New Guest Review from Australia of Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2
by Alex Billington
May 2, 2010
Last year during the release of Star Trek, our good friend from Australia, Rivée Dylan Tao, wrote up a quick reaction/review from the world premiere at the Sydney Opera House, delivering one of the first reviews of a movie that would come to rule the summer. Now he's back with another review, this time for Jon Favreau's Iron Man 2, which is already playing in theaters in most of the world except the US. So let's get to it! Iron Man 2 arrived in Melbourne to all the usual pomp and ceremony. Packed cinemas, addresses from PR and confiscated phones, really get the excitement flowing. So it's a pity the main event was a bit of a let down.
If you liked Iron Man, chances are the sequel will leave you feeling a bit disappointed, which isn't to say it's bad, it just doesn't quite scale the heights of the first movie. It is a thousand times better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but only half as good as Spider-Man 2. Writer Justin Theroux obviously took his cues from the studio with regards to characters and plot lines, because no writer in his right mind would try to pack this much stuff into the one screenplay. Unfortunately there is so much going on, that the characters' relationships and the plot lines are often under developed. If more attention was paid to the narrative than setting up the inevitable The Avengers movie with endless references, Iron Man 2 might have been a better film. It lacked the charm of its predecessor, which worked, in part because of its simplicity.
As with the first film, the dialogue is snappy and Robert Downey Jr. plays for laughs and the set pieces are handled nicely enough, even though the best ones are all featured in the trailer. Favreau also enlisted an impressive supporting cast, including the always brilliant Sam Rockwell (as Justin Hammer) and Mickey Rourke (as Whiplash), but neither of their respective characters were developed well enough to take advantage. Scarlett Johansson stuffed into the Black Widow get-up is enough to make your eyes water, while Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury), Don Cheadle (as War Machine) and Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) all walk through their roles.
There is a nice homage to RoboCop to look out for and Stan Lee's cameo is one of his best so far. There is also the obligatory post-credits post-script, which should get at least a few comic book fans excited. The effects are slick and pretty seamless for the most part. The scene at the Monaco race track (which most of you will recognise from the trailer) is first class, but the final action sequence looked like a cut scene from Halo. There is also a truly inexplicable scene, which involves Tony Stark in full Iron Man gear getting drunk at his birthday and dancing to "Another One Bites The Dust," before getting involved in a dust up himself.
As with the first film, there is plenty of unintelligible techno babble, witty one-liners and enough action to keep Iron Man 2 engaging, and in the finish it's an entertaining ride. But ultimately, there's never enough at stake and as a result, it's hard to invest in the characters or their fate. While the film is marginally ahead of the curve when it comes to the proliferation of comic book movies clogging up cinemas these days, it's pretty forgettable and dishes up more of the same. With Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, Green Lantern, so on and so forth, all on the horizon, you have to wonder how much more we can take.