, but never speak to actual women because they’re too scary – and that annoys me somewhat – because I feel like I’m being lumped in with them when I see this kind of shit on screen. I mean, I love comics – I’ve got 10 volumes of The Punisher, and 4 volumes of Preacher, and have read Watchmen – but I hate the idea of people thinking I’m like the guys who jerk off to Manga every night, and buy “sexy” figurines of their favourite X-Woman to have on their desk and perv on whilst they’re watching their cartoons (you know who you are!); and that’s how I feel when the producers apparently say “hey, rather than have an actual fightscene where a woman does some impressive fighting, let’s just stick her in a catsuit and have her wrap her legs around a bunch of dudes, that’s what the pathetic losers who watch this shit will want to see”. It’s just sad.


The scenes where she's NOT fighting, however... Oh wait, same thing. Still, what's a movie without a little CLEAVAGE, huh?


And whilst we’re on the subject of things being sad – I can’t stand all this tie-in bullshit Marvel is doing to make us watch all their other films, and I wish they would just make the movies as stand alones, which are good in their own right. I mean, don’t get me wrong, occasionally a tie-in can be cool: Vic Vega in Dogs and Vincent Vega in Pulp was cool, and when actors make passing references to characters they’ve played before, it can often be funny (for example, if John Favreau’s character had pulled out a huge silver pistol when shit was going down, and Rob Downey, jr had told him “lose the nickel plated sissy pistol”, that would have been a cool reference – if a little out of character…). What I don’t like is how Captain America’s shield was in Tony Stark’s lab, or how at the end we see the hammer of Thor in the middle of a crater. I just wish they would stop with this self-promoting shit in their movies, because it makes it feel like we’re just watching a giant advert, rather than a proper film. I’m also not such a big fan of Samuel L. Jackson as nick Fury – for 2 reasons:

1. I would prefer it if Nick Fury wasn’t in it at all, because I’m not too keen on the idea of this Avengers cross-over film, and

2. I’ve only seen him in The Punisher comics, but Nick Fury was always a grizzled looking white guy, who made me think of Kurt Russell. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with casting a black guy in a role originally written for a white man (see Morgan Freeman in Shawshank), but the problem is because they’ve kept this whole “grizzled government agent” thing up, and cast Samuel L. Jackson, all I can think of when I see him is “xXx”.


Promo shot from Nick Fury: Origins.

Now, I get that Vin Diesel voiced the Iron giant, and that’s kind of similar to Iron Man, but still – it’s probably not a good thing that all I can think of is “Kiss my ass, Scarface” and “I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT!” when I’m trying to watch a movie. Unless that movie is Triple X, of course.


To be honest, this might just as well have happened - and will almost certainly be in xXx 3


But the thing that REALLY annoyed me – the thing that I couldn’t stand - was the way the script resolved itself towards the end. It was pretty well written for the early parts of the movie, with Tony dying of blood poisoning, and trying everything he could think of to stop it – but the way this was resolved was just such a cop-out I couldn’t believe it! Apparently his dad discovered a new element that could power Tony’s suit more efficiently, and left Tony instructions on how to produce it. Ok, that I can buy. His father was into the whole renewable energy scene, and was supposedly a genius; I can believe he would theorize the existence of this element, and leave advice on how it could be created. But come on – it just happens to be the only element in existence which doesn’t poison Tony when he’s tried absolutely everything else, and nothing else worked? That’s bullshit – His father didn’t know he was dying of blood poisoning, and there’s no way he could ever have predicted it, so it must just be a massive coincidence. And whilst sometimes coincidences make films infinitely more enjoyable (I’m thinking Butch stopping at the traffic lights in Pulp Fiction, that kind of thing), it often just makes me think “oh, they couldn’t think of how to resolve that, huh?”. Like in Taken, when Liam Neeson’s been captured, and the pipe he’s chained to just happens to break? Here’s an idea – why not do some Saw style shit where he pulls himself up, and drops down, breaking one of his hands, so he can slip it out, and would be free? Small change – but makes it seem like he’s a quick thinker, rather than just a lucky bastard (though I still loved Taken, and the extent to which that relied on one massive coincidence was nowhere near as bad as it is in Iron Man 2). I mean, that’s just lazy writing – oh, he makes the element, and it just happens to be the cure for his blood poisoning. Oh, and it happens to kill Venko. And Sam Rockwell just happens to be severely allergic to it. Oh, and it attracts chicks. And gives Tony superpowers. Yeah, that works…



Those are my main complaints, though, and other than that, it’s all pretty minor stuff. “Venko doesn’t wear any armour, why doesn’t a cop just shoot him?” kind of thing – nothing that ruins the movie at all. To be honest, if it weren’t for that one major plot hole (well, not plot hole – poor attempt to plug a hole, more like), I probably would have come out screaming the film’s praises – even with that stupid fight scene with Scarlett Johanssen, and the annoying tie-ins. But I just can’t let that one thing go – that was plotting so bad it was worthy of The Dark Knight, which sets the bar for superhero movies where the hero doesn’t actually have powers, there’s a massively annoying plothole that most people didn’t even notice but I couldn’t get past, and has an amazing supporting performance by an actor who is now dead (Sam, if you’re reading this – I’m sorry, but I have to do this for the good of the people…).




Before I conclude, there was just one more thing I wanted to say; I’m surprised that Tony Stark drinks so much in this film, and that he gets drunk in it, given Robert Downey, jr is a recovering addict, and presumably isn’t allowed to drink any alcohol these days. It must be hard to pretend to drink every day on set, but resist it in his personal life, and for that, I give mad props to Mr Downey.





Rating:

**

2/5


A fairly average movie – some great dialogue, and a couple of really good scenes, but in the end, leaves a lot to be desired. If it was a movie in its own right, I probably would have given this film 3 stars, but in the end, it just isn’t as good as the original. I hate the tie-ins, and I hate the laziness that is apparent from the way the script unfolds, and can’t help but think that if they’d held the film back a year, rather than rushed to get it out and making money as soon as possible, this could have been resolved and it would have been a great film. It had the potential, but in the end, didn’t amount to much. My advice is that you stick with the original unless you either enjoyed The Dark Knight, and so clearly aren’t concerned by poor scripting, or if you’re a massive Sam Rockwell fan – in which case you’ll love him in this!

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